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Chris Jericho: “I had my iPhone in hand, my Notes app was open, and right away, I knew the points I wanted to hit.”
Three decades into his career, Chris Jericho continues to produce cutting-edge content.
Last week on Dynamite, Jericho delivered a monologue—dubbed “The Immortal Promo” by AEW announcer Jim Ross, a mellifluous description of a verbal masterpiece—that further stoked the flame between Jericho’s Inner Circle and the Pinnacle, a new group led by MJF. For the first time in company history, the promo allowed Jericho to emerge as a babyface in AEW, as well as add fire a compelling angle between the two factions.
“Originally that promo was supposed to air a week prior, but we held off,” Jericho says. “If it was going to resonate, it needed to be done in front of a live crowd. You never know when a promo is going to hit, but in front of a crowd, I was willing to bet this was going to be a home run, and it did.”
The writing process for Jericho is a facet of wrestling that he relishes. And while some promos take considerable time to craft, the fundamental tenets of last week’s interview were finished in one sitting.
“You never know exactly what will motivate or inspire you to write, but in this case, watching MJF’s original ‘Pinnacle promo’ was all I needed,” Jericho says. “I had the promo written within 20 minutes.
“I took some extra time to really hone in and tighten it up because I knew it had to be sharp. You can’t force it with writing something like this, but when MJF started talking, the muse started to flow. I had my iPhone in hand, my notes app was open, and right away, I knew the points I wanted to hit.”
In expert fashion, Jericho harnessed his experience when he was unexpectedly signaled to cut the promo earlier than anticipated, causing him to call an audible during the final stretch.
“I was getting wrapped [by production] while I was delivering, and the rest of a live show depends on you being on time, so I had to edit on the fly and reconfigure the finish,” Jericho says. “It ended up being the perfect way to kick off the babyface run.”
Days later, Jericho had another important moment when his interview on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions aired on the WWE Network.
Austin put a lens on Jericho’s entire career, including his current work in AEW, which are three initials rarely uttered on WWE programming.
“It was great business for WWE, who are now on Peacock, and it’s great for AEW, before we start running by ourselves on Wednesday night with Dynamite,” Jericho says. “It was an idea Steve and I had, and once Vince approved, and then Tony approved, it was on. From that point on, it was quite easy, much more than you’d think. I heard from so many people who did not believe we were going to talk about AEW. That surprised me. There was no way I could do it if we weren’t going to discuss AEW, and there was no way Steve would do it if we weren’t going to talk about my career, which includes AEW.
“There were no rules about this—Vince trusted us, Tony trusted us and the conversation was awesome. And we needed to kick off talking about AEW. Steve and I knew that would hook people right away, like, ‘Holy s---, they’re actually going to talk about AEW.’ That showed, right away, it was going to be different.”
The legend of Jericho continues to grow each week in AEW, and the chance to start anew as a protagonist provides him with a fresh slate of opportunities and matchups. His program in New Japan Pro Wrestling with Kenny Omega helped changed the landscape of professional wrestling, serving as a catalyst for the creation of AEW. There is now potential for another chapter in their story with Jericho as the babyface and Omega as the heel.
“I’m very proud of my work with Omega,” Jericho says. “Now we can reverse the roles and do Jericho-Omega III for the world title. That’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Jericho’s career has run the gamut in professional wrestling, from a match against rival Dean Malenko at WCW’s Slamboree in 1998, to standout WWE moments including a breathtaking WrestleMania XIX match against Shawn Michaels and more recent work with Kevin Owens at WrestleMania 33, and later a pivotal match against Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in the Tokyo Dome. The entirety of his career will be on display in his upcoming book, The Complete List of Jericho, which is set for a June 23 release.
“COVID slowed down the printing process, but I’m very proud of this,” Jericho says. “It’s a whole documentation of my career. It’s for wrestling fans to look at the world of wrestling from 1990 to now through the lens of my career, and it’s a book you're never going to see like this ever again.”
Even with a legacy that spans more than 30 years, Jericho is hungry to create more iconic moments. In an industry where he has devoted the majority of his adult life, sacrificing and dedicating himself in pursuit of greatness, he has reached a peak few can ever dream of. Now he has his sights set on the next act, making magic with the Inner Circle against the Pinnacle, who will meet in a WarGames–inspired “Blood and Guts” match next month.
A build that began in September will continue on Wednesday night, as Jericho meets vastly underrated Dax Harwood of FTR on Dynamite. Harwood is now part of MJF’s Pinnacle, and there is potential for a really captivating match, which has the added element of Mike Tyson’s return to serve as the special ringside enforcer.
“I take great pride in longform storytelling,” Jericho says. “We’ve been working on this for a while, and Tyson is really going to enhance the moment. That’s why I want the Inner Circle involved. I want Santana, Sammy, Ortiz and Jake standing next to him. I want them to get that spotlight. And with Tyson being so unpredictable and unorthodox, this is a huge show. You don’t know what’s going to happen.
