It’s been kind of a busy few days here in the wrestling blogosphere, so even though it hit Peacock early yesterday (April 11), I didn’t get a chance to pull up the latest edition of Broken Skull Sessions until this morning.
As you may remember, Steve Austin’s guest for this one is Chris Jericho. The announcement that one of All Elite Wrestling’s biggest stars would be appearing on a WWE Network show surprised a lot of people. That generated a lot of interest, and some skepticism, about how much Jericho would talk about Tony Khan’s upstart company.
The answer is... quite a bit! The bulk of the more than two hour interview is spent on Jericho’s overall career, and features a lot of stories hardcore Jericholics have probably heard a time or two. Even the repeats are entertaining, as both men are great talkers, and they have the kind of chemistry you’d expect between two old friends.
More on that in a bit, but here’s a quick rundown of the show’s hook for the diehard wrestling fan - what came through the Forbidden Door.
- Jericho never expected to work for anyone other than WWE again (something he said frequently prior to leaving), and he never thought there would be another national company again (sorry Impact) after Vince McMahon bought WCW. But his return to New Japan for Wrestle Kingdom 12 kicked off the perfect storm of events: Tony Khan as a passionate wrestling fan with the money to start a promotion & the contacts to get a television contract, and Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Hangman Page, and himself all available as free agents Khan could build a company around.
- He doesn’t want to say that AEW competes with WWE, which is somewhat eyebrow-raising considering his “Demo God” approach to the Wednesday Night War, but his explanation makes sense. It’s a combination of the “we’re just focused on ourselves” talking point everyone on both sides offers, and an interest in providing an option to wrestlers and fans that’s been absent for most of this century.
- Like Undertaker (and unlike another guy Jericho and Cody have mocked for it), he doesn’t want to say he’s a locker room leader. But that’s part of his role in AEW, and Jericho says he sometimes feels like Vince because there’s a long line of people waiting to talk to him backstage at Dynamite. That’s because he’ll tell them what they want to hear, but also what they need to hear. Jericho also talks about a speech he gave before the first Double Or Nothing where he stressed to everyone what a big deal it was they were having the success they were.
- Another story that’s been told elsewhere, but one that it’s particularly noteworthy it was discussed on a WWE show: the fact his feud with Kevin Owens was downgraded to the undercard of WrestleMania 33 was the impetus for Jericho leaving WWE. It was then he realized that second match on the card was where the company saw him, and if he stayed he’d be doing his “List of Jericho” schtick forever. He saw himself as more than that. AEW is the first chance in his long career he’s had a chance to be the top guy carrying a company, and he loved that.
- Later, he also retells the story of Raw’s Festival of Friendship segment being approved by McMahon in advance only for another backstage player he won’t name (it’s inferred here it was Triple H, and Jericho’s said elsewhere it was Triple H) to want it all changed on the day of the show when Vince wasn’t there, because they felt it was too comedic. Jericho had to get the Chairman on the phone to get the segment on air as planned. He does say that the person he argued with later admitted they were wrong and that the segment was great.
- Original plans called for Owens to carry the Universal title into WrestleMania 33 where Jericho would beat him for it, netting him a big babyface moment on The Grandest Stage Of Them All. He knew he was leaving for music and other work soon after, so would quickly drop the belt to Brock Lesnar. He thinks he and Brock would be a draw, but he understood the decision to go with Goldberg instead. Jericho still thinks he and KO deserved better than second on the card, though.
- They return to AEW talk towards the end as they talk wrestling during the pandemic. Jericho puts over every company’s efforts to keep going, mention Dynamite’s Jacksonville set-up and praising the ThunderDome. He namedrops Orange Cassidy while explaining how the lack of fans and in-person reactions makes it hard to give advice to guys and gals on things like how long to sell something for.
So that’s the tea as far as AEW/WWE content on the show. But as I said, it’s a fun show to watch even if they had avoided that material. That’s especially true if you have friends who are more casual/lapsed fans. Someone who isn’t too deep in the wrestling bubble, and hasn’t listened to a bunch of Talk Is Jericho or The Steve Austin Show podcasts, or kept up with the dirt sheets about every aspect of Y2J’s career, or been watching Raw week-in and week-out for years, can pull this up and get lost in good memories.
That’s a sentiment Jericho offers up about the show near its end:
“This is really cool for me, because not only is it [the interview] historical the fact that like, ‘WWE and AEW, oh my gosh., awww.’ It’s not about that... It’s about the business of wrestling. We respect it, and we love it, and I don’t care what the brand of it `s, I want it to continue forever. And I want people, like kids... to discover it... but to watch all this stuff - to do this show, like a career retrospective, because I’m not a guy who looks back... to look back and see all these clips and all these great things that you showed, it’s really very heartwarming to see this.
“And thank you for allowing this, and also thank you to WWE and Vince for allowing me to be here, and to Tony Khan as well, because he had to give his permission too. This goes above and beyond a company. This is about the love of wrestling. And nobody in the world loves wrestling more than Stone Cold Steve Austin and Chris Jericho, and the fact we got to talk about all these great times, I’m really happy about it, and proud to be here.”