Chris Jericho has wrestled in all the biggest companies in the world. His career has led him to the main event of huge promotions like WWE, WCW, NJPW and AEW.
However, his career in the United States really took off when he debuted in ECW in 1996, brining Chris Jericho to the fans of the US for the first time in years.
Chris Jericho’s ECW Debut
Chris Jericho made his ECW debut at a live event on February 2nd, 1996. He had long been hyped up as a top talent by many ECW wrestlers, including Mick Foley and Perry Saturn and was a huge get for Paul Heyman.
The young Canadian-American star had made his name in Mexico and Japan as “Corazon De Leon”, or “Lionheart” but came into ECW under his chosen name of Chris Jericho.
Jericho’s first match in ECW was a tag team match, teaming with Rob Van Dam to take on The Eliminators, which was the duo of John Kronus & Perry Saturn.
Not much is known about Chris Jericho’s ECW debut. No footage is available from the event, but we do know that he lost his first match in the company when he and RVD lost to The Eliminators.
Chris Jericho’s First ECW Championship
Chris Jericho won his first Championship in ECW just months after his debut, defeating Pitbull #2 for the ECW Television Championship at Hardcore Heaven 1996.
As a talented young star, Jericho was immediately pushed as a big deal in ECW. In his first ECW Championship match, he wrestled Pitbull #2 at Hardcore Heaven 1996. Having his first match for a championship was a huge deal for Y2J, who had the infamous “Jericho Curse” to deal with. The match was for the ECW Television Championship, adding even more stakes for him to contend with.
However, Chris Jericho won his first championship in ECW thanks to interference from Shane Dougas. As he distracted the Pitbulls, Jericho hit a Hurricanrana from the top rope to pin Pitbull #2 to win the match. It was a move he had learnt from his time in Mexico and helped him win the ECW Television Championship.
His ECW Signing Almost Never Happened Due To Paul Heyman
A tape that Dave Meltzer sent to Paul Heyman was the catalyst for getting Chris Jericho his ECW debut. The Wrestling Observer journalist is famous for helping, or hindering, wrestlers careers with his star ratings over the years but did good when he helped introduce Chris Jericho to the audience in the United States.
In July 1995 Chris Jericho competed in the hallowed Ryōgoku Sumo Hall in Japan against Ultimo Dragon. Lionheart, as Jericho was known then, won that match and retained his WAR Junior Heavyweight Championship in the process. However, the match would prove to be the start of much bigger things for Chris Jericho.
Speaking on Twitter, Dave Meltzer revealed that he sent the match to Paul Heyman at the time. His intention was the show him Ultimo Dragon, who Heyman was interested in signing for ECW. Instead he was impressed by Jericho, who he promptly brought to the company to wrestle.
“I sent a tape of this match to Heyman, who wanted to see Dragon because he wanted to push him in ECW. He got the tape, somehow never got Dragon, but it opened his eyes to Jericho, and that’s how Jericho got into ECW.”Dave Meltzer on how he got Chris Jericho signed by ECW
He left WCW in 1999 to sign for the WWE. Chris Jericho’s WWE debut is one of the most legendary debuts of all time, and you can click the link below to read more about that.