2018 was a big year for Chris Jericho, he toured the world with Fozzy, brought us the Chris Jericho's Rock 'N' Wrestling Rager At Sea, debuted for New Japan Pro Wrestling at Wrestle Kingdom, brought back the 'List of Jericho' for RAW's 25th Anniversary and surprised the world by showing up at ALL IN.
I was able to talk to Chris about the incredible year he had in 2018 and I asked him what was next for him. This is what he told me,
I've really kind of built myself into this position where I don't have to do anything I don't want to do, I don't have to go anywhere I don't want to go so I'm not rushing it, we'll see what happens. I've been working really hard this year, I think after the New Japan thing is done, maybe it's time to take some time and disappear for a while.
(You can read my full interview with Chris Jericho from last year here)
Well, 2019 has almost come and gone and let me tell you something. Chris Jericho did not take some time and disappear for a while. He did the opposite.
He signed for AEW, he became the promotion's first-ever world champion, he birthed one of the biggest wrestling catchphrases in years with 'A little bit of the bubbly', he's appearing in his second Wrestle Kingdom to face 'The Ace' Tanahashi, he's still touring with Fozzy and he's holding another wrestling and rock music cruise!
So the only natural conclusion was to interview him again! We talked about Marko Stunt, AEW, Randy Orton, Ric Flair and so much more!
The second Jericho cruise is sold out! Tell me how you feel about that!
Jericho: How can I not feel anything but amazing about it! I think the cool thing was that last year we sold out kind of right on the wire but there were a lot of discounts and a lot of upgrades and that kind of thing. I was sold out but it was more of a ‘technical knockout’ whereas this one sold out completely and four months earlier.
So it just goes to show that there are a lot of people that were super excited about the cruise last year. There’s a lot of people that were probably disappointed they didn’t go and have a lot of fun once the word got out on how much fun it really was. So, I think it’s just a testament on how exciting the cruise was and how much fun everybody had. I think it was sold out on word of mouth from last year.”
Obviously you did something right with the first cruise, but what have you got planned for this one to avoid that dreaded ‘second-album blues.’
Jericho: Well, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. I think last year was a real kind of feeling out process, how do you do a rock and wrestling cruise? Did I book the right amount of bands, did I book the right amount of current stars and Hall Of Famers, I think it was a real great mix, I just did more of the same. I’ve got some great bands and I put together amazing deal with AEW to continue the ball rolling and have an amazing wrestling company on the ship. I think bringing Ric Flair on board was kind of the coup of all coups, last year Mick Foley was probably the biggest single name that I might have had. I contacted Ric and he agreed.”
Ric Flair is certainly a great get for the cruise! Can you tell us more about what he’ll be doing?
Chris Jericho: We’ll be doing a live Talk Is Jericho and he’ll be involved in some other festivities that haven’t been announced yet, but there’ll be plenty of Ric Flair activity and involvement for sure on the ship.
Next: Will there be a live episode of AEW Dynamite emanating from the cruise? Jericho spills the beans
You mentioned AEW, what will we be seeing from AEW on the cruise? There are some rumors that we’ll get an episode of Dynamite on the boat? Can you tell us anything about that?
Jericho: Well I mean, you’ll just have to wait and see. I think the fact is that we’re setting sail January 20th-24th so we’ll have to put a programme on the Wednesday somehow. We’re not confirming or denying that fact!
You’re the current AEW World Champion, you’re organising this wrestling cruise and you have lots of other stuff going on as well, what’s it like being able to be the top champion of a promotion whilst still being able to keep up with everything else?
Jericho: It’s something I’ve been doing pretty much my whole career, I’ve always had a multitude of projects that I believe in and I’ve been interested. The cruise was no easy feat, it took three years to get it signed, sealed and delivered, so it was a long term project that I really wanted to put a lot of time into and make it great. And that’s kind of the equivalent of everything I do whether it’s AEW, or Fozzy, or Talk Is Jericho and now we’ve got Chris Jericho’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager. It’s just another branch of stuff that I do to give the friends of Jericho cool things to get involved with.
