Chris Jericho explains to Steve Austin why he knew after WrestleMania 33 he had to leave WWE
Chris Jericho sat down with Stone Cold Steve Austin to chat about his career on the WWE Network following WrestleMania 37.
Jericho had a legendary run in WWE that lasted nearly two decades, but he is now one of the leading players in their nearest rival AEW.
A rival talent appearing on WWE programming is breaking new ground, but given Jericho’s legendary status it’s easy to see why.
During his chat with Austin, Jericho revealed that it was after WrestleMania 33 when he realised he needed to look beyond WWE.
“If I came back to WWE, I knew what was going to happen,” Jericho said, referencing his next move after his appearances in Japan.
“They’d have me doing the list again. In 2019-2020, the list was from 2016. It felt like I was just going to go play back in black for the rest of my life even though I’ve had 15 albums since.”
Jericho was in a long, wildly entertaining partnership with Owens and once they broke up and were on a collision course for WrestleMania, the angle was red-hot.
“And, this is the big one, when I had that big story with Kevin Owens in 2016 which was, in my opinion, one of the best stories, in fact, the best story of that year.
“And we get to WrestleMania, it changed from Owens and Jericho to Brock Lesnar and Goldberg. Great, no problem.
“But when Kevin and Jericho went from main event proposed to the second match on the show, I thought ‘this is where I’ll be.’ In my opinion for the rest of my time in WWE I would have been a second match guy and in my mind, I wasn’t a second match guy.
“So that’s kind of the reason I went to New Japan and suddenly I’ve main evented the Tokyo Dome three years in a row and when AEW came up, I said I want to continue to do this. I like being the guy, which I’ve never really been before.
“And that carried over in AEW and it’s been a big success. First couple months, specifically, were on my shoulders.
“All the other guys came in and now we’re one big team, but at first it was on my back and my responsibility to carry this company to the promised land so to speak. That’s the way I felt. I felt a real big responsibility to that.”
Jericho has helped AEW become an established player in the pro wrestling world and they quickly became the number two promotion. Still, they are miles behind WWE in just about every metric, but they’re closing the gap better than anyone else in the past 20 years.