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Only 32 days to the big one, WrestleMania 25, and “the grand daddy of ‘em all” is quickly taking shape. However, one match that is yet to be decided has the potential to be one of the most interesting contests on the entire card.
The question of course is who will face Chris Jericho??? A quick recap to those a bit out of the loop is that Jericho has been verbally running down and physically attacking various WWE Legends over the past number of weeks. This all started with Y2J’s comments on Mickey Rourke’s performance in the hit movie “The Wrestler”. Jericho complimented Rourke’s actual acting on WWE TV and on Larry King Live, but warned him to stay out of ‘his world’.
Over the passing weeks Chris insulted WWE Hall of Famers on the idea that ”The Wrestler” encouraged old timers to keep hanging around for their one last shot at glory and not give the next generation a chance. Legends like Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat, and Ric Flair have all tried to talk some sense into Jericho about how they paved the way for todays Superstars, only to be met with embarrassing beat downs. All the time he has been challenging Mickey Rourke to face him man to man.
Fans love to see their old favourites and give the nostalgic crowd pop. That’s what makes this storyline so interesting. The Legends trying to explain to Jericho how important remembering the past is in this business, using “The Wrestler” movie as the base. Now back to the question of…who will face Jericho?
Lets run down some probable and rumoured suspects: Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, and Mickey Rourke.
Stone Cold is being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year, which would lend us to believing that Austin’s one last big match could be at Mania’s 25th anniversary. Back in 2007 I interviewed Stone Cold and he stated that he would need at least 6 months to properly train for a return to the ring, and would only do so against a stellar opponent. Reports recently have also said that Austin told personal friends that he will not compete at WrestleMania because he doesn’t have enough time to get ready. Of course this could all be a swerve and for all we know the Texas Rattlesnake is locked, stocked and ready for battle. The quality of competitor also matches up with Austin’s previous comment as Jericho is a phenomenal performer who could easily hide any ring rust Stone Cold would have. With ticket sales being lower then expected for Mania, having Austin confirmed to fight would provide that special element for a boost in sales.
The next options are either Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan. Flair has been legitimately retired since he lost to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24, and the hype of his return to shut up the arrogant Jericho would be huge news. Mickey Rourke also stated that part of his character’s influence in the movie came from The Nature Boy. Having Rourke in Flair’s corner for a one night only return would give that special Mania moment that fans look for every year. You know Flair would be ready at the drop of a hat to compete if called upon.
Next up is The Hulkster. It would be an absolute shame to not have the man who essentially made WrestleMania what it is today at the 25th anniversary. Simply put, without Hulk Hogan there would be no WrestleMania. Hogan’s personal family troubles have been well documented (messy divorce from wife Linda) and apparently he is still a physical and emotional wreck. However, there is no bigger legend out there then Mr. Hogan. Jericho could say he will be the man to finally kill Hulkamania and to prove once and for all that these stars from the past need to go away forever. Throw in Rourke as Hulk’s manager and you have the makings of an emotional, memorable WrestleMania moment. The only issue is the constant love/hate relationship between Hogan and Vince McMahon, but it has been reported that Vince has reached out to Hulk to be apart of the Mania show in some way.
Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler has been rumoured to be in place as a backup if everything falls through. This would be extremely anti-climactic in my view because although Lawler is a hall of famer he just doesn’t carry the same buzz as the other possibilities.
The final option, in my view anyway, is Mickey Rourke himself. Rourke looked good performing in the ring during the film, however, wrestling in front of a Hollywood camera crew and 60,000 plus rabid fans are two entirely different things. With Rourke back at Hollywood respectability it is doubtful that he would actually take on Jericho one on one. My guess is that he will accompany whichever legend is in the match and probably get to land a punch on Y2J. One other possibility is that WWE picks a current guy on the roster to battle in the honour of the legends…this also would be quite anti-climactic.
I would expect Jericho to attack one or two more past WWE Superstars before we find out who his WrestleMania combatant will be. Either way, this has been one of the most entertaining and emotional storylines that the WWE has put together in quite some time. If the correct opponent is chosen then Chris Jericho’s match will go down as a truly classic WrestleMania moment.
Andy McNamara is a SLAM! Wrestling writer, and play-by-play broadcaster for Toronto Maple Leafs inter-county league baseball, along with hockey, basketball, and volleyball on Rogers Television in Toronto. He is also the Host of Oakville Blades hockey on TV Cogeco. Contact Andy at email@example.com