Chris Jericho was an integral part of All Elite Wrestling when it started in 2019. After leaving WWE in 2017, Jericho made a name for himself in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Working there for the first time in about 20 years, Jericho managed to find a great deal of success. He even won the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and scored wins over names like Tetsuya Naito and Hiroshi Tanahashi during his tenure there. In 2019, though, AEW came into being. Jericho was one of the first big names to sign a deal with them. It was huge news as Jericho hadn’t signed with anyone other than WWE since World Championship Wrestling in 1999. He would make his debut for the company at their inaugural show, Double or Nothing, beating Kenny Omega in a rematch to their five-star Wrestle Kingdom match as rated by Dave Meltzer. During his time in his new home, Chris Jericho’s role in AEW has shifted time and time again.
Jericho has served in multiple roles for the company: the first AEW World Champion, faction leader, top heel, etc. They all pale in comparison, however, to the role he plays in building stars for the company. Out of anybody in the company right now, Jericho has easily done the most in the effort of helping young wrestlers become stars, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest he’s not planning on stopping any time soon.
Chris Jericho’s Role in AEW
A Blueprint for What Was to Come
Jericho’s NJPW work was a huge indicator of what he would be doing in AEW. As soon as he arrived, Jericho immediately targeted Kenny Omega for a match. Jericho had never worked with Omega before and hadn’t been in the company in 20 years. He easily could have tried to convince them to put him over in their Wrestle Kingdom match, but he didn’t. Omega may not have been a small name for the company, but he was certainly someone who could have benefitted from the win over Jericho, and he did. Even after this, Jericho did nothing but go against wrestlers he’d never faced off against before. Tetsuya Naito and Kazuchika Okada are also two names Jericho feuded with, the former of which he feuded for almost a year. By the end, he’d end up losing to both.
It didn’t really matter to Jericho if he won against anyone in NJPW. He clearly only had two things in mind; work with people he’d never worked with before, and leave everyone better off than before he came. He succeeded, and in doing so, opened a new door for himself in 2019.
In the Beginning…
When AEW was born in 2019, Chris Jericho was easily the biggest name they had in terms of the American audience. Even names like Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega didn’t carry with them the weight that a Chris Jericho did. After redeeming himself against Omega at Double or Nothing, Jericho set his sights on becoming the first AEW World Champion. At All Out a couple of months later, he would achieve this goal, defeating current champion “Hangman” Adam Page to do so. He served very well in the role of champion, especially for the first one. Not only did he help get eyes on the new company, but gave several lesser-known names opportunities they’d never seen before. Scorpio Sky and Darby Allin both benefitted from their championship matches. Even Moxley got the most important win of his career when he defeated Jericho for the title.
Despite being the biggest and most important name in the company, Jericho still managed to help others benefit as well, bringing new eyes to the product no less.
From Cornerstone to Stepping Stone
After dropping the AEW title to Moxley, Jericho took a large step back from his role as the top star in the company. No longer the world champion, he moved down the card to feud with some new names he’d never faced before. Orange Cassidy was the first, winning 2 of 3 matches they had against each other, and the more well-known program he had with MJF, which saw “The Salt of the Earth” defeating “The Demo God” 3 out of the 4 times they squared off. Neither feud was exactly Earth-shaking but served their purpose in making both feel like bigger stars than they were before.
Unfortunately, Jericho was well out of ring shape at the time and has only recently changed this. His matches with Cassidy and MJF were mostly very sloppy, and his mobility was incredibly limited. Trademark Jericho moves like the Lionsault and the Liontamer were totally undoable and his cardio was very clearly hampered. Still, both MJF and Cassidy will be able to say they got the better of Jericho, which is certainly something to brag about for years to come.
Where We’re at Now
At the moment, Jericho is now slated for a match with fan-favorite Eddie Kingston at Revolution. Thankfully, Jericho appears to be in much better shape than he’s been in for the last year and a half, and seems properly motivated. It’s no surprise, considering Kingston is an incredible talent both on the mic and in the ring. If there’s anyone worth whipping yourself into shape for a match with, it’s Kingston. It remains to be seen how the match itself will go. If Kingston wins, which he should and most likely will, his stock will rise even more regardless of the match quality. Either way, it’s clear that Jericho wants to give Kingston his best version of himself.
Evaluating Chris Jericho’s Role in AEW: In Conclusion
Jericho’s current position is definitely the best possible utilization of his character at this stage of his career. At 51 years old, there isn’t much left for him to accomplish. His career’s already been made; now it’s time for him to turn around and make the career of others. Hopefully, they continue the trend, maybe even giving Chris one last heel run and a rematch against AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page. There’s a good story to be told there with Jericho being the one demon that Page could never slay.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. As well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TBS and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube. AEW Rampage airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night.