Remember When: Chris Jericho vs Triple H – Fully Loaded 2000

This is a first installment of what I hope to be a monthly thing.  I want to reminisce about something a match, angle, or moment that happened in this month in the past. My first one is a match that I love quite a bit that happened on July 23rd, 2000.

All images are courtesy of WWE Network.

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The first half of 2000 was pretty good for WWF.  WCW was in decline and I don’t think was seen as much of a threat any longer.  However, they were starting to lack star power at the top of the card.  Mick Foley had retired; Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker were both out with injuries.  This really only left Triple H and the Rock at the top of the card and boy did it get repetitive.  Undertaker eventually returned with his American Bad-Ass gimmick and that injected some new life, but these were three men that had been in the main event scene for quite some time.  This is where Fully Loaded 2000 comes in.  The event had three main event matches that were meant to introduce new blood.  The Undertaker was feuding with Kurt Angle, the Rock was defending his WWF Championship against Chris Benoit, and in the match I want to spotlight we had Triple H taking on Chris Jericho in a Last Man Standing match.

The build to this match was kind of a long-term one.  Chris Jericho challenged Triple H months prior to a WWF Championship match and actually beat him.  The decision was reversed due to the referee admitting that he administered a fast count.  Later on down the line Triple H would go on to defend his title against a mystery opponent that was revealed to be Jericho.  The match, like the previous one, was a good one and Jericho almost walked away with the championship again.  Each match the two of them had only highlighted that these two should eventually lock up on Pay-Per-View because they could tear the house down.

The lead in to this match was that Jericho had kissed Stephanie McMahon, Triple H’s wife, at the previous PPV King of the Ring.  This led to the rest of D-Generation X involving themselves in one of Jericho’s matches which in turn led to Jericho costing Triple H a shot at the WWF Championship.  Jericho would further involve himself in Triple H’s business by causing him to get a stinkface from Rikishi and losing to legendary jobber, the Brooklyn Brawler.  Things would escalate even further when Jericho came out to interfere in a match where it looked like DX was about to break up, but it was actually a set up.  The assault ended with Jericho being left battered and bloodied.  Jericho would go on to demand a Last Man Standing Match against Triple H.

This match was pretty important to Jericho’s career going forward.  While he was able to showcase his charisma, humor, and technical ability in previous feuds and matches, he hadn’t quite shown the toughness needed to be taken fully seriously by the fans.  He started this one off with a flurry of fast paced offense.  When Triple H went on offense Jericho absorbed a great deal of punishment to his taped up ribs but he wouldn’t stay down.  A wicked DDT, a sleeper with body scissors, a pedigree, and a few chair shots wouldn’t keep him down either.  He would keep getting up and asking for more.  Eventually Jericho was able to turn things around and bloodied Triple H with a chair shot.  Jericho would be ruthless after this by bulldogging Triple H onto a chair and locking in the Walls of Jericho for a lengthy period of time.  He only broke the hold when Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley involved herself in the match and was also put in the Walls of Jericho.  The finish would see Triple H laid out on an announce table with Jericho about to attempt a Lionsault but Triple H would hit a low blow and back-suplex Jericho and himself through the table.  Triple H would make it up right before the 10 count, but collapsed after the referee called for the bell.

This match really felt like Triple H paying forward the toughness that he got to show in his matches against Cactus Jack.  I know Triple H gets a lot of (justified) flack for burying talent back in the day, but his main event run in 99-01 was solid.  Jericho made the most of this match and Triple H made him look like a million bucks throughout by selling his ass off.  Even in defeat Jericho looked strong as Triple H needed to be helped to the back.  I highly recommend this match as it is one of the best Last Man Standing matches WWF/E has ever done.

Alpha Vs Omega

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Like most wrestling fans, I am eagerly looking forward to New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 taking place on January 4th.  The card is stacked with a main event several years in the making with the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada taking on longtime rival Tetsuya Naito.  While that match is the main event, one of the semi-main events has started to really heat up.  I am talking, of course, about Kenny Omega defending his United States championship against Chris Jericho.  Now this match definitely falls in the category of a dream match, but this all seemed very unlikely just a few short months ago.  Jericho has been perceived as a WWE guy for almost twenty years.  Just to have him step away from that and appear somewhere else is a big deal regardless of whom his opponent is.

Omega and Jericho had some interaction on Twitter.  The general feeling that it was to possibly hype a match that would be taking place on Jericho’s Rock ‘N Wrestling cruise that would be happening in late 2018.  This was their final interaction on Twitter before Jericho shocked the wrestling world.

After defending his United States championship against Baretta at Power Struggle on 11/05/17, Omega was interrupted while cutting a promo by a video from Jericho.  In the video Jericho challenged Omega to a match at Wrestle Kingdom and billed it as Alpha Vs Omega.  The reason for Jericho’s challenge is that Omega claims to be the best in the world, but so does Jericho since he claimed it first.  He used a similar reason to challenge CM Punk at Wrestlemania 28.  I think Jericho is one of the few wrestlers who remembers his own story so when he does something, it’s usually consistent with his character.  He also works much better as a heel and while the match was going to be something special, Jericho added something to it recently.

At a recent NJPW event Jericho ran another video after Omega’s matches, but this time when the lights came up he was standing behind Omega.  I figured Jericho wouldn’t actually be in Japan until Wrestle Kingdom, but I was mistaken like so many others.  Jericho laid a beat down on Omega that went on for several minutes.  Omega was bloody at the end of it and Jericho had even laid out one of his friends, Don Callis, who was an announcer who went into the ring to check on Omega.  The image of a bloodied and battered Omega changed the dynamic of the match.

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Photo Courtesy of WhatCulture.Com

It will no longer be a simple match of who the better person is, but a personal one.  Jericho being the clear heel and Omega being the scrappy face couldn’t be clearer than in the press conference that followed.  I strongly suggest watching the whole thing if you have time, but I have Jericho’s bit ready to go.

I love how the build of this is sort of a reversal of a similar angle Jericho was involved in 15 years ago.  In the build up to Wrestlemania 19 Jericho had called out a recently returning Shawn Michaels.  The two were very similar with their characters and in-ring style and it felt like Jericho was calling out the old man so he could put him down.  Ultimately Jericho lost that match and Michaels stayed around for several more years.  This time Jericho is the old man and he’s picking a fight with the younger version of himself, not someone who’s just making their comeback.  While Jericho is billed as the “Alpha” of the match, since he did all of the things Omega claims to do first, he’s really the “Omega”.  Jericho is probably nearing the end of his in-ring career while Omega hopefully has several years left in him.  I’m most curious if this will be a one-off for Jericho or will it lead to more appearances.  It’s also great to see Kenny Omega get rewarded with a marquee match that will help get more American eyes on the product.  He’s not the only person to help elevate NJPW, but he’s the one that most American audiences may know about.