Chris Jericho recently sat down with Sports Illustrated to discuss his AEW career thus far, and how his new heel faction, The Inner Circle, has been compared to the nWo. However, while “The Painmaker” did acknowledge that there are some similarities between the factions, he believes that his crew are superior in-ring talents.
“There is some nWo in there, which happens any time you put together a heel faction,” Jericho said. “Any comparisons between Jericho and Hulk Hogan in the nWo begin and end with knowing how to get heel heat. In the ring, it’s a different story. That was one of the things that was great, and not so great, about WCW. The nWo was so huge and made so much money, but whenever it came down to the actual matches in the ring, they were never that great.”
Jericho also compared himself to Hogan because he’s been the catalyst for the Inner Circle, but he did state that he’s a better worker than the WWE Hall of Famer.
The Inner Circle is comprised of Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Jake Hager, and Santana and Ortiz. All five superstars are rightfully regarded as strong performers, and they’ve been a major talking point in the wrestling industry since forming on the first episode of Dynamite.
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Guevara is a rising star who’s made an immediate impression after opening the first ever AEW Dynamite with a competitive match against Cody Rhodes. Hager has been a solid in-ring worker, having competed for a number of years. Santino and Ortiz, meanwhile, were hailed as one of the best tag teams on the planet prior to joining the company.
This has been a big year for Jericho, too, as he became the inaugural AEW Champion and has since defended the title in a well-received match against Darby Allin. This Saturday, he’ll defend his prize against Rhodes at Full Gear, which will mark the payoff to a feud that has been building for months.
However, while Jericho and Rhodes are storyline rivals, the current champion has nothing but respect for his opponent outside of the squared circle. During the interview, Jericho praised Rhodes for leaving WWE and taking a chance on himself. According to Jericho, the AEW executive vice president has become a “great babyface that people believe in.”
On the latest episode of Dynamite, Rhodes cut a career-defining promo that drew comparisons to his father — the late, great Dusty Rhodes — and garnered praise from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The fan base is firmly behind Rhodes, but credit must also be given to Jericho for being a great antagonist.