Busted Open Radio recently bestowed Chris Jericho with their 2016 Comeback Of The Year Award and Y2J was kind enough to stick around and grant them an interview. Quite magnanimous for the Greatest Of All TIme, if you ask us.
First off, Jericho agreed that he deserved the award for Comeback of the Year, and he also agrees with the prevailing opinion on the internet that perhaps he's never been better.
"I have to say last year, 2016, was one of the best of my career. I still can't put it over the (Shawn) Michaels/Jericho feud and the (Rey)Mysterio/Jericho feud and the Big Show/Jericho team (affectionately known as "Jeri-Show") which was 2008-2010, but it was pretty close. Maybe in retrospect I'll look back on it in a few years and think maybe it was the best, but it's one of those things, it was like a very nice surprise because I've come back quite a few times and some things you don't hit as much. But it seems this year I had a late career resurgence to where if I was in a Rock n' Roll band, I had like three or four top ten hits this year that will go on the greatest hits of Jericho. I'd like to be able to sit back and say I planned this, I'm very smart, I'm a genius and I knew this was gonna happen, but you never know what's gonna happen and I think I kinda caught lightning in a bottle with this character and all the different aspects of it. It worked and it's been a lot of fun for sure."
Jericho actually made his return to WWE several months before he made his return to WWE TV, starting out just appearing at house shows.
"I think I was the first guy ever to just do house shows. Most guys just come back to do TV but I decided to do the opposite of that, and I had a really fun year. I think I did about 60 shows with the WWE [in 2015] and none of them were on TV. So when I finally did come back, I think it was January 2nd or 3rd of last year, I hadn't been on in a year and a half or almost two years. It was a chance to kind of recalibrate and reboot the whole character. I knew from the moment that I came out what was going to happen, which was me eventually turning heel. It got pushed back a little bit because of the AJ Styles thing working so well, so Vince wanted us to be a tag team, and then work at Wrestlemania."
But that wasn't the original plan for Jericho at Mania.
"The original plan was for me to work with (Dean) Ambrose at Wrestlemania," Jericho said. He worked AJ Styles instead, of course, and Dean worked Brock Lesnar. (This makes you wonder if that was the reason for the obviously planned Brock vs Wyatts program to be shelved.) Of course, Jericho eventually had his program with Ambrose, including an "Asylum Match" at Extreme Rules.
The reason the plans changed? Jericho's heel turn was so effective. "I think I started planting those seeds as a babyface that were really pissing people off. I knew it and it was fun for me to see that 'Jericho's done, he's stale, he's so stale. Oh that scarf and the vest it looks ridiculous. Same old catch phrases and he's trying to get a Rooty Tootie Booty chant going, it's so annoying. It's sad to see Jericho falling so low.' And I was like oh you guys -- I'm the master of puppets yet again. Manipulating an entire business into planting those seeds for when I finally turn heel. And when I turned heel it was like, 'Well I'm glad he turned heel because he wasn't doing too good a job as a baby face' but I knew all that. That is one thing that I had planned."
You can listen to the entire interview at this link.