Winnipeg is Jericho: Jericho, Omega to at centre of AEW Dynamite in Winnipeg
Chris Jericho wants to author another chapter in the illustrious history of professional wrestling in Winnipeg.
Jericho will get his chance this Wednesday when he teams with Daniel Garcia and Sammy Guevara in a trios match as All Elite Wrestling makes its Winnipeg debut at the Canada Life Centre for an episode of "Dynamite."
They're facing the House of Black and the Elite, the latter team featuring Kenny Omega, another Winnipegger, in AEW's third-ever show in Canada.
The 52-year-old Jericho, who last wrestled in Winnipeg in 2009, insists that his hometown is the greatest city in Canada for producing wrestlers.
"People always go to Calgary and I'm like 'O.K. Bret Hart, Owen Hart, who else you got? Who else who actually grew up in Calgary and trained in Calgary, right?'" Jericho told The Canadian Press in a recent interview. "Toronto, you've got Edge and Christian, couple other guys, Sweet Daddy Siki, that don't cut it.
"If you look at Winnipeg, the traditional wrestling history, with Roddy Piper, Don Callis, Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega, that's a pretty influential group."
Omega has never wrestled a televised event in Winnipeg, but he and Jericho have tangled before. They faced each other for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship at the Tokyo Dome in 2018 in the semi-main event of New Japan Pro Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom, one of the biggest annual cards in the world.
That match was foundational for All Elite Wrestling, an upstart promotion started by owner Tony Khan in January 2019. Jericho was AEW's first-ever champion and Omega one of its brightest stars as well as an executive vice-president behind the scenes.
"We wanted to put together something special for Winnipeg fans and also something special for all of our AEW fans around the world," said Jericho of Wednesday's match. "That way, not only is the hometown crowd happy because they get Omega-Jericho against each other, but also its fits the storylines of the show.
"I think it was the perfect storm of creating a great moment, a great angle that's going to make for a great match and a great show. It's really a win-win situation."
AEW held is first live events in Canada in mid-October at Toronto's Coca-Cola Coliseum with tapings of "Dynamite" and "Rampage." With Canada Life Centre's considerably larger capacity, Jericho says Wednesday's show will top the previous Canadian dates.
"It's not just Manitoba. I've gotten a lot of people saying that they're driving in from Regina and Saskatoon and as far away as Thunder Bay and those types of places," said Jericho. "It's exciting because I think AEW has established itself very quickly as being a little bit more of a party and I think the wrestling is superior."
Jericho has over 30 years of pro wrestling experience and has become one of the locker-room leaders at AEW. His tag-team partners, Garcia and Guevara, are members of the Jericho Appreciation Society, a villainous faction that runs roughshod over their competition.
Jericho's stable of bad guys also includes the Canadian tag team 2point0, made up of Matt Menard and Angelo Parker.
Menard, who grew up with a Jericho poster on the wall of his childhood bedroom in Chateauguay, Que., said that he has learned a great deal from his idol.
"It's blown my mind. Personally, professionally, it's changed my life, changed my family's life," said Menard. "To be put in these moments because we're associated with Chris, the profile is that much higher.
"It's really tough to find the words. He's guy that I looked up to, and became friends with, peers. He's a mentor to me in the ring and outside of the ring."
Menard is also excited to make his Winnipeg debut, even if March weather in Manitoba can be tough.
"We all are super pumped, could not be more pumped. Except for maybe I don't whose bright idea was to do it in the wintertime," said Menard with a laugh. "No, we're super excited. The crowd is going to be on fire because Canada has such a loyal fanbase."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2023.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press