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"A Little Bit of the Bubbly" Chris Jericho

AEW Unrivaled
by yo go re

Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends!

When discussing the WWE's virtual monopoly on professional wrestling in the US, big-time internet fan personality Dave Meltzer once commented that (alternative promotion) Ring of Honor couldn't sell 10,000 tickets to an event the way WWE could. ROH wrestlers Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks took issue with that, and determined to put on an independent show called All In in September 2018. The venue sold out in 30 minutes, and the show was attended by 11,263 fans. The show was such a hit, an entirely new promotion spun out of it: All Elite Wrestling. AEW held its inaugural PPV, Double or Nothing, in 2019, and those tickets sold out in four minutes. AEW was officially on the map, and so had to create its own title belts, with the first champion to be crowned at the 2019 edition of All In.

In the title match, Chris Jericho defeated Hangman Adam Page, and after the match Le Champion went backstage to celebrate with "a little bit of the bubbly" - basically, standing alone in a room and sadly eating a store-bought deli tray off a folding table. It became a bit of a meme and AEW moved to take advantage of it, with the phrase appearing on shirts and merch and, in what may be one of the weirdest cross-promotions in wrestling history, literal bottles of champagne sparkling wine from a real-world winery! What the hell! (If that weren't weird enough, the drink was apparently co-produced by Stephen Amell? We live in a weird future.) Anyway, Wicked Cool Toys (a subsidiary of Jazwares) is making AEW toys, and has offered an exclusive "Little Bit of the Bubbly" Jericho through Ringside Collectibles.

The packaging is designed to look like a bottle of champagne sparkling wine, with a vacuum-formed plastic bubble sticking up through the front of a cardboard box. It doesn't really convey well in photos, but it's incredibly cool in person, and absolutely sells the illusion. The label on the bottle is just a sticker, as is the "foil" wrapped around the top of the bottle. The back of the box has a glamour shot of Jericho and a reproduction signature in gold. Very stylish presentation, all around.

Chris Jericho is sort of the elder statesman of AEW, the established "name" character lending credibility to a new promotion. (Think "Terry Funk in ECW." Same deal.) Jericho started his rise to stardom back in the days of WCW, as "the Lionheart," but despite his obvious talent and the way the audiences ate him up, the bookers were determined to keep him in the mid-card rather than moving him up to the main event. A fued with Goldberg was nixxed, and Jericho realized he'd never get to the top with the company, so he left for WWE. He introduced himself there by interrupting a promo from The Rock, and was on his way. I've wanted a Jericho figure since the WCW days, but have never really been satisfied with any of them; I was willing to give this one a try mainly because of the awesome packaging.

Jazwares has never done wrestling figures before, so we can't compare directly, but the product is great. The face may be a digital scan, but if so, it's cripser than those typically are - an effect heightened by the advantage of modern digital paint-printing to acentuate it. He's got a big smile on his face, which could easily have looked wrong, but matches the real dude fairly well.

We say only "fairly" well and not "perfectly" because of the ravages of time: it's been a good 25 years since the Lionheart days, and Jericho is nearing 50. Once a wiry little heartthrob, he's aged just like the rest of us - remember, it was 2015 that fans were deriding him as trying to be a "Cool Dad." Look, what we're dancing around is that Jericho looks older and thicker now than he used to, but this toy has a sculpt that's like the Jericho of a decade ago. Fine by us, honestly! Everybody wants to remember atheletes in their prime. The body proportions are better than the old toys', though the sculpt is softer than Mattel's WWE line. Like the face, the body ends up looking more toned and youthful, though the fact that it's not overly defined makes him look like a human rather than a superhero. So slightly exaggerated sculpt ÷ slightly soft molding = decently realistic appearance?

The two things Baby Chris Jericho wanted to be when he grew up were a wrestler or a rock star, and he's done both - the wrestling part is why we're here today, but when he's not in the ring, he's touring with Fozzy. Not the bear, the band. Honestly, they're not awful, even if you judge them by real standards and not just those of celebrity-fronted bands. This is all just a lead-in to the discussion of his tattoos. The paint apps on his left arm are very impressive, and feature art inspired by Queen, KISS, the Rolling Stones, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Friday the 13th, Canada... all the things he's a nerd for. He literally wears his influences on his sleeve.

As good as the sculpting and paint are, the real star is the articulation. Jazwares' AEW Unrivaled line has learned the lessons that Mattel was teaching. Jericho has swivel/hinge ankles, swivel boot tops, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a balljointed waist and chest, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, a hinged neck, and balljointed head. It's even better than what Mattel's been doing, thanks to the range of motion in the torso. You'll be able to have him do all sorts of wrestling moves and holds, like... like the, uh... huh. Does anybody know some of the holds Jericho might have mastered? He's been around for a while, he probably knows at least 1,003. If not more! His current finishing move is the Judas Effect, a spinning back elbow, but one of the cooler things he does in his tougher matches is run through previous finishers in sequence: like, he'll do a Codebreaker, Lionsault, Walls of Jericho into a Liontamer, a Breakdown... and when none of them are enough to put away his opponent, then it's time for the Judas Effect.

Jericho is wearing the black ring gear he had All In, though the panels on the side were just a shinier black material, not silver like they are here. The toy is wearing a black "Little Bit of the Bubbly" shirt that velcros up the back - clearly not something from the PPV, but it suits this release. The other accessories allow you to re-create the famous vignette: the AEW World Championship belt, an AEW microphone, a black (break-apart) table of the sort Ringside Collectibles always sells, his deli platter with its cheap salami and a separate bowl of olives, plus two yellow plastic cups and two bottles of "bubbly" - one open, one still corked - with an ice bucket that has slots where you can store the bottles! As far as toys go, this is an impressive spread.

By all accounts, Chris Jericho really is a good guy in the locker room, defending people who aren't being treated fairly, and unafraid to stand up to some of the biggest egos in the business. He's often held up as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, but getting a good toy of him has been tough. But just like AEW came through the curtain super strong and immediately made itself a strong alternative to WWE, Wicked Cool Toys' AEW Unrivaled is starting strong as well. Decent sculpt, good paint, great articulation... and with awesome accessories and outstanidng packaging, this Little Bit of the Bubbly exclusive is worth celebrating.

-- 09/30/20

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