On Chris Jericho's Inaugural AEW Title Reign
It is now early March 2020. AEW Has been an active promotion since October 2019. And as they approach their one year anniversary, Chris Jericho has lost his title to Jon Moxley. This complete's the first cycle of AEW's titles, with Jericho being the last original champion to lose his belt.
There are a few things worth mentioning from his inaugural reign. He did a good job as champion. Early on in October 2019, he shut down the racist, "we the people," chant once and for all. He served as pro wrestling ambassador to the NBA in November. And he also became an ally to the trans community with his support of Nyla Rose, the AEW women's champion.
I believe it was the second episode of AEW Dynamite on TNT. Jake Hagar came out as a new member of Chris Jericho's Inner Circle stable. And the crowd resumed the same racist, "we the people," chant that his character was given in WWE. Chris Jericho promptly got on the microphone and told the crowd to, "Stop being stuck in 2016 and chanting a bad chant made up by a bad creative team."
That wasn't long after Jon Moxley went on Chris Jericho's podcast, talking about creative freedom and the lack there of he faced in WWE. That interview spawned a sort of focal point for AEW and non-WWE pro wrestlers in general - a desire to move away from television writers writing their promos.
AEW fans desperately want to seperate themselves from WWE. And by Chris Jericho framing the racist, "we the people chant," as a bad idea from bad television writers, fans couldn't stop chanting quick enough.
It was also nice seeing Chris Jericho on Inside the NBA with Shaq, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. Professional wrestling can always stand to be legitimized by real athletes. And seeing Chris in a ring with so many NBA legends was a lot of fun. It was some of the best television of 2019.
Hopefully this lays the groudnwork for a summer angle with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Before all of the Milwaukee Bucks games, they do a kind of pro wrestling warmup in the locker room. As I write this article, the Bucks are currently the best team in the NBA
Because AEW is on TNT, after the NBA Finals, Dynamite will become TNT's number one show until the NBA returns in the Fall. This Summer should be AEW's chance to really show their worth as a company. I think the perfect angle would be Giannis coming in to do a tag match alongside Cody. Perhaps Cody and Giannis vs. Maxwell Friedman and Wardlow. Or possibly the Elite & Giannis vs. The Inner Circle & LeBron James.
If something like this does happen, Chris Jericho will have done a lot of work to lay the foundation.
And obviously his support for Nyla Rose has meant a lot to trans persons lately. There is never a shortage of vitriol directed at trans people. AEW fans are often very transphobic. And Nyla Rose really is a historically important champion. In American wrestling, there has never been a trans champion in a major promotion. And in American sports in general, trans athletes are facing increased hatred all the time.
Chris interviewed Nyla on his podcast, Talk is Jericho. And after the podcast, legions of wrestling fans attacked him for embracing Nyla and supporting trans athletes. And immediately Chris doubled down, stating a now famous phrase, "Do some research on the trans process and get back to me, junior."
It's nice seeing trans allies like Chris Jericho and the Wade family speak up for trans persons. The same with fellow AEW athlete, Dustin Runnels, who also recently told transphobic fans to, "get over themselves." It's also worth mentioning that AEW wrestler Jack Perry, son of Luke Perry, is a vocal trans ally. He can often be seen in the front row during Nyla's matches, supporting her.
It is disappointing that Jon Moxley, Kenny Omega and Cody and Brandi and the Young Bucks have not also stepped up to denounce transphobia. This is something that needs to happen, sooner rather than later.
And now that Jon Moxley is champion as well as the most popular star in the company, it's on him especially to denounce transphobia immediately.
We are moving into a new era for AEW. This summer will be very important for them to draw good crowds and ratings. They've done a lot of good things with their initial roster. Their writing and creative has been good. Sometimes great. And with WWE continuing to produce horrible shows, AEW has all the opportunities in the world to make a good wrestling show.
Chris Jericho's first reign has left lots of good memories. The crowd singing his song during his cruise, the incredible performance from the choir in Chicago that sang his song, Judas, at his final defense.
But most importantly, Chris Jericho has been a good ally in multiple ways as champion. He's set a good example for champions to follow, regardless of being a heel or babyface. Let's hope the younger athletes of AEW follow suite and contuinly denounce transphobia and racism when their fans bring it out.