The biggest wrestling news of this past week is easily Chris Jericho’s surprise challenge to New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Kenny Omega following their Power Struggle event. In a shocking turn of events, Jericho has seemingly bypassed WWE and decided to have a high profile match in the Tokyo Dome at the upcoming Wrestle Kingdom against Omega, who Jericho considers to be the best in-ring performer in the world. The premise of this match is simple. Jericho considers himself the best in the world at what he does. To prove this point, he must defeat Kenny Omega, who he considers the best performer in the world. Alpha vs. Omega at Japan’s biggest event of the year.
Donning a leather jacket and slicked back hair, this was once again a new look for Jericho. From what is known right now, Jericho didn’t inform WWE that he would be setting out on this new frontier. Although, it’s not entirely new to Jericho. Sure, this will be Y2J’s first excursion from WWE since 1999, but he made his bones in Japan early in his career. What makes this match extra interesting is that it will showcase just how much Japanese fans remember and appreciate Jericho from his days there, and also how impactful WWE has been overseas. While WWE is certainly the largest wrestling company in the world, NJPW is rapidly gaining international viewership, including in the US. It’s fair to say that NJPW is WWE’s biggest competition.
It’s going to be a spectacle. For weeks, Jericho has been teasing this match and trolling the twitterverse, mocking Omega for being an indie wrestler and baiting internet marks into frenzied replies; at one point saying that Omega has amazing matches, and that it’s too bad no one sees them. And this is classic heel Jericho, ever redefining himself and using every resource available to promote an upcoming match. It’s akin to when he went full kayfabe heel on Larry King Live in a discussion with Mickey Rourke following the success of his film, The Wrestler. This led to a feud between the two, culminating at WrestleMania. Omega/Jericho is sure to get a lot of fans of both companies and countries to watch Wrestle Kingdom on January 4th and will do great things for the career of Kenny Omega and NJPW as a whole.
But for Jericho, this just seems like he’s treating himself as he nears the end of his career. His rebellious new look is an indicator that he does feel that he’s betraying WWE in a sense, but considering the wrestling landscape is much more diplomatic than it was in the past, Jericho will likely make it back to WWE on good terms.
Styles vs. Lesnar
In other dream match news, two former NJPW Heavyweight Champions in their own right will be squaring off at Survivor Series next week. Whether or not this was an intentional audible in response to the Jericho/Omega announcement isn’t clear. However, it’s a match that fans have been wanting to see since Styles’ Royal Rumble debut. The best big man against the best small man. Both with very unique work styles (it’s hard to talk about Styles without saying “styles” a lot), these two are going to put on a very unconventional clinic. The idea of Lesnar vs. Jinder Mahal in a champion vs. champion match was fun, but since Styles defeated Jinder on Smackdown, we’re getting a sudden fantasy bout.
New Day vs. Shield
While this isn’t set in stone quite yet, it seems like we’ll be getting this match at Survivor Series as well. In what SHOULD be a traditional survivor series elimination 6-man tag match (candidate for longest match name ever?), The New Day and The Shield are the two most successful 3-man teams in the past decade. Since all members are in their prime, this match just makes sense. Luckily, New Day interrupted Ambrose and Rollins’ match against Sheamus and Cesaro on Raw, allowing “The Bar” to pick up the title victory and thus facing Smackdown a Tag Champs, The Usos, at Survivor Series. This leaves New Day and The Shield free for a match with some motive, but with little time for a build. The only question is whether or not Roman Reigns will be healthy enough to make this official. Next Sunday, we’ll be able to see a lot of Raw vs. Smackdown Championship matches. It seems like their handling Survivor Series appropriately this year, and doing the brand split some justice.
Nathan Burke is a standup comedian based in Boston and can be found on Twitter @IamNathanBurke