Heels. Heels everywhere…
‘How to benefit younger talent in 1,372 easy steps’ by Chris Jericho
Okay, so it’s not quite in as many steps as it took Y2J to become WWE’s Undisputed Champion back in 2001, but the logic of a Jericho heel turn is a great move in modern day WWE.
The fact is WWE is very lacking in great heels since Seth Rollins’ incredible run was cut short atop the mountain, and this is more than supported by the crowning of Triple H, the now-COO of WWE, as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion leading into the company’s biggest show of the year, WrestleMania.
Now, I could waffle on about WWE not trusting the influx of NXT talent to run the main event scene on their biggest stage (I personally believe allowing the modern crop of stars to shine would make for a fantastic WrestleMania), but that is a story for a much longer discussion (many of which are likely on Reddit as I type this).
Instead, I want to take a trip down memory lane and look at WrestleMania XIX’s ‘show stealing’ match (at least in my opinion – feel free to share your favourites in the comments).
In a classic teacher versus student scenario, WWE utilised the true respect Jericho has for Shawn Michaels, turning the ‘Ayatolla of Rock ‘n’ Rolla’ against HBK by having his respect turn to distain (and also coining the term ‘Has Been Kid’ I believe?). What came of this was a memorable Royal Rumble elimination of Michaels at the hands of Jericho, a series of fantastic promos, and, most importantly, the dream match in Seattle between the two established superstars.
This effort to refresh your minds is in the name of what could be yet another Jericho show-stealer some thirteen years later at the 32nd edition of ‘Mania.
I have talked about the impact a Jericho heel turn will inevitably have on the younger babyfaces in WWE throughout the revival of this weekly review, but the potential for this year’s WrestleMania is yet to be truly explored.
WWE may wrap up the AJ Styles story this Sunday, which is a real shame, since the two could realistically steal the show with a fast-paced, hard hitting, athletic WrestleMania match (sound familiar?).
But what if they do continue the feud?
The continuation of #AJvsY2J really does not hinge on this Sunday’s winner, and there are two routes to go down to get to the match we all really want.
1. A Jericho victory at FastLane: Y2J wins the tie-breaking match, and goes on to re-emerge as the cocky Jericho by bragging at every turn. This leads to AJ making one last challenge to Jericho for ‘Mania, and the continued denial of the match unleashes the aggression AJ has briefly shown at the expense of The Miz. We get a cowardly-yet-cocky Jericho versus an AJ Styles determined to make his mark on the veteran at WrestleMania 32.
2. An AJ Styles victory at FastLane: Styles, content that he has come out on top in this mini-series, looks to move on to his next challenge (possibly teasing a match versus newly-crowned Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens) before Y2J bitterly attacks the ‘Redneck Rookie’. The build for this match relies on a mix of Jericho promos and sneak attacks to draw sympathy for AJ, and the WrestleMania victor really is an afterthought in this scenario.
If AJ wins, he goes over and becomes a serious contender for a championship while Jericho uses the embarrassing defeat to build his heel run. If Y2J wins, he builds his heel run on the back of a huge win over a respected indie hero while AJ takes a great performance at WrestleMania and turns it into success in 2016.
Which former Shield member will turn first?
The build to WWE FastLane’s Triple Threat main event was dubbed “Brother versus Brother versus Beast” by Dean Ambrose this week, but the show itself was missing the “Beast” element of the equation. As a result, the WWE Universe was teased with the elephant-in-the-room of ‘will Ambrose turn on Reigns?’ this week.
Until this week, it seemed pretty clear to me that Ambrose will turn on his former Shield brother, but it all seems a little too obvious now.
The Ambrose heel turn is being alluded to an awful lot lately, mostly as a device for Stephanie McMahon to agitate (somewhat unsuccessfully) Roman, and it seems like WWE shouldn’t be (effectively) spoiling their own future twists.
This makes me wonder what relevance the offer The Authority made to ‘The Big Dog’ some time ago to join them has.
It is pretty commonplace that The Authority likes to test their hand-picked champions, and Randy Orton and Seth Rollins are both perfect examples of just that. With this in mind, the biggest test Triple H could give Roman Reigns is himself on the biggest stage.
Sheamus has briefly tested those very waters, and did so unsuccessfully back at WrestleMania XXVI, but the stakes would be much higher this time around. How WWE would be able to build to a Reigns heel turn at any place other than FastLane remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t be the first time plans have changed so close to WrestleMania (see: Daniel Bryan’s road to WrestleMania XXX).
This Sunday could prove to be pivotal to the Road to WrestleMania 32, and unlike last year the WWE FastLane event is not a foregone conclusion.
There is very little riding on the results of the FastLane contests, but the direction of the storylines designed to build WrestleMania 32 depends on how the heel superstars come out on Raw, February 22nd.
Written by Andy Springer