Chris Jericho brought on the entire Inner Circle on Talk Is Jericho with Jericho, Santana, Ortiz, Sammy Guevara and Jake Hager talking about the Stadium Stampede and how The Inner Circle came to be. Jericho said that an idea for a faction for Jericho to lead was thought of from the beginning.
“The moment that I came to AEW, the idea was for me to have a faction,” Jericho revealed. “Tony Khan really wanted that and thought it was a good idea, and I never had a faction before. I’ve had tag team partners but being the leader of a faction kind of stood out to me. I thought it was a good idea, so then we had to figure out who are we going to get involved in this and throw around different ideas and come up with his whole amazing group that we have.”
Guevara shared that he was approached by Nick Jackson about him being part of Jericho’s faction. He said he didn’t believe it until it came to be on the first episode of Dynamite.
“It was probably All Out weekend. It was Nick Jackson,” Guevara noted. “He was like, ‘you know you’re going to be in this group?’ I thought he was ribbing me. I’m like, ‘what group?’ He’s like, ‘you’re gonna be in a big faction with Jericho,’ and I’m like, ‘yeah, OK.’ So I heard a little bit of talk about that, but it’s wrestling so you don’t know anything until it actually happens. Then finally that day like, ‘alright, here’s what’s happening at the end of the show on the first episode of Dynamite.’ It’s like whoa, this is a real thing.”
Jericho revealed that he saw Guevara on the NWA 70th Anniversary Show. He also revealed that he wanted MJF in The Inner Circle, and Pentagon Jr. and Fenix were the first tag team to be pitched before Proud and Powerful were chosen.
“It’s funny. I saw you on a NWA show,” Jericho recalls. “I watched Cody vs. Nick Aldis. I was watching, and I saw you on it. I text Tony going, ‘this Sammy Guevara guy. We should bring him in.’ So it was kind of right from the start that I kind of had an eye on you. I can’t remember who the first choice of different guys were, but I remember, at one point, I was like, ‘I’d like to have MJF.’ He’s like, ‘well, he’s gonna do his own thing.’ Well, Sammy is kind of the same idea. I wanted a young, up-and-coming and charismatic guy.
“Then I wanted a tag team, and one of the ideas that was suggested was Pentagon and Fenix. And I said, ‘it’s too gimmicky. I don’t want gimmicks.’ Then right after that it was, what about LAX, at the time, Santana and Ortiz, and we had met briefly. You were on the first cruise, but I didn’t really know you guys, didn’t really know that much about you.”
Before Hager was chosen as the muscle of the group, boxer Anthony Ogogo, who was signed in late October, was pitched as a member of The Inner Circle. Jericho noted that Tony Khan was a big fan of Hager’s.
“One of the ideas was they wanted a guy called Anthony Ogogo,” Jericho revealed. “They were saying, ‘what do you think about this Anthony Ogogo guy?’ I said, ‘well, he’s never wrestled. How tall is he?’ He was like 5’11”. I said, ‘I need a big guy, and I got the guy.’ The thing about Tony is he is beyond a fan. He’s really smart. As we all know, he’s almost bullish. He knows what he wants, and he also knows his guys.
“I said, ‘what do you think about Swagger?’ And he’s like, ‘I’ve always loved Jack Swagger. I always thought he was great.’ I said, ‘I think I can get him. He’s the guy. He’s the guy,’ and lo and behold, you guys worked it out. You can still fight in Bellator, and when the COVID is done, you will still fight in Bellator again, but in the meantime, your career has completely skyrocketed as a result too. So it was a win-win for everybody.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.