After a tremendous surprise win at WWE Payback, Chris Jericho bid farewell to the WWE Universe-- at least temporarily-- on Tuesday's SmackDown Live. The expected hiatus was inevitable, as his reunited rock band Fozzy has announced tour dates through the month of June.
But rather than the emotional in-ring farewell many predicted for either match, Y2J was instead sent packing by his former best-friend Kevin Owens in a vicious beating.
It was a rough parting for a legend of Jericho's stature, who after a long tenure in both WCW and the WWE, has been delivering some of the best work of his career over this most recent run, reclaiming and remaining a fan favorite.
Let's take a look back at the "Highlight Reel" from the Year of Jericho-- "Drink it in, maaaan"
What could have blossomed into a beautiful friendship went up in flames after only a brief two week run, when the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla turned on his partner, and then still-fresh WWE recruit, AJ Styles. Styles reminded Jericho on Tuesday they once had the hottest selling shirt, but perhaps he's the one who forgot Jericho left them burning in a trash can.
Jericho's rivalry with Styles ended up giving Y2J a huge WrestleMania 32 victory over The Phenomenal One.
Along with Survivor Series, the lead up to Hell in a Cell 2016 was one of several times the "best friend" pairing of Jericho and Kevin Owens teased a split. But all signs of animosity turned out to be a work of fiction, as Jericho made a surprise interference in KO's match with Seth Rollins, locking himself in the cell and securing the win for Owens.
Hell in a Cell wasn't Jeri-KO's last experience with a cage. Jericho paid the price for his continued interference in Owens' title matches at Royal Rumble, where he was suspended in a Shark Cage dangling high above the ring. But after weeks of build-up and taunting his fear of heights, and through many frenzied shouts of "KEVIN!!" Y2J still managed to sneak brass knuckles in his trunks for the cheat.
In it's original incarnation, The List of Jericho was a legendary comedic promo in response to Dean Malenko's claim to being "The Man of 1,000 Holds" (Most of Jericho's were varations on "Arm Bar")... But just when we thought Y2J might run out of scarves, he debuted one of the simplest and best prop gimmicks of all time- a physical clipboard "List" that with the dramatic click of a pen spared none who crossed his path.
The Festival of Friendship was many things- magic show, crash-course in modern art appreciation, one of the best comedic segments in WWE history- but it was also the beginning of the end for the JeriKO partnership. The grand spectacle set them down the path that led to Tuesday night's blow off of their feud, where Kevin once again reminded Jericho, "I Was Never Your Best Friend!"
Farewell sweet prince, Y2J. We'll see you on the other side.