Chris Jericho recently spoke with Scott Fishman of TV Insider and said All Elite Wrestling will become a strong, legit contender to be the greatest pro wrestling company in the world.
"We've had this slow build, all of it done without TV," Jericho said. "We're doing it with social media and word of mouth, which is a real testament to the potential and excitement and the buzz surrounding AEW. Double or Nothing is the biggest show in AEW's existence, probably forever. There will probably be bigger shows, but there is the old saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
"That's why we are going with Jericho versus Kenny as the first-ever main event. A lot of people are asking, 'Why don't you wait for that and build toward it?' There is no waiting. There is no assumption there is going to be a second show. We have to come out of the gates with the best show possible to really catch everybody by surprise or to make everybody believe what they already know. That this is going to be a strong, solid, legit contender to be the greatest pro wrestling company in the world."
Regarding his match with Kenny Omega at AEW's Double Or Nothing on May 25, Jericho said he has spent the last three months training with a more intense, high energy regime. Jericho wants to remind fans at Double Or Nothing that he can still compete at a high level. He has been training with MMA fighter Josh Rafferty in Tampa, and credits the workouts for building up his stamina.
"It's the best training I've done," Jericho said. "To me it is always the cardio. No matter what the character: skinny, fat, muscular. You have to be able to have that wind and longevity in a match. It was to increase that. It's funny because last year I'm going into New Japan matches with guys working 10-15 times a month and I'm doing matches every three or four months. Now in AEW the whole crew hasn't worked in four or five months. I think we are all on the same level. Then again you can do as much cardio as you want, but it's not the same as being in the ring and being in a match."
Jericho said he can feel WWE watching AEW as they launch and prepare for Double Or Nothing. Jericho knows all eyes of the pro wrestling world will be on Double Or Nothing, and that AEW's mere presence has affected the landscape of pro wrestling as a whole. Jericho said everyone in WWE owes him a thank you because everything became legit when he signed with AEW. Jericho said Vince McMahon doesn't want anyone going to AEW.
"I'm not surprised. I will say this…everyone in WWE owes Chris Jericho a thank you because the moment I signed with AEW, it became legit," Jericho said. "That's when everyone started getting these huge raises to not go. It was very similar to what happened to Bobby Hull in the early 1970s when he signed with the WHA (World Hockey Association) for a million dollars. Every other player got a huge raise to not jump with him. My dad [Ted Irvine] went from a $35,000 to a $100,000 a year because they didn't want him going to the WHA. It's the same thing for Vince [McMahon] is doing with WWE.
"You're hearing about prelim guys getting $400,000, $500,000 a year deals. Everyone deserves the money they make, but they never would have gotten that before and wouldn't get it somewhere else. They can be ones who will never draw a dime. It doesn't matter. Vince doesn't want anyone coming to AEW. Doesn't want there to be a mass exodus whether you are an opening match jobber or a main event Roman Reigns. He doesn't want anybody to go."
Jericho continued and said make no mistake, this is a war between WWE and AEW.
"This is a war," he said. "Even if you don't want it to be, it just is. There hasn't been any competition for WWE on a national basis for 20 years or more. I think this is something they didn't really want, but it's great for the fans and great for the guys. I think in the long run it's going to make a difference because it gives people a choice. And it's always good to have a choice."
Jericho added that AEW does not want to be WWE-lite and AEW's TV product will lean more into freer artistry from talent.
"I don't think you are going to see an over-scripted type of show. We have no intention of being WWE lite," Jericho said. "WWE is the best in the world at what they do. We won't be doing that. We have a different mindset. I think when you look at what goes on during a New Japan show. That might be what the in-ring product looks like when you think about the way it's shot, and guys have a lot more input in what they're doing from a creative standpoint and character standpoint."