Column: Chris Jericho Should Wrestle The Undertaker at 'Wrestlemania 32'

On the first Monday Night RAW of 2016, former six-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho made one of his seemingly annual returns to WWE, interrupting New Day. As the WWE Tag Team Champions were in the middle of a countdown to a gift they brought for the WWE Universe, their countdown was interrupted by Jericho's famous Y2J countdown.

The "Ayatollah of Rock N' Rolla" proclaimed that he was back and would "save us" once again. After running down the triumvirate of Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods, which included the articulation of his newest catchphrase 'Rooty Tooty Booty," Jericho took to Instagram and promised WWE fans a "wild ride."

"Had a blast last night, fooled you all again," Jericho wrote on social media the following night. "Thanks to a great crowd in San Antonio and look out WWE Universe -- it's gonna be a WILD RIDE!"

While Jericho's plans heading into Wrestlemania 32 are currently unknown, he is a confirmed entrant in the 2016 Royal Rumble, set to take place on Jan. 24. The record-holding nine-time Intercontinental Champion has also promised he would win the Royal Rumble for the first time in his career.

"At the 2013 Royal Rumble, I made it all the way to the final 2...and lost," Jericho wrote on Instagram. "That will NOT happen again this year! In 2016, I will win my FIRST Royal Rumble and go on to my SECOND Wrestlemania Main Event! I GUARANTEE IT!"

However, with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on the line in this year's Royal Rumble bout, Jericho would become the champion (for a seventh time) if won the match. With Roman Reigns vs. Triple reportedly the planned Wrestlemania 32 main event, it's unlikely Jericho will be able to fulfill that promise.

 That doesn't mean that there isn't a spot on the Wrestlemania 32 card for one of the most popular and decorated performers in WWE history.

With several top WWE superstars out with injury, including John Cena, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, and Sting, Wrestlemania carries a lot of intrigues this year. How will WWE host its biggest event with the year without it's biggest name (Cena), several young superstars (Rollins, Cesaro), and a 2016 Hall of Fame inductee (Sting)?

[Photo by David Seto via Wikimedia Commons]
Before his shoulder surgery -- which will sideline him for six-to-nine months -- Cena was reportedly going to be The Undertaker's opponent at Wrestlemania 32. Obviously, those plans have been scrapped and a report from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via Wrestling Inc) says that WWE had no backup opponent in mind for The Undertaker before Cena's injury. Therefore, unless Cena miraculously heals in just two months, the company is not sure who'll face their current longest-tenured performer.

So why not have Jericho -- a man who hasn't performed at Wrestlemania since 2013 -- face The Undertaker for the first time ever on a Wrestlemania card?

It would give the show a match between two of the most popular performers of not just the past two decades, but all time. While Jericho and Undertaker have had a few encounters before, they have never wrestled each other in a singles bout on a big stage like Wrestlemania.

During The Undertaker's reign as World Heavyweight Champion in 2009, he and Jericho wrestled each on SmackDown -- including this gem of a match in England.

It's surprising how few times Jericho and Undertaker have crossed paths in WWE despite having been full-time performers with WWE during the same time periods. In a way, that mirrors exactly what a match between The Undertaker and John Cena would be.

Since his WWE debut in 2002, Cena has wrestled The Undertaker just a few times. They wrestled at No Mercy 2003 during Cena's rookie campaign and then sporadically through 2006 -- which is the last time they faced each other.

Clearly, Jericho and Cena are two different performers with one being the name and face of WWE (Cena) and the other a revered legend who pops in from time-to-time (Jericho). Yet, both of them have been limited to just a few matches against "The Phenom."

Since Wrestlemania 25, all of The Undertaker's matches have been treated as attraction bouts rather than a crescendo of a long, bloody, passionate feud. From Wrestlemania 25-26, Undertaker faced "HBK" Shawn Michaels in a pair of matches that are regarded by some as two of the best in Wrestlemania history.

[Photo by Simon Q/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons]
Then, from Wrestlemania 27-28, Undertaker wrestled "The Game" Triple H in two physical contests --which included an "End of an Era" Hell in a Cell match at Wrestlemania 28. Per Wrestle Newz, there were discussions that year for a possible Jericho vs. Undertaker match at Wrestlemania but obviously, nothing came of it.

At Wrestlemania 29, Undertaker wrestled CM Punk in a match that many viewed as the best match on that card. However, Punk left WWE for two months after that match, so it ended up as just another attraction for Wrestlemania that year.

Wrestlemania 30 was a real doozy and the infamous night when Brock Lesnar ended the famous Wrestlemania Undefeated Streak. After three F5's, Lesnar cemented his name in wrestling lore as the man who broke the one constant in wrestling for the 21 years that preceded it. That feud turned into two more matches between Undertaker and Lesnar the following year but once again, was a mere attraction.

This past Wrestlemania, Undertaker faced Bray Wyatt. The match itself was not bad but Undertaker made a total of zero appearances for the buildup of the match. Then on gameday, Undertaker walked into Santa Clara, California and defeated "The New Face of Fear" in a glorified 12-minute squash match.

With Jericho being Undertaker's opponent, it would add a lot of interesting elements to the match. For starters, nobody would or should question Jericho's credentials for such a high profile match. Aside from Undertaker himself, Jericho has been in the wrestling business longer than any other active superstar in the WWE.

Sure, Jericho's recent runs have mostly been comprised of putting over younger talent, but that's because the boss tells him to do that. If the boss told him to go out and present himself as a credible opponent to The Undertaker, all Jericho would need is a microphone and a pulse to pull that off.

Second, with the streak being over, any matches The Undertaker has at Wrestlemania's in the future are no longer foregone conclusions. Sure, Jericho defeating The Undertaker might be a bit of a stretch for a number of reasons. But remember, a part-time guy broke the streak, so why can't a part-time guy add another L to the Undertaker's Wrestlemania record? Stranger things have happened.

Finally, it would actually give Jericho something meaningful heading into Wrestlemania. It would also avoid another Fandango situation from Wrestlemania 29. Despite his 15 minutes of fame after Wrestlemania, Fandango's "popularity" fizzled out quick and a Jericho return and Wrestlemania match turned out to be a monumental waste.

Mark Suleymanov

Sports Journalist.