Chris Jericho's last run with WWE only lasted a year and a half, but many consider it the greatest stretch of his career in the ring.
Y2J introduced "The List of Jericho," which became one of the most popular segments and running jokes in recent memory. But more importantly, Jericho was also willing to put over younger talents like A.J. Styles, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens - his former "best friend."
Jericho helped push Owens after the latter became the second Universal Champion after SummerSlam 2016. Jericho would hype up Owens to the crowd and helped him in some of his title matches.
The friendship eventually ended, however, and it led to a match at WrestleMania 33. Owens defeated Jericho in a singles bout, but according to Y2J, Vince McMahon had bigger plans for the pair at 'Mania. He explained in an interview on Busted Open Radio (h/t Ringside News):
"In the eyes of the old man (Vince McMahon), a main event is a main event. From a business perspective. I’ll take first over anything. Second is, to me, not a filler spot, but it’s a spot where you get your 15 minutes.
To be on second, with this angle that we had, when it was designated at first, I was told by Vince, ‘You’re gonna win the World Title from Kevin Owens in the main event of WrestleMania.’ Three days later he changed it to Brock vs. Goldberg and didn’t tell me."
Instead of feuding for the Universal Championship with Jericho, Owens lost it to Goldberg at Fastlane - following a distraction from Y2J himself. KO went on to defeat Jericho at WrestleMania 33, but the latter won a rematch to become United States Champion at Payback. Owens would win a subsequent rematch to take back the title, and Jericho went back on tour with Fozzy - ending his last run in WWE.
Lesnar defeated Goldberg at WrestleMania to become the new Universal Championship - and he held onto it before losing to Reigns at SummerSlam 2018. Lesnar's victory over Goldberg became a massive mistake by WWE's creative team, because the part-time performer had no business holding onto the title for approx. 17 months.
It's no wonder Jericho left for the New Japan Pro-Wrestling promotion, and you can see why he's confident in AEW's ability to compete with WWE. Vince and creative keep making mistakes that upset the fans, and that is playing quite a role in their declining ratings.
What This Means
Jericho and Owens were both on top of the world at the time, as fans were in love with their entire friendship storyline. WWE had a prime opportunity to put the cherry on top with a Universal title match on the Grandest Stage of Them All, but they completely botched it.