Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho kicked off a feud on Monday’s episode of Raw. That’s great news for Zayn, who has been without a storyline since before SummerSlam.
It’s also likely that he’ll win the feud given Jericho’s recent run with the company. While his current gimmick is arguably his most entertaining yet, the multi-time world champ’s purpose is to elevate young talent.
Whether it becomes a short-term or long-term feud, Zayn will likely be the victor. Jericho doesn’t need to build his legacy as a WWE Superstar, but his opponents do.
That’s why his win-loss total will have no bearing on his inevitable Hall of Fame induction. However, capturing a victory against Jericho will help a newcomer gain instant credibility or emerging star begin a big push.
When AJ Styles needed to introduce himself to the WWE audience, the company booked him with Jericho. Just before Dean Ambrose won his Money in the Bank suitcase he was feuding with Jericho. When Kevin Owens needed a tag team partner in a throwaway feud before winning the Universal Championship he was paired with Jericho.
That’s because he’s giving back to the business at this point in his career. Jericho is willing to put over newer talent, but still has enough credibility that it looks good.
Still, how long can that really help a Superstar stay relevant? With the IWC and wrestling fans being so fickle in 2016, does a win against Jericho have long-standing power for a Superstar?
Well, it’s at least a start, but Zayn will need to continue that momentum moving forward. Again, Jericho’s legacy is set, but if his opponent doesn’t continue to win, it’s just a waste of booking.
Let’s think back to Fandango’s upset victory at WrestleMania 29. How long did that last for the ballroom dancer?
Sure, it’s still remembered to this day, but more so as “can you believe Jericho lost clean to Fandango at WrestleMania?” As noted, Jericho remains one of WWE’s top stars because his legacy is set and his character is entertaining enough to demand attention.
Fandango, however, has been booked so poorly since that the match’s only purpose is for opponents to make fun of Jericho three years later. So really, a victory against the former Undisputed Champion is great, but it’s only a starting point.
In comparison, Styles looked strong in the majority of his feud with Jericho and went on to eventually become WWE Champion. While many debated that having Jericho win at WrestleMania was the wrong decision, it’s hard to say Styles didn’t win the feud.
“The Phenomenal One” won the majority of his matches against the former world champion and immediately became the No. 1 contender for the WWE World Championship in his next feud. In fact, he pinned Jericho in a Fatal 4-Way to earn that spot.
So yes, getting the rub from Jericho can do wonders for a new Superstar’s career, but it’s where WWE goes from there that is even more important. Zayn just seemed to be booked into a corner recently.
There’s no denying that the company is high on him, especially early in his main roster run. Despite being booked as an underdog, he’s still been showcased as a credible challenger in the main event scene.
That’s why there wasn’t been a quality feud for him prior to SummerSlam. Why waste Zayn with a throwaway match on the company’s second-biggest show of the year?
If anything, that would hurt his credibility more than not being on the main card.
Feuding with Jericho is the best case scenario for Zayn right now. He’s one of the few Superstars who is over enough to prevent smarks from cheering for Jericho. Zayn is also the total opposite character of his fellow Canadian.
This feud should do wonders for his career and provide several entertaining matches, which likely make him look like a legitimate contender for the Universal Championship. But WWE will have to continue that momentum and not just rely on Zayn defeating Chris Jericho.