Greatest Matches in Raw History is our short series which looks at some of the arguable contenders for the distinction of “Greatest Match in Raw History”. With Raw a decades old show boasting well over 1,000 episodes, this is, of course, purely opinion based. Today, we take a look at one of the greats from the latter stages of Raw’s Attitude Era: the bout between Triple H and Chris Jericho for the WWF Championship on April 17, 2000.
Triple H vs Chris Jericho: April 17th, 2000: State College, Pennsylvania
Nowadays, the Attitude Era is a time period in WWE that is the subject of much conjecture and divisiveness. Some argue, and have for years, that the time span of 1997-2001 was the last true cultural peak for professional wrestling, boasting some of the biggest stars in the history of the industry, such as Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H and so on.
There are also many who argue that the era tends to get looked back upon with rose tinted glasses, as not everything the company attempted at the time was even remotely successful, nor has much of it aged well enough to meet the standards of today’s societal norms. While both sides certainly have their validity, a common misconception is that because most matches ended up being admittedly overbooked, and had common themes such as crowd-brawling and interference, that the quality of the in ring action was lesser, to an extent, than that of other eras before and after it. This is simply not the case, as some of the best wrestlers to work a match produced some of their best and earliest work during this time, including but not limited to Eddie Guerrero, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin.
Two such wrestlers to whom this applies to to are Triple H and Chris Jericho, who despite having large professional discourse between them at the time, had more in common than either might have thought; both were ex WCW stars who had defected over to the other company, and both had to drink their fair share of vinegar before being seen as legitimate stars by management. For Triple H, he had already overcome his hurdles to become World Champion, but for Chris, the world of opportunity was just beginning open itself up to him.
Chris Jericho, having already been scheduled for a match with Triple H that night, came out first thing on the show to address him and his wife, Stephanie McMahon. During so, he made several derogatory and insulting remarks to Triple H’s wife, (something that would end up becoming something of a trademark for him until he allied with Stephanie in late 2001) in an effort to goad him out early, and put the championship on the line in the process, a challenge that Hunter accepted in his rage. Not to be outsmarted either, Jericho pointed out a detail he had failed to mention at first; the fact that he hired the Acolyte Protection Agency (Farooq and Bradshaw, the APA) to watch over the match in the event of interference from Stephanie and/or Shane McMahon, or any of Hunter’s other allies.
The match starts with Jericho immediately taking control of the match, all offense on a discombobulated and frustrated Triple H, who attempts to mount offense of his own, even luring Jericho out of the ring by dodging a baseball slide dropkick and nailing a haymaker on the outside, only to get thwarted once again and springboard dropkicked off the apron to the floor below. Finally, after being a step behind Y2J for the first quarter of the match, Hunter finally manages to turn the tide of the match with his big Harley Race-like, high knee, cutting Jericho off for a short lived heat segment, as it isn’t long before Jericho catches him with a belly-to-belly suplex out of nowhere to make his comeback and give him the upper hand again, driving the already rabid crowd even further into his corner.
After a Pedigree countered into a Walls of Jericho ended up fruitless, due to Chris not being able to turn the taller man over for the hold, he instead slingshots Triple H by his long legs, unintentionally sending him through the appointed referee for the match, Mike Chioda and allowing Shane to crotch Jericho on the top rope before getting chased off by the APA. During all the commotion, Stephanie throws the belt to Triple H to hit Jericho with while the referee is out, but the effort ends up futile, and the belt gets used by Jericho instead for a near-fall from Earl Hebner, who had been having on screen issues with the Helmsley family for weeks up to this point, and had run in to take over officiating duties of the match. Triple H, realizing who was now officiating the match, got into a shouting match with Earl, and shoved him to the ground, opening the door for Chris to capitalize with a spinning heel kick and Lionsault, and, with a fast count from Earl and a massive eruption from the Pennsylvania crowd, Jericho had won his first (unofficial) World Championship in the business.
The decision would, later that night, end up getting reversed by Vince McMahon; nullifying Jericho’s championship win and his status as champion, but it would be the first time Jericho truly proved himself to the crowd and to management, ensuring his future status as a top act in the company for years. It would additionally be one of the best singles matches either man had with each other, as their 2002 feud ended up leaving much to be desired, and had failed to capture the same emotional resonance as their program 2 years prior.
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