Monday, 31 August 2015

The Road Is Jericho - Epic Stories And Rare Matches From Y2J

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 412 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: March 16 2015

Released earlier this year, The Road Is Jericho quite literally takes you on the journey that is the varied and eventful career of Y2J himself, Chris Jericho, mixing a collection of career-spanning matches with talking head clips of Y2J in a moving limousine (actually not en route to a wrestling event, funnily enough). His 2010 DVD was amazing, but how does this latest Jericho compilation fare?

We begin in ECW with Chris' TV Title win over Pit Bull 2, which is fun to watch but is a bit overloaded (a common theme amongst ECW matches from this era). We then move onto WCW, and some rather good cruiserweight matches against Ultimo Dragon and Dean Malenko respectively (the Malenko match is superior as Jericho is by then a heel and showing the charisma that would become a trademark during his WWF/WWE stints).

The first WWF/WWE match on the DVD is actually more than a year into his initial tenure, and is a forgotten Steel Cage match against X-Pac. It's good but lacking in real meaning, hindered by Pac's persona being the total opposite of vibrant at this point (plus it was the third Cage match on a WWF PPV in as many months, which I realised after watching this encounter). We next get a fairly good Last Man Standing bout against Kane, although their feud is most remembered for the fact that it was instigated by a spilt cup of coffee (which joins the Japanese shampoo that Booker T and Edge fought over on the list of pretty poor reasons to ignite wrestling disputes).

We then get three matches from 2001: a clash against Steve Austin with Mick Foley as a ringside enforcer (it feels very surreal to watch Stone Cold as a heel nowadays), a short but enjoyable and very heated meeting with Booker T for the WCW Title and a hidden gem of a(nother) WCW Championship bout with Kurt Angle at that year's Rebellion.

At this point, the DVD is emphasising rare gems over memorable classics, so it's surprising that this is what we get next in the brilliant Y2J-Rock bout from Royal Rumble 2002. It's simple and not massively memorable in terms of spots, but everything just works; it's the perfect example of a match where everything just clicks to create a highly enjoyable clash. We then see Y2J face Triple H on SmackDown!, notable because, as Jericho points out here, this is the only time that Y2J ever officially beat HHH on-screen in a singles match (which obviously says more about the WWF/WWE booking team's thought process than Jericho's ability levels).

Following that is an acceptable but unmemorable Raw clash with Jeff Hardy from 2003, at which point Jeff was very much disinterested and would leave WWE a few months later. The next match is a 2005 Raw meeting between Y2J and Edge, which is alright but is more notable for occurring just as the Edge-Lita-Matt Hardy story had broken, making this the first of many times that the future Rated R Superstar would be hit with chants of "You screwed Matt!"

Since Jericho left WWE later that year and didn't return until late 2007, there is a long time gap before the next match, and it is a Last Man Standing match between Y2J and Shawn Michaels to culminate their phenomenal 2008 rivalry (and I was actually there to see this in Manchester). We then surprisingly get a dark match against John Cena, which is okay for what it is, and is followed by the highlight of the DVD, a five-star battle against Rey Mysterio from The Bash 2009 (one of my favourite matches from the last ten years).

The overrated three-team tag match from the 2009 MSG Raw is memorable solely for the star power involved, although even Chris acknowledges this as the reason that this match is here. We then don't see any more of Jericho's second WWE run; we pick things up several months into run number three via a fun Chicago Street Fight against CM Punk at Extreme Rules 2012, followed by a really enjoyable Raw meeting with Rob Van Dam in 2013. Concluding the DVD are two great 2014 matches with Bray Wyatt (in a Cage on Raw) and Randy Orton (at that year's Night Of Champions) respectively. The Blu-ray has four additional matches, although only one has not been released before (Y2J-Rey from a June 2009 Raw).

The Jericho talking spots are inserted between matches, although they aren't always about the subsequent bout, instead at times discussing specific career chapters relevant to the spotlighted time period. They are entertaining and at times provide some revelations; however, they aren't must-see and the format means that there are some glaring omissions when it comes to discussion topics. That being said, they are definitely worth watching in between the matches, for the first viewing of this DVD anyway.

To conclude, this DVD isn't quite in the same league as Breaking The Code. However, it is a very enjoyable and entertaining look at some of Jericho's most memorable matches,  but is more notable for bringing together plenty of hidden gems and unreleased battles. If you're a Jerichoholic, you will love this DVD.

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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