Chris Jericho In AEW - What Went Wrong?

AEW fans want Le Champion to se retirer. How did this happen?

Chris Jericho

‘Le Champion’ was a wonderful time and, on all fronts, Chris Jericho was a superb AEW World champion.

Jericho, world-class in the ring on his best day and one of the most entertaining all-rounders in the history of US cable TV wrestling, cemented his legend six months into Dynamite’s run.

He excreted greatness every single week. His promos were hilarious, his matches felt special, and he lovingly restored, between concession stand brawls and breaking the arms of babyfaces, the much-missed hot territory angle. He became, for the first time in a legendary career that didn’t even need the distinction, a true Ace figure. That stunning run established AEW Dynamite as appointment viewing. The impossible brilliance of the original Stadium Stampede doesn’t happen if the Inner Circle had not been established as a riot of an act that people wanted to see get knocked off their perch.

Jericho was in effect a touring territory heel all along: the “carny succubus” was well cast as the interloper who tried to recreate AEW in his own hubristic image. His true purpose, you could argue, ended when he dropped the World title to Jon Moxley back at Revolution 2020 - but his apparent purpose was to elevate young or relatively unknown talent.

The inspired juxtaposition between PAC and Orange Cassidy enabled the latter to get over, but his very good programme with Jericho proved that the meme had staying power. It was divisive at the time and feels unfashionable now, and dragged on too long, but Chris Jericho Vs. MJF yielded many incredible moments. When it was over, Jericho had retained enough in the way of currency to create magic with Eddie Kingston at Revolution 2022. Eddie going over Jericho undeniably meant something at the time.

It all started to go wrong, and badly, after that. The WWEness of Jericho was always a concern, but it became a real issue in the post-match of his Barbed Wire Everywhere victory over Kingston, during which Eddie threw Jericho onto a bed of “barbed wire” and flimsy cardboard. That was framed as a measure of revenge. It was in reality a terrible cop-out, a carny political machination, not the first nor last instance of 50/50 booking, that insulted the intelligence of the fanbase.

By this point, mid-2022, Jericho led the Jericho Appreciation Society: a group that sought to parody sports entertainment. Rendered a small-fry TNA-grade concern within months, in the wake of WWE’s resurgence under Paul Levesque, it wasn’t a great idea to begin with. Jericho was playing to the gallery; AEW was always better when it showed its superiority over WWE, but there was Chris Jericho, insisting and telling you that it was better throughout a one-dimensional and overlong feud with the Blackpool Combat Club.

When that was mercifully ended, Jericho’s reputation as a transparent politician intensified.



Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champions Kenny Omega and MJF, and current Undisputed WWE Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!