“Mike Tyson isn’t in the back taking directions or reading off a script. You have to be able to go with whatever he does. Whether we’re against Mike or with him, it’s going to make everyone look bigger.”
Jericho believes the showdown with the Pinnacle will continue to add value to the members of the Inner Circle, especially younger talent like Santana, Ortiz and Sammy Guevara.
“Whatever I do, I want the Inner Circle involved,” Jericho says. “This isn’t Jericho and his guys. This is a group of stars that are extremely valuable to the company, and everyone is a bigger star now than before we started the faction. People are going to continue to see that on Dynamite, especially tonight beside Mike Tyson.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- WWE’s WrestleMania weekend was defined by the work of Sasha Banks on Saturday and Roman Reigns on Sunday.
- NXT started its Tuesday run this week. And while it was a highlight seeing Kushida win gold, I would really enjoy seeing him compete for the world title.
- Raquel González has a new challenger for the NXT Women’s Championship: the former Taya Valkyrie, who is now going by Franky Monet. It cannot be overstated how much value Valkyrie will add, if given the opportunity, to that title, which is already extremely meaningful.
- Need. More. Walter.
- Even after a highly successful WrestleMania weekend, the momentum didn’t carry over to Raw. One of the few highlights this Monday was the promo by Charlotte Flair.
- Drew McIntyre won the main event on Raw, giving him a rematch with WWE champion Bobby Lashley next month at Backlash.
- Even with three hours of programming, Raw did not feature new U.S. champ Sheamus or new Raw tag champs AJ Styles and Omos. There is also a new voice of Raw, which was covered in detail by Richard Deitsch of The Athletic.
- Following a great win over Seth Rollins at WrestleMania, the booking of Cesaro on Friday’s SmackDown is pivotal.
- FITE TV, which offers a tremendous amount of pro wrestling, has been purchased by TrillerNet.
The Briscoes square off in main event for Ring of Honor
Ring of Honor is celebrating the 500th episode of Ring of Honor Wrestling on Thursday, headlined by former two-time Ring of Honor world champion Jay Briscoe against his brother Mark Briscoe.
The show airs this Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on Best on the Planet, which is ROH’s free streaming service, and the card also features Jonathan Gresham vs. Jay Lethal. In addition to showcasing two staples of ROH, the match pitting Jay against Mark Briscoe is also a callback to ROH’s past. They have worn the tag titles together on 11 occasions, embedding their undeniable toughness and grit as fixtures within the company.
The Briscoes have been with ROH from the beginning. Jay Briscoe wrestled the Amazing Red at the ROH’s first show, which was The Era of Honor Begins at Philadelphia’s Murphy Recreational Center in February 2002.
“Me and Red had been tearing it up for a while on the northeast indie scene, so we were really anxious to get out there that night and show what we could do,” says Jay, who worked on a card that also included Daniel Bryan and Eddie Guerrero. “We knew the first show was going to be something special.”
Standing in his brother’s corner was 17-year-old Mark Briscoe, who vividly recalls that night from Philly.
“I still remember how special it felt in the Murphy Rec Center,” Mark says. “It felt like the beginning of a whole new era of professional wrestling. I remember the match being so exciting, the entire atmosphere. I was so hyped up.”
Episode 500 marks an important landmark for ROH and offers the Briscoes an opportunity to show why their brand of violence has helped define the company.
“This is another chapter in the endless saga that is our sibling rivalry,” says Jay, who is a year older than Mark. “It just so happens that this one falls on the 500th episode. We pride ourselves in being a great tag team, but we can’t pretend like tempers don’t flare between us pretty often. And just like when we were kids, I’m going to win this fight, too.”
But Mark is quick to interject with a piece of family history.
“My brother won about 80% of the fights up until the time we got into high school, then I figured him out,” Mark says. “That’s when I proceeded to whoop his ass every chance I got.”
ROH is in a tough position, losing attention and newsworthy moments after so much of the roster left for AEW. Impact Wrestling is currently generating a far bigger buzz than ROH, so Episode 500 serves as a chance to show that some very talented wrestlers still operate for the Sinclair-owned company.
“This opportunity is an incredible honor,” Mark adds. “It’s just crazy. Five hundred episodes of Ring of Honor Wrestling, and to get to face Jay, that just feels right. Ain’t nobody else been here as long as we have, and nobody going to throw down like we throw down.
“Expect a fight. Plain and simple.”
Tweet of the Week
Luchasaurus’s dedication to the craft is on full display.
- Barrasso: What's Next for NXT Women's Champion Raquel González?
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- Barrasso: MJF Establishing Himself by Leading New AEW Faction
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.