The world of professional wrestling will change on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 8pm, when All Elite Wrestling debuts on TNT. However, two weeks before AEW’s premiere, NXT (WWE’s developmental brand, where future Superstars are molded and trained) will begin broadcasting on the USA network. This head-to-head clash has been dubbed the “Wednesday Night Wars,” but it’s really no big deal for Chris Jericho. The pro-wrestling icon lived through the previous competition between rival wrestling promotions, the “Monday Night Wars.” He was first part of World Championship Wrestling before jumping ship to the WWE (then WWF) in 1999.
With AEW being viewed as a viable competitor to the WWE, the hype over the “Wednesday Night War” is at a fever-pitch. For Jericho, it’s just background noise ahead of his upcoming history-making match. Chris will face “Hangman” Adam Page at AEW’s All Out event on Aug. 31. The winner will be crowned the inaugural AEW World Champion. Before this match, Chris spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about AEW vs. NXT, if his rock band Fozzy would collab with someone like Halsey or Lady Gaga, opening for Iron Maiden and why he strongly disagrees with Ozzy Osbourne.
HollywoodLife: Wednesday Night Wars – Is it too soon to put that moniker on the AEW and NXT battle or should we just enjoy both products?
Chris Jericho: I am not at war with anyone at NXT. Why would you start a war with some minor leagues? I think we [AEW] are doing what we are doing on Wednesday night and WWE decided to counter-program with NXT.
There is no war for me at all because there is not one guy on that show that I have ever heard of before and that is not being snobby– it’s just that I don’t watch NXT. So, if you want to watch NXT, that is fine. If you want to watch AEW, that is fine as well. But, it is certainly not a war on our part, because we have been doing great on our own — selling out shows and selling 10,000 tickets in five minutes without any type of war or competition.
I think this just adds more eyeballs onto us. The one thing I learned when I was in WCW is the worst thing you can do is worry about your competition. Worry about what you are doing and clean your [own] house and make sure your own shit is going good. That is what we are doing, and we are not worrying about whatever anyone else is doing.
I mean you can put on a Happy Days reunion show on a Wednesday night — you could put on anything, and to me, we are going to continue doing what we do and that is put on a great product and give an alternative to what people have expected what the norm of what pro wrestling is. We are going to change that, and we are going to have to try to do something different. If we didn’t, there is no reason to get into it. You don’t want to be a copy of anything. You want to be your own entity and live in your own universe, and that is what we plan on doing!
The All Elite Era begins TODAY.
— All Elite Wrestling on TNT (@AEWonTNT) July 24, 2019
How important is it to have Chris Jericho in AEW and how important is it to have you as the first champ if that happens this weekend?
It is great to be in this position and whether I win or I don’t, one of the reasons why it was so important and integral to sign Chris Jericho to AEW was to provide a face and a name that everyone knows. You got a lot of talented guys in that locker room, but a lot of them don’t have the worldwide television name value that I have. So, it was so important to get me involved, to kind of build a bridge between those fans that know who Jericho is but don’ really know what AEW is.
Once you watch AEW, it then you are going to know who Kenny Omega is and Adam Page and The Young Bucks and MJF and all these other guys. I think it will blow people’s minds because people will be like, ‘Who are these guys that no one heard of before?’ It is like they are ten-year overnight sensations because all of them have been big stars around the world, just not on a national basis in the United States. So, I am really looking forward to blowing people’s minds!
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) August 2, 2019
Tell me all about opening for Iron Maiden next month? That is incredible. You have been on stage with some legends like Metallica and Kiss and others, but this seems like a whole new level to pretty much start everything up on the night and set the table on how the night will go. What are the feelings you are going through right now?
Like you said, we have played with those other bands, but those have been in a festival kind of setting. We played with Metallica in Australia, but there were like, 20 other bands on the bill. But this is just Fozzy, Iron Maiden and Raven Age — who will be opening the show.
[Iron Maiden] added one band for one show, which is a stadium show in Los Angeles and why they chose us? I would assume it is because we have good momentum, good word of mouth, and buzz surrounding us right now. Other than that, I don’t have an idea about why they chose Fozzy. Why not Anthrax or Stone Sour? I don’t really care, but they asked us to do it, and now, we are super, super excited. We obviously grew up Maiden fans, still one of the biggest bands in the world today, and for us to get a chance to get to kind of to go out there and support them is huge.
It is also a huge test because Maiden fans are notorious for being iconoclast. They want to see Maiden and don’t care who else is playing. So, it is our mission to turn their fans into rabid Fozzy fans as well. It is going to be a big challenge, but I expect when it is over, it will be mission accomplished. I can’t think this is just a one-off… Maybe it is some sort of audition on our part, and we plan to pass.
