If you're a big enough fan of professional wrestling, you know that no team or faction lasts forever. Eventually, egos get in the way (sometimes in real life, and sometimes merely on-screen), and a split is inevitable.
We all knew that was going to be the end result when Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho began their team. You knew it, I knew it... everyone watching knew it. There were a few times along the way that we assumed the split was coming, but JeriKO continued on. They reached the six-month mark as a team, and all of the "experts" figured that their split was coming, which would lead to a match at WrestleMania between the two.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you'd know that we finally got the breakup of JeriKO this week, and it was magnificent. The entire segment, from Jericho's over-the-top presents and declarations about how special Owens is to him, all the way up until the big reveal of the turn, was tremendously done. Both Jericho and Owens showed exactly how versatile they are as performers, and it pulled all of us in. If you get a chance to watch it again, pay attention to the crowd reactions. Listen to when the crowd realized what was happening, and how they were all but screaming at Jericho to watch himself. Owens is one of the coolest heels in the business, but people weren't cheering for him here. Just textbook heel work by Owens, along with some great camera work by the WWE production team, and a newly-turned face that people could feel for. Quite the perfect storm.
My girlfriend is pretty much the definition of a "casual fan". She watches Raw, Smackdown, and the "pay-per-view" events, but that's it. She doesn't care about the backstage politics, gossip, or who she is/isn't supposed to cheer for. She also isn't a fan of Jericho, which goes back to him being revealed as the person behind the "end of the world as you know it" vignettes and promos back in late-2011 and early-2012. With all of that said, she has loved every second of the JeriKO pairing, even calling them her favorite thing in the current WWE product. Watching their split had her crestfallen. I got to sit back and watch her watching the segment, and it was amazing to see the roller coaster ride of emotions she was taken on. Every now and then, this sport we love so much gives us moments like that. Moments that allow us to just sit back and enjoy that ride, no matter how grizzled or cynical a lot of us are.
I've already seen people say that the segment was one of the best in the history of wrestling. That's being a prisoner of the moment, for sure, but is it really wrong? Is it? In 2012, WWE released a DVD of the Top 100 Moments In Raw History. At the very least, this segment will make that list if it were to be made again. Things like Sheamus putting Mark Cuban through a table, Seth Green being the first "Celebrity Host" of Raw, Howard Finkel vs Harvey Wippleman in a Tuxedo Match, and Hugh Jackman punching Dolph Ziggler aren't exactly things that will stand the test of time, you know? The key here is where the split of JeriKO leads to. We've all seen wrestling promotions deliver on something special, only for the follow up to be terrible, causing the entire angle to fizzle out. The common prediction I've been seeing on social media is that Jericho stays away from WWE programming until Fastlane, where he returns and causes Owens to drop the WWE Universal Title to Goldberg, setting up the Jericho vs Owens match at WrestleMania. That's certainly easy enough to do. WWE is already talking about the injuries (kayfabe, of course) Jericho suffered in the attack, so having him miss a couple weeks of television makes sense. The part about having him cost Owens the title at Fastlane is probably iffy to a lot of people. Those people feel that Goldberg has dominated Brock Lesnar on two occasions in the last few months, so he shouldn't be booked as needing any kind of "help" to defeat Kevin Owens. Technically, there is truth to that, but man, you can only have Goldberg mow through people for so long before people grow tired of it. This isn't 1997, when he was beating jobbers and lower-midcard guys in two minutes every week. We're talking about Brock Lesnar and Kevin Owens here, not Bo Dallas and Jinder Mahal.
Personally, I'm really looking forward to their probable WrestleMania match. It's the classic "Partner #1 turns on Partner #2, and now Partner #2 wants blood" story that has worked so well for wrestling in the past. It's going to be physical. It's going to be heated. It's going to be emotional. It might even be Jericho's last stand with the company, as he's 46 years old, working on a month-by-month contract, and by his own words, basically only stuck around for as long as he did this time around because of how well things were going in his partnership with Owens. Kudos to both men for giving us something so compelling to watch over the last few months. It's stories like that, and the twists that they take, which keep us all fans of wrestling in the first place.
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