Without a doubt, Chris Jericho is one of the best wrestlers to ever step foot in a ring.
In his almost 30-year career, he has always consistently stayed at the top of every promotion he’s wrestled for. From ECW, WCW, NJPW, to WWE, he’s been there and done it all. So many people bring him up when talking about some of the all-time greats, and it’s easy to see why. But perhaps some of his best work has happened recently in All Elite Wrestling. It’s safe to say that besides The Elite, it was Jericho that helped put the promotion on the map right from the get-go.
Jericho first appeared for AEW on January 8, 2019, during a rally/press conference in Jacksonville, Fla. He stated that he believed in doing something different and new, which is what he has done for his entire career. His in-ring debut came that May at Double or Nothing, where he defeated Kenny Omega. Then, three months later, he defeated ‘Hangman’ Adam Page at All Out to become the inaugural AEW World Champion.
Now some people didn’t agree with this; a 48-year-old was the promotion’s first champion instead of a younger talent they could build around. But here’s the thing, putting the title on Jericho was a big reason why AEW became an immediate powerhouse. Age doesn’t matter when you possess that kind of talent.
In his 182-day reign as champion, Jericho helped AEW defeat NXT with regularity on Wednesday nights. When Dynamite and NXT started going head-to-head, AEW won the rating war for the first seven weeks. Since then, NXT has only won a handful of times. This is due in large part to whatever Jericho was doing at the time. He formed The Inner Circle during the inaugural episode of Dynamite and successfully defended his title against Darby Allin not long after.
He then moved on to a great feud with Cody, with things culminating at Full Gear that November. Jericho once again successfully defended the title and ensured that Cody could never again challenge for the AEW World Championship. To top it all off, he was even undefeated for that entire time. His first loss didn’t come until the Dynamite after Full Gear, where Scorpio Sky rolled him up for the win during a tag match.
Even after losing the AEW World Championship to Jon Moxley in February 2020, Jericho still found a way to stay at the top. Him and the rest of The Inner Circle went on to challenge The Elite and Matt Hardy. To settle things once and for all, he created the Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing. While The Inner Circle ended up losing said match, fans and critics alike thoroughly enjoyed it .
Then, most recently, he set his sights on Orange Cassidy. This feud was easily one of the most wildly entertaining programs of the summer, with Jericho’s larger-than-life personality starkly contrasting Cassidy’s laidback demeanor.
It also gave us yet another crazy stipulation match, this time in the form of the Mimosa Mayhem match. The only way to win this one was by pinfall, submission, or tossing your opponent into a pool of mimosa at ringside. This took place several weeks ago at All Out, where Jericho took the loss by taking a nice mimosa bath.
However, this latest loss won’t hurt him in the slightest. That’s the beauty of Jericho: he’s been so good for so long because he’s willing to adapt and keep his character fresh. Just look at the things he did in WWE; we saw everything from the trademark light up jacket to the infamous List of Jericho.
Now in AEW, we’ve seen The Painmaker, Le Champion, and The Demo God. Fans can’t wait to tune in to Dynamite each week to see what he has up his sleeve next. Not everyone can constantly change like he does and find a way to make it all work. That takes a one-of-a-kind performer, and he fits the bill perfectly.
So, while guys like Cody, Omega, Page, and The Young Bucks definitely got AEW to where it is, Jericho’s name should also be included. The Elite got the ball rolling by laying the foundation, then Jericho took the ball, ran with it, and hasn’t looked back since. He helped legitimize the promotion in such a short amount of time, something that other companies could only dream of.
Very few people have had the kind of career that Jericho has. Not only has his career spanned three decades, but it’s the consistent quality of his career that makes him truly remarkable. Who knows when he will decide to call it quits, so appreciate him while you still can.