We can all agree that Chris Jericho has had a storybook career within not only pro wrestling but as a author and musician, one that hat spanned multiple decades. He’s truly a generational talent, and people are now finally seeing that as truth, even at the age of 48 (at time of writing) Jericho has grasped the attention of the wrestling fan base as a whole once again with his work in AEW and NJPW. Constantly reinventing himself to keep his character fresh changing his character twice in New Japan even. This week we are doing a deep dive in to Jericho’s current NJPW run and examining his big matches in addition to how he is booked.
The first thing that draws attention to Jericho in New Japan is that he has no alliances with any of the big factions in NJPW, seeing that he as attacked members of Bullet Club, Los Ingobernables De Japon, and Chaos. This allows for Jericho to play a sort of unhinged wild card and be treated as some sort of force of nature, never knowing when he would attack or make his presence felt (the same type of character he employed before All In). The most sadistic was with his first feud with Kenny Omega, attacking him multiple times after matches and even at press conferences, time after time resulting in Omega donning the crimson mask. Leading up to Wrestle Kingdom 12 where the two engaged in a very brawling centric match that featured table and heavy weapon usage, despite it being labeled as a normal 1 on 1 title match for Omega’s IWGP US title.
New Year’s Dash is a show that takes place the very night after Wrestle Kingdom (New Japan’s equivalent to the Raw after Wrestlemania), this is where Jericho would show up after his match with Kenny Omega and make his intentions clear that he was going title hunting by attacking (At the time) IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito. This is where Jericho’s schedule gets more and more spotty as he was wrapping up his time with WWE, working his last event in late April at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Once again Naito was jumped and left in a bloody pulp at Wrestling Dontaku in Fukuoka, officially challenging Naito to a title match at Dominion in Osaka-Jo Hall. This is where Jericho would gain his first IWGP title in the Intercontinental title after multiple Codebreakers and even a Liontamer. After 4 months of not even appearing for the company despite being the champion Jericho finally showed up to attack the man who would go on to be his first challenger in fellow LIJ stable mate of Naito, EVIL.
At this point Jericho had been feuding with LIJ as a whole, after he made quick work of EVIL he was back to feuding with Naito for the title that Naito lost to Jericho. This led to the tables being turned on Jericho when Naito jumped Jericho at the Wrestle Kingdom 13 press conferences, Jericho would seek revenge at a Road To Tokyo Dome show by blasting Naito with multiple chair shots to the head. Jericho would later go on to proclaim that he is going to end Naito’s career, in one of the many promos that he would cut leading up to Wrestle Kingdom 13. This would all be in vain as after eating a Destino Jericho would drop his IWGP Intercontinental back to Naito and wouldn’t be seen for the rest of 2018 until All In.
Jericho’s schedule was very light in 2018 aside from All In as he was busy planning and running his Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Rager cruise, where he would briefly work with ROH and Impact. After All In Jericho was not really heard from until it was announced that he would be signing with the brand new AEW on a deal that would allow for him to not only work for AEW and tour with his band Fozzy but also work for NJPW. This would lead to his most recent NJPW showing against Kazuchika Okada, where in a promo Jericho would dub himself the “Painmaker”. After having a decent mix of brawling and technical work and getting rolled up by Okada the Painmaker would jump the IWGP Heavyweight champ leading to the person who is likely to be Jericho’s next feud to come to the rescue, Hiroshi Tanahashi. Jericho has definitely showed that there is success to be had outside of the machine that is WWE, and has showed that he is still competing at an elite level.