WWE NXT debuted this past week to relatively rave reviews, and some decent ratings for its timeslot. NXT turned out to be an exciting and interesting new concept, taking a few developmental standouts, pairing them with current WWE Superstars, and having them fight for a roster spot as we learn more about them. It was the first truly innovative concept that WWE has come up with in a few years. I’d venture so far as to say it’s probably their best idea since they added Money in the Bank to the WrestleMania card five years ago, and resurrected ECW back in 2005 for One Night Stand (as for making it a weekly show? Eh, not so much).
One reason for the smashing success of the debut show was Bryan Danielson, who we all now must get used to referring to as Daniel Bryan. A wrestler who has quite the reputation on the internet, Bryan made his long awaited debut on WWE television, going out and shunning the teachings of his “mentor,” The Miz. While watching the partnership between Miz and Bryan will most likely be a sight to behold in the months to come, that wasn’t even the most exciting part of the night for a majority of wrestling fans.
No, the highlight of the night was the main event. In a matchup that internet fans like myself assumed could only happen in a fantasy booking program or a video game, Chris Jericho came out and fought against Bryan. Though the night ended with Bryan tapping out to the Lion Tamer, Jericho not only made the “rookie” look good, he made him look like he had a legitimate shot at making the World Heavyweight Champion tap out. It was just the latest example of Jericho going out, and attempting to create new stars.
See, Chris Jericho understands that his legacy is pretty much secure. He understands that he can’t do this forever. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that he doesn’t want to do this for much longer. Jericho has been busting his butt since he came back to the WWE to not only create one of the all-time memorable heel personas, but also to make sure that WWE will do just fine without him once he decides to hang it up. Jericho probably understands the business better than anyone cares to admit.
I’m not saying that people hate Jericho (far from the truth), I’m only saying that I don’t think he gets enough credit. In an age where we’re still giving top guys like Triple H and The Undertaker crap for not putting more people over (a legitimately fair complaint), we ignore the fact that Jericho is giving rubs to guys that need some spotlight, and will be taking the reigns from his generation once they’re all too old to perform on a regular basis anymore.
Guys like Hunter could stand to take a look at what Jericho’s doing. As you can see, he is putting over younger stars by having matches with them where he makes them look better than they probably actually are. At the same time, he is still in a main event world title match at WrestleMania. It is possible to do both, and Jericho is proving it. He’s putting others over while holding on to his main event status. No small feat.
So, my hat is off to Chris Jericho. Here we have a top star who is willing to create new stars in order to advance the business along. He’s a man who’s willing to put his company first. If I were starting a company, and was allowed to pick one man to start with, I would absolutely make Jericho my first pick. Not only is he as talented as anyone else out there, he also gets it. His sense for what works and what won’t is unrivaled, and that is why he is the best in the world at what he does.