X-Pac welcomes Rocky Romero to the show to discuss the current state of NJPW.
He points out that things are beginning to change in NJPW in terms of what fans expect the performers to look like. The Western WWE-style body is beginning to make an appearance in NJPW whereas in the past it was just pure size that mattered.
He says that Okada is beginning to take the reigns as the top guy in the company, but for casual NJPW fans Tanahashi is still the guy. He compares Tanahashi to John Cena in WWE in the sense that he’s still the most recognizable figure in the company, but Okada is a fan favourite for the hardcore fans.
Romero thinks Kenny Omega’s IWGP Championship run might be one of the most important runs of all time. Some people say that Omega should have had the belt a couple of years ago, but Romero thinks the time is perfect now. X-Pac agrees, noting that it would have been too soon to put the Title on Omega a couple of years ago, but Omega and the company are in a perfect place to pull the trigger on a Title run at this time.
X-Pac welcomes Chris Jericho to the show.
Jericho mentions that there was a lot of backstage politics and tension in wrestling locker rooms 20 years ago. He recalls having issues with guys like Triple H and X-Pac and looking back now he doesn’t understand what all the trouble was about. He truly thinks that the tension was as a result of performers wanting to be in the main event scene so they could make more money, but today it almost doesn’t matter whether you’re in the main event or not because the television deals are so lucrative.
He also mentions that he had some heat in WWE simply because he came from WCW. He was also oblivious to that heat which made things even worse. He recalls calling the Undertaker boring on an episode of RAW once, and looking back now he can’t even believe he said that. When he started to work with Chyna things only got worse.
When he began his program with Chyna, Vince McMahon told him to not hold back in the ring. Chyna’s offence was stiff and Jericho didn’t hold back with his offence as well. Eventually Chyna got a black eye and X-Pac wasn’t happy. He went to Vince McMahon and complained about Jericho. This got Jericho in hot water with McMahon, and Jericho was forced to prove his worth to the company on a nightly basis from that point on.
At one point McMahon told him that he had a match with X-Pac and if the match wasn’t good he was going to be fired. They had a terrific match and McMahon patted him on the back afterwards, saying that he needed to run all of his matches by X-Pac from that point on. Jericho says that although he and X-Pac were peers he wasn’t really offended by that because X-Pac knew how to work the WWE style, and he did not at that point.
Jericho notes that WWE’s style is quite different than most other promotions. He compares it to Angus Young’s guitar playing because much like Young’s ability to play simpler, more melodic solos that fans can hum along to, WWE’s style is all about the things you don’t include in the matches. There’s no need to go 100 miles an hour all the time.
He mentions that leading up to his NJPW match against Kenny Omega many fans wondered if he’d be able to work Omega’s style. He notes that he doesn’t work anyone’s style, he works his own style. He also adds that if he didn’t work for Vince McMahon and WWE for all those years he never would have been able to have that great of a match with Omega.
As for his most recent NJPW match against Naito, Jericho informs that Gedo suggested the aggressive opening before the bell even rang. Jericho loved that idea because it really allowed him to show his heel colours. He also asked that there be no other brawls on the ramp and no other low blows on the card in order to make his match feel more special.
Jericho feels that character reinvention is important, and he feels that the last couple years of his career have been highlights for him. Moving to NJPW and building his brand there gives him more bargaining power everywhere including WWE because he might be more relevant now than he’s ever been. He notes that if you want McMahon to want you more, you need to go make it somewhere else.
Jericho notes that the business is changing and part of that is NJPW’s recent growth. He points out that if you get on Vince McMahon’s radar as potential competition he’ll try to take you out; that’s just the way he is.
As for Jericho’s working relationship with NJPW, he points out that working in Japan is one thing, but he didn’t want to work the Cow Palace show or ALL IN because it’s a little too close to home for him. He still values his relationship with WWE and McMahon, and he didn’t want to work shows for another company in North America.
That sums up today’s episode of X-Pac 1, 2, 360. You can listen to the show yourself anytime here, and I’ll catch ya next week for another recap!