The world is in for a treat when All Elite Wrestling sends the signal from Canada Life Center in Winnipeg on Wednesday, March 15.
AEW Dynamite and AEW Rampage will air from Winnipeg on Wednesday and Friday, respectively, marking only the second time that professional wrestling’s newest major player makes the trek north. Jericho is often considered among the greatest professional wrestlers in history and certainly one of the best to ever represent Canada.
In 2018, Jericho left WWE for a dream match against fellow Winnipeg native Kenny Omega. The match was brokered by another Winnipeg professional wrestling personality, Don Callis, and it headlined New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) famed Wrestle Kingdom card at the Tokyo Dome. Jericho says it’s fitting for AEW to debut in Winnipeg due to the influence that match had on the eventual formation of AEW.
“It’s amazing because the genesis of AEW happened basically because of Winnipeg…” Jericho tells ET Canada. “Three Winnipeggers put on this match that did huge business worldwide from streaming and pay-per-view and actually in Japan itself as well. So that was kind of the year [AEW president] Tony Khan realized that there was a market for an alternative in pro wrestling and that’s what really kind of kick-started him to want to start AEW. So it’s very apropos that we come to Winnipeg.
“There’s something about Winnipeggers, like when the Jets play in the playoffs it’s the loudest building in the entire league. Louder than Chicago, louder than New York. I think the pro wrestling world is in for a treat when they see our first show in Winnipeg. Plus showcasing Kenny Omega and showcasing Chris Jericho in our first AEW appearances in our hometown. It’s going to be one of those magical nights in pro wrestling that happens only when all the stars line up. And on Wednesday, the stars have lined up for sure.”
Jericho will team with Sammy Guevara and Daniel Garcia, members of the Jericho Appreciation Society, against The Elite, consisting of Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks (Nick Jackson and Matt Jackson), and The House of Black (Malakai Black, Buddy Matthews and Brody King) in a three-way dance for the AEW World Trios championship. The “AEW Dynamite” debut in Winnipeg is a long overdue homecoming for Jericho.
“The last time I was on TV from Winnipeg was [WWE] Raw 2004 and I was in a musical chairs match of all things, which I won,” Jericho teased. “So for me to be in a title match, this is also Kenny’s first arena show in Winnipeg, and it’s my first arena show match in Winnipeg. The only time there’s ever been television from Winnipeg was, like I said, the musical chairs match.”
Jericho took a gamble signing with AEW upon its inception and it’s one that has paid for itself multiple times over. Already a first-ballot Hall of Famer before AEW’s existence, he’s added inaugural AEW World champion and Ring of Honor (ROH) world champion to his resume.
“It was a little bit of a risk to come here,” he said. “I could have stayed in WWE and been comfortable for the rest of my career. And if I had done that, I don’t know if I’d still be wrestling today because I was very just mentally like, ‘Eh, whatever.’ AEW kind of reignited my passion and reignited my creativity. It took things to the next level all across the board. I think 2022 was a career year for me as a result.”
Jericho has also expanded his roles with AEW to include commentary duty and a mentorship role backstage. As AEW exits its honeymoon period as the new kid on the block and continues to grow, Jericho is supremely proud of where the company is and where it’s headed. AEW is the second biggest wrestling promotion in North America and the WWE alternative with the most reach since World Championship Wrestling (WCW) folded in 2001.
“We’ve gotten so big in three and a half years. So there are a lot of growing pains as we expected there would be. I don’t think anyone thought that we’d be doing the numbers that we’re doing, both in the arenas and ratings-wise…” Jericho said. “So obviously we’re working on our infrastructure, working on all that sort of thing behind the scenes on building the corporate side of AEW. Everybody’s learning how to be on live TV still. It really is just that everyone was thrown into the deep end and had to react accordingly. I’ve been very proud of everybody that’s been able to do that. We’ve had some bumps on the road, but that’s expected in pro wrestling. We’ve become a major television entity in a very short period of time.”
Jericho tours AEW’s in-ring product as the very best in professional wrestling and one that he is supremely proud to represent.
“There’s no other wrestling company in the world that puts on a show like AEW as far as being an all-around smorgasbord, if you will, of pro wrestling styles,” Jericho said. “If you look at our last pay-per-view, Revolution, which I think is one of the best we’ve ever done… You start off with Jericho and Ricky Starks in a pro wrestling match, what a concept. Then you got a final burial match with Christian and Jungle Boy, which is off the charts. You have an amazing six-man match with The Elite and House of Black. Then you have a Texas Deathmatch with Jon Moxley and Adam Page. And then you have the 60-minute Iron Man classic with MJF and Bryan Danielson.
“Those are five distinctly different matches and all of them were amazing. You won’t find that on any other wrestling show in any of the companies. It’s what we do best. So I think we just continue to do AEW and improve upon that. I think our production has got so much better over the last month or so. We’ve got a new director named Mike Mansury, who’s just really made a big difference as far as replays and the way things are shot. All that stuff makes you appear more gigantic and all those little things matter in the ring and outside the ring.”