How should Chris Jericho’s WWE career be remembered?

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August 22, 2012

He quickly added to his resume by commencing the first of his four WCW Cruiserweight Championship reigns less than one year from his WCW debut. He also won the WCW World Television Championship, making Jericho the first and only person to have won both ECW’s and WCW’s World Television Titles.

While most would remark that Jericho’s runs in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, ECW and WCW was impressive, it merely served as the prologue for what would follow the events on Aug. 9, 1999 — or, to be more specific, the day Y2J introduced himself to the WWE Universe on Raw.

Charged with going one-on-one with The Great One in his WWE debut, Jericho interrupted The Rock’s in-ring comments with his own larger-than-life personality and, as was the case for most Superstars who cut off The People’s Champion, suffered the consequences in the form of a fierce tongue lashing. (WATCH) By the end of August 1999, Jericho was backing up his brash comments with brute force by roughing up “Road Dogg” Jesse James on the inaugural edition of SmackDown. And by the end of the year, Jericho would collect his first of many WWE-sanctioned titles to come.

While Chris Jericho’s rivalry with Chyna was certainly notable for the novelty factor and the extents each went to get under the other’s skin, it also cemented two of Y2J’s defining traits. First, their battles ended with Jericho as Intercontinental Champion, thus continuing his pattern of quickly dominating his competition and becoming a titleholder within one year of his debut — just as he did in ECW and WCW. Second, it marked the first of Jericho’s nine Intercontinental Title reigns, which is nearly three better than anyone else and a higher total than those of WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels, Bret “Hit Man” Hart and Mr. Perfect combined.

Y2J established himself as a mainstay of The Attitude Era, balancing his verbal jousting and athletic capabilities as effectively as any of his peers. It also led Jericho to more success in the ring, with battles against the likes of Triple H, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Kurt Angle fueling his competitive fires and leading him to claims on the Intercontinental, Hardcore, European and World Tag Team Titles along the way.

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