Ageless Chris Jericho loving every minute of latest comeback

Chris Jericho's on-screen chemistry with his "best friend," WWE Universal champion Kevin Owens, has been a major part of his resurgence in 2016. Courtesy of WWE

In any physically demanding profession, there comes a time in every career when your body tells you it's time to walk away. In the world of pro wrestling, some performers choose to push past that point, but it becomes quickly evident in the ring when they are simply no longer the same performer.

Even at 46, that point still seems a long way off for Chris Jericho, who is doing some of the best work of his entire career in 2016 on Raw.

Has he found the fountain of youth? Has the DDP Yoga he has lauded on countless occasions on his podcast really worked its magic? No matter how it's happening, Jericho continues to supplement some of the best microphone skills in the entire company with equally great matches in the ring.

And he's loving every minute of it.

"It might not be my favorite run of my career, but it's my second favorite, for sure," Jericho told ESPN.com. "It has been a blast, and it continues to be a blast."

Some 17 years after making his WWE debut and more than 27 years after starting his wrestling career, most assumed that Jericho would be limited to short-term contracts and one-off runs while juggling passions as the lead singer of his rock band Fozzy. While that's still technically true in terms of the contracts, when things work out as well as they have, there's no reason to get in the way of a good thing.

"The original plan when I came back last January was to stay until Wrestlemania, because we had some Fozzy plans that we were working on," Jericho said. "Then we decided to push those back, so then I just kept signing for three months at a time, to where I think this is probably my third or fourth deal that I've had since I came here in January.

"I'm also smart enough to know that sometimes lightning strikes -- sometimes you catch lighting in a bottle in this business. So I just decided to stay as long as I possibly could. Rather than trying to look for reasons to end the run, I just kept looking for reasons to keep it going."

Fozzy collectively decided the band would take the entirety of 2016 off, and the timing simply couldn't have been better for Jericho. Seemingly everything he has touched in wrestling in the past 11 months has turned to gold. From silly catchphrases and his pairing with "best friend" Kevin Owens to a clipboard, mustache, collection of scarves and an ever-growing list -- fans simply can't get enough.

Jericho may not know why these things are suddenly so popular, but he's smart enough and experienced enough to ride the wave while it's rising.

"As funny as it may sound, 'stupid idiot' is such a huge pop right now, but when I first started saying it, everyone was booing it," Jericho said. "'I'm the gift of Jericho, drink it in, man.' It's just a total arrogant thing to say that got all of these boos. 'The List of Jericho' started out as a bad thing and people would boo it. Here we are now in November, where all of those things have turned to cheers. [The list] is the most over thing in the damn company, it seems. You just never know what fans are going to get into."

As for his ongoing lovefest with Owens, it also sprang forth from an organic moment that has now blossomed into something big for both of them.

"I remember we did something in England back in April, where we just had some kind of random tag match," Jericho said. "After the match, I think he just ran and jumped into my arms or something, and I was just laughing, [thinking] this guy is exactly like I am.

"Vince McMahon saw that as well, and next thing you know, here we are six months later as best friends, probably the hottest angle in the company, or one of them at least."

"It might not be my favorite run of my career, but it's my second favorite, for sure. It has been a blast, and it continues to be a blast." Chris Jericho on his 2016 resurgence

The passion and love he still holds for the wrestling business is crystal clear in his voice, and in what he does on-screen every week on Raw. But it goes much deeper than that, too. While there are a number of superstars currently on the roster who pick and choose events to appear on, Jericho has been steadfast in his commitment.

"When I come back, I come back full time," Jericho said. "I come back to be as involved as I can be. I still enjoy working the Detroits, the New Yorks, the Chicagos and Las Vegases; those type of shows because it's fun. That's why I do this, because I still enjoy it and I have a lot of fun with it. If I didn't, I wouldn't be doing it."

In a move that's polar opposite to other part-time performers, Jericho even went as far as declining to perform on Raw or SmackDown for most of 2015 in favor of doing select live events scheduled around his many other interests.

More than anything else, Jericho still has an appreciation for what can be accomplished with some of the younger and more inexperienced talent in the live event environment, which can often function like a workshop, of sorts.

