The Jericho Situation
by, 05-25-2012 at 09:42 AM (5023 Views)
The breaking news of Jerichos suspension is both unfortunate for the WWE and sad for us fans. Although the desecration of any nations flag should be considered the most offensive cheap heat a wrestler can get lets put this into a bit of perspective. From the footage I’ve seen of the event Jericho grabs the flag from Punk, crumples it up and then kicks it out of the ring. When you compare that to the evil Iraqi sympathising Sgt.Slaughter burning the American flag in the ring in the early 90s for example it seems minor. The problem lies in the WWE’s current sensitivity to public perception. Ten years ago an improvised incident like this would have been enhanced to get as much heat out of it as possible, nowadays the WWE see it as an embarrassment and a PR nightmare. For this reason they had no choice but to be seen to publicly reprimand Jericho by suspension.
What I hope is that the WWE release a statement that in some way still shows their support for Chris Jericho the performer and disdain for Chris Jericho the character. He is far too good a performer (probably in most peoples top ten list of in ring talent – certainly in mine) and a true ambassador for the business to be effectively retired due to this one off incident. There needs to be more acknowledgement of the fact that it was the character that desecrated the flag and not the performer.
The sensitivity of the WWE to PR situations that upset certain sectors has been very apparent over the past few years. Bryan was sacked and then rehired 6 months later after choking someone with a tie in a Benoit-esque move. And Finlay lost his job after booking The Miz to interrupt the National Anthem, upsetting National Guard representatives.
I appreciate that in order to improve public image and attract a wider audience the WWE has to demonstrate a level of discipline, and I also appreciate that they are looking to expand their ‘Overseas’ tours and can’t afford to upset officials in the prospective countries they are visiting. But I don’t think throwing their performers to the lions is the right answer. An online apology from an out of character Chris Jericho and a donation to a key Brazilian charity could have put this one to bed in my eyes.
So what next for Jericho? Well I’d be surprised to see him return to television before his planned departure for the Fozzy tour in August. The best bet now is to return him in say 6 months with a new (maybe babyface) character. I just genuinely hope that this is not the last stint in the WWE for Chris.
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