Chris Jericho Talks Stadium Stampede, Being a Heel, Having Unfinished Business with NJPW
TSN recently spoke to AEW wrestler Chris Jericho, who spoke about having unfinished business in NJPW and wanting to do more appearances there. He also discussed this weekend’s Stadium Stampede match featuring the Inner Circle vs. Pinnacle. The match is slated for Sunday at AEW Double or Nothing. Below are some highlights.
Chris Jericho on this year’s Stadium Stampede: “I think you hafta remember what was going on in the world last May. Stadium Stampede was a direct result of the lockdown. We had that pay-per-view that we ran last year in front of no people and it was a very uncertain time. It was a little bit scary and I think Stadium Stampede was created specifically to make people smile and give them something entertaining that we’d never done before. I’ll never forget showing up at the stadium last year and thinking ‘What the hell are we gonna do?’ There’s nothing here. There’s just one big, empty field and then we create this magical world with some comedy, some intensity, some amazing stunts and everything in between. But most importantly, I think it was very entertaining and I think it was exactly what people needed to take their minds off of what was going on in the world.”
Why the gimmick is valid for this storyline: “Stadium Stampede as a concept is just as valid [as it was last year], but the story that we’ve told is different. And people will think ‘Oh, watch out – it’s going to be all comedy.’ Well, of course it’s not going to be all comedy. It’s a different story that we’re telling. It’s more violent and intense. I think it’s going to be much more like an action movie. There might be moments of comedy like you’d see in any great action movie, but I think it’s going to be much more intense, much more about the fight and the creativity of what we can do. That’s the thing I loved about the Stadium Stampede last year, when we first walked into that building and [thought] there’s nothing but a giant, empty stadium and there’s nothing to do there, but then we realized there’s a lot we can do there. When we started thinking about this year’s version, there’s a lot of stuff we can do that wasn’t done last year.”
Jericho on working baybface vs. heel: “I always say that it’s easier to make people hate you than it is to make people like you. Once they start hating you, then they start liking you. There’s always a way to play heel, but sometimes it just can’t go as long [as it used to]. For example, 10 years ago, I was a heel for two and a half years. I don’t think that can ever happen again at this point. But it is kind of fun to be a babyface and working this style and really embracing these kind of intense babyface promos. That’s something that I haven’t really done before. It’s very exciting and it’s a lot of fun because if you know my career, I’m all about evolving and changing and moving and never doing the same thing. I’ve done kind of the super entertaining babyface thing before, but there’s almost an early ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin intensity [now] and it’s believable. And then having The Pinnacle as these perfect foils, there’s nothing better as a babyface than having a great heel. I think we’ve been able to play off each other very well. The two teams are very well matched.”
Chris Jericho on people he still wants to work with in NJPW: “There’s a lot of unfinished business for me in New Japan. Jay White is one [potential opponent], [Minoru] Suzuki is another one that would draw big money. Kota Ibushi and [Will] Ospreay, those four guys I’d love to work with. I’d love to do a ‘Golden Jets’ team – Kenny and Jericho – versus [Kazuchika] Okada and Ibushi or [Hiroshi] Tanahashi and Okada or Tanahashi and Ibushi. I think that’s a Tokyo Dome main event right there. So there’s a lot of stuff I’d still like to do in New Japan and as soon as we can start going over there again, I’m more than agreeable to doing more work there. I really enjoyed the six matches that I had there in 2018 and 2019 and think there’s plenty of room for more.”