Hooking up with great partners to make sure anything that I cant do, or I’m not good at I’ve got great guys to help wrap up that side of things.So, I think that’s the secret - to make sure you’ve got a great team of people and it all starts at the top with the passion that I have with everything that I do to make it not just good but make it great. And when you had 2,000 people last year tell me they had the vacation of a lifetime, that’s exactly what I wanted and what I desired. And this year we’ve got 2,200 people hoping to do the exact same thing and I will accept nothing less for my guests.
It sounds like the cruise is going to be great this year and it’s sold out but is there any way people can still get on it?
Jericho: Yep, you can sign up for the waiting list on chrisjerichocruise.com. What that means is that it is sold out, but sometimes people don’t pay the last little bit, or they can’t make it or little junior has homework to do, or whatever it may be. So it’s just a matter of signing up for the waiting list and as cabins become available it’s a first-come-first-serve for the ones that remain, so it’s kind of an cool deal because there’s been some people already signed up for the waiting list who thought they didn’t have a chance and suddenly bingo, the heavens open up and they get a shot to go. So, that’s the best way to do it at this point in time.
With it selling out last year and it selling out this year, there must be plans for a third cruise, surely?
Jericho: Absolutely, my goal has always been to make this an annual destination vacation. I noticed this on the Kiss cruise, Fozzy does the Kiss cruise, that it was very much this community which people were coming every year no matter what! Almost like summer camp sort-of-thing, like ‘oh we got another cruise’. And I want to start that kind of reaction [someone interrupts and Jericho tells them it’s okay. I think he’s at the airport]. So, once we kind of get that ball rolling, people will know what to expect and they’ll sign up every year, no matter who’s on the cruise, even before there’s big announcements I want the vibe it to be the same every time where you know you’re going to have a great time no matter what.
Next: Chris Jericho discusses AEW star Marko Stunt's place in the wrestling industry
You were public in defence of Marko Stunt in that people feel he’s not the right build or the right size for the industry and you compared him to Rey Mysterio, could you elaborate on your thoughts towards people like Marko Stunt and their place in the wrestling industry?
Jericho: Well, it’s the same thing I’ve heard my whole career. When I first came into the business at 19, everyone said I was too small. Maybe at the time I was but I had to make it on my charisma and on my desire, on my passion, on my abilities. And then a few years later when Rey Mysterio came along, I was there and I met him and I was yelling at ‘Love Machine’ Art Barr for bringing a thirteen year old kid in the room when we’re drinking and smoking joints and he’s like ‘no, he’s eighteen years old, he’s a wrestler’ and I said ‘you’re kidding me!’
So, it’s the same every few years. What’s small? What’s big? To me over is over. And if you’re saying someone can’t be in the business because they’re too small, well it’s the same thing they said to me. It’s the same thing they said to Rey Mysterio. And my response is would you rather see a 6ft 5” 280 pound muscle-head that is boring and has no personality, or would you rather see a 5ft 2” fireball that has some charisma to him that can do a lot of great stuff.
And listen, this is show-business, you know what I’m saying. You can go watch a movie and Yoda spins through the air and kills a bunch of Empire soldiers that are five times his size, you cheer and yell and scream. So, I think people need to settle down and relax about what’s not believable and believable. Wrestling is a show, it’s show-business, it always has been, it always will be and whoever attracts the most people, the most viewers to that show, will have a job. Will Marko Stunt be a future world champion like Jericho or Rey Mysterio? I don’t know. Who am I to judge when they told me the same thing twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine years ago.
I like the idea of Marko Stunt being AEW’s Yoda. Maybe that’ll catch on. I don’t know [Jericho laughs] But one of the other big online things we’re seeing a lot at the moment is the back and forth between AEW talent and talent from WWE and NXT. The most high profile one was Seth Rollins and Kenny Omega having a bit of bickering online. What are your thoughts on the back and forth between the two companies and do you think it’s a positive thing for both companies in general?
