Second time around, Jericho's on a mission

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December 13, 2007

Chris Jericho's second coming isn't just about his return to WWE and mission to "save_us" from Randy Orton's WWE Championship reign. It's about the birth of a new and improved Y2J.

There's been something different about Jericho since his return. Just remember the look in the eyes of WWE's first-ever Undisputed Champion when he had Orton bent in half Monday night on Raw, firmly trapped in The Walls of Jericho. The crowd roared as Orton squirmed and thrashed and pounded the mat, begging for mercy from his Armageddon opponent.

If this was Sunday, the referee would have called for the bell, and Jericho's mission to "save_us" from Randy Orton would have been complete. He'd be the new WWE Champion, and would have put a large crack in the Legend Killer's one-man dynasty. After releasing Orton, Y2J picked up the WWE Title, and smiled, thinking about what could be this Sunday in Pittsburgh.

The Legend Killer is not facing the same man that captured the imagination of our fans during his first coming between 1999 and 2005. Here's a look at Jericho then versus Jericho now:

Once fried, now fired up

Orton has said he agreed to give Jericho a WWE Title Match because he "knew" he could beat him, especially since Y2J is coming back from a two-year layoff. But that claim has only further stoked a fire that seems to have been burning in Jericho since his departure in 2005.

Monday night, Jericho gave much of the credit for his new determination to former Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff. Since Bischoff fired Y2J in 2005, Jericho seems to have been on a quest to prove he could be what the GM never thought he could be -- the brand's top champion and main-eventer. A constant thorn in the side of his title quests in the past in both WCW and WWE, Y2J explained to Bischoff that his firing was ultimately the motivation he needed.

"By forcing me to take a leave, you made me realize that I was a little bit burned out. A little bit mentally fried," Jericho told his former boss. "During that time away, I got a little bit of a fire lit underneath me, a little bit of passion. I decided, when the time came, I would come back and become better than ever. When the time came, I'd become the new WWE Champion. And that time is this Sunday at Armageddon. There will be a new champion ... Y ... 2 ... J!"

Still Exciting, But Not Stuck in the Past

Though it's shorter, Y2J still has his own unique hairstyle. He's still a flamboyant, colorful dresser. And the "Ayatollah of Rock ‘n Rolla" is still a witty, wise-cracker who can make our fans laugh at any given moment.

But that trademark Y2J humor seems more subdued now; he seems more serious, focused and hell-bent on proving his championship mettle.

As Jericho told WWE Magazine recently, the former "Man of 1,004 Holds" has new tricks up his sleeve.

"I have a new finisher (the Code Breaker) and a couple of new moves and ideas," Y2J explained. "I wanted to come back fresher and better than ever. I'll use The Walls of Jericho. I'm like AC/DC putting out a new record. I'll play three new songs, as well as all the old hits you know and love. Actually, I have pages and pages of stuff that I might use."

Y2J isn't dwelling on his past. He isn't reminding people how he defeated The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in one night to become the Undisputed WWE Champion. As Y2J himself conceded to Orton, that means nothing in today's WWE and in his current quest to take the WWE Championship.

Jerichoholics have never questioned Y2J's championship qualifications. He won nine WWE singles titles, three World Tag Team Titles and two World Championships during his first WWE tenure. After Monday night's encounter at the business end of The Walls of Jericho, Randy Orton may believe his WWE Championship is in serious jeopardy at Armageddon.

Will Y2J make good on his promise and "save_us" from Orton's title reign? We find out this Sunday at Armageddon, live on pay-per-view.

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