It’s the end of the world, and Jericho feels fine

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January 27, 2012

With the mere utterance of a single declarative sentence Monday night, Chris Jericho revved up a WWE Universe that has patiently waited since Jan. 2 to hear the former champion say something – anything – about his headline-grabbing return. (PHOTOS | WATCH)

Now that the silence has officially broken and it is known that Jericho will take part in the 25th anniversary of the Royal Rumble Match, the WWE Universe moves on to the next step in demystifying his reappearance: figuring out what, exactly, his foreboding intimation on Raw SuperShow is supposed to mean.

As with everything else that Jericho has done since coming back, his curt proclamation Monday night posed more questions than it answered.

“This Sunday at the Royal Rumble, it’s going to be the end of the world as you know it,” he concisely stated during his first “Highlight Reel” segment on Raw in nearly four years.

Chris Jericho's intimations continue to confound.Aside from paraphrasing the least karaoke-friendly song in R.E.M.’s catalog, Jericho’s apocalyptic prophecy served largely to befuddle viewers. It has not gone unnoticed that Jericho waited until the first month of a year packed with various end-of-the-world conspiracies to deliver his brief doomsday warning. Yet, with the purported end-time date, Dec. 21, 2012, still months away, smart money says the most incandescent thing the WWE Universe will see Sunday is Jericho’s jacket – not killer solar flares.

Nor has it been forgotten that the cryptic videos trumpeting Jericho’s return shared a common tagline – “The End Begins” – that seems to speak to whatever Armageddon Jericho has in mind for the Rumble.

So how in the world does one begin making sense of these snippets of information, and what do they portend for the Rumble Sunday?

Let’s begin with what is already known: On Jan. 29, live on pay-per-view, Jericho will enter the Royal Rumble Match, marking the first time in more than a year that the first Undisputed WWE Champion in history will actually compete in the ring. (Jericho’s offense during Raw SuperShow’s six-Superstar tag team match two weeks ago was limited to tagging in and out of the action.) With his legacy firmly intact, Jericho has made the bold, if not foolhardy, decision to shake off any lingering ring rust in one of WWE’s most trying and prestigious battling grounds – the Royal Rumble Match.

By foretelling that the “end of the world” will happen at the Royal Rumble, maybe Jericho was simply warning his fellow Superstars to not sleep on the cagey warhorse returning from a long layoff.  It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Jericho believes life for WWE Superstars is easier without him in the picture; perhaps the Royal Rumble Match – and a Jericho victory – would signify the end of the cushy life for Superstars who’ve grown accustomed to a post-Jericho world.

Maybe Jericho’s remark Monday concerned all that has transpired in WWE during his absence. Since Randy Orton punted Jericho out of action in late 2010, Raw SuperShow has experienced Superstar walkouts and power grabs, not to mention a revolution started in earnest by WWE Champion CM Punk. Jericho sat on the sidelines while WWE underwent radical changes and an entirely new crop of talent blossomed. Could that be the “world” to which Jericho’s referring?Since his return, Chris Jericho has been warmly received by the WWE Universe.

Or, perhaps it’s wrong to assume it was other Superstars that Jericho was putting on notice with his comment last Monday.

In examining Jericho’s one-sentence promo, it is important to note the exact verbiage he used: “the end of the world as you know it.” Could he have even been referring to the loyal WWE Universe, which has embraced Jericho’s sometimes-cheesy antics with open arms?

If so, Jericho’s remark would seem to imply that despite his gushing and, at times, tearful, response to the WWE Universe’s warm reception, Jericho’s worldview does not entirely dovetail with theirs. Maybe Jericho’s premonition foreshadows an end in sight for the good feelings?

With the 25th anniversary of Royal Rumble just around the corner, it is only a matter of days before the veil of mystery is lifted and the thrust of Jericho’s vague promise is revealed for all to see. What is clear in the present moment is that Jericho knows something, and the rest of us can only speculate as to what that something is.

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