In theory, almost everyone loves an underdog. We love cheering for them, rooting for them, willing them on against impossible goals, and insurmountable odds, and when they, more often than not, inevitably fail we feel the heartbreak along with them. You see the underdog through all sorts of media. Sports, documentaries, non-fiction, fiction, romance, comedy, drama, and tragedy, so it obviously makes sense that pro wrestling would also have the underdog. The competitor goes up against a near-no-win situation but, in the end, tries to prove they can win all the same. More often than not they tug at our heartstrings before ripping them out completely.
But that’s what makes those special moments when they are victorious so special. Those precious moments when despite everything we are told, they change the end of the story. When they successfully become the David to their Goliath. When they methodically sling their shot and take him down. Those moments, those precious moments are memorable and grow into legend. It’s one of those things I treasure in pro wrestling because we all, at some point in our lives, feel like we are against scenarios we can’t win, yet we find ourselves doing what we can to do exactly that.
Perhaps one of the most famous of these examples is The Kid vs. Razor Ramon back in 1993. At the time, The Kid had been presented as a jobber, under various different names. Razor Ramon was one of their bigger heels and had just months previously faced Bret Hart for the WWF Championship in a losing effort. He teamed with Ric Flair against Macho Man and Mr. Perfect. It seemed all like another routine squash to pad Razor Ramon’s resume. It wasn’t to be, Razor Ramon would make a blunder, an error, a mistake, and The Kid would capitalize to pin Razor Ramon in one of the most shocking, memorable, and classic WWF RAW moments of all time. The crowd’s eruption, the commentator’s reaction, Razor Ramon’s response, and disbelief all while The Kid came off shocked yet elated. It was perfect pro wrestling, with the exception of the match quality, which was nothing to write home about. But match quality was not the directive here, it was the destination, and they landed it beautifully.
However, what if we had a Razor Ramon vs. Kid style match, but the match quality was over the top instead? We had that recently and it was amazing. Chris Jericho versus Action Andretti was an underdog tale told with top-notch wrestling and storytelling. The cocky, arrogant Jericho wanted a tune-up match and instead ended up with a pro-wrestling egg on his face. Action Andretti, who was making his Dynamite debut, surely was expected to have a good showing, but in the end, fall fight? Right?
There are definitely some major differences between him and The Kid. The Kid had a losing record, Andretti’s record was padded from Dark and Elevation appearances. The Kid was pretty much dominated in his match against Ramon before finding a way to win. Andretti was competitive and was able to display his abilities with far greater range. Maybe you can argue that because of this they shouldn’t be compared, but they both, in spirit, have the same premise, a “lesser” wrestler is put in there with a top star with the expectation being they are giving the top star another win to their record.
Perhaps the biggest difference, and what I say makes the Andretti win even sweeter, is The Kid won by a fluke. It was clearly a fluke. A well-executed and received fluke, but a fluke. Andretti didn’t fluke into a victory; he outwrestled Jericho and outsmarted Jericho. He beat him with a move that rarely gets the victory (a running shooting star press) which helped with the shock value. It worked. The crowd exploded, and Action Andretti’s response was perfect, celebrating, elated, shocked, jumping into the crowd in exhilaration. It was as if he had just won a major title. He put over his own victory as such a big deal it hit you right in the heart that it was a big deal. This was the biggest moment in this young competitor’s life, and perhaps maybe it actually was!
Jericho deserves a lot of credit as well. 2022 has been a redemption year for Jericho, him proving a lot of naysayers wrong about what he was still capable of, and this was another notch in that belt of achievements. At one point before the commercial Andretti kicks out and the match continues, with Jericho having a look of “Are you kidding me?” on his face. That gives you the first hint that this was not to be a one-sided victory for Jericho. Jericho becomes more and more frustrated as the match goes on, how dare this young punk to have the audacity to just not lose to Chris Jericho? The multi-time world champion, main eventer, and a top money maker. Doesn’t he suppose to know he’s supposed to take a few moves, maybe get a hope spot, and then get his ass handed to him?
As the match continues, your mindset begins to alter. At first, you think, maybe he’ll get a cool move or two in before losing. Then you start to think, maybe he’ll get a cool near fall in. Then that impossible itch at the back of your head, the one who doesn’t dare think you can scratch, begins to come forward. That irritating, aggravating itch you feel isn’t going to be solved.
What if Andretti beats him?
You dare to dream, but as the match, which was the perfect length for what it was going for, got nearer and nearer to the conclusion, you begin to believe. The drama of the match sinks its hooks into you and won’t let go. You stop dreaming and you start believing. Andretti can win, Andretti will win. Then you hold on tight, waiting for the heartbreak to happen. For the banana peal to be slipped on. For Andretti to reach for the brass ring only for it to be pulled out of his grasp at the absolute last millisecond. Andretti keeps going for the big shot, keeps going for the impossible, the crowd achieving a fever pitch, only to reach heights even higher. A springboard moonsault to the outside gets a well-deserved holy shit chant. Jericho goes for the walls of Jericho only for Andretti to small package him for a 2 count. It is incredible, you feel every moment of the match. Then the end comes, and one running shooting star press later the one… the two… THE THREE. The commentators yell WHAT and ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Jericho looks deflated, defeated, in utter disbelief. He doesn’t know how to comprehend what just happened!
Fucking amazing. I know that’s profane, but it’s the truth. Absolutely outstanding. It’s not the best match Chris Jericho has had this year, not with Kingston and Anarchy in the Arena existing. Still, as Jericho stood in the ring holding his head as Andretti gives a bow I could say with confidence that Chris Jericho had perhaps had his best performance of the year. This was the best thing Chris Jericho has done all year, and that’s saying something in what has been an excellent year. Chris Jericho deserves praise for how he wrestled, presented himself, and reacted and responded in this match.
But the story is Action Andretti.
Not only did he have a big win, but he did it with an incredible instant star-making performance. He rose up, flew high, grabbed the brass ring, and give us an AEW Dynamite moment we will never forget. As the “You Deserve It” Chants grew and were given, you knew for a fact he didn’t deserve it, he damn well earned it. We love us an underdog, but they are rarely meant to win. When they win, though, it’s electricity in the air, magic in front of our eyes, it’s the cherry on top of an already perfect sundae, and in this moment in time, it’s the absolute best pro wrestling can be.
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