In our new series Pro Wrestling Firsts we will be taking a look back through the history of pro wrestling at some of those who can lay claim to being the first. This debut edition focuses on Chris Jericho cementing his place in history as the First AEW Champion.
Lionheart, Y2J, Painmaker, Le Champion, and the Sports Entertainer. Whatever you choose to call him, fans can definitely agree on one moniker that befits such an icon; legend. Chris Jericho is a generational talent and will go down as one of the best professional wrestlers ever to lace up a pair of boots. Time and time again, Jericho has reinvented himself through every era, and not only adapted but thrived.
While we can discuss his countless accolades all day long, we’re here to tackle why he was chosen to be the first-ever World Champion of All Elite Wrestling. We kick off this series with the one and only Chris Jericho. This series aims to chronicle the reasons why certain wrestlers were picked to be inaugural holders of certain championships of their respective promotions.
There’s no better way to start this off than with the man who had a huge hand in elevating AEW to the dizzying heights it’s currently experiencing. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Chris Jericho – The First AEW Champion
The pro wrestling world was sent into a frenzy upon learning that the Chris Jericho was signing with a new up-and-coming promotion. Objectively, there’s no better free agent to build a company around than Chris Jericho. At the inaugural Double or Nothing back in 2019, Jericho was set to have a much-anticipated rematch. Jericho was going to combat a man who brought out his innermost demons back in New Japan Pro Wrestling “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega.
This match alone had “blockbuster” written all over it. However, the stakes would be elevated even higher. The match between “Hangman” Adam Page and “The Bastard” PAC had to be called off. This series of events thrust the Omega and Jericho match up to the headline spot of the big event.
After the match cancellation, AEW opted to hold a Casino Battle Royale. The winner would advance to All Out to face the winner of Omega versus Jericho to compete for the AEW World Championship. To the promotion’s credit, they decided that Hangman Page would be kept in the title picture. He won the match last eliminating MJF. At the same event, Jericho won the match over Omega. It set up a money match between the present and the future at AEW’s premier event.
Some may argue that the match between Omega and Jericho was only hoisted to the main event due to unforeseen circumstances. While that may be accurate, it’s also a blessing in disguise that things transpired as they did.
Why He Was Chosen
AEW higher-ups knew what Jericho brought and can bring to the table. They saw the opportunity to hand over the keys to proven and capable hands, and it paid off in dividends. He was still an extremely effective wrestler and talker. Chris Jericho was a recognizable wrestling megastar, that you could love as a face, despise as a heel, and seamlessly lead a promotion in its earliest stages. AEW was presented with an unprecedented opportunity of having a steady hand handle the ship in its fragile and formative years. Fortunately, Jericho not only steered the ship in the right direction but also led them to the promised land.
The promotion remained high on Page’s potential as a future world champion. Having him headline All Out with one of the best ever and having an exceptional match to cap off the show. Jericho was the perfect dance partner for an up-and-coming star. He made him look real formidable despite taking the title, and Jericho helped build him up to be a worthy successor.
Having Hangman Page lose to a wrestler with the magnitude of Chris Jericho made him better for it. Page was able to build up his character and get the fans behind him. When it was time, the moment was made even sweeter. As he took the gold from Kenny Omega at last year’s Full Gear after all the trials and tribulations he endured.
As for Jericho, he had outstanding outings against the likes of Darby Allin, Scorpio Sky, Jungle Boy, and Cody Rhodes. He not only kept the promotion afloat in delicate times, but made AEW a true alternative for wrestling fans to tune into every week.
Still The Man
Jericho brought millions of eyes and prestige to the burgeoning promotion, as he stood as their World Champion; casual and hardcore fans alike were enamored with this new and exciting promotion. Chris had a tremendous brand and name value. He brought back fans who were turned off by the product after the Monday Night Wars ended. This fact alone says a lot about Jericho’s captivating presence and enduring legacy.
Aside from his superstar value, Chris Jericho was still an amazing performer. He elevated talents such as Orange Cassidy to new heights after their tremendous bouts. Not to mention, piloting AEW’s best group yet The Inner Circle. Jake Hager‘s stock was brought back up by aligning with Jericho. While Santana, Ortiz, and Sammy Guevara, the stars of tomorrow were quickly elevated to main event level feuds.
Not only did Jericho carry AEW on his back in its early days, but also elevated stars along the way. That’s exactly why AEW chose “The Sports Entertainer,” deservingly so, to be their first-ever All Elite Wrestling World Champion.
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.