Will we hear the new song ‘Nowhere To Run’ for one of the first times live? I listened to it, and it is a great song, very much an anthem. Really gets you pumped up! Where did you go to get to this song to be your next single?
Yeah, thanks, man! When a new song comes out, you have to play it live. We spent the other day rehearsing it, and it sounds great. The video is about to drop as well. Right now, we’ll continue the momentum that the Judas record gave us. We have three top ten singles in “Judas,” “Painless,” and “Burn Me Out.”
We are now also on a major label with Sony who wants to keep the momentum going. They were the ones who said we need a new single and a new single out ASAP, right in time for the tour. We have been writing and coming up with some ideas and [“Nowhere To Run”] is the perfect bridge from Judas to where we are right now in 2019.
Right now, all the radio stations that were not familiar with Fozzy when the Judas record came out have now changed their tune, and now we have radio esteem. I think that we have to continue this wonderful momentum we have over the last couple of years. It has been really exciting for sure!
With Bring Me The Horizon collaborating with Grimes and Halsey, is there a pop star you’d like to work with? Someone out of the box like maybe a Lady Gaga or something like that?
As far as working with another, our songs are always self-contained. We have guests from time to time if the guest fits the song. I would guess Judas was the first record where we didn’t have a guest player. One good thing about Fozzy is that we have a real good eclectic sound and style.
We just did a bunch of shows with Nickelback, which were a great crowd experience and acceptance and a very similar as far as musically. Same thing with Three Days Grace. That is more of our vibe. Now when Iron Maiden calls us, or Metallica calls us or KISS calls us, we are more than ready to do those type of shows and listen — if Lady Gaga wanted us to open for her, I think it would be a tremendous tour for Fozzy.
We go on stage with the one sole purpose of making sure everyone has a good time. If there is someone in the crowd that isn’t having a good time, I will focus more on them instead of the ones going nuts because I want people to enjoy their evening. In this day and age, when it is harder and harder to have a night out — getting a babysitter, getting a Uber or a seat with a couple of beers and some merchandise, it is getting more and more expensive.
So, if we are on the bill, we want the audience to have fun and get their money’s worth when they show up! You know, if they are there at seven and we don’t get on till ten or the same thing — if Maiden is on at 9:30 and they get there at eight to see Fozzy as well, we want to make sure they are having a good time all across the board.
I have found with our crowds, people come to have fun. They get there early, and they have an open mind and are ready to enjoy their evening. When you get those type of fans and that type of audience it is always more fun for everybody all across the board!
Will “Nowhere To Run” or another Fozzy song be a permanent theme song for you when we get into All Out and AEW in October?
No, I think “Judas” is a great ring song for me! It’s got a good vibe to it. The tempo is great for me and the heaviness and the dynamics of it. I think it is a really cool ring song. It’s funny — the first time I used it was when I did the Tokyo Dome last year in 2018. And the reason why is because we [Fozzy] wanted to tour in Japan. It has been a little bit of a “white whale” for me. So, I was like ‘I will play my own song in front of 50,000 people at the Tokyo Dome.’ One way or other, people are going to go, ‘This song is really catchy, we want to see this band!’ And then when I used it at the Tokyo Dome, I realized it is a really fucking great song all across the board for me to jump in the ring to! So, I think that will be my ring song as I don’t plan on changing it anytime soon.
Ozzy recently said that 1986’s The Ultimate Sin is his least favorite solo album. Do you agree? Or does that record hold a special place in your heart?
I would disagree, I think it is a great record. I love all the songs from that record. I think Ozzy’s singing is great and the riffs are awesome, and I think his last couple records are way more disappointing then that one.
A lot of what has to do with it is that I grew up with that record. I was in grade ten when that came out. I can name every song on that record. I enjoyed every one on it. So, he has got his opinions, and I got mine, and I would put that over Scream or Down To Earth or Black Rain any day! All those I think Ultimate Sin is better than all of them!
What else does Chris Jericho have to achieve because outside looking in, it looks like you have achieved everything. Are there any voids to still fill in?
Once again, I think I am a person who doesn’t have a list of ‘here is what I want to do’ or ‘here is what I don’t want to do.’ I think that it all boils to when I was a kid, I wanted to be in a rock band and I wanted to be in a wrestler and getting the chance to work my whole life towards these two things and succeeding at both it kind of makes me feel a little bit invincible.
I will try anything now because I have two seemingly impossible dreams and have succeeded at both them. So now, it is more of ‘what else can I do?’ All of these things — with podcasts and writing books and acting to a radio show — it all comes to the fact that it is all show business. It is something that I like to do and if it is something that I feel I can really excel at and make it work, then I am going to give it a try. So far, it has worked out that way all across the board.
AEW’s All Out takes place on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 8:00 PM ET. It will be available to stream on B/R Live in the United States, ITV Box Office in the UK, and on Fite TV internationally. This interview has been edited for clarity.