Jericho: Sure, anytime there’s an option and it gives people a chance to take sides it’s exciting. Am I going to be involved? I don’t argue with people on Twitter, I just say what I mean to people’s faces you know? The one or two things that I’ve said that are kind of anti-WWE weren’t really planned at all, they just kind of happened due to what was going on and what I was doing in the ring. So, if those guys want to fight, or bicker as you said, then go for it. It just creates more passion, shall we say, and more relevance and more of a battle, I guess, more excitement. All of those sorts of things and if people want to get involved that way and get behind it ‘ooh, did you hear what he said’ then more power to them.
Next: Chris Jericho reveals his thoughts about people that say AEW should stop taking shots at WWE and focus on itself
Because we were one of the sites that blew it up a bit with a Kenny Omega interview we posted with him calling NXT ‘developmental’ and that blew up and it was massive and it definitely got attention from the fans. But would you say that AEW should focus more on the things that make it special, like the talent that weren’t given a chance elsewhere and are getting the spotlight here, instead of other companies? What do you think?
Jericho: I don’t really care, I mean that’s up to you guys to decide. What AEW should focus on is putting on the best show possible and if people are talking s*** and you want to respond to it then that’s fine too because so far the four weeks of television we’ve had have been great, the ratings have been awesome, the demo has been insanely great. So, whatever.
For me it’s like, you can analyse it and say you should do this or you should do that. All we should do is continue to do what we’re doing to remain a very popular show that’s in competition with nobody. We didn’t start this war, if that’s what you want to call it, we didn’t start this competition, we’re just doing our own thing. If there’s contenders at the door knocking and trying to get into our world, that’s fine.
But to me the most important thing is what are we doing right as a company? What are we doing wrong as a company? What can we do better? Once again we’ve got four weeks of television under our belts, it’s not like we’ve had ten years of experience, or eight years of experience or whatever, to get everybody on the same page.
Of course there’s going to be some growing pains but so far the numbers tell the tale of what’s going on. So, whether you want to say something about it or don’t’ say something about it, or concentrate on something else, or concentrate on this, either way we’re doing really, really well and we’re going to continue to do well, so say what you want to say, I don’t give a s***.
Absolutely! You mentioned about the numbers and especially the numbers in that prime demographic that you’d want. Can you tell me what the feeling is backstage about how AEW is going and how happy everyone is going forward?
Chris Jericho: Everybody is happy, but once again I think we all realise there’s always things that have gone really well and things that we can do better. You know, everybody has patted themselves on the back and congratulates, but what do we do for next week and how do we keep the ball rolling for the next few shows and stay on top of what we’re doing.
So, it’s now a weekly vibe, a weekly task. It’s not like it was when we had a PPV and then three months later we had another show and a show here and a show there. It’s every single Wednesday so you don’t rest on your laurels and it’s very gruelling, it’s gruelling to put on weekly TV. But I can say this from my experience; it’s a lot of fun doing it the AEW way is a lot less scripted, it’s more, kind of, flying by the seat of your pants, a guerrilla warfare, wild west atmosphere and it makes it really fun.
I think this is one of the reasons why the product has been so well received is because people can see the difference. It’s not as regimented as other shows are, and that’s by design. And listen, whether that’s going to make us huge or whether it’s going to end the company in a month, it’s the way we chose to do things, it’s different and right now it’s working so there’s no reason to change anything to continue building upon the efforts and the shows that we’ve done so far.
I can definitely agree with that, especially in the segment that was in the last episode that spawned the ‘I’ve got a ticket T-shirt’ [Jericho and the Inner Circle watch AEW from the Royal Box and then have a physical altercation with Cody Rhodes and Co) It certainly came across as extremely fun, really well put together, I certainly wouldn’t have believed that it was unscripted or unplanned it just worked so well.
Next: Chris Jericho shares his thoughts on his huge title defence against Cody Rhodes at Full Gear
This brings me to you and Cody at Full Gear. Are you looking forward to wrestling someone like Cody who’s a big player in the company, a big player in the industry and it’s for a major title. What are your thoughts going into that?
