This is shaping up to be the WrestleMania of Deception! (I should really copyright that). We have two simultaneous storylines between both brands which hinge on backstabbing. As heartbreaking as it was, the unholy friendship of JeriKO was destined for breakup city. It had been teased for months, the two even staging a mock split to force Kevin Owens into retaining his Universal championship via disqualification. It was such an entertaining run, full of some of the best segments in wrestling history. The comedy duo of Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens will be dearly missed, and frankly, I’m not sure how we’re going to survive in a post-JeriKO world.
My major concern is that Chris Jericho’s greatest heel character in over a decade is dead. It feels like he’s getting so over with fans that he may be turning face. Of course, The New Day made this transition smoothly, though I definitely prefer some good anti-fan rhetoric. Even if they’re well liked, making fun of those who love you is a time honored heel tradition. It’s ironic, really. A wrestler in this day and age gets over by berating their fans, only to turn face, and run the risk of losing popularity. As wrestling fans, we kind of like to be mistreated. Because we know...they only do it because they love us. Right? RIGHT??
Wrestling fans are a bit masochistic like that. That’s probably what draws us to sports entertainment in the first place. Not only do we take pleasure in the physical abuse, but there’s an aspect of us being mentally abused that we can’t get enough of. It’s an odd personality type indeed. And no one carries that fan bashing tradition quite like Jericho. He’s a master of character evolution, but getting over as a face has never been his strong suit. Hopefully, he’ll only lean a bit toward the middle and become a respectable tweener. He practically already is anyway.
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But if you’re wondering what motive Owens had for turning on his friend, the answer is simple. Even though Jericho was an incredibly useful asset in his title reign, Triple H was the one who handed him that championship in the first place. Triple H called in the favor, and Kevin Owens had to drop his best friend. Of course, the authority has a history of chewing people up and spitting them out (See: Seth Rollins), but an alliance with Samoa Joe can only mean good things for Owens. As helpful as the friendship with Jericho was, the authority will guarantee victory against Goldberg at Fastlane.
Though, I could see Goldberg winning the title just so his match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania with be a bigger main event. That would leave Jericho to put up his US title against Owens. But I would personally like to see a title-for-title battle of friends and see Jericho holding double gold once again, mimicking his first ever Undisputed title win.
All great alliances must come to an end in wrestling. The most famous split of all time may be Shawn Michaels putting Marty Jannetty through the Barber Shop window. But it appears as though the serpentine Rumble winner, Randy Orton, is still waiting for the perfect moment to strike. I mean...he has to turn on Bray Wyatt, right? He must. If not, what has this all been for? But alas, the number one contender for Bray’s WWE Championship pledged his undying allegiance to The Eater of Worlds on Smackdown.
So, based on this, buzz of a triple threat match has been swirling in the ether. Surely, a triple threat between Wyatt, Orton, and potentially Luke Harper would be all too enticing to the patriarch of the Wyatt family. Convinced this would be a handicap match against Harper, Bray Wyatt would be sucked right into the Viper’s trap, seeing Orton hit an RKO at just the right moment in a opportunistic climax to this story. Even though it’s a likely scenario, it’s also the best conclusion. A morality tale as old as time. The wolf in sheep’s clothing. And how fitting, considering the sheep mask of the Wyatt family. Yes, it would seem that the wool has been pulled over Bray’s eyes, leaving him blind in his supposed power over the Legend Killer. If this is the the end of this story, it will be one of the most well-executed storylines in WWE history.
Trust and deceit have always been great storytelling tools. It’s a very relatable trope, and to be used in pro wrestling is a natural adaptation. The thirst for power can make you betray your best friend, in the case of Jericho and Owens; or make you blind to a snake’s duplicitous trickery, in the case of the Wyatt family. Not only is it Shakespearean, it’s damn near biblical. On RAW we have a King of Kings and his subjects, and on Smackdown we have a God and a manipulative serpent. All the characters are there for two of the most well-structured story arch in WrestleMania history. Hopefully, they both unfold accordingly.
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston. He hosts the comedy podcast, "So Now I'm the Asshole" on Fans.FM and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke