Early this morning, Chris Jericho attempted to defend his IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Tetsuya Naito and he came up short. The match was contested under no disqualification rules, and it was quite an intense affair.
When the match was over and Jericho had lost, that led many to believe that he would be moving on from NJPW, possibly to sign with newly-minted All Elite Wrestling, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It looks like his plans involve more matches in the Japanese promotion.
As reported by Yahoo! Japan, not only does Chris Jericho intend to stick around with New Japan Pro Wrestling, but he has his sights firmly set on the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi.
“I just lost the belt I took from Naito in June last year. It is a big mistake if you think that the time with me and New Japan Pro Wrestling will be over.”
He continued and talked about how successful he was with the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, and how his current goal is to hold the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, whether it’s reasonable or not.
“I’ve kept the Intercontinental belt for the longest in 2018. So let me tell you, I want to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight belt, unreasonable or not.”
After the match, Jericho also took to social media to post about how much he and Naito beat each other up during the match. He also posted a photo of some of the damage, and it looks quite painful.
Chris Jericho first returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling on November 5, 2017, in a taped vignette. He was thrust directly into a feud with Kenny Omega, who is one of the most popular performers in the company.
His first match with the company, and the first outside of the WWE since 1999, took place on January 4, 2018. While Jericho lost to Omega, the match was ultimately rated five stars by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which is no small achievement.
Jericho captured the Intercontinental Championship from Naito at Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall. The event took place on June 9, 2018. Winning the title made him the first professional wrestler to hold both the WWE and IWGP Intercontinental Championships within their career. He successfully defended the championship against Evil at Power Struggle on November 3, 2018.
It’ll be interesting to see if Chris Jericho actually does stick around with NJPW, or if this is just a bait and switch and he’ll end up moving to AEW.