Chris Jericho Reveals If He Doubted Going to AEW, and More

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During a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Chris Jericho commented on signing with AEW, if he had any doubts, and more. You can check out some highlights from the interview below:

On whether he had any doubts about jumping to AEW: “I never had any doubts. I know who I am as a performer. Whether you’re 29, 39, 49, or anywhere in between, you either know what you’re doing or you don’t. You need to adapt and evolve, which is what I’ve done to stay on top. Chris Jericho in 2019 might be the biggest in name value and in prominence that I’ve been. That’s because I was smart enough to evolve when the time was right. Whenever I thought something was getting stale, I changed. Sometimes I’d change before it grew stale. When I left WWE in 2017 right after working with Kevin Owens, people asked, ‘Why would you leave? You’re so popular.’ But I could see the writing on the wall. Two, three months from that point, I’d just be another guy. And ‘The List’ would just be another thing. I could see that happening before it happened, so I wasn’t worried about my role in AEW. I knew I’d need to be a bridge to get people to watch the show. Outside of the bubble of hardcore wrestling fans, you have a whole country full of people who hadn’t seen the Young Bucks on TV or Kenny Omega. They didn’t know Adam “Hangman” Page, and they hadn’t seen the new-and-improved Cody Rhodes. The last time some people saw him was when he was Stardust. But they knew Chris Jericho and appreciate the work that I’ve done, so they were willing to check out AEW. Now they get to see this entire roster of great performers. That was my vision. I knew I needed to get new guys over and make stars very quickly. We’ve had new stars emerging in the first three weeks, especially with Cody, who is now the top babyface in the company. I think that surprised a lot of people that now love him. You can’t teach experience, you can’t teach moxie. So I knew, and still know, my job: continue to bring AEW to the masses. The best way to do that, at this time, is by having Chris Jericho as champion. Obviously, that might be different a few months from now, but it’s the right decision for the company right now. Everything has worked out exactly the way it had to make AEW where we are today, which is the hottest wrestling promotion and the coolest wrestling promotion in the world today.”

On whether he’s using anything he learned from seeing the nWo: “The NWO worked because Hogan was the catalyst, but the original crux of NWO was made of big name, legit stars. You had Hall and Nash, who were huge stars in their own right, and Hogan, who, at the time, was the biggest name in the business. The difference with us in The Inner Circle is, it’s Jericho and four young guys that haven’t yet reached their potential as main event stars. Now they are. Hulk definitely played the heel, as I do, but the difference is I can still have great matches, too. Any given night, a Jericho match can be considered the best match of the night. So that’s another difference—Hogan was never known as a great performer in the ring; he knew how to get the audience. He was a great worker. Jericho is a great worker and a great wrestler, combined with knowing how to get that heat and get guys over. There is some NWO in there, which happens any time you put together a heel faction. Any comparisons between Jericho and Hulk Hogan in the NWO begin and end with knowing how to get heel heat. In the ring, it’s a different story. That was one of the things that was great, and not so great, about WCW. The NWO was so huge and made so much money, but whenever it came down to the actual matches in the ring, they were never that great. I think everyone could see that, even Hogan and Piper and the other guys, as well. We can go out there and have great matches, and get the heat—and get guys over. It’s very beneficial for the company to have The Inner Circle. It’s something we discussed, but you never know how it’s going to turn out. But from the formation to now, every guy has gone above and beyond to become a bigger star. The look of the Circle is exactly what I wanted. The names are exactly who I wanted, and the attitude is exactly what I wanted. The vision came together perfectly, which doesn’t always happen.”

On Cody’s build to Full Gear: “Cody, like myself, we both walked away from WWE. It wasn’t a bitter way or a sad way, but it offered a chance to do more. For me, following my WWE run in 2017 with Kevin Owens, that was one of the best moments of my career. So to be put on second at WrestleMania, that told me I had to leave. I couldn’t stay. We had the best story on the show and we went second. I’d rather go first. Second is a throwaway position, so it didn’t matter what I did there, but I knew I could do more. So I went to New Japan and became their top draw, and taking that to AEW was the next natural step. I walked away from WWE knowing I could do more in the main event, money-drawing role. Cody walked away from WWE to do more than what he was doing. He was not happy just being there. To see his growth and how he’s embraced his character, inside and out of the ring, connecting with the audience, he’s really stealing the show. He’s now becoming what he always thought he could be—a major player. I appreciate that and I respect it. One thing I love about the whole AEW roster, this isn’t a bunch of WWE castoffs. Guys chose to leave and chose not to go. Jake Hager did the same, he walked away. Jon Moxley walked away. The Young Bucks, Kenny, Hangman, they never went to WWE even though they were offered great deals. They knew they could do better outside of that system, and that’s why people are relating to AEW. People are believing in themselves, and that’s the attitude that has permeated throughout the whole company and with the fans, too. When you think about the Full Gear match between Jericho against Cody, you have a great babyface that people believe in. You can believe in Cody. He is genuine, there is a lineage, the family connections, and he’s up against a great heel that knows how to get under people’s skin. Maybe I’m entertaining, but people still want me to lose. You can’t beat the story or the build we’ve done the past six weeks to Jericho-Rhodes. It’s one of the best storylines I’ve ever been in. Every week we’ve done something different that stood out and was classic. Now it’s the fun part of having the match, and nobody knows who’s going to win. You might say, ‘Well, no one knows who’s going to win any of the matches,’ but as a fan, you know. There is a lot at stake here.”


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