Professional wrestling is all about the hottest property, who the youngest stars are and who’s going to break into the big time next. Once you hit the over 40 mark, it tends to be game over, or at least you’re considered a ‘legend,’ making seldom appearances here and there, allowing the so-called future of the industry to step up. There are always instances to this rule that are still performing, such as R Truth, Christopher Daniels, and current WWE Champion AJ Styles, but mainly they’re in the indies, trying to relive the glory of their former days.
But for one wrestler, his best days seem to be right now.
Chris Jericho is 47-years old. That’s ridiculous when you see what a huge impact he still has in the industry. It was almost 20 years ago since he left WCW to debut in WWE, potentially being one of the best debuts of all time, interrupting The Rock’s promo and announcing that Y2J was here, and that “RAW is Jericho.” Everything from his attitude to his music oozed personality, and the years that followed saw so many reinventions of a wrestler that was nothing short of brilliant. We saw him as the ‘Ayatollah of Rock N’ Rolla,’ using gimmicks such as the ‘Save Us’ return and the suit-wearing stripped back star inspired by Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”; every new version of Chris Jericho brought with it passion and creative flare so few have managed to achieve.
He won every belt the company had to offer, featuring in many great feuds with the likes of CM Punk, Stone Cold and The Rock, and perhaps his greatest ever rivalry with Shawn Michaels. There’s no doubt Jericho is a future Hall of Famer, but after numerous comebacks between 2007 and 2017, it seemed as though he might be leaving professional wrestling to put his sole focus on his band Fozzy, along with other personal endeavours, but thankfully that wasn’t to be.
NJPW beckoned, and with it came a future many hadn’t seen coming.
The beginning of Jericho’s current persona was born on November 5, 2017, as he challenged Kenny Omega to a match at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 on January 4, 2018. The match was dubbed “Alpha vs Omega,” and saw the first time Jericho had fought outside of World Wrestling Entertainment in 20 years. Always familiar with playing the villain, Jericho was a heel once more, but something was different. Being outside the creative confines of WWE, it allowed him to be more violent, more aggressive, and more vulgar on the mic. He flourished under his new guise, and after losing to Omega, he was attacking another New Japan favourite, Tetsuya Naito. Their match at Dominion was a visceral battle of attrition, and even before the bell had rang, Jericho was beating Naito with all sorts of foreign objects. Naito’s eye and cheek got busted open, and even now I have no idea how he managed to get to the end of their bout.
Upon beating Naito, Jericho became the NJPW Intercontinental Champion – the first ever wrestler to hold both that and the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Jericho seemed fresh, alive, and was becoming such an exciting character with the way he conducted himself inside and outside of the ring. In an episode of Talk is Jericho, he explained why he decided to put on a few pounds and focus on becoming a more savage competitor, sharing the inspiration behind his current persona being Bruiser Brody.
At All In, Jericho once again surprised the world. After Kenny Omega and Penta El 0 M arguably had the best match of the event, Jericho entered the ring after the lights went out, dressed as Penta and replaced him on the ground. It all seemed like an accident, especially as there was a terrible storm outside. It simply appeared as though there had been a shortage of power. This was not the case, and when Omega’s back was turned Jericho got up and attacked Omega, hitting a Codebreaker on him and saying, “I’ll see you on the Jericho Cruise.” After the event he had to disappear to Kansas to perform a show with Fozzy, so it made it all the more surprising. It was something he didn’t have to do, but knew that his appearance at the indie event of year would only add to his character, his mystery, and his appeal.
Chris Jericho is at the height of his career. He has finally been able to fully realise his ideas without anyone holding him back. Outside of the ring he has put together the Rock and Roll Cruise – an event that’ll feature the very first Ring of Honor/Impact Wrestling crossover, as well as a match so good it’s hard to believe it’s actually happening. Dubbed “The Alpha Club vs The Bullet Club,” Chris Jericho and The Young Bucks will face Kenny Omega, Marty Scurll, and Cody in what could be one of the best bookings of all time.
It would be great to see a rematch with Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 13, and with matches for the event soon to be announced, a title defence will more than likely be on the card for the Alpha. Either way, Jericho’s next move will be exciting, regardless of who he’ll face. Who knows? We may even see him show his face in Ring of Honor soon, especially with his ties to Cody and the Bullet Club. Something I also considered was having Jericho team up with Bullet Club OGs, Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa, and Bad Luck Fale. Only time will tell, but whatever the decision, I can’t wait to find out…