During a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Chris Jericho said that he’s responsible for so many wrestlers getting raises over the last year. According to the All Elite Wrestling star, joining the company led to several performers in WWE being signed to five-year deals because the company feared they’d join him.
Jericho compared the situation to Bobby Hull joining the World Hockey Association in 1972. Jericho recalls how the player moving to the league led to other stars — including his father — being given more money. “The Painmaker” believes that he’s the wrestling equivalent of the hockey star.
“Fast-forward almost 50 years, his son, Chris Jericho, is now the new Bobby Hull. The moment I signed with AEW, everybody in WWE got a raise. Point being, it’s like we’ve become the enemy. It’s not on our end. We’re not competition, we’re an alternative. We provide an option.”
According to Jericho, there are superstars in WWE making upwards of $500,000 per year who don’t deserve it, but it’s happening because of him and AEW changing the entire industry. While he didn’t name any performers, it’s well known how several WWE enhancement talents have been given better deals since AEW formed.
Jericho also revealed that AEW isn’t trying to be competition to WWE, though Vince McMahon and company don’t see it that way. The company just wants to give fans another wrestling product to enjoy if WWE isn’t to their taste. However, he believes that McMahon’s company wants to “crush” AEW, and he believes that Dynamite regularly beating NXT in the Wednesday night ratings war is probably “embarrassing” for WWE.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) March 1, 2020
The former AEW World Champion thinks that creative freedom is the main draw for wrestlers opting to join the company. While he insists that the money is great, he told Sports Illustrated that being able to bring his ideas to life is the most rewarding aspect of being a member of the promotion.
He also said that if he remained with WWE he’d be forced to recycle old ideas, such as his List gimmick, which saw him put those who upset him on “The List of Jericho.” Since he left WWE, however, he believes that he’s been able to execute several new ideas which have helped keep him relevant in the modern wrestling landscape.
Jericho is certainly aware of his own value as a performer, and he’s right in saying that AEW has changed wrestling for the better. It remains to be seen how the competition with WWE will affect the company in the long run, but for now, it’s making the industry a more exciting place.