Chris Jericho and The Rock. With the Millennium clock counting down to 0, The Rock stood in the ring watching, waiting, and when the clock struck 0, the Chicago crowd went wild. Then, finally, Chris Jericho made his debut interrupting The Great One, and Y2J created one of the greatest debuts in wrestling history. But Chris Jericho and The Rock never got to face one another. Jericho would have to wait for almost two years before he and The Great one went toe to toe.
But it wasn’t until over a year later that both men shared the ring, teaming together facing Chris Benoit and Triple H. Their opponents for the upcoming pay per view. Additionally, both The Rock and Chris Jericho had interactions outside of the ring, but it wasn’t until October 2001 that they began a rivalry that would last over four months. This would include great character work that turned Jericho from babyface to heel.
In a match that saw The Rock and Jericho square off against Rob Van Dam and Shane McMahon. Jericho, with a chair in hand, tried to hit Van Dam but instead hit The Rock across the head, costing them the match.
With tensions rising between the two, Chris Jericho became a number one contender for the Rocks’ WCW Championship. The October 15th edition of Monday Night Raw is where tension really heated up between the pair. Chris Jericho was on commentary whilst The Rock faced Rob Van Dam.
But as RVD and Rhyno beat on The Rock, Jericho leaves, allowing the two on 1 to continue. Later, in the night. Jericho faced Rhyno, but when Jericho gets double-teamed, The Rock does make the save. But as Jericho gets up, The Rock delivers a Rock bottom to Jericho.
The SmackDown before No Mercy, The Rock says that Chris Jericho is a failure; he has never won the big one and is not a big-time player. After some back and forth on the microphone, Jericho does the ‘Just bring it’ hand taunt to the Rock, who gives Jericho a Rock Bottom for using his catchphrase.
Chris Jericho and The Rock
At No Mercy, Chris Jericho pinned The Rock to win the WCW championship but not without controversy. Y2J hit The Great One with the breakdown on a chair. Chris Jericho has spoken about facing The Rock from this period.
“Obviously, my favorite opponent from the ‘Attitude Era’ was The Rock. We had great chemistry because that was one of the few guys that I could go toe-to-toe with him on the mic. The Rock was so great on the mic; he just buried everyone that he was in the ring with verbally. Which makes it so hard for people to think that the heel can beat you.”
“I’m not saying the Rock did it on purpose, but he was just so charismatic that it was hard to face up against him. So, I could [stand up to him], and that’s one of the reasons we had such good chemistry in the ring physically, but also as opponents. I was the ultimate heel, he was the ultimate babyface, and I thought we worked magic together.
We probably would have done a lot more if he hadn’t left to go be a big, famous movie star.”A Rematch took place on the November 5th Monday Night RAW. As Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho, The Rock cradled the champion up and got the victory to regain the WCW Championship. After the match, Jericho was full of rage and viciously attacked The Rock leaving him down and hurt. Jericho, seething with jealousy, left without the championship.
The Rock and Jericho were made to team together for the greater good of the war between WWF and The Alliance. At Survivor Series, it was a winner takes all Survivor Series match. The match came down to The Rock and Y2J against Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle. Striving to prove he can win it for the WWE, Jericho was surprised by a roll-up from Austin, which eliminated him.
A Rivalry That Broke The Walls Down
Jericho’s jealousy and rage towards the Rock took over, and he delivered a Breakdown on the Rock, nearly putting the WWE out of business and himself out of a job. But The Rock defied the odds and won the match, saving the WWE.
With WWE now having two world champions, co-owners Mr. McMahon and Ric Flair decided to unify the championships at Vengeance. Stone Cold Steve Austin would defend the WWE Championship against Kurt Angle whilst The Rock defended his now titled World Championship against Chris Jericho. The winners of the match would meet to determine the very first WWE Undisputed Champion.
Throughout the weeks on the lead-up to Vengeance, Chris Jericho continued to attack The Rock. Commentary and fans begun saying Jericho was being egotistical and only thinking of himself. At the pay-per-view, Mr. McMahon helped Chris Jericho defeat The Rock to become the new and first WWE World Champion. In the main event, Jericho faced Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Thanks to some help from Mr. McMahon again and a returning Booker T, Chris Jericho defeated Austin to become the very first WWE Undisputed Champion. Chris Jericho spoke about The Rock still owing Jericho a receipt for an incident around this time, plus how both had similar starts with the company.“I picked up a cup from the floor, but when I threw it in the Rock’s face, it wasn’t beer or soda — it was tobacco spit juice. He was really freaking out; it went in his eyes. He never really did go nuts on me about it. I think because he kind of empathized with me about it because he came in with a lot of animosity. He kind of had the same thing when he was first coming in — he got a big push coming in, a lot of people didn’t like him.
He got a really big push right off the bat, and people didn’t like him. The cream always rises to the top. He was my only ally when I first got there in 1999.”
As the new champion, Jericho retained his championship the next night on RAW, defeating Stone Cold Steve Austin in a steel cage match. He successfully defended the championship against Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, and The Big Show. The Rock, wanting a one more match against Chris Jericho to settle their long-running battle. He successfully became the number one contender on January 3rd, 2002; they would meet at the Royal Rumble.
On the road to the Rumble, in a tag team match, The Rock made Y2J tap out with the sharpshooter. Jericho also begun to receive help from Christian and Lance Storm in his fight against The Rock.
At the Royal Rumble, the two would interfere on Jericho’s behalf. But the Rock fended them off only for Jericho to hit The Rock into the exposed turnbuckle, roll him up using the tights, and put his feet on the ropes to pick up the decisive win.
The Rock and Chris Jericho rivalry spans over four months and develops from teammates. They would compete against one another to win the world championship. They had a heated rivalry between the pair over the undisputed championship. Jericho is solidified as someone who can compete at the main event level. As a foil for The Rock, Steve Austin, and Triple H, who Jericho would face in coming months.
Jericho’s transformation in this time is superb also, the change to an egotistical, entitled guy is tremendous. Both would never face each other again. But their rivalry over the Undisputed Championship is one that will last long in the memory.