Chris Jericho On How Two Wrestling Legends Got AEW Its First TV Deal

Chris Jericho entering from tunnel

Chris Jericho has talked about the start of AEW and why he thinks two legendary wrestling names were a key reason why the company got a TV deal.

When All Elite Wrestling was announced in January 2019, Chris Jericho was there from day one with owner Tony Khan sharing a video of Jericho signing a contract at the time. This came after Jericho chose to leave WWE when he wasn’t happy with how he was being used and he had a lot of success performing in NJPW as well.

Later that year at All Out 2019, Jericho become the first AEW World Champion and on the first episode of Dynamite in October 2019, Jericho was revealed as the leader of the Inner Circle as well.

Jericho recently spoke about AEW’s beginning during an Inside The Ropes live show that’s also an episode of his Talk is Jericho podcast. While talking about the start of AEW, he spoke about how important it was for Jim Ross and himself to be part of the company:

“I think once again, I mean, I remember the original television deal. Now it seems like a million years ago, especially I know in the UK, we have a great time slot. We actually do better than Raw a lot of weeks on ITV, if that’s the network, I think it is. But at the time, there was no television deal. And I remember at some point, we were talking about maybe going on Showtime. At some point we’re thinking maybe streaming it on, I don’t know, Amazon Prime or something along those lines, and it’s like, ‘This isn’t, it’s not good enough.’ You know, you can’t just put it on a Showtime or whatever.”

“And then TBS started to get interested, I think, because Chris Jericho was involved, and Jim Ross, I think those two names were the two names that got us the TV deal along with Tony’s [Khan] passion and his commitment, and all these other factors I told you, so it was a little bit. I think that’s why we announced when we did [that] the show doesn’t start till May but we have this TV deal. So we did the press conference.”

“It was weird having like, I was under contract for five months before I did a match, but it was all part of this build to cement this new company. Because once again, talking about it now three years later, it’s, you know, it’s all that and we would say AEW is huge, there were no guarantees of anything.”

Over the course of AEW’s first three years as a company, a lot more ex-WWE guys joined the company and Jericho credited the AEW originals like himself for making AEW a place where wrestlers can come to work and make a living.

“And I think the one thing that we’ve done, the kind of AEW originals, is that we made AEW safe for CM Punk, for Bryan Danielson for Adam Cole. Everyone that’s coming in now, maybe three years ago, wouldn’t have come in because they’re like, ‘Well, we want to see what’s gonna happen with this new company, if it’s going to float’, and we didn’t know.”

“Our first television deal on TBS was a rev share. And a rev share means you’re basically getting a piece of the advertising, the commercials that you see, we would get a piece of that, we didn’t even have a guaranteed contract. Three months in, though, I call myself ‘The Demo God’ at the time. What does that mean?”

“Demos are very important. It’s more important, you could draw a million people and have a demo of a 0.2 or draw a 500,000 and have a demo of 0.4, you’d rather have the 0.4, it’s kind of confusing. But after those three months of demos, we get the TV deal of $170 million for four years, whatever it was, after three months, nobody expected that. And once we got that, now we’re a driving force to be reckoned with.”

This coming Wednesday on AEW Dynamite, Jericho will challenge Claudio Castagnoli for the ROH World Championship. Jericho is a six-time World Champion in pro wrestling (five in WWE, one in AEW) that’s looking to add number seven on Dynamite.

H/T Inside The Ropes