WWE Expected Chris Jericho To Return Instead Of Signing A New AEW Contract

Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho hasn’t set foot in a WWE ring since 2018, but that didn’t stop the company believing that he would be returning for one last run.

Jericho’s most recent full-time run with WWE can to an end in July 2017. In January the following year he appeared in New Japan Pro Wrestling for a match against Kenny Omega before competing at WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia in April 2018. This fulfilled his remaining obligations to the company.

After a handful more appearances with NJPW, Jericho joined AEW where he became the promotion’s first World Champion and one of it’s most prominently featured stars. Despite wrestling for the ‘opposition’ Jericho retained a good relationship with now ex-WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, even appearing on the Broken Skull Sessions with Steve Austin while under contract with AEW.

WWE Expected Chris Jericho To Return In 2024

Jericho recently signed a new contract with AEW which will see him remain with the company until January 2026. The new deal features expanded backstage roles and replaces his existing deal from January 2023. Interestingly, it appears that this news came as a blow to WWE, who expected him to re-join the company in 2024, when his AEW deal expired.

Writing in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Meltzer noted that those within WWE expected the star to return for one final run which would end with a Hall of Fame induction.

“Chris Jericho signed a new contract with AEW through early January 2026 (the press release said December 2025 but it’s been confirmed it’s actually January 2026). While figures were not available, his old deal was $3 million per year and he obviously got a raise, and given the timing, likely a good raise.

This is not a contract extension. His old deal, a three-year contract with a two year option, similar to the timing of The Young Bucks and Adam Page, was to expire in January 2024 at $3 million per year. This past week he signed a new three-year contract with a higher dollar figure (we don’t know the raise but it is a bigger contract and obviously the biggest contract of his life) that goes into effect in January 2023, essentially ending his old deal one year earlier and starting a new contract at that point in time.”

Meltzer added that Jericho’s name would have been “super valuable” to WWE had he returned.

“There was an expectation in WWE that when Jericho’s deal expired that he would go back for a final WWE run and the Hall of Fame at the end. He maintained a good relationship with Vince McMahon, but McMahon is now out of the picture day-to-day, but his name would have been super valuable from a perception standpoint if he had left AEW for WWE when the old deal was up.”

Chris Jericho was most recently in action on the October 18th episode of AEW Dynamite where he defeated Dalton Castle to retain his ROH World Championship.