AEW World Champion Chris Jericho spoke with Sports Illustrated before tonight’s title match against Jon Moxley at AEW Revolution. Tonight’s PPV comes from the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois and Wrestling Inc. will be in attendance, providing updates via our Twitter account. We will also have live coverage on the site with the main card starting at 8 pm ET, along with a WINC Podcast after the show!
In his interview, Jericho spoke about taking the risk of leaving WWE for AEW, Jon Moxley, and beating WWE NXT in the ratings.
After finishing up his full-time run with WWE in 2017, Jericho made a few sporadic appearances later that year and in 2018. The AEW Champion also made his way to Japan, competing for NJPW. Initially not wanting to perform on U.S. soil for other promotions, Jericho ended up making the leap to AEW in January of 2019, realizing he the risk was huge as he may not be welcomed back to WWE once signing with the new promotion.
“The difference between myself and the names you just mentioned is that I left WWE to come here,” Jericho said. “Even though I wasn’t signed at the time, I worked there, then I worked three matches in Japan and then signed with AEW. It was much more of a risk because if this didn’t work, I was leaving behind a lifelong career in WWE. Having said that, it’s also a certain style and a certain way that they do things there that you just have to go with, and it was starting to get to the point where I didn’t want to do that anymore. When I went to Japan, I realized wrestling can be fun again. Not that it wasn’t fun, but the creative freedom I had there was one of the reasons I came to AEW.
“The money’s great, everything’s great, but the creative elements and the fact that we’re starting something from scratch at the highest of levels. There’s never been a wrestling company ever that started as big as AEW. Our very first show was on one of the biggest cable networks in the world in front of 14,000 people at a sold-out arena in Washington, D.C. It doesn’t get any bigger than that. It’s not that we built our way up, or that someone bought the company from someone else or it was a family business that morphed over the years. This was a big deal, the big leagues right from the start, and that was very scary, cool, and exciting.
“Now we’re in the Wild West. A weekly TV show is not easy to do, and we have a whole lot of people that have never done one. But everyone hit the ground running and made it a success.”
Jericho was asked about All Elite Wrestling being the alternative for WWE, but he felt like the company is just another option and that WWE is the one that pushed for more of a war mentality.
“We’re not the alternative, we’re an option,” Jericho stated. “If you don’t like what you’re seeing on one side of the street, now, for the first time in 20 years, there is something happening on the other side of the street. You can make a choice. We didn’t come into this with the mentality of, ‘We’re gonna crush ’em!’ They did, and they’re getting their asses kicked every week. It’s probably embarrassing for them.”
Moxley was another big name to go from WWE to AEW and Jericho noted he was the one to pitch the company to Moxley, hoping to bring another star to AEW to help carry the load.
“I recruited him,” Jericho responded. “I don’t even think he knew what AEW was at that point. He is a guy that I knew would be big for us, but I never expected he would be this different, and I mean that in a good way. This is not the guy who was Dean Ambrose. Dean Ambrose is a f—ing nothing compared to this guy. There is a fire inside of him, a creativity, he’s free. This is my job as champion. I make stars. I’m already a star. Mox is a star. This company may have started on my back, but six months later it’s now on a bunch of backs, and that was the idea.”