On this week’s episode of The Sessions with Renee Paquette, AEW star Chris Jericho talked about the responsibility on his shoulders of creating new stars when the company first started up in 2019:
“I came in as kind of the flagship guy. When AEW first started, it was on my back for the first few months. We knew this. How many stars can we make? Let’s bring in [Jon Moxley]. But Cody [Rhodes] wasn’t as big as he was. No one really knew who Kenny [Omega] and the [Young] Bucks were. Hangman Page, Darby Allin, Jungle Boy, those were some of the guys I can recall working with right out of the gate. It was just like, we have to get more plates spinning here.”
Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks helped sell out a 10K building for All In in 2018, so the statement of “No one really knew” who they were is hyperbole.
But the point remains that Jericho carried the AEW main event scene in the early months because he was the biggest star in the company. He wanted to increase awareness of other wrestlers on the roster. Jericho goes on to explain that he didn’t want to be like the top stars in WCW like Hulk Hogan who would never work with younger wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero or Rey Mysterio. This is still his mindset today and why he wants to work with wrestlers like Ricky Starks and Action Andretti.
Moving on, Renee asked him about what other duties he carries in AEW besides wrestling. While answering that question, Jericho referred to last year’s backstage drama without directly mentioning the All Out brawl between CM Punk and The Elite. Describing himself as a locker room leader, Jericho said he had to take charge after “bad publicity” and “uncertainty” damaged the locker room.
“So backstage there’s a lot of advice given out, a lot of listening. A lot of bartender listening. You know, I’ve got a problem with this, I’ve got a problem with that.
There’s a lot of working closely with Tony Khan.
A lot of locker room leading, especially over the last six months or so when we kind of had to take the reins back, when there was a lot of bad publicity, and a lot of uncertainty in the dressing room.
As a matter of fact, [Moxley] and [Bryan] Danielson and myself, kind of like we have to really take charge here because we’re gonna lose the dressing room. And if you lose the dressing room, you’re fucked. So there’s a lot of that sort of thing going on...”
“Tony Khan’s probably got a lot of right hand men, but I think I’m probably one of them. And also too, kind of just helping out the locker room. I produce probably half the backstage promos that you see. Just trying to help as much as I can.”
Later in the interview, Jericho once again refers to a “breakdown” in the locker room last summer:
“Once again, during the summer when there was another breakdown, I feel that Mox and I, and to an extent Bryan Danielson, but at that time it was like basically Mox and I really kind of kept the lights on and kept the plates spinning but in the best possible way.”
Jericho also dismisses the idea of EVPs in AEW because he was used to working under the vision of one boss in WWE for two decades. Jericho claims that the AEW locker room is understanding that concept better over the last six months:
“We’re only three years old, right? I knew it was gonna be like this from the moment we started. The whole concept of EVPs and kind of that whole thing, I knew that it wouldn’t really mean anything. ‘Cause it’s one boss, it’s one vision, and we have to follow that vision.
I worked for Vince [McMahon] for 20 years, and one of the reasons why I was able to get as far as I did and become as big as I did, is ‘cause I understood you have to do what your boss wants. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. It doesn’t matter if you think your stuff is better.
In our company there was a lot of that kind of resistance ‘cause there [were] a lot of guys that didn’t work in the big corporate system. It doesn’t matter what you think. Our boss is the boss, and we have to do our best to help him with that vision. So I think there’s a lot more cohesiveness from that side of things.”
With Jericho’s references to almost losing the locker room last summer and asserting himself as Tony Khan’s right hand man, it makes it easier to believe the rumors that he wants nothing to do with the potential return of CM Punk to the company in a matter of months.
On the other hand, there shouldn’t be any resistance from Jericho if Tony Khan signs off on a return of Punk, because like Jericho said, it doesn’t matter what Chris wants. He’s just there to execute the vision of the boss.
What’s your reaction to Jericho’s comments, Cagesiders?