Jericho: “If I was still in the WWE, I would still have to be doing ‘The List’ and it would feel so old”
Sports Illustrated recently interviewed AEW World champion Chris Jericho ahead of Wrestle Kingdom 14. Jericho faces Hiroshi Tanahashi tomorrow at Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night 2. If Tanahashi wins, he will receive a shot at the AEW title. Below are some highlights.
Jericho on why he doesn’t like to recycle his past catchphrases and gimmicks for wrestling: “I have a great list of hits, but a lot of those will never be played again because I’m too busy concentrating on new hits and performing at the highest level. It’s hard to leave all the old gimmicks and catchphrases, and take a chance, but if you don’t do that, it’s like DX coming to the ring in 2019 and yelling ‘Suck it!’ It looks like a relic from the past, and I never wanted to be that.”
Jericho on what he’d be doing if he was still in WWE: “If I was still in the WWE, I would still have to be doing ‘The List’ and it would feel so old. I love all the great stuff I did in the past, but to go out there and say ‘Raw is Jericho’ or ‘I’m the Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla’ would really feel like a rock and roll band that tours that never puts on a new record and tours every summer. I always appreciate when bands play new songs, because I’ve been playing new songs, too. Otherwise, for me, there’s no reason to continue on.”
Chris Jericho on how he wanted to wrestle Tanahashi last year: “I wanted to work with Tanahashi last year. When I attacked Naito in Korakuen Hall, I wanted to attack Tanahashi, but Gedo wanted it to be Naito, which turned out to be great. This is a main-event, money match, and there is a lot of buzz about it. I just watched the match Tanahashi had with Kenny from last year in the Tokyo Dome, and it was amazing.”
Jericho on how he came up with the Painmaker character: “I originally went into that Omega match thinking I’d be the same guy from WWE. But I was really into Bruiser Brody at the time–I think it was the 30 anniversary of his death–and watching him just beat the sh– out of people. In Japan, people are still intimidated by that and they kind of like it. I really liked the lunacy of the character I played building up to and during the Kenny match, so when I went back for Naito, I didn’t want to wear sparkly tights and light-up jackets. It didn’t feel right. I felt crazier, and I decided that some paint needed to be worn.”
“I was working with Okada, who is ‘The Rainmaker,’ so I said I was ‘The Painmaker.’ It just happened. Now it’s a whole other side of Jericho that could extend my career for another ten years if I wanted it to. I’m a huge fanatic and disciple of the band KISS and the way they market themselves, and I’m surprised it took me this long to wear some paint. I want to use it in certain cases. That’s why I used the paint against Darby Allin on Dynamite. I want to do this character like how the Great Muta did it.”
Chris Jericho on his future in NJPW after this weekend: “I came to work with Omega, Naito, Okada, and Tanahashi. Will I come back after the Tana match? I don’t know. I’d love to work with Ospreay and Ibushi. It might be mission accomplished after this, it might not, but it’s really cool to go back as a main event heavyweight after being a junior heavyweight.”