"I think in 2015, I worked 60 shows for the company, but didn't do one TV show," Jericho said. "I like the freedom that you have on live events, the camaraderie, and also that it's a place where you can learn, and a place where I can help the newer guys learn. Because it's where you get a chance to really see people [work] without having to worry about if you've got four minutes, or that you've got to finish by this time.

"I've always enjoyed that aspect of wrestling as a whole -- if you don't do those type of shows, you're missing out on a whole 50 percent of what wrestling is really all about."

That Jericho would continue to dedicate so much of his busy schedule to wrestling speaks to how much he still cares for the business. While Fozzy has taken something of a backseat this year, there's sure to be tour dates in 2017, including an already announced stop at the Download Festival in the UK in June.

Then there's his podcast, "Talk is Jericho," which recently celebrated its 300th episode less than three years after it launched in December 2013, and has proven to be anything but a typical wrestling show.

"I would like to say that I had it all mapped out and that I'm an absolute genius with everything I do, but that's not the case," Jericho said. "I had done an interview show, a music show for Sirius Radio and it got cancelled, but I really enjoyed the interview aspect and the conversation aspect. The podcast kind of dropped in my lap a couple weeks later, and it was just the perfect forum for me."

Jericho's podcast has featured some of the biggest names in sports, entertainment and beyond, making it consistently ranked within the top 25 sports and recreation podcasts in the world.

"I'm a journalist at heart. I'm a curious person," Jericho said. "I also know what it's like to get asked the same questions over and over again, so I think that's why a lot of people enjoy doing my show."

Because Jericho has control over who comes on his show, he has been able to book a variety of guests with the focus on feeling comfortable and knowing he can help the conversation go somewhere entertaining and informative.

"Look at a guy like Tony Iommi, who's on the 300th episode of 'Talk is Jericho,'" he said. "I'd never met him before in my life, but I don't need to know Tony Iommi to know anything about him because I've been a Black Sabbath fan since I was 12 years old."

Jericho has also made it a focus to ask out-of-the-box questions, especially when he's familiar with a guest. Just like in his wrestling career, when he's confident in something, he's willing to take the chance of looking like an idiot in order to make something different and entertaining -- for both the guest and the audience.

"Slash, for example, I've known Slash for years, and I know that Slash is a huge fan of dinosaurs," Jericho said. "I'm like, when does he ever get a chance to talk about dinosaurs, so we talked about dinosaurs and horror movies for an hour, and had a blast. I think that's the way it should be, instead of Slash getting asked when he's going to get back with Guns N' Roses for the thousandth time."

As his podcast hits 300 episodes, Jericho has expanded his reach further with "The Jericho Network," which includes a list of more wrestling-centric podcasts including "Keepin' it 100" with Konnan and "Killing the Town" with Lance Storm and Don Callis (a.k.a The Jackal and Cyrus the Virus).

It's another case where things evolved in a natural way, and Jericho is simply reaping the benefits of his hard work. He's constantly coming up with new ideas, or ways to improve upon the things he's already doing. By keeping his ears open he got the idea to occasionally bring his podcast on the road.

"I had Kevin Smith on my show, and he does a lot of live shows, live talk shows," Jericho said. "He said, 'When you do them, make sure you record them, because you can always use them as podcasts.'"

After a few previous successes in the live event realm, Jericho is taking advantage of a die-hard wrestling crowd being in Toronto for Survivor Series by holding a live episode of "Talk is Jericho" on Sunday morning at the John Bassett Theater. There's also a VIP experience, presented by Mark Out Moments, that includes brunch with Jericho and his podcast guest -- his "best friend" Owens.

"It's fun, it's different," Jericho said. "There's a little element of having a studio audience there, and it makes for a fun afternoon when you come and see Jericho and Owens. We don't know what we're going to talk about -- we'll exchange some stories, have some fun and you get that instant gratification. There's a Q&A afterwards, too, so people can kind of throw in their own two cents on what they like and don't like, and what they want to talk about. It just makes for a great interactive experience across the board."