Chris Jericho and MJF Did a Full Broadway-Style Musical Number on ‘AEW Dynamite’

In Thursday’s Hot Clicks: pro wrestling goes Broadway, a fan’s bizarre reaction to catching a home run and more.
Author:
Publish date:

Pro wrestling is art

Scrolling Twitter during a break in the action of the World Series, a video caught my eye that was definitely worth ignoring the baseball game for three minutes to watch. Over on TNT, during AEW Dynamite, wrestlers Chris Jericho and MJF had just broken out into a song and dance

Jericho and MJF have been engaged in a storyline for a few weeks now in which MJF has been (very sheepishly) making his pitch to join Jericho’s “Inner Circle” faction. That’s a standard wrestling plot but when Jericho invited MJF last week to a steak dinner so they could talk it over, you knew it was going to be something off the wall. Nobody could have expected this, though. It was amazingly silly. 

The thing that makes AEW—the year-old promotion funded by the Khan family—unique is its winking approach to wrestling. Jericho’s current gimmick is calling himself the “Demo God,” a reference to AEW’s sustained TV ratings dominance over WWE’s NXT, particularly in the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. (MJF, attempting to get on Jericho’s good side, has given himself another Nielsen-inspired nickname: the “Ratings Ruler.”) The company also has a character named Orange Cassidy who totally eschews the hard-hitting realism other companies pursue so tirelessly and instead spends most of his time in the ring giving minimal effort. AEW knows its fans are aware they’re watching a TV show and embraces that rather than insult their intelligence. 

The Jericho-MJF segment was an example of AEW’s willingness to take risks. A goofy scene like that isn’t going to appeal to everyone, and AEW seems fine with that. The segment elicited plenty of eye rolls from fans, but it also drew praise from Mick Foley, the legendary hardcore wrestler who made a name for himself being punctured with thumbtacks and thrown to the floor from extreme heights. 

It’s also an example of what can happen when wrestling companies give performers the freedom to do what they want. In WWE, TV programming is tightly controlled by a large team of writers, all reporting to Vince McMahon. AEW, for better or worse, lets its top names chart their own courses, though AEW president Tony Khan has to sign off on it. 

“I like to write weeks at a time,” Jericho told Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso in September. “I just wrote the next 10 weeks of TV that starts on Sept. 9, right after All Out is done. I write down some ideas, show them to Tony , he approves and off we go. Of course, that always morphs and changes over the course of those 10 weeks. That’s something we didn’t have in WWE. They wanted me to draw a picture, but I didn’t know what it was a picture of. In AEW, we always know what the picture is supposed to look like at the end, and we fill in the details as we go. That’s what good wrestling and good wrestling booking is all about.”

Jericho has been wrestling for 30 years and is clearly enjoying the creative freedom afforded to him in AEW after spending most of his career in WWE. MJF, although only 24 years old, is one of AEW’s most charismatic presences. They both know how to connect with an audience. That’s how you end up with two guys who have musical backgrounds—Jericho is the lead singer of the metal band Fozzy and MJF was in his high school’s a cappella group, the Acafellas—singing a Frank Sinatra–Sammy Davis Jr. song in tuxedos in between wrestling matches. 

AEW is currently building toward the Full Gear pay-per-view on Nov. 7, where the Jericho-MJF story will surely be advanced in some way. The payoff won’t be as avant-garde as Wednesday night’s segment, but it’s nice to know they’re capable of thinking outside the box.

The best of SI

Here’s Tom Verducci on World Series Game 2. ... Dany Garcia has big plans for the XFL after purchasing the league out of bankruptcy. ... Are the Bears the luckiest team in the NFL?

Around the sports world

Aaron Rodgers and his third-stringer once faked their way into a frat party during training camp. ... Ryan Fitzpatrick had some brutally honest comments about being benched in favor of Tua Tagovailoa. ... Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell opened up about struggling with alcoholism

Joe Buck’s call was fantastic

Good thing the laces were strong

I have yet to reach such an agreement with the virus

He certainly didn’t play with any MVP-level teammates in New York!

Get excited for a snow game this weekend

“Caramelized”?!?!?

What calling the World Series looks like in 2020

I bet this guy couldn’t even touch the net

Not sports

This beetle’s exoskeleton is strong enough to survive being run over by a car. ... Quibi, the ill-fated short-form video streaming service everyone made fun of when it launched seven months ago, is already shutting down. ... Pepsi turned a previously unreleased Notorious B.I.G. freestyle into an ad. ... NASA hired Nokia to build a cellular network on the moon

The eventual movie about Quibi is going to be a trip

Having a beaver in the house is cute until all your tables end up with just three legs

Stop-motion film using 7,000 photos

A good song

Email dan.gartland@si.com with any feedback or follow me on Twitter for approximately one half-decent baseball joke per week. Bookmark this page to see previous editions of Hot Clicks and find the newest edition every day. By popular request I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the music featured here. Visit our Extra Mustard page throughout each day for more offbeat sports stories.