As reported earlier, Chris Jericho signed a three-year deal with All Elite Wrestling. Jericho spoke on Busted Open Radio, where among other topics of discussion, he talked about if Vince McMahon knew he was signing with AEW and his signing with AEW being comparable to Hulk Hogan signing with WCW.
Jericho talked about wanting to try something new and different in his career, which eventually led to him signing with All Elite Wrestling.
“I think when you’re talking about all the stuff that has happened the past few years that led to me signing with AEW, it’s always that mindset in my head – I do not want to do the same thing that I’ve done before. That could go match style, look, hair style, or even company that I’m working for.”
Co-host Bully Ray asked Jericho just how important his involvement with AEW is. Jericho compared it to Hulk Hogan signing with WCW in 1994, two years prior to him forming nWo and changing the wrestling world.
“I think it was the piece of the puzzle that they definitely needed at this point in time,” Jericho said. “Because what I do for that company is the same thing I did for New Japan last year. I’m not going to say 100% that it’s my work that led to New Japan into the Garden [the upcoming ROH/NJPW Madison Square Garden show], but it’s a big reason because New Japan has become very hot over the last year with a lot of people that never watched it before, a lot of executives and fans that never watched it before, because they checked it out last year at the Tokyo Dome for Alpha vs. Omega, Jericho vs. Kenny [his match with Kenny Omega].
They might’ve heard of this New Japan, they might have even known some of the guys that were in it, but they weren’t really… and then when Chris Jericho shows up there, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, Chris Jericho’s there. Well, let me check this out.’ And then they watch the show and go, ‘Oh my gosh, well Jericho’s great but look at this Kenny, and they got Okada and Tanahashi, and The Young Bucks, and Cody’s there now, and Ibushi’s there, etc., etc., etc.'”
“I think it’s the same with AEW and having a legit… you know, let’s be honest. I don’t know if you said it Dave, I didn’t, a legend. If it is a legend, the legendary guy, Chris Jericho’s there, that’s still super relevant, and people are saying is the hottest free agent in the business. I don’t think there’s anybody else that could’ve gone there that had that same kind of affect.
If you brought a Hulk Hogan there, for example, then all this is just a re-tread. If you brought Goldberg there… it’s like, well OK we haven’t seen him in a while and it’s probably a money thing, but with Chris Jericho, everyone was waiting to see where he was going to go. And I think most people say, ‘Yeah, he’ll talk to other places but he’s probably going to end up in WWE.’ And when I didn’t, it really is a modern day version of Hulk Hogan in 1994, showing up in WCW, but it’s a much cooler, more contemporary version of that type of a name, because I’ve been doing nothing but rebuilding my brand and making people wonder what’s Chris Jericho doing to do in 2019. So, when I showed up at the press conference, now everybody knows, and I think people take AEW a whole lot more seriously than they did before I was involved.”
Jericho was also asked if he had any talks with Vince McMahon regarding AEW. Jericho said the talks he had with Vince went well and that Vince already knew about his AEW signing before the rally. He also noted that the Khan family is very serious about delving into the world of professional wrestling, so they did everything possible to sign Jericho.
“A lot of that stuff is private but I did have a very amicable conversation with him and he knew it, he knew what I was doing. It was not a surprise. I didn’t just show up in Jacksonville and that was it. The bottom line is that the Khan family isn’t messing around. They want to make a go of this, and they have a lot of money, and they have a lot of capital, they have a lot of business acumen in sports and entertainment. Not sports entertainment, but the two separate entities.
They own the Jacksonville Jaguars and they operate that organization. They own the Fulham football club in London in the Premier League. They know how to run that operation and they understand the pomp and circumstance of what happens when you have a big time sports entity. It’s not just a team, it’s all of the glitz and glamour surrounding it. They were very adamant that they wanted Chris Jericho on the roster.”
Jericho continued, “It took a while for me to really believe that, and believe that it could be something, but once again, over the past year I’ve done a lot of work with The Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes, with all those guys, both in New Japan and on my cruise, at All In, and you know, once again, no matter how big the offer was, there’s also got to be a little bit of belief deep down inside for me… and those guys are all there and motivated, and I love the fact that this day in age, that there are guys, and we’re seeing it more and more now, that can make a huge living outside of that system.
I did enjoy working over the past year, outside of the WWE system because it’s Vince’s world and that’s great, when you work there you know it, it’s just the way it is and you don’t argue it, you don’t hassle it. But it was a lot of fun to kind of go back and… what do I think is best, and to kind of let the people in charge know that with my 29 years of experience, this is the right way to go.
And not have to go through a producer, a cameraman, and a director, and this guy and that guy and this guy, then go sit outside of Vince’s office for an hour, waiting to talk to him, to convince them that this is the right way to go. And with all of the matches that I did this year, and there were 4 – 5 in New Japan and 1 on the cruise, were all great matches and they were different, and they all had very smart elements to them.
All the build-ups for the matches, you know, that was all me, with some input from the other guys that I was working with, and not having to worry about the corporate side of it. So, I was looking forward to it and when the offer came down from the Khans, and WWE was very amicable in saying congratulations, and go kick ass. So, that’s basically what happened. Now once it happened, I don’t know what the reaction would be, but the last conversation I had was an amicable one, for sure.”