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No Debate: Chris Jericho is the GOAT of GOATS

The spring of Jericho never runs out of refreshing water. After finishing up one of the best stretches of his near 30-year career, the legend has exited from the squared circle once again.

Chris Jericho’s latest return was closed on Tuesday night’s episode of Smackdown Live via a traumatic attack by his arch nemesis Kevin Owens. The self-proclaimed “New Face of America” decimated Jericho with the use of a chair and ring post after defeating him for the United States Championship. The segment completed one of the most memorable feuds in recent WWE history. Credit goes to WWE for maintaining the direction for the feud even when it may have needed to end sooner or with a much bigger payoff. That part is debatable.

However, Jericho’s brilliance during the feud is not debatable. The emergence of The List of Jericho, the “It!” catchphrase, light-up scarfs, the Bon Jovi look is just affirmation of the great run Y2J has had this time around. The tug of war between Jericho and Owens was long by WWE standards, but when the breakup happened, it was a magical moment. Jericho’s nuances can’t be overstated. The reveal of his name being on The List of Owens should be a top segment in everyone’s year end list.

Each Jericho return is like a legendary rock band or hip-hop artist dropping a new concept album. His returns are an event. Jericho comebacks spark conversations about what new gimmick, catchphrase, move, or outfit he will debut. Essentially, his trust with Vince McMahon and proven value with the company and fans has allowed him to be creative way beyond the point of most of the roster. His versatility is unmatched in pro wrestling and outside of the ring. No other wrestler in history has redefined him or herself as many times and as successfully as Jericho.

That’s one thing about wrestling and singing … you have to commit to what you’re doing. If you don’t believe it, nobody else will. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous it is. If you sell it and commit to it, people will respond. That’s part of it. — Chris Jericho on being fearless while performing

I’m certainly biased. Jericho IS my favorite of all-time. I’ve previously mentioned how WCW was my real entry into wrestling as a kid. While DDP, Sting, Raven, and Dean Malenko initially gained my interest, it was Jericho that always made me laugh. I howled at the sight of the list of 1004 holds. Ralphus was hilarious. The Jericho vs. Goldberg feud was golden. My first bit of behind the scenes news was friends telling me that the countdown clock in WWF was indeed Chris Jericho. I didn’t really believe them until I saw it.

The moment that “RAW IS JERICHO!” was born will forever be one of my favorite memories in wrestling history. The moment that Y2J got fired and carried out kicking and screaming was just as great. His comeback building up the “Save Us Y2J” reveal against Randy Orton on RAW was highly anticipated. HBK vs Y2J was the last great feud of the 2000’s. Many segments between Owens and Jericho hearkened back to the one with HBK. Outside of a few Vince McMahon-made blips on his WWE career, Jericho has been nearly flawless when it comes to memorable feuds and moments.

When fans talk about the greatest of all-time, they have a default Top 5 like Biggie, Tupac, Jay-Z, Eminem, and Nas are for hip-hop. Hogan, Savage, Flair, Austin, and Rock are the “GOATS” for wrestling. Any deviance from these performers will start an endless debate about who to drop and why. Just recently, the conversation about hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar has heated up websites, blogs, forums and all of social media after he released his 4th highly praised project in a row, DAMN. Some commentators say that it is still too early in Lamar’s career to name him the greatest while others claim that no one rap artist has released material as good and consistent as he has.

While Jericho is much older and farther in his career than Lamar, in terms of consistency within each others mediums, no wrestler holds up better than Y2J. Hogan’s reign on top is legendary, but it also comes with some controversy and only one true change in gimmick with the emergence of the NWO. Austin and Rock had relatively short careers as the main attraction. As great as Savage was, he was always overshadowed by Hogan. Flair’s status is unmatched as he is an icon both in and out of the ring.

Jericho’s projects outside of the ring are collectively just as impressive. His heavy metal band, Fozzy, has grown in popularity with its most recent album nearly charting the Billboard Top 50. Fozzy will be touring throughout the spring of 2017. Jericho has been the lead character of his own sitcom, But I’m Chris Jericho. He’s been the host of various television shows, and still has one of the most popular wrestling related podcast, Talk Is Jericho. Y2J is a New York Times bestselling author and has released three books so far. He has always been one of the busiest people in the business, yet when he returns to the ring, Jericho always seems to give 100%.

Chris Jericho doesn’t have to take one more step into a WWE ring. But he’ll be back, and he won’t be the same. Y2J has reinvented himself as many times as he has held a world title. After nearly two decades of “Break The Walls Down”, his theme song still gets the crowd going. The man wears trunks that say “G.O.A.T.” across the back and no one should question why. His resume speaks for itself.

GOAT is Jericho.

Debate me @willmarelle on Twitter.

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