In a candid conversation with Allison Hagendorf, wrestling icon Chris Jericho reflected on his trailblazing journey with All Elite Wrestling (AEW), a venture that initially left many skeptics questioning its long-term viability.
Jericho, famously known as the first AEW World Champion, discussed his calculated risk in leaving a secure position with WWE to join a startup wrestling promotion spearheaded by Tony Khan. Khan, with a fervent passion for wrestling and the financial prowess to back it, partnered with Jericho and other renowned talents who were unaffiliated with WWE at the beginning of 2019.
They convened in a parking lot with a shared mission— to disrupt the wrestling industry and offer fans an alternative to WWE's long-standing monopoly. Jericho emphasized how Khan's vision, coupled with a talented roster, emboldened him to make the career-altering decision.
“It wasn’t just a leap of faith; it was a calculated risk," Jericho explained. "We didn’t even have a TV deal when I signed on. But there was an indomitable spirit amongst us, an underdog mentality. We believed that together, we could build something remarkable”.
AEW's Big Gamble
Against all odds, AEW not only secured a coveted television slot on TBS but also garnered an impassioned fanbase, giving the WWE a run for its money. “The gamble paid off in ways even we hadn’t fully anticipated," Jericho added.
"We’ve now carved out a space in an industry that many thought was impenetrable due to WWE’s dominance. I knew I had more to offer than just being another cog in WWE’s machine. We’ve succeeded in changing the landscape, providing both talent and fans with a credible second option”.
In looking back at the critics who predicted AEW’s early demise, Jericho proudly noted, "They assumed we’d fade away within six months. But here we are, stronger than ever, giving wrestling aficionados a platform they had yearned for”.
Known for his chameleonic ability to reinvent himself, Jericho also hinted at his future plans, expressing a desire to take his talents to Broadway. "I've never been one to rest on my laurels," he said, further proving that Le Champion's ambition knows no bounds.
By successfully defying expectations and challenging an industry giant, Jericho and AEW have accomplished the unthinkable: they've reshaped the wrestling world, offering new avenues for both talent and fans alike. And with Jericho at the helm, one can only anticipate further surprises.