AEW’s Chris Jericho talks going back to TNT, the state of wrestling themes

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04: Chris Jericho attends the All Elite Wrestling panel during 2019 New York Comic Con at Jacob Javits Center on October 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for WarnerMedia Company)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 04: Chris Jericho attends the All Elite Wrestling panel during 2019 New York Comic Con at Jacob Javits Center on October 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for WarnerMedia Company) /

FanSided spoke with AEW’s Chris Jericho at NYCC about returning to TNT, the state of wrestling themes today and what set Jim Johnston apart, and always being spontaneous.

Pro wrestling legend Chris Jericho is always evolving, never staying stagnant, a trait he told FanSided was inspired by one of his music heroes, David Bowie. At New York Comic Con 2019, the face of AEW and Fozzy frontman spoke candidly about the state of wrestling themes today and how it was different when famed WWE composer Jim Johnston was leading the way. Mentioning that, “If Jim is out there looking for a job, hopefully he gets hired because dude, he’s one of the best!” Hint, hint Jim!

Jericho responded to a fan chorus of “Y2J! Y2J!” later at the AEW panel unafraid of proclaiming in plain words, “Y2J is dead.” It’s a star unconcerned with holding onto the past and digging into the well of what’s worked before, when he could be crafting something new and fresh.

A nostalgia tour is not on the table for Jericho, a man bent on recreating himself time and time again. In fact, he mentioned to FanSided that he didn’t even think about the fact he was “coming home” to TNT until recently. In Jericho’s eyes, the key to bringing back the fanbase that once left altogether post-WCW buyout is the confident, unscripted spontaneity that reeled them in the first place. That means always taking chances and letting the talent be the best versions of themselves they can be, sans creative cuffs.

Watch our video interview with AEW’s Chris Jericho or read the transcript below: [Nir Regev]: I’m curious as a musician, I’ve heard you didn’t like your WCW theme and now of course, you use your own band’s theme (Fozzy’s “Judas”) in AEW. Let’s say AEW signed composer Jim Johnston, would you want to collaborate with him? Since, now you have complete creative control over your theme.

Chris Jericho: “Judas” is a song I started using at the Tokyo Dome because we’d been trying to go over to Japan, and for some reason we just couldn’t build a good enough market. I said well f–k it, we got 50,000 people in Tokyo Dome, I’ll play “Judas” so they’ll have to hear it! I’ll just walk really slow to the ring, at least we get one spin. And you know it has a really great vibe to it, it’s very heavy. It’s very dark and deep. It’s the perfect ring music for me. So, I don’t think there’s any need to switch it up for that.

Jim Johnston, I will say though is a genius for really figuring out the vibe and the attitude of the character to give them music that really fit. They don’t have that now. The music now is very generic, just play heavy music here. Here’s a Japanese guy, just play Japanese stringed stuff. Jim would really talk to you and see what kind of person you were. Then would really bring something out in the song that fit perfectly. So, if Jim is out there looking for a job, hopefully he gets hired because dude, he’s one of the best!

Would you ever bring back the Lion Tamer full time? That was always one of my favorite submissions.

Yeah, I mean people ask that all the time but I only use when it’s relevant, because you can’t use that hold and have people escape from it. That’s why I had to stop using it. You can’t give it to The Big Show, it doesn’t work that way, he’s too big. So, I bust it out when it works and it’s appropriate … Yeah, you’ll probably see it at some point! (smiles)

Will the Jericho Cruises continue now that you’re working weekly TNT events?

Yeah, January 20th is sold out already so we’re gonna talk soon about Jericho Cruise No. 3. So, it’s exciting! You remember WCW had Road Wild and Bash at the Beach, where you’re taking wrestling out of the arena. If you saw the event we did last year on a cruise ship, it looked so beautiful. The middle of the night in the middle of the ocean, the stars shining down, the lights. I’d like that to be an annual thing, and as I’m with AEW, there’s no reason to take a day out of a wrestling company. So, if we can make it the annual rock and wrestling rager at sea edition of [AEW] Dynamite, that’s great! Just adds another element to our very cool show.

How does it feel to come full circle in a way on TNT? I mean you’re one of the first major names that left originally to the WWE and now you’re back leading another company and spearheading a movement.

I mean people point that out to me more than I realize! Somebody said to me, “Oh, Chris Jericho is home! You’re home!” Where in Washington? “No, you’re on TNT!” I didn’t even really realize at first how WCW used to be on TNT. So, it’s great to be full circle and you know Tony Schiavone announcing. But I don’t look at it like, “Oh, the good old days are back!” It’s like this is where we’re at. Tony Schiavone is badass, he should be announcing. TNT has been a great partner for us. So to me, it’s been the perfect mix for AEW! That’s been more important than the nostalgia factor.

One of the reasons why I started working Japan and ended up in AEW is I love doing what I feel is right. Following the character path that I instinctually know is the right way to go, and don’t have to really get anything approved. Not that I’m doing anything vulgar or illicit or hurting anybody but I don’t think anybody can play the character of Chris Jericho better than I can. So why do I need somebody to write a script of what I’m supposed to say?

Not that they ever did. Just that concept of having to get stuff approved … If I know it’s going to work, then let me be the artist. Let me be the pro and do my job. The same way that when Clint Eastwood hires actors they do two or three takes and move on. How’d he work so fast? With pros. ‘That’s why I hire them, I trust their instincts!’

That’s the way we’re running our shows and I think the guys who get it will really blossom because of it. The guys that don’t, we’ll help them. Some guys do need help. Some guys don’t. The guys that don’t, let them run as far as they can.

You’ve never pre-planned a promo then? That’s amazing! Let’s say back in the day in WCW when you said “Gene Mean” for the first time and all that. It was all spontaneous, in the moment kind of stuff?

Yeah, it’s much easier for me to work spontaneous.

Thanks Chris!

Thank you!

Next. The Jericho Effect: How Chris Jericho remains a man in constant evolution. dark

Catch legendary pro wrestling icon Chris Jericho every Wednesday on TNT’s AEW Dynamite at 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. Central.