Too much time on one’s hands could be a bad thing. In professional wrestling, however, time is invaluable. The more time a match is granted, the higher the chances are of that match producing something special. Chris Jericho and Christian faced time constraints in their singles match at WrestleMania 20. Was the quality of the match hindered as a result? Only time will tell.
Case study: WrestleMania 20, Chris Jericho vs. Christian
Chris Jericho and Christian lock up with back-to-back forceful collar-and-elbow tie-ups to begin the match. Referee Tim White calls for a clean break as Christian corners Jericho. Christian ignores the referee’s request and shoves Jericho. Jericho retaliates by delivering a closed right fist to Christian’s face. Jericho drops Christian to the canvas and lands a handful of punches. Jericho Irish whips Christian and knocks him down with a reverse elbow. Jericho lifts Christian for a back suplex. Jericho attempts another Irish whip, but this time Christian reverses and sends Jericho into the ropes. Jericho, however, stays on offense as he connects on a running clothesline on Christian. Jericho again goes for an Irish whip. Christian blocks it for a second time and tosses Jericho over the top rope. Jericho lands on the apron and instead catapults Christian to the outside. Jericho dives onto Christian with a springboard crossbody off the second rope. Jericho swings Christian into the security wall before bringing Christian back into the ring. In the ring now, Jericho Irish whips Christian. Christian bounces off the ropes and sunset flips over Jericho. Jericho hooks both of Christian’s legs for a two count. Jericho tries to turn Christian on his stomach for the Walls of Jericho, but Christian scurries and grabs the bottom rope with both hands for the rope break. As Jericho walks towards Christian, Christian pokes Jericho’s left eye and launches Jericho over the top rope.
Analysis: The shoves by Christian on Jericho, the consecutive punches from Jericho to Christian, and the aggressive collar-and-elbow tie-ups to begin the match are all illustrations of their storyline animosity for each other. Not to mention Jericho’s violent throw of Christian into the security wall. Both men are telling a story in the ring and their story is easily interpreted through their actions. Jericho is in control of Christian in the early portion of the match, so Christian being the heel that he is resorts to heel tactics such as poking his opponent’s eye to halt Jericho’s offense. It is perfect timing on Christian’s part to seek jeers from the crowd since this is the point of the match where the heel establishes dominance and the babyface looks to mount a comeback.
Christian drives Jericho’s face into the steel steps prior to re-entering the ring. Christian repeatedly stomps, punches, and chokes Jericho. Christian Irish whips Jericho and jams his left knee into Jericho’s abdomen. Christian covers Jericho. Jericho gets his right shoulder up for a two count. Jericho briefly battles back before Christian takes Jericho down by pulling his hair. Christian performs a snapmare on Jericho and applies a chinlock. Jericho breaks out of the hold when he elbows Christian, but Christian kicks him in the abdomen and Irish whips him into the ropes. Jericho now attempts to lock in the Walls of Jericho, but Christian again pokes him in the eye. Christian capitalizes and drops Jericho with a spinning heel kick. Christian hooks Jericho’s right leg for a two count. Christian slaps Jericho a few times over the head before Irish whipping him into a corner. Both men bump heads and collapse after Christian rushes into Jericho. Christian and Jericho slowly make their way back to their feet before the referee’s count of 10 to prevent the double countout. They exchange punches until Jericho connects with a flying forearm on Christian.
Analysis: Christian did not spend an ample amount of time dominating his opponent due to the lack of total time granted to them in this match. Duration of match is paramount and can be the difference between a good match and a great match. The quality of a match suffers when pressed with time.
Jericho drop toeholds Christian followed by a flying knee onto Christian’s back. Jericho covers Christian after nailing an enziguri, but only earns a two count. Jericho dodges a clothesline from Christian and rolls him over for a two count. Christian counters into a rollup of his own and grabs onto Jericho’s tights as well as the ropes. Jericho, however, is able to still kick out before the count of three.
Analysis: Christian’s roll up attempt on Jericho marked the first believable nearfall of the match. The live crowd bought into that nearfall as a possible match ender. It’s common for a heel to squeeze out a victory by using an underhanded advantage. The timing of that spot was perfect because it occurred at the tail end of the match. If Christian and Jericho had presented that spot earlier in the match, the crowd would not have taken that nearfall seriously.
Jericho slams Christian with a bridging northern lights suplex for a two count. Jericho counters Christian’s backslide attempt with a running bulldog. Jericho fails to connect with the Lionsault when Christian raises his knees causing Jericho to go down in pain. Christian goes for the Unprettier, but Jericho slips out and shoves Christian into the turnbuckle. Christian hits Jericho with a reverse elbow and performs a backbreaker off the second rope. Christian covers and gets a two count on Jericho. Jericho grounds Christian with a sleeper slam. Jericho misses with a clothesline and Christian catches Jericho with a backbreaker. Christian climbs to the top rope. Jericho recovers and climbs to the top rope to superplex Christian, but Christian knocks Jericho down. Jericho rolls through a diving crossbody block from Christian into a cover. Christian powers out before the count of three.
Analysis: The crowd again was sold on that nearfall because signature moves and rollup attempts this deep into a match create believable false finishes.
Christian applies the Texas cloverleaf. Jericho reverses into the Walls of Jericho. Christian quickly reaches for the ropes to force Jericho to break the hold. Jericho keeps the hold applied despite Christian’s efforts to build separation by crawling out of the ring. Jericho finally breaks the hold to prevent the disqualification. Jericho executes a double underhook suplex on Christian with Christian on the top turnbuckle. Jericho covers Christian for a two count. Trish Stratus sprints to ringside to cheer on Jericho. Jericho misses on a clothesline attempt. Christian plants Jericho with a lifting DDT. Christian slaps the canvas in frustration after picking up just a two count on Jericho. Trish Stratus stands on the apron and yells at Christian. Christian yanks her by her hair and throws her to the ground. Jericho clotheslines Christian over the top rope. With Trish Stratus’ back turned to Jericho, Jericho walks over to check on her. Trish Stratus swings her right elbow, striking Jericho in the face. Christian slides back into the ring and rolls up Jericho for the win.
Post match, Trish Stratus stares in disbelief, which leads the audience to believe she accidentally elbowed Jericho thinking Christian was behind her the whole time. Moments later, Trish Stratus suddenly slaps Jericho in the face and Christian rushes back into the ring to lay Jericho out with the Unprettier. Christian and Trish Stratus leave the ring together and French kiss atop the entrance ramp while an enraged Jericho looks on.
Analysis: The finish featured Trish Stratus’ involvement in order to further their love triangle storyline and create the need for a return match. The way in which Trish Stratus turned on Jericho was well executed. The crowd seemed genuinely shocked by the turn of events. The match itself lacked the dramatic nearfalls because Jericho and Christian never hit their respective finishing moves. They were headed in the right direction, but just ran out of time.
Additional comments: Chris Jericho and Christian were on the verge of putting together a classic. However, it’s difficult to accomplish such a lofty goal when given just under 15 minutes to do so. Despite the time restriction, both superstars succeeded in delivering a quality match and, as Jim Ross would say, “maximized their minutes.” At no point did the match feel rushed, which indicates Jericho and Christian showcased proper time management. Bravo to a pair of sure-fire Hall of Famers who turned in a praiseworthy performance.
Verdict: A memorable midcard match on a loaded WrestleMania card.
Final rating: **** (out of five)
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Kevin Pinto- firstname.lastname@example.org
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