Chris Jericho’s upcoming match against MJF is currently one of the hot topics AEW fans are discussing online. Much of that discussion centers on the stipulation that exists with the bout. If Jericho loses, he will supposedly never wrestle in AEW again.
This stipulation doesn’t really come as a surprise. Longtime fans know that when it comes to Chris’s career, he has more years behind him than ahead of him. It’s only a matter of time before the pro wrestling great calls it a day and hangs up the boots. So is that day coming on September 5?
A Stacked Card
There is admittedly more than enough on the All Out card to keep the fans talking. The in-ring return of CM Punk against Darby Allin is the hottest story of the moment and the anticipation for it is driving the event for many fans.
Of course, there’s also the Steel Cage Match pitting The Young Bucks against The Lucha Brothers for the AEW World Tag Team Championships. Jon Moxley will face New Japan Pro Wrestling legend Satoshi Kojima. Eddie Kingston will challenge Miro for the TNT Championship and AEW World champion Kenny Omega will defend against Christian Cage.
Those five matches alone are enough to create a special night that no fan will ever forget. But adding a match which may see Chris Jericho walk away from life as an active competitor in favor of a color commentary gig? That definitely ups the ante for the AEW faithful. His ring career will not last forever of course, but this match is definitely important and fans know it.
The AEW Experiment
Chris Jericho walked away from WWE after nearly 20 years. He took a chance on a brand new pro wrestling company that could’ve failed in the first six months. There was no guarantee that the All Elite Wrestling experiment was going to succeed and if it did, Chris Jericho may not have succeeded at all.
No matter how popular he is, Chris Jericho’s addition to the AEW locker room may not have been embraced by the fans. Those fans, while very aware of the industry’s history, wanted something new and fresh. Omega, Cody Rhodes, The Bucks and Hangman Page represented that. But Chris Jericho really didn’t.
However, Jericho’s work in AEW was exactly what the company needed. Chris is as relevant now as before. His ability to reinvent himself and his willingness to embrace today’s modern business means he fits in perfectly. AEW needed that bridge between the past and present. Chris Jericho is that bridge.
Jericho’s Past And Future
So now the man that didn’t want just the same old WWE booking and sees AEW as the future, is the same man who may retire in an AEW ring. Yes, it’s a big deal and there is no denying that. Despite what his critics say, Chris Jericho’s presence in AEW from day one gives the company an air of legitimacy. It still does today.
Then there’s the fact that if his last match is coming at All Out, he’s likely got the right opponent in MJF. Maxwell Jacob Friedman is Chris Jericho circa 2008, only much louder and with more ego than any heel in the industry today. MJF holds two wins over Jericho. The war between MJF’s Pinnacle and Jericho’s Inner Circle has raged for far too long. Friedman proves he has the answer to the question of Chris Jericho every time the two cross paths. Why not end this now?
But therein lays the real issue here. What if the retirement angle is just a swerve? Jericho says that if he loses, he will never wrestle in an AEW ring again. But that perhaps does not mean he wouldn’t participate in a Street Fight. It also doesn’t mean he won’t compete in New Japan again. So if this is indeed a swerve, what’s the point?
Why continue to build MJF as AEW’s top heel, only to book a fourth match that puts Chris Jericho over? Doesn’t that push Friedman back a step? Jericho doesn’t necessarily need to win on September 5 and if he doesn’t, there are always ways around the stipulation.
But with that being the case, wouldn’t an eventual Jericho return after an MJF win negate that win altogether? MJF’s ongoing legacy and top star construction benefits from a win at All Out. Doesn’t the company gain more from that win than a Chris Jericho victory?
Of course, AEW may not see it that way. Chris Jericho has worldwide name recognition and he is still fully capable in the ring. Featuring him on a card instantly brings eyes to that event. Is the company truly willing to move on from that, in favor of Punk, Moxley and others?
From a distance, it appears that AEW paints itself into a corner with the retirement stipulation. Fans now likely expect Chris to lose and take his place at the commentary table. But if it’s all a work and AEW has other plans, then All Out could be the beginning, instead of the end.
Tom Clark is a Senior Pro Wrestling Analyst and Featured Columnist for Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Audible, Spotify, YouTube and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live