Chris Jericho debuted in WWE on August 9, 1999 on Monday Night Raw in one of the most memorable segments in history. He had been a misused star in WCW, never given his chance to compete with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Goldberg despite his immense popularity and left the company to pursue superstardom in Vince McMahon‘s WWE.
His first appearance in WWE happened during the middle of a segment feature The Rock. He interrupted “The Great One” during a promo in one of the most exciting debuts in history, as the unaware crowd erupted as the name “Jericho” appeared on the titantron. His debut had been foretold for some weeks, as a countdown clock – similar to a “countdown to the Millennium” clock which had become commonplace at the time – had been counting down to that very moment. When the clock hit zero, his name appeared on the screen and Y2J made his professional debut in the WWE.
Chris Jericho became known as Y2J from that point on, but where did the name come from and who thought up the genius name?
Why Is Chris Jericho Called Y2J?
In Chris Jericho’s first book, “A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex”, the former WWE and AEW Champion revealed that he came up with the name Y2J, but originally wanted to use it to name his finisher. It was Vince McMahon who came up with the idea of calling him Y2J – a play on the Y2K problem which looked set to end civilisation as we knew it once the clock struck midnight at the turn of the Millenium.
I told him whether I was using a pin fall or a submission, I wanted to call my finish the Y2J Problem. Y2J was a take-off on the much ballyhooed Y2K problem that was apparently going to destroy us all at midnight on January 1, 2000. It didn’t, although I personally was destroyed on that night. He smelled what I was cooking straight away and said, “That’s not going to be the name of your finish. That’s going to be your name period.” “The Y2J Problem? “No, just Y2J.” The rest is Jeric-History.”
The “Y2K Bug” was a formatting issue with computers which were going to become an issue once the calendar changed over the year 2000. It had the potential to bring down worldwide infrastructures for industries ranging from banking to air travel. Jericho debuted in 1999 when the furore surrounding the threat was at it’s peaked and in the end the people responsible managed to fix any issues and the year 2000 came and went smoothly.
He also revealed where he thought up the idea of the Millennium clock entrance. In the same book he explained how he got the idea after seeing a Millennium Clock counting down whilst sending some mail in the post office and was immediately inspired to make his first WWE entrance a huge one. He also came up with a new nickname to replace “Lion Heart” which had followed him since his time in Mexico, originally wanting to have the name “Millennium Man” before settling on Y2J.
“I was dropping off some mail at the post office when I saw a clock on the wall counting backward. Underneath the clock it said, “Countdown to the New Millennium.” It was six months before the year 2000 and the clock was keeping track of the time until New Year’s Eve: 176 days, 17 hours, 8 minutes, 12 seconds, 11 seconds… “
“I thought, “That would be a cool way for someone to come into the—wait, that’s a cool way for me to come into the WWF!” The WWF was famous for airing vignettes weeks before a new character’s arrival to build anticipation and excitement. I’d just discovered my vignette. I called Russo and he promised to run my idea past Vince that day.”
“The Millennium Clock idea was…ahem…timely, because I’d been trying to think of a replacement replacement for the Lion Heart name for a while. I’d been using it for years and I wanted to come into my new company with a new look, a new name, and a new nose. Well two out of three ain’t bad. So it was goodbye Lion Heart, hello Millennium Man. I would enter the WWF promising to be the performer to take the company into the year 2000 and beyond.”
However, Chris Jericho doesn’t like going by that name in AEW anymore. He revealed that he instructed AEW’s commentary team to never call him Y2J ever again, and confirmed that to a fan on Twitter by explaining how the character of “Y2J” was a relic of a bygone era and something from 15 years ago which no longer exists.