True or False: "Raw is Jericho"
Updated: Aug 5, 2022
"Welcome to RAW…IS…JERICHO!" On August 9th 1999 episode of Raw, in the Windy City of Chicago, the millennium clock counted down and the word JERICHO became emblazoned across the entrance screen. With arms out stretched and his back to the audience, the Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla turned to face the Chicago faithful and uttered those now immortal words. The Y 2 Jericho problem had arrived, and nothing would E-E-E-E-EVER be the same again.
Fast forward to the autumn of 2020 and Chris Jericho has just celebrated his 30th anniversary in professional wrestling. A longevity that is unrivalled, Jericho has continued to reinvent himself and his superlative charisma has ensured that he has remained at the pinnacle of the wrestling business. Nowadays All Elite Wrestling fans are graced with the Demo God’s presence on a weekly basis, but on that fateful night in 1999 Jericho fractured the foundations of World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) flagship show; Jericho attempted to become Monday Night Raw. So, how do we establish if those three words are correct? How do we decipher whether Raw is in fact, Jericho? Collating statistics from Jericho’s WWE tenures, we must compare these against all the episodes of Monday Night Raw that Jericho was ‘eligible’ for. If Y2J was an active member roster on WWE television, we will deem the multi-time champion ‘eligible’ for Monday Night Raw. We will compare this eligibility data with the amount of Raw matches Jericho had to determine whether Raw is Jericho, once and for all.
Firstly, we must establish how many Monday Night Raw matches Chris Jericho participated in. According to the Internet Wrestling Database, Jericho competed in 420 Raw matches. When broken down, Jericho had 193 victories, 202 losses and 25 draws or no contests. Ultimately, this gives Chris Jericho a win percentage of 46%. Now that we have documented the number of Raw matches Jericho contested, we must determine how many Raw episodes Jericho was ‘eligible’ for. As of October 26th 2020, there have been 1,431 episodes of Monday Night Raw. Immediately, we must discard all Raw episodes prior to Jericho’s 1999 debut. During Raw’s formative years, Jericho competed for the likes of New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). Given Raw’s first episode aired on January 11th 1993, and it is a weekly episodic show, this means that there are 343 episodes that Jericho was no ‘eligible’ for. This leaves us with 1,088 episodes. One would hope that from here it would be easy to achieve our statistical mission, however it is crucial to remember that Jericho was not always a full-time WWE wrestler during his tenure. Hence, we must dive deeper into the data. Chris Jericho’s original WWE tenure began in 1999, as aforementioned, and ran through to September 27th 2010. There will have been odd-weeks that Jericho may not have been cleared for in-ring participation due to injury, however we will deem him ‘eligible’ for each episode during this time as he was an active roster member. Therefore, the now AEW superstar was ‘eligible’ for 581 episodes of WWE’s flagship show during this time. Following his departure from WWE in 2010, Jericho returned sporadically over the next decade. His first return came on January 2nd 2012 and this stint continued until July 19th 2013. Thus, Jericho was eligible for another 80 episodes of Monday Night Raw. Jericho’s second return to WWE saw the former Lionheart enter feuds sporadically, and thus we must look even deeper at his match history during this time. This means a return to the Internet Wrestling Database is needed. Between July 6th and December 15th 2014, Y2J competed in bouts on both TV and at live events so he is deemed ‘eligible’ during this period. We can therefore add 23 weeks to the total. Following this brief shift with the company, Jericho competed for WWE sporadically during 2015. However, given that the Winnipeg native only competed on live events, he is deemed ‘ineligible’ during this calendar year. As we flip the page and turnover to 2016, Jericho became a more frequent fixture for WWE. Given that he competed at least 4 different events (live an/or TV) during each month of 2016, Y2J is deemed ‘eligible’ for all 52 weeks of that year – or 52 episodes of Monday Night Raw. AEW’s Le Champion continued to wrestle for Vince McMahon’s WWE into 2017, with his final appearance on July 25th 2017. This results in a further 29 weeks of eligibility for Raw and signals the final stop on our statistical journey. Jericho did appear for WWE on one occasion in 2018 – at the much maligned Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia – however this would not make the superstar ‘eligible’ for any Raw episodes. Totalling up the number of episodes Jericho was ‘eligible’ for, we are able to see that Jericho could have wrestled on 765 episodes of Monday Night Raw. Comparing this to Jericho’s match total of 420, our data investigation displays that Jericho competed in 55% of Raw episodes he was ‘eligible’ for.
