Chris Jericho has spoken about starting AEW and why he believes two legendary wrestling names were a key reason the company landed a TV deal.
When All Elite Wrestling was announced in January 2019, Chris Jericho was there from day one, along with owner Tony Khan, who shared a video of Jericho signing at the time. This came after Jericho decided to leave WWE when he wasn’t happy with how he was being used, and he’s also had a lot of success performing in NJPW.
Later that year at All Out 2019, Jericho became the inaugural AEW World Champion and in the first episode of Dynamite in October 2019, Jericho was also revealed to be the leader of the Inner Circle.
Jericho spoke about the beginnings of AEW during a recent Inside The Ropes live show, which is also an episode of his podcast, Talk is Jericho. While talking about starting AEW, he spoke about how important it was for Jim Ross and himself to be a part of the company:
“I think again, I mean I remember the original television deal. Now it seems like a million years ago, especially I know we have a great window of opportunity in the UK. We’re actually a lot better than Raw on ITV for many weeks, if that’s the network I think it is. But at that time there was no television contract. And I remember at one point we talked about maybe going to Showtime. At some point we think about maybe streaming it on, I don’t know, Amazon Prime or something, and it’s like, ‘That’s not, it’s not good enough.’ You know, you can’t just put it on a showtime or whatever.”
“And then TBS started getting interested, I think, because Chris Jericho was involved, and Jim Ross, I think those two names were the two names that got us the TV deal along with Tony [Khan] Passion and his dedication and all these other factors I told you so it was a little bit. I think that’s why we announced when we did it [that] The show doesn’t start until May, but we have this TV deal. So we did the press conference.”
“It was weird that I was under contract for five months before I made a match, but it was all part of that build up to solidify this new venture. Because again, if we’re talking about it now three years later, it’s, you know, it’s everything, and we’d say AEW is huge, there weren’t any guarantees of anything.”
Over the course of AEW’s first three years as a company, many more ex-WWE people joined the company, and Jericho credited the AEW Originals like himself with making AEW a place for wrestlers to work and make a living can earn.
“And I think the only thing we’ve done, the kind of AEW originals, is we’ve certainly done AEW for CM Punk, for Bryan Danielson, and for Adam Cole. Anyone who would have come on now, maybe three years ago, wouldn’t have come because they said, ‘Well, let’s see what’s going to happen to this new company when it goes public,’ and we didn’t knows.”
“Our first television deal with TBS was a revenue share. And a revenue share means you basically get a cut of the advertising, the commercials that you see, we would get a cut of it, we didn’t even have a guaranteed contract. However, after three months I called myself “The Demo God”. What does that mean?”
“Demos are very important. It’s more important, you could draw a million people and have a demo of 0.2, or draw 500,000 and have a demo of 0.4, you’d rather have the 0.4, that’s kind of confusing. But after those three months of demos, we get the TV deal of $170 million for four years, whatever it was, after three months no one was expecting it. And once we have that, we are now a force to be reckoned with.”
Next Wednesday at AEW Dynamite, Jericho will challenge Claudio Castagnoli for the ROH World Championship. Jericho is a six-time world champion in pro wrestling (five in WWE, one in AEW) attempting to add the number seven in Dynamite.
H/T on the ropes