Jericho: He is a big player in the industry and a big player in the company but he’s not bigger than I am in the industry, so yeah. Cody’s great, he’s doing a great job, he’s one of the most popular performers in the company right now. He’s won a lot of matches, he knows what he’s doing, he knows how to get himself over and so do so I think that’s one of the reasons why in the first four weeks Cody is probably one of the most popular, if not the most popular angle on the show because you’ve got two guys who know exactly what to do with the TV time we have to get over to the max.
It’s not necessarily what happens inside the ring, it’s outside the ring, and we’ve been building it perfectly. So, it’s going to be huge, it’s going to be a huge match for us, basically our first official PPV, the first official defence of the AEW Championship with the golden child, entitled Cody Rhodes against ‘Le Champion’ Chris Jericho.
So, I think we’ve built the story amazingly, like you mentioned last week on the show [two weeks ago now] was one of the favourite things I’ve ever done, I think next to the Festival of Friendship it’s probably the best thing I’ve been involved with in the last three or four years outside the ring, as far as not having a match.
Obviously we knew what we were doing but the exact lines and every little twist was not rehearsed and planned out and that’s why it worked. So, I think you’re going to have a lot more of that between Jericho and Cody. I know we’re both excited about the match and excited we still have another couple of weeks to try and build this thing. We’re on a roll and it’s a good time to be involved with this, it’s a good time to be sampling and becoming an AEW hardcore fan for sure!
You mentioned ‘Le Champion’, are there are any plans to bring out a t-shirt for that because I know that at the moment you have a knack for saying things that become t-shirts?
Jericho: It’s just one of those things where I looked at the social media presence to see what people are excited about and ‘I’ve got a ticket’ seemed to be a thing that everyone was really into so let’s put out a shirt, see how it does and if it you sell 1,000 units in a week you move on to the next one.
I think ‘Le Champion’ is one that you would spend some time with. The Bubbly shirts are still super popular, those are the ones that are in arenas, those are the ones that are moving very well so you don’t want to step on that. The ticket one is kind of a side-bar, we knew it wasn’t going to be a massive seller for weeks and months to come. It might be, but I think something like ‘A little bit of the bubbly’ is and once that starts going down we’ll look at doing another major shirt like ‘Le Champion’.
Next: It would be a sin if I didn't ask for Jericho's thoughts on 'A little bit of the bubbly' and he shares them!
Did you have any idea how big ‘A little bit of the bubbly’ was going to become? Tell me your thoughts when that started taking off?
Jericho: No, of course not, you never know what people are going to get into and what people are going to get excited about. It’s just one of those things. I said it in passing, kind of out of the corner of my eye so-to-speak and then, like I said, you watch what people are saying and doing and the videos that people were making for that were just completely ridiculous, there were so many of them and so creative and I was like [pauses]. You never know, people just super got into that and it became this huge catchphrase
It’s like asking Metallica if they knew ‘Enter Sandman’ would be the biggest song of the generation. You’ll never know for sure what’s going to hit with people and what people are going to get into and I don’t analyse it, I just go with it. I’m smart enough to see that this is a thing, let’s promote this, let’s keep this moving and see how far we can go with it and ‘A little bit of the bubbly’ became one of those late, career, number-one hits for Chris Jericho just like ‘The List’ was or any of those things. You just say it and if people get excited about it and latch upon it you just continue with it.
All of the videos and memes were hilarious and to think they all came from the news of you winning the title and the title being lost, can you tell me more about that?
Jericho: It wasn’t lost, it was stolen. I’ve been in wrestling for 29 years; I’ve had fifty titles everywhere and I’ve never misplaced and lost a belt for three seconds so, the belt was stolen. And I still don’t’ know exactly what happened, if you had another hour I could tell you the whole story. But it’s just one of those things, it just added to the legend of the title that it was stolen 24 hours after it was first won and then found on the side of the road by a driver. If you drive down the highway or down the street everyday would you pull over if you saw a non-descript velvet bag on the side of the road?
I probably wouldn’t.
Jericho: “Nobody would, because it’s bulls*** it’s not a real story. I don’t know exactly what happened. It’s almost like it was the Wicker Man with the whole town was involved with this conspiracy. But it gave us ammunition for some great social media coverage. It’s like Bruno Sammartino in ’75 when somebody stole the title from the dressing room. S*** happens sometimes and it’s not the fact that it happens, but what you do with it when it does happen and we made something great out of it.
