It’s been a busy day here in the wrestling blogosphere, so even though it hit Peacock early yesterday (April 11), I did not get the chance to download the latest edition of Broken Skull Sessions until this morning.
As you may remember, Steve Austin is the guest of this one Chris Jericho. The announcement that one of All Elite Wrestling’s biggest stars would be appearing on a WWE Network show surprised many people. It created a lot of interest and some skepticism about how much Jericho would talk about Tony Khan’s start-up company.
The answer is … a lot! The bulk of the more than two-hour interview is spent on Jericho̵
More on that a bit, but here’s a quick review of the show’s hook for the diehard wrestling fan – what came through the forbidden door.
- Jericho never expected to work for anyone other than WWE again (something he often said before leaving), and he never thought there would be another national company again (sorry Impact) after Vince McMahon bought WCW. But his return to New Japan for Wrestle Kingdom 12 started the perfect storm of events: Tony Khan as a passionate wrestling fan with the money to start a promotion and the contacts to get a TV contract, and Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Hangman Page and himself all available as free agents Khan could set up a company around.
- He does not want to say that AEW is competing with WWE, which is somewhat eyebrow-raising given his “Demo God” approach to Wednesday Night War, but his explanation makes sense. It’s a combination of the ‘we’m just focused on ourselves’ point of view that everyone on both sides offers, and an interest in providing an opportunity for wrestlers and fans who have been absent for most of this century.
- Like Undertaker (and unlike another guy, Jericho and Cody have mocked it), he will not say he is a wardrobe manager. But it’s part of his role in AEW, and Jericho says he sometimes feels like Vince because there are a large number of people waiting to talk to him behind the scenes at Dynamite. It’s because he tells them what they want to hear, but also what they need to hear. Jericho also speaks of a speech he gave before the first Double or nothing where he emphasized to everyone how much it was they had the success they were.
- Another story that has been told elsewhere, but one that is particularly notable for being discussed on a WWE show: the fact that his feud with Kevin Owens was downgraded to the underdog in WrestleMania 33 was the driving force behind Jericho, who left WWE. It was then that he realized that the second match on the map was where the company saw him, and if he stayed, he would make his “List of Jericho” schtick forever. He saw himself as more than that. AEW is the first chance in his long career, he has had a chance to be the top guy who carries a company and he loved it.
- Later, he also retells the story of Raw’s Festival of Friendship segment, approved in advance only by McMahon for another backstage player he does not want to name (this inferred that it was Triple H, and Jericho’s said elsewhere that it was Triple H) who wanted everything changed the day of the show when Vince was not there because they felt it was too comical. Jericho had to get the chairman on the phone to get the segment on the air as planned. However, he says the person he argued with later admitted that they were wrong and that the segment was large.
- Initial plans required Owens to carry the universal title WrestleMania 33 where Jericho would beat him for it and give him a big babyface moment on The Grandest Stage Of Them All. He knew he was leaving music and other work shortly after, so he would quickly throw the belt to Brock Lesnar. He thinks he and Brock would be a draw, but he understood the decision to go with Goldberg instead. However, Jericho still believes he and KO deserved better than second place on the map.
- They return to AEW talk towards the end as they talk about wrestling during the pandemic. Jericho is making every effort to continue, mentioning Dynamites’ Jacksonville setup and praising the ThunderDome. He named Orange Cassidy while explaining how the lack of fans and personal reactions make it hard to give advice to guys and gals about things like how long to sell something for.
So it’s tea as far as AEW / WWE content on the show. But like I said, this is a fun show to watch, even if they had avoided that material. This is especially true if you have friends who are more casual / casual fans. Someone who is not too deep in the breaking bubble and has not listened to a lot Talk Is Jericho or Steve Austin Show podcasts, or keeping up with the dirt sheets about all aspects of Y2J’s career, or having watched Raw week-in and week-out for years, can pull this up and get lost in fond memories.
This is a feeling that Jericho offers about the show near the end:
“This is really cool for me, because it’s not just that [the interview] historically the fact that like, ‘WWE and AEW, oh my gosh., awww.’ It’s not about that … It’s about wrestling. We respect it and we love it and I do not care what brand of it is, I want it to continue forever. And I want people, like kids … to discover it … but to see all these things – to make this show, as a career retrospective, because I’m not a guy who looks back … to look back and watching all these clips and all these amazing things that you showed, it’s really very heartwarming to watch this.
And thank you for allowing this, and also thank you to WWE and Vince for allowing me to be here and to Tony Khan too, because he also had to give his permission. This goes beyond a company. This is about love of wrestling. And no one in the world loves to fight more than Stone Cold Steve Austin and Chris Jericho, and the fact that we got to talk about all these amazing times, I’m really happy about it and proud to be here. ”