Chris Jericho has been with AEW since day one, and he’s apparently of the belief that the company wouldn’t have gotten off the ground as quickly without him. It could be argued that the seed for All Elite Wrestling was laid at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 12, where Jericho and Kenny Omega took part in a high-profile match. The pay-per-view drew a considerable amount of attention in North America. In one Dave Meltzer tweet and a response from Cody Rhodes later, the DNA for AEW was in place.
Jericho was the company’s inaugural champion and was responsible for some of Wednesday Night Dynamite’s first viral moments. There’s a reason Jon Moxley targeted Le Champion upon making his AEW debut at Double Or Nothing in 2019. Those were the two highest-profile talents in AEW, even though Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks were also on the roster.
Speaking on the latest episode of AEW Unrestricted, Jericho weighed in on the company’s origins and why he was needed. “Keep in mind, no one really knew Cody [Rhodes] at that point. He’d been gone for years, and the last time we’d seen him, he was Stardust when he left [WWE.] And as much buzz as Kenny [Omega] and Matt and Nick Jackson had, they were still mostly just regional guys. They were worldwide stars, but when it comes to national TV in the States, they didn’t have any experience with that.” Jericho concluded by stating, “if I’m the bridge to get here, check me out, and then look at all these other guys that we have… Would the company have happened if I wasn’t there? Probably. But I don’t think it would have grown as quickly as it did.” (h/t and thank you to sescoops.com for the transcription)
Chris Jericho Is Still A Top Draw For AEW
Three years later, Jericho is still one of the few needle movers AEW has in driving ratings. CM Punk proved capable of producing big numbers when healthy, but The Ocho’s main event matches typically prevent viewers from dipping out at the end of Wednesday Night Dynamite. Tony Khan should probably have at least one bankable homegrown star in All Elite Wrestling’s life cycle. However, Jericho, Moxley, and a handful of other former WWE wrestlers are generally booked at the top of the card.
Jericho has now been entrusted with the ROH Championship, which led some to speculate that Khan might have finally secured a streaming deal for Ring Of Honor. He’s arguably their most visible and bankable wrestler regarding how familiar the general audience is with him. It would be a selling point for a company interested in picking up streaming rights for the ROH brand. However, nothing official is known on that front, and right now, it looks like just another championship run for Chris Jericho in AEW.
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Sources: AEW Unrestricted, sescoops.com