The latest rumblings coming from pro wrestling’s vast rumor mill point at a man from north of the US Border, or in the far east, or at sea, or on tour with the band Fozzy. The buzz about Chris Jericho further expanding his personal brand into the revamped Impact Wrestling run by his good buddy Don Callis is reaching a fever pitch, and it would add to his quest of being the most unpredictable man in pro wrestling.
Back in 1996, Sting said, “The only thing for sure about Sting is that nothing is for sure.” Well, there’s no one in wrestling with the exception of perhaps Brock Lesnar that has embodied that like Chris Jericho. He’s running his own Rock N Wrestling cruise that is partnered with Ring Of Honor & Impact Wrestling, he was #50 at WWE’s greatest Royal Rumble event, and he’s made several appearances for New Japan Pro Wrestling, last capturing the IWGP Intercontinental Championship from Tetsuya Naito at Dominion.
The news last week regarding Y2J pointed at him being a big voice in getting Callis and Scott D’Amore in their positions of power at Impact, and this week it has become “inevitable” that Jericho would one day appear as a wrestler for the promotion. Chris Jericho’s understanding of all things in self-promotion and GETTING TO THE BAG essentially created another outlet where he could get checks from.
Consider this. In theory, Chris Jericho put one of his oldest friends in the business who he KNEW would do a great job in the position to run another wrestling company, and if you’re Jericho all you have to do is step in once things are built to a point where you can capitalize. If Jericho did this all by accident he’s still a genius. Impact gets the Jericho stamp of approval which will bring in fans from all over, and Jericho increases his value even more! If you are a wrestler and aren’t inspired or impressed by Chris Jericho’s ability to be a commodity, you are doing the business wrong.
Everything Jericho does gives him an ability to capitalize on it later. He was one of the earliest adopters of Twitter among wrestlers and essentially was a top-tier podcaster from day 1. While he ran through the gauntlet of available wrestling interviews, he always peppered in historical shows, musicians, actors to keep his podcast from getting tuned out like so many in that early boom have been.
He’s played in a band for over 15 years, and was able to walk out at the Tokyo Dome to his own song Judas when much of his career was defined by “Break The Walls Down.” When I watched his music blare over the speakers at the Tokyo Dome, as someone who does their own music, this was goosebump-inducing.
If his move to Impact comes to fruition, it would fly in the face of his long-stated idea to work for only WWE in North America. However, a changing landscape looks to be changing that stance.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Why would Chris Jericho go to Impact Wrestling?” This isn’t the same trainwreck that it has been for much of its history. With the personal ties to Callis and D’Amore, and Impact becoming what I’ve dubbed a “national independent promotion” where they leverage working relationships with other companies to bring in-demand talent, there are fresher matches, and there is much more creative freedom awaiting Jericho everywhere he looks. Every successful program drives his price, power, and value up.
I fully expect Jericho to show up in WWE until the day he finally retires from wrestling, but he is making it where for the last years that he has in wrestling, he’ll be making top dollar while still being an innovative wrestler who’s changed with the times nearly better than anyone.
Jay-Z had a line about Memphis Bleek on The Blueprint in 2001. “You’re one hit away.” Now Memphis Bleek was as serviceable as it got for an East Coast rap artist in the early 00’s, however being Jay-Z’s shadow and never quite getting that huge song essentially stopped him from getting to the next level.
When I watched Slammiversary, I saw the outlines of a company rewriting its image when I had a similar thought, “they are one TOP star away.” If Chris Jericho wanted to take a schedule that allowed him to be a semi-regular over the next year, Impact’s profile would be raised enough to make it a viable option to compete for space in the headlines.
Whatever Jericho decides to do, I’m sure he’ll do it in a way we won’t see coming. Why? Because he always does. Jericho has called himself The GOAT in the past, and everyone has their own take on that. What I will say is that he is one of the most creative and unique talents wrestling has ever had because when it was about wrestling, he made decisions that were typically ahead of the curve, and when it wasn’t he was increasing his profile, and bank account in all types of ways. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’m interested in seeing if Jericho is ready to make an Impact.