Chris Jericho has provided details on the incident that led to him making the decision to leave WWE.
One of the most memorable storylines of 2017 saw Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens become first a tag team and then best friends.
Jericho believed the friendship and inevitable break-up was an angle that could go on until WrestleMania, something Vince McMahon seemed to be on board with.
Speaking to Kenny McIntosh during the recent ‘The Jericho Chronicles’ tour of the UK with Inside The Ropes (via Talk Is Jericho), Chris Jericho explained that, at the time, there were people for he and Owens to work with.
“Roman Reigns was just getting hot, Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn, and we could work with all these guys as this team as we were the best friends before The Best Friends were The Best Friends in AEW and that’s kind of where the whole thing started.
“People kept thinking, ‘Okay, you’re gonna break up now?’ And we wouldn’t, ‘Okay, you’re gonna break up now?’ And we wouldn’t. And the one time was like, ‘You know what the problem is here?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, I know what the problem is here. You know what the problem is here? You know, the problem is here?’ And I said, ‘Put your microphone down and don’t move your hands until I put my microphone up.’
“That was the plan. ‘You know what the problem is here?’ ‘Yeah, you know what the problem is here? Roman Reigns!’ We said it at the same time, and so that was kind of the thing. We were kind of going against these guys and then finally, we get to the Festival of Friendship, and we do the big breakup.
“It was around that time, probably a couple of weeks after that Vince said, the main event of WrestleMania this year is going to be Jericho versus Kevin Owens for the WWE title because Kevin was a champion, if you remember. I was like, ‘This is pretty cool,’ because I’ve never won the title as a babyface. I’ve never won the world title as a babyface ever. Seven-time world champion, always as a heel, so I guess I’m just not likeable.
However, only a week later, McMahon changed the plans without informing Chris Jericho.
“I thought, well, this could be really cool. The main event, or ‘a’ main event, whichever. Might not have been on last, but it’s a main event. Anyways, as we discussed earlier, I just thought this is great. Then, about a week later, Goldberg beat Kevin for the title and they changed it.
“Vince didn’t tell me, Vince told me face-to-face about the main event plan, he didn’t tell me about the change to Brock [Lesnar] versus Goldberg for the world title. So I mean, I’m a big boy, I get it, I’m a professional, he changed his mind, it happens. It’s not an insult to me or anything personal.
Chris Jericho explained that what really annoyed him about the situation was the match’s new placement on the card.
“What really bugged me about that was we went from the main event WrestleMania to putting us on second. Now, if you know anything about placement on a wrestling show, if you’re not last you want to be first, if you’re not first or last, you want to be semi-main event.
“Other than that, it’s pretty much a quagmire unless you can get a good spot like Shawn [Michaels] and I did, which was fifth. And it was just kind of just a match that was just there and it really bothered me because that story was one of the best, if not the best story of that whole WrestleMania season.
“I still think the Festival of Friendship was one of the best segments in Raw history, you know? Everyone said, ‘Oh, we saw that turn coming…’ like you didn’t see anything coming. You know, I wanted to start like an 80s David Lee Roth video and have it and like the Game of Thrones Red Wedding. Where you’re just like, ‘No, don’t do it! Don’t do it! He did it!’
“So that all kind of led to when we were on second. I was already like, I don’t know if I could really want to be here anymore. Then we get the review from Vince for our match. Vince said to Kevin Owens. ‘That was the worst match in WrestleMania history.’ That’s what he said. He just did not like that match.
“I was like, ‘Really? Did you not see Giant Gonzalez versus Undertaker? Really?’ For whatever reason he was really on Kevin’s case, he said ‘You’re fat, you’re out of shape and you do too many moves and you’re just not a good heel.’ He was really, really on Kevin at that point in time and our match was just collateral damage.
It was after this decision that Chris Jericho realised the writing was on the wall and it was time for him to leave the promotion behind.
“Once again, I think the match we had the next month was much better for the US title. It was supposed to be similar to the match we were talking earlier that was supposed to be the four McMahon’s in every corner [WrestleMania 2000 main event] and I was supposed to be one of the guys going to the three-way, and then this one was supposed to go to the second match of the card. Even though the story was the best story on the show, I knew it was time for me to leave.”
During the same conversation, Chris Jericho revealed that he almost quit WWE years earlier over another WrestleMania-related dispute, this time involving his payout for a main event match.
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