Chris Jericho‘s WWE debut if often remembered as one of the greatest wrestling debuts of al time. The former WWE, WCW and AEW Champion shocked the world when he interrupted The Rock on August 9, 1999 on an episode of WWE Raw is War.
It was the day that one of the most extravagant, entertaining and sometimes controversial wrestlers of all time made his debut for the biggest wrestling company in America, and made his infallible mark upon the wrestling world after a difficult time in WCW.
As the “Millennium Clock” struck zero during a promo by The Rock, the crowd erupted as the words “Jericho” appeared on the screen, and the Christ-like stance of Chris Jericho became available to see to the baying WWE audience.
Chris Jericho’s WWE debut started well, going toe-to-toe with one of the greats in wrestling history in the rock. He proclaimed he was here to save WWE from the likes of The Rock, remarking upon their boring characters and faltering ratings as one of the reasons that the newly Christened Y2J had come to WWE.
Chris Jericho’s debut, and subsequent matches, seemed like a dream debut in WWE and one of the best in history. However, not all is what meets the eye and soon it would be clear that Chris Jericho’s WWE debut was not quite as great as most thought it was.
Chris Jericho’s WWE debut
In his second book, Undisputed: How to Become World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps, Chris Jericho opens the book by talking about his WWE debut. The book takes off where the previous entry left off, as he is about to walk out of the curtain and take on The Rock in a battle on the microphone in August 1999.
While it seemed like one of the best WWE debuts of all time, Chris Jericho reveals his WWE debut was anything but that.
In the first chapter of the book, Jericho writes:
“However, there were a few other reasons why I didn’t get into a program with The Rock right from the get-go. For one thing, I was coming from WCW, which, being enemy territory, automatically put me under a giant microscope. Another problem was that matches in the WWE were constructed in a totally different way than they were in WCW, a way that was completely foreign to me.”
“In WCW, we pretty much did whatever we wanted in the ring, but in the WWE the style was much more serious and structured. In WCW, I was able to keep my head above water by acting as ridiculous as I could and performing whatever comedy bits I could think of to get noticed. But now that my head was above water and the spotlight was on me, I still kept doing what I did best, and that wasn’t my role anymore.”
“It wasn’t what Vince wanted from me, even though nobody ever really told me what it was that he did want. On top of all that, I had this huge buildup coming into the company that left me with a target on my back bigger than Val Venis’s penis.”
“I found out very quickly that it didn’t matter what I had accomplished or what my reputation was outside of the WWE walls, I had to prove myself all over again from scratch. And I’d failed round one with my goofy reactions to Rocky’s words.”
He revealed that his reactions to The Rock’s promos, and the perceived burying and talking down of the current WWE roster put him in bad stead with the WWE management. Vince McMahon was unhappy with Jericho for this promo and in the following weeks, but refused to elaborate to Jericho as to what he was doing wrong.
This catapulted Jericho from the top of the card into midcard feuds with the likes of Chyna and Perry Saturn. After so much promise from his debut Chris Jericho had fallen faster and harder than most superstars had before him.
Luckily for Chris Jericho, his hard work and talent allowed him to finally reach the top of the card in the subsequent years, winning multiple world championship in both WWE and AEW, and rightfully being recognised as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. His feuds against the likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Kevin Owens rank as some of the best ever and definitely show the promise that was expected of him during his WWE debut.
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Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.