Back on 2/11/16, I blogged about how excited I was to see the match scheduled for that evening between veteran Chris Jericho and newcomer (at least to the WWE), AJ Styles. Something about Jericho’s instant love/hate for the New Guy, his relentless bullying of the ruggedly handsome, often speechless rookie, really is pinging my Gaydar (like most wrestling feuds do.)
But they experience Wrestle-Interruptus when Curtis Axel and Adam Rose (aka “Axel Rose”) challenge them. Now, instead of enemies, the two rivals are partnered, and a homo-social bond is created. Now both Jericho and Styles must protect rather than harm the man he purports to despise, which takes their relationship to a new level of trust and support.
Early in the match, the partnered rivals engage in a Pissing Contest, with Jericho executing some move, then Styles tagging in to deliver the same move with his own twist. Curtis Axel serves as their object of exchange — the tois in their menage — helpless and submissive as both men get to apply the same move on him in succession.
The power of the male-male bond is demonstrated in the dominance of Styles and Jericho when they work together rather than as competitors or enemies. For example, here they Chest Chop poor Axel in perfect unison, leaving him broken at their feet, and they are digging this feeling of power and maybe contemplating a long term relationship.
But like most modern men, they recoil from their powerful feelings in panic and their solid partnership soon breaks down with Styles suffering as the Face In Peril.
Curtis Axel gets some revenge for his earlier humiliation when Jericho and Styles were using his body to sort out who had the stiffest Drop-Kick and prettiest Suplex. Now he gets to dominate my poor Styles and lock him in a punishing Headlock down on the mat.
How should we interpret his worried expression and furrowed brow? Has he caught feelings for his erstwhile enemy and rival? Does it hurt him to see AJ hurt?
Eventually Styles makes the tag to his eagerly waiting partner and Jericho plays Knight-in-Shining-Armor, taking control of the ring immediately to establish himself as the Alpha Male in this relationship with the rookie.
(And I haven’t bothered to mention this yet cuz it’s obvious, but damn Jericho is looking wonderfully swole and beefy in his little purple trunks…)
So Jericho is dominating and clearly on track to win. He backs up near his corner and Styles slaps him on the back to tag HIMSELF in. Then the young show-off leaps from the top rope in a single bound to Superman-Punch their opponent.
After being over-powered and suffering the whole time, after being rescued by his brave and supportive partner, Styles is stealing the glory for himself. Jericho is not going to feel warm and fuzzy about this…
But Jericho’s ego will not allow him to just smile and walk away. He needs to teach this uppity show-off a lesson and re-establish his dominant role. So after their arms are raised in victory, he Code-Breaks the sumbitch, cracking AJ’s face down across his knee and leaving his own partner dazed and destroyed.
Thus their mutually supportive bond is severed as quickly as it was formed, and the passion of their feud intensifies.
This morality play leaves us with several take-aways. Success is assured when men work together in loving support. But the male ego is a destructive force that will cause men to turn on each other and destroy their bonds. When one partner feels weak, over-shadowed, or beaten, he will retaliate and cause more pain.
The angry AJ Styles then challenged Jericho to a match at the Fastlane Pay-per-View tomorrow night 2/21/16. Seeing Jericho look like a boss in those skimpy purple trunks, I’d challenge him to a match too.
I am getting all into this feud as it intensifies and will be sure to catch Fastlane so I can hopefully see Jericho punish the fuck out of AJ. My only fear is that Fastlane will be the end of their rivalry and they will both move on to other storylines. This is one of the problems with modern pro wrestling — no long term continuity. They are stuck in the fast lane. Just when a feud is getting hot, they quickly move on to something else. Maybe a rivalry spanning three decades like Flair and Steamboat had just seems too gay by today’s standards.