AEW World champion Chris Jericho spoke with Sports Illustrated to hype his upcoming title defense against Cody Rhodes at tomorrow’s Full Gear pay per view from Baltimore. In the interview, Jericho discusses going on after the bonkers Lucha Bros and Young Bucks Ladder Match at August’s ALL OUT, his thoughts on Cody, getting inspired by the N.W.O. as the leader of the Inner Circle and how he’s still able to connect with fans after all these years. That and more can be found below.
Going on after the ladder match at ALL OUT:
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It doesn’t matter to me if we go last. I learned this with my Hangman Page match [at “All Out”]. We had a great match, but it was on after the Lucha Bros. and Young Bucks had this crazy ladder match. I can follow any match in the world, I’m not worried about that, but let’s give every match its due. When you have a stunt show match and then go on for a classic world title match, maybe that wasn’t the right way to do it. Maybe the ladder match should have been on first. With Moxley and Kenny doing the lights-out, barbed wire broom, and all this other stuff, I’m not sure if they’re going to put us on last or before that match. Either way, it’s going to be great, but when you have a match with all those props and weapons, it might be better for us to go on right before it.
It doesn’t matter. It’s a double main event. And this is the match people are paying to see, so let’s put it on when people have the most focus and before they’re burnt out from table bumps and barbed wire brooms. Either way, I’m cool with it, but it’s something we’ll decide when we get to the venue tomorrow.
Connecting with fans and continuing to create trends:
Nothing surprises me at this point. You just never know what people are going to connect with. The thing that I’m good about is seeing the lightning get caught in a bottle. When I said “A little bit of the bubbly,” it was a throwaway line. I never once thought anyone would say it again or think about it. It’s a Dumb and Dumber line from Jim Carrey that always made me laugh, that he says right before they kill the owl with the champagne bottle cork when they’re wearing the orange and blue tuxedos. I just thought that would be funny.
The idea was to walk into the dressing room after I won the title and enjoy the spread they had for me, and it was like the worst spread ever. It was a deli tray and one bottle of champagne. It was so stupid that I had to acknowledge it and make a joke of it or else it would look really dumb, so I did a Spinal Tap bit with the olive and then ‘A little bit of the bubbly,’ and then moved on. Now someone made a video of ‘Mambo Number 5’ and replaced it with ‘a little bit of the bubbly.’ So I reposted it, because when there’s smoke, there’s fire. People made all these super creative, amazing gifs and memes. It became viral and something no one ever expected. We had the highest selling tee in Pro Wrestling Tees history. So when you see it coming, you embrace it. Now we have a new catchphrase, and I love it. Thankfully, people don’t ask me about ‘The List’ anymore—they ask me about the bubbly.
Thoughts on Cody:
Cody, like myself, we both walked away from WWE. It wasn’t a bitter way or a sad way, but it offered a chance to do more. For me, following my WWE run in 2017 with Kevin Owens, that was one of the best moments of my career. So to be put on second at WrestleMania, that told me I had to leave. I couldn’t stay. We had the best story on the show and we went second. I’d rather go first. Second is a throwaway position, so it didn’t matter what I did there, but I knew I could do more. So I went to New Japan and became their top draw, and taking that to AEW was the next natural step. I walked away from WWE knowing I could do more in the main event, money-drawing role.Cody walked away from WWE to do more than what he was doing. He was not happy just being there. To see his growth and how he’s embraced his character, inside and out of the ring, connecting with the audience, he’s really stealing the show. He’s now becoming what he always thought he could be—a major player. I appreciate that and I respect it.
The NWO worked because Hogan was the catalyst, but the original crux of NWO was made of big name, legit stars. You had Hall and Nash, who were huge stars in their own right, and Hogan, who, at the time, was the biggest name in the business. The difference with us in The Inner Circle is, it’s Jericho and four young guys that haven’t yet reached their potential as main event stars. Now they are. Hulk definitely played the heel, as I do, but the difference is I can still have great matches, too. Any given night, a Jericho match can be considered the best match of the night. So that’s another difference—Hogan was never known as a great performer in the ring; he knew how to get the audience. He was a great worker. Jericho is a great worker and a great wrestler, combined with knowing how to get that heat and get guys over.
There is some NWO in there, which happens any time you put together a heel faction. 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. I think everyone could see that, even Hogan and Piper and the other guys, as well. We can go out there and have great matches, and get the heat—and get guys over. It’s very beneficial for the company to have The Inner Circle. It’s something we discussed, but you never know how it’s going to turn out. But from the formation to now, every guy has gone above and beyond to become a bigger star. The look of the Circle is exactly what I wanted. The names are exactly who I wanted, and the attitude is exactly what I wanted. The vision came together perfectly, which doesn’t always happen.
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