Well, that is one of the things that was very impressive with AEW’s response to that was just how quickly they turned it into something the fans could follow, that the fans could…
Jericho: [Interrupting me] Well, once again it wasn’t ‘they’ it was me and that’s the great thing about AEW. I don’t have to ask permission, I just go with it. I knew that we had to acknowledge it, we had to cut it off at the pass, own it, and make it into something great and I think that’s what we did. I think in light of that circumstance, how weird it was, how ridiculous it was, we got something great out of it. It’s kind of what professionals do, you take the circumstances that you’re given and you work with it and you make it great.
I want to talk about the Randy Orton Instagram post where he teased a bunch of Superstars potentially leaving WWE and joining AEW, obviously I know that you can’t say anything about whether they will or not. But would you be happy to have someone like Randy Orton, Elias or Revival in AEW in the future if it were to happen?
Jericho: I can’t say anything about it because I don’t know anything about it, no-one’s calling me to tell me about these things. But I know this - nobody is getting out of WWE, especially Randy Orton, because unless he’s very, very committed to saying ‘I don’t care if you pay me 20 gazillion dollars I’m leaving’ that’s not what he’s doing. I mean, obviously Vince is going to pay millions and millions of dollars to not have Randy Orton go.
And there’s some other guys but we’re not trying to be old-school TNA where anybody that wants to leave WWE comes to AEW, that’s not what we’re looking to do. Obviously there’s Jon Moxley that when they become available [we sign them]. And Moxley was one of those guys who said ‘I’m out of here, I don’t care what you pay me’ and didn’t even look at the offer they gave him. That’s because he was done and ready to go.”
If you’re using AEW to make more money off of Vince, go for it! That’s great too but it’s not like we’re taking everybody that’s going to leave WWE to come to AEW. Because those guys that who are working WWE now, they got huge raises, and if they were on the Indy circuit they wouldn’t be making 500 bucks a night.
The point is that Vince just doesn’t want anybody to leave WWE because it looks like an exodus if they do and makes us look even cooler. We do things our way, we’ve got a great roster of guys and if somebody becomes available that really wants to be with us and we think that they fit our vibe then we’ll take them. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to get millions and millions of dollars to come because once again, that’s not what we’re doing.
I think we’ve assembled an awesome roster with at least ten to twelve potential main eventers and we have to build all those guys up first to build up all the mid-card guys, and then build up all the opening match guys to create stars. That’s what we have to do, quickly, create stars. And once we do that we’ll be even higher up the food chain than we are now.
But if a Randy Orton became available and said ‘I’m leaving I don’t care what’ then I’m sure we’d be really interested in talking to him and we could do great stuff. I’ll tell you what; he’ll probably be more over with us in a month than he has been in the last ten years with WWE.
Well that’s one of the things, obviously people like Jake Hager. He’s a presence in AEW, he’s something important and he wasn’t necessarily important elsewhere so you are doing really good things with the talent you’ve got. But is there anyone we’ve not seen yet that we should keep our eye on for the future?
Jericho: Well, you’ve seen them all. I think a guy like MJF. Hager’s got a huge upside, he always has, they just didn’t see it in WWE. Like I said, MJF is a guy who’s going to be a huge star with us. Darby Allin is another one to put some focus into.
We have to get to know Hangman Page, we have to get to know Kenny Omega, we have to get to know The Young Bucks more. There’s just a lot of work that we have to do because of the huge fan base and people who haven’t seen them before. That’s okay, because they weren’t on national TV, but now that they are it’s up to us to build them and continue to grow and learn who they are as characters, as people, as performers and that the thing, we’ve done so well in this four weeks so we’ll see what happens four weeks from now and four weeks after that.
Jericho had to catch a plane, so that's where the interview ended. I forgot to ask him if he planned to take it easy in 2020. But I'd expect not. If you'd like to hear Jericho's responses himself, make sure to listen to the full interview here!