It is quite clear that Chris Jericho is marching to the beat of his own drum these days. Having achieved success over the past 18 years in WWE, which includes being a six-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, nine-time Intercontinental Champion, two-time United States Champion, seven-time Tag Team Champion, and a former European and Hardcore Champion, there is nothing left for Jericho to achieve in the WWE, unless he would like to add a Royal Rumble win to his resume. He was even close to doing that, as he was the runner-up in 2012, and ended up competing for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 28 against CM Punk.
Since he is not contracted to any particular company, Jericho has the ability to do what he wants and compete with any company of his choosing. Hence, he will be competing in his first non-WWE match since 1999, at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 event inside the Tokyo Dome. His opponent will be IWGP United States Champion Kenny Omega. In an interview with the Wrestling Observer, Jericho explained his motive behind agreeing to book the match for January 4. He stated that, at this point in his career, everything that he does is very intentional, because he is in a state where he does not have to compete for money.
Who Does Jericho Credit For Coming Up With His Wrestle Kingdom 12 Match Against Kenny Omega?
The idea for the match with Kenny Omega, Jericho explained, came from former WWE manager and ECW personality Don Callis. Since Jericho is good friends with Callis, he influenced the former Truth Commission manager to join Lance Storm and start the Killing the Town podcast to be a feature on his The Jericho Network group of podcasts. Not only did this reignite Callis’ interest in the wrestling business, but it also gave him another color commentating opportunity, as he filled the gap created by Steve Corino, who is now a trainer at the WWE Performance Center.
During a conversation with Jericho, Callis mentioned having a match with Omega. While Callis laughed, not believing that it really would happen, Jericho stated that he did not laugh. Instead, he began to ponder on the match, and the idea became very interesting to him. Meeting Omega for the first time, and seeing how popular he is currently in the pro wrestling business, Jericho knew that it was bound to become a buzzworthy topic if he worked with the IWGP U.S. Champion.
“For Those Guys To Fly To New York, I Knew It Was Real.”
One of the biggest indicators, according to Jericho, was when executives of New Japan flew to the United States just to meet with him and discuss the possibility of working with Omega.
“For those guys to fly to New York, I knew this was real,” he said. The first thing he told them at the meeting is that it has to be something huge because he is not going to Vince McMahon to let him know about it, out of respect for his relationship with WWE, if it was not going to be.
The New Japan executives specifically came to the United States to meet with Jericho, so he knew that they were serious. He compared it to when he went to Vince McMahon’s house to meet with him when he was on his way out of WCW. Knowing how serious they were, Jericho stated that he began to get serious, and started coming up with ideas. He then spoke with Vince McMahon when the deal was finalized, and it was a very positive conversation.
Jericho firmly believes that he is a bigger star by doing this match, and is a part of the double main event at Wrestle Kingdom. He also feels that he would not have been in any main event at WrestleMania, which makes this match on a bigger scale for him. In fact, he is now on the marquee of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, due to his upcoming match with Omega.