The quantitative data suggests that Jericho has a credible claim that his ‘Raw is Jericho’ statement is correct, however we must also approach this from a qualitative angle. Whilst we should not discount nor discard the match statistics of the New Millennium, Chris Jericho, but we must also measure the success within these statistics. Although we have already established that Jericho has a less than 50% winning record on Monday Night Raw, this does not tell the whole story when it comes to Chris’ success. In fact, if we delve into the statistics surrounding titles, championships and awards, it is tough to say that Jericho was anything other than victorious during his time with WWE. We must acknowledge that Jericho did not necessarily obtain these prizes on episodes of Raw, however we must simultaneously acknowledge that they play a crucial role in determining the importance of Jericho’s Raw appearances. Whilst match statistics tell a tale, championships paint a fuller picture. Principally, Jericho’s 6 World Championship reigns should not go unnoticed. Furthermore, it is hard to forget that Jericho was also the inaugural Undisputed Champion. Thus, at least on paper, Jericho was at the top of the card and a main event player for sustained periods of time during his WWE tenures. Becoming World Champion is seen as the pinnacle of a wrestler’s career, a vote of trust from those in command of a company; the boardroom see you as a prize asset. However, Jericho was not always highlighted as a ‘top star’ by the company. That said, his in-ring work continued to be stellar. In the WWE, this often leads to a reign with the Intercontinental Championship. The work-rate belt. To put everything into perspective, Jericho is a 9-time Intercontinental Champion. Throw in a couple United States Championship reigns and a singular reign with both the European and Hardcore Championships; Jericho has quite a resume. Furthermore, Y2J also shone in tag-team competition, racking up seven Tag Team Title reigns, including unifying the Tag Team belts with the Big Show. This success suggests the WWE had a lot of faith in Jericho.
If Championships fail to complete the whole picture, Chris Jericho also won the Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) ‘Wrestler of the Year’ twice when with on the books of WWE. PWI also awarded Jericho the 2008 ‘Feud of the Year’ – the Shawn Michaels feud that also won ‘Feud of the Decade’ – as well as voting him ‘Most Hated Wrestler’ in both 2002 and 2008 for his heel work. Additionally, Jericho was awarded second-place in the PWI 500 during 2009. Whilst the PWI awards are well-credited within the industry, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter also hands out notable annual awards of its own. Penned by the imperious wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, the newsletter awarded Jericho ‘Wrestler of the Year’ in both 2008 and 2009, as well awarding him ‘Best Interviews of the Decade’ for his charismatic promo work. Moreover, Jericho also won ‘Most Underrated Wrestler’ in 1999 and 2000 as well as ‘Feud of the Year’ for his aforesaid 2008 feud with the Heartbreak Kid. Without mentioning titles won in WCW, AEW and NJPW, this is already a role-call of honours that few – if any – wrestlers can match. In fact, these honours suggest Jericho has a claim superior to those words uttered on his Raw debut. Jericho has a valid claim to be the greatest of all-time. Jericho could well be the GOAT of the squared circle. Combine this with the fact that only one person has competed in a larger number of Raw matches than Jericho – Kane – and we are ready to draw this argument to a conclusion. Merging the entirety of the information and data available to us, we are left to answer that initial question: is the statement “Raw is Jericho”, correct? Whilst there may be arguments to and for this, it appears harder to argue against it. Not only has Jericho competed on more than 50% of the Monday Night Raw shows he was ‘eligible’ for, he has done so as an integral part of the WWE roster. A perennial title-holder and a wrestler deserving of his ‘legend’ status, Chris Jericho became synonymous with Monday Night Raw during the noughties and it is near impossible to separate the two entities from each other. Whilst it can be said with certainty that Raw would have continued sans Chris Jericho, would it have necessarily produced the stellar content it did with Jericho on board? As we rewind back to that fateful debut on August 9th 1999, and as the undervalued WCW superstar waited to propel himself into super-stardom, the first words he spoke on WWE television would ring true for years to come; “RAW…. IS… JERICHO” became a statement of fact.