Championship Reigns (2007–2009)
After a two-year hiatus, WWE promoted Jericho's return starting September 24, 2007 with a viral marketing campaign using a series of 15-second cryptic binary code videos, similar to the matrix digital rain featured in The Matrix series. The videos contained hidden messages and biblical links related to Jericho. Jericho made his return to WWE television as a face on the November 19, 2007 episode of Raw when he interrupted Randy Orton during Orton's orchestrated passing of the torch ceremony. Jericho revealed his intentions to reclaim the WWE Championship in order to "save" WWE fans from Orton. On the November 26 episode of Raw, Jericho defeated Santino Marella and debuted a new finishing maneuver called the Codebreaker. At Armageddon, he competed in a WWE title match against Orton, defeating him by disqualification when SmackDown's color commentator John "Bradshaw" Layfield interfered in the match, but Orton retained the title. He began a feud with JBL and met him at the Royal Rumble. Jericho was disqualified after hitting JBL with a steel chair. On the March 10 episode of Raw, Jericho captured the Intercontinental Championship for a record eighth time when he defeated Jeff Hardy.
In April 2008, Jericho became involved in the ongoing feud between Shawn Michaels and Batista when he suggested that Michaels enjoyed retiring Ric Flair, causing Michaels to superkick him. Jericho thus asked to be inserted into Batista's and Michaels' match at Backlash, but instead, he was appointed as the special guest referee. During the match at Backlash, Michaels feigned a knee injury so that Jericho would give him time to recover and suckered Batista in for a superkick for the win. After Backlash, Jericho accused Michaels of cheating, but Michaels continued to play up an injury. When Jericho was finally convinced and he apologized to Michaels for not believing him, Michaels then admitted to Jericho that he had faked his injury and he superkicked Jericho. Michaels then defeated Jericho at Judgment Day, with Jericho initiating a handshake after the match.
On the June 9 episode of Raw, Jericho hosted his talk show segment, The Highlight Reel, interviewing Michaels. Jericho pointed out that Michaels was still cheered by the fans despite Michaels' deceit and attack on Jericho during the previous months, whereas Jericho was booed when he tried to do the right thing. Jericho then assaulted Michaels with a low blow and sent Michaels through the "Jeritron 6000" television, damaging Michaels' eye, thus Jericho turned heel for the first time since 2005. This began what was named by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter the "Feud of the Year". At Night of Champions, Jericho lost the Intercontinental Title to Kofi Kingston after a distraction by Michaels. In June, Jericho also took on Lance Cade as a protegé.
Afterward, Jericho developed a suit-wearing "self righteous honest man" gimmick inspired by Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) from the film No Country for Old Men. In doing so, Jericho purposely shed many of the trademarks associated with the "Y2J" character, taking "every characteristic that made him popular, and strip those traits away from himself." Jericho and Michaels met at The Great American Bash, which Jericho won after attacking the cut on Michaels's eye. Michaels later announced that his eye damage would force him to retire, but insulted Jericho by saying he would never achieve Michaels' success. Jericho tried to attack Michaels, but Michaels ducked, so Jericho punched Michaels' wife, Rebecca, instead. As a result, they met in an Unsanctioned match at Unforgiven which Jericho lost. In the main event of Unforgiven, Jericho entered the Championship Scramble as a replacement for the defending champion CM Punk and subsequently won the World Heavyweight Championship. Jericho then successfully defended his title against Michaels at No Mercy in a ladder match after Lance Cade interfered. At Cyber Sunday, Jericho lost the title to Batista in a regular match. Eight days later, Jericho defeated Batista to win back the title in a steel cage match. Jericho ended his feud with Michaels by beating Michaels in a Last Man Standing match on the November 10 episode of Raw after interference from John "Bradshaw" Layfield. Jericho's reign as World Champion lasted until the 2008 Survivor Series, where Jericho lost to the returning John Cena.
On the January 12, 2009 episode of Raw, WWE Executive Vice President Stephanie McMahon fired Jericho, but he was rehired the following week after making a forced apology. On February 15 at No Way Out, he was eliminated by his former rival Rey Mysterio, while Mysterio was defeated by Edge to become new World Heavyweight Champion.
Jericho had an on-screen feud with The Wrestler film star Mickey Rourke and with four WWE Hall of Famers. He challenged and attacked Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka, and Ricky Steamboat on various episodes of Raw leading to WrestleMania XXV. At the event he won an elimination match against Snuka, Steamboat and Piper. After this, Jericho challenged Rourke who was at ringside for the event. As part of the storyline, Rourke knocked Jericho out after a left hook to the jaw.
On the April 13 episode of Raw, Jericho was drafted to the SmackDown brand as part of the 2009 WWE Draft. Ricky Steamboat interrupted Jericho's Raw farewell address, which led to the two facing off at Backlash where Jericho came out victorious. In his SmackDown return, Jericho participated in a fatal-four-way elimination match against Kane, Jeff Hardy, and Rey Mysterio. Mysterio executed a 619 on Jericho and then attempted to pin him with a seated senton. Jericho retaliated by throwing a chair at Mysterio and was disqualified. This sparked a feud between the two. Mysterio pinned Jericho after a 619 at Judgment Day to retain the Intercontinental Championship. Jericho defeated Mysterio in a No Holds Barred Match at Extreme Rules to win his ninth Intercontinental Championship, breaking his own record again. At The Bash Jericho lost the Intercontinental title to Mysterio.
Famous quotes containing the word reigns:
“That in all times, mediocrity has dominated, that is indubitable; but that it reigns more than ever, that it is becoming absolutely triumphant and inhibiting, this is what is as true as it is distressing.”
—Charles Baudelaire (18211867)