"Just when they think they have all the answers, I change the questions."
That quote is attributed to the late, great "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, but it's undoubtedly a philosophy that Chris Jericho subscribes to, as evidenced most recently by the
s Nov. 5 that Jericho will face New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kenny Omega for Omega's NJPW United States Title at NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom 12 in the Tokyo Dome Jan. 4, 2018. For those unfamiliar, Wrestle Kingdom is an annual extravaganza that is NJPW's version of WrestleMania.
When Jericho and Omega began engaging in a Twitter war in recently, I was fairly certain I knew where it was heading.
Typically when wrestlers snipe at each other over social media, they are trying to work fans into believing there is legitimate animosity outside the scripted world of pro wrestling. In almost every case, the war of words is a calculated attempt to build anticipation for a match between the two participants.
So even though Omega is under contract to NJPW and Jericho hasn't wrestled for any major company other than WWE since 1999 and has said he never would, I not only figured there was going to be a match between the two, but I also thought I knew when and where it would take place.
Jericho is hosting a rock-and-wrestling-themed cruise next October that includes matches involving Ring of Honor talent as part of the festivities. Omega and NJPW have a business relationship with ROH, so it wasn't that big a stretch to envision a dream match between Jericho and Omega taking place on the cruise, which obviously would be a huge selling point.
I fully expected the Twitter battle to continue for the better part of a year. I thought I had all the answers. But then Jericho, as he has so often in his career, changed the question.
Jericho making his first appearance in an NJPW ring since 1998 is something no one saw coming, but it makes perfect sense that Jericho would want to work with Omega, one of the hottest stars in the industry and a member of Bullet Club, one of the hottest factions in the industry. As for NJPW, Jericho is a huge get for the Japanese-based company as it looks to increase its presence in the U.S.
It's not known whether Jericho, who is not currently under contract with WWE, has WWE's blessing to do the match or if he even asked for it. What is known is that Jericho has done nearly everything there is to do in WWE.
Jericho is one of the industry's best all-around performers and biggest stars of the past 20 years, but perhaps more impressive than any of his in-ring accomplishments is that he achieved that status largely on his own terms.
He decided to leave WWE the first time in 2005, saying he was mentally burned out and wanted to spend more time with his young family while also pursuing other ventures such as acting, writing his autobiography and recording and touring with Fozzy -- the rock band for which he is the lead singer.
Jericho returned to WWE in 2007 for a three-year stint and came back again in 2012. He has worked for WWE the past five years, taking occasional hiatuses. He last appeared on WWE television this past July.
Jericho has made it clear that he loves the wrestling business but he won't be pigeonholed by it. Fozzy has now recorded seven studio albums and toured all over the world. He's written four books, been a reality TV show host as well as a contestant on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" and Fox's "Celebrity Duets," and acted in a handful of films and TV series. He also hosts a popular podcast, "
Talk Is Jericho
WWE obviously sees the value in Jericho, which is why they allow him the freedom to basically show up whenever he wants.
It appears Jericho adheres to the show biz adage of always leaving the audience wanting more. He never overstays his welcome in WWE, and when he returns, the audience is always excited to see him. Jericho has become a master manipulator on Twitter during the years, creating buzz by intentionally misleading fans about his comings and goings in WWE.
Jericho also realized years ago that one of the keys to longevity and success in pro wrestling is having the ability to reinvent yourself.
He has switched back and forth from babyface to heel so many times during the years that I've lost count. Jericho has portrayed everything from a flamboyant, fast-talking showman with a leather jacket that lights up, to a suit-wearing, monotone-speaking sadist.
Thanks to his abundance of charisma, Jericho can turn a not-so-clever insult -- calling someone a "stupid idiot" or telling them to "please shut the hell up" -- into something the audience regularly chants and pops for. During his most recent WWE run -- which perhaps was his best yet -- Jericho combined simple props such as a pen and clipboard with a catch phrase -- "You just made the list!" -- and struck gold.
Having worked some with Jericho during my time on the WWE creative team, I know Jericho is very hands-on in the creative process and loves to think outside the box and give fans something they've never seen before.
For example, during his program with CM Punk in 2012, Jericho pitched an idea that was far outside the box. He wanted to attack Punk in the ring, and then while Punk was unconscious, take a tattoo needle and tattoo his initials on Punk's body -- for real -- on live TV.
The heavily tattooed Punk was on board for what was certain to be one of the most talked-about angles ever. Punk said he would eventually just cover it up with another tattoo. Unfortunately, WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon shot down the suggestion because of the likelihood that there would be blood.
Jericho facing Omega at NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom may not be as shocking as a man forcibly tattooing his initials on another man in a wrestling ring, but it is yet another example of Jericho doing something in pro wrestling that's big, unexpected and pretty damn cool.