Chris Jericho has discussed WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s reaction to Jericho’s signing with All Elite Wrestling and says he thinks McMahon thought he was bluffing about joining the upstart company.
Rumours swirled around the wrestling world in the autumn of 2018 that Jericho, Jim Ross and the owners of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars were in league to perhaps start a new wrestling company. These rumours were soon dismissed while the wrestling world’s focus turned to the success of the All In show put on by Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks. On the 1st of January 2020, all started to become clear when The Elite announced All Elite Wrestling. Jericho and JR were soon signed up and bankrolling the whole operation was Tony Khan whose family indeed own the Jags.
Chris Jericho lent the new company some much needed big-name credibility as they found their feet. Jericho had dipped his toe in the water outside of WWE with a match against Kenny Omega at WrestleKingdom 12 in 2018 but leaving WWE to go to another organisation full-time was a big deal for the first-ever WWF Undisputed Champion.
Speaking to Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer to promote his new book The Complete List Of Jericho. Jericho began by recalling his first meeting with AEW President Tony Khan:
“We had a Fozzy show in Jacksonville, I don’t remember when it was, perhaps the beginning or middle of 2018 and Tony came to the show and we talked afterwards. I just thought, ‘this guy’s pretty cool, he won’t really look at me though, he’s just kind of, looking away’, you know how Tony is, he’s got a million things going on and I don’t know if maybe he was nervous or was preoccupied or whatever it was but I thought, ‘he’s a cool guy’ and he seems to have some cool ideas and, whatever.”
Once talks about a new company got more serious after the success of All In, it was time for Jericho to have a chat with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon about his future. However, according to Jericho McMahon and WWE EVP Triple H both gave him the cold shoulder.
“Suddenly, it becomes a reality when the show in Chicago (All In) happened and then suddenly it’s full bore and we began talking and I said, ‘well, I’ll go talk to Vince (McMahon) and see what he says’ and it was Triple H who was supposed to talk with me, which I’ve never talked to Triple H before, I talked to Vince and Vince only and then, Triple H kind of jobbed me out by not calling me back when he said he would, and I don’t play games like that, so I was like ‘forget it, I’ll just talk to Vince or no one else’ – and then, Vince never really called me either and we got an offer from Tony and Barry (Bloom) told Hunter, who told Vince, who said ‘take it’ and I think Vince thought I was bluffing, so I took it. And when Vince found out, he said, ‘You took it?’, I said, ‘Yeah, you told me to’, and he said, ‘can you get out of it?, I was like, ‘No, you told me to take it’.”
“I honestly believe to this day that he thought I was trying to bluff him and squeeze him for more money, which he should know me better, and if that’s the case, I never would have done that. I was always straight with Vince as much as possible but that’s kind of how it all started and I bet Vince regrets that now because of the amount of money he would have paid me not to go, I’m sure he’s paid times a hundred.”
Chris Jericho used his years of top-tier experience to become the first-ever AEW World Champion at All Out in 2019. Since then Le Champion has put his knowledge to good use as his Inner Circle group dominated AEW. The group are currently mired in a feud with the MJF-led Pinnacle.