Chris Jericho has opened up about his decision to wrestle for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). When Chris Jericho appeared on a screen in an NJPW event, wrestling fans and the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) went ballistic. It was clear from his promo that he was challenging Kenny Omega and that Jericho would be heading to NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom 12, but how? Wasn't Jericho part of the WWE?
Fans later learned that Jericho was not under contract with WWE and that he was free to go wrestle where he pleased. Some speculated that Jericho choosing to abandon his status as a "WWE guy" meant there was trouble in the water between Jericho and his former employer, but Jericho set the record straight and all is well between him and the WWE.
Jericho recently spoke to Busted Open Radio about his decision to head to NJPW and how facing Omega will be good for the pro-wrestling business and WWE.
.@IAmJericho tells @bullyray5150 & @LarryDallasSXM that his match w/ Kenny Omega is a throwback to the 80s when superstars would go overseas for matches & that this match pushes promotions to think more & be more creative which ultimately is good for the pro-wrestling business. pic.twitter.com/M4whWT8MHc— SiriusXM Busted Open (@BustedOpenRadio) November 10, 2017
During his interview, he said, "I think I'm in a very unique position in the WWE where I have a great relationship with the company, one guy [specifically], where normal rules might not apply." That one guy he was referring to is assumed to be Vince McMahon who, by many accounts, is extremely close to Jericho and allows Jericho to do things a number of other WWE Superstars cannot do.
Because of that close relationship, it sounds like Jericho approached McMahon about his plans and got his blessing. Jericho continued to explain, "But I also do it with respect and with relevance to what they're doing and realize that WWE is still my company, it's still my home, but I'm not handcuffed to WWE. If I want to go to New Japan to work a main event at the Tokyo Dome or put on my own cruise and work in tandem with Ring Of Honor, that's OK, because guess what? At the end of the day, when I go back to the WWE, it makes me that much bigger of a star."
Jericho explained that much like Brock Lesnar did when he made a huge name for himself in UFC, when Lesnar came back, he was that much bigger a draw and his return was monumental. Selfishly, Jericho also believes that by helping out ROH and NJPW, he forces WWE to realize that they aren't the only game in town and competition breeds a better product.
It sounds like the wrestling world owes Jericho a huge thank you. Not only does it look like he showed the WWE the respect of talking to them first about his plans (and getting the ok when he didn't require it), he's improving the status of a number of wrestling companies including the WWE who will now need to step up their game and get a bigger name back when Jericho does return to the WWE—which he fully intends to do.