When it was announced, Chris Jericho vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi was the singles match on New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s Wrestle Kingdom 14 with the least build, advertised mostly as a clash between legends. Then in an interview with Tokyo Sports, Tanahashi added an interesting element to the match when he said that if he beat Jericho at the Tokyo Dome, he wanted a shot at the AEW World Championship.
Since AEW and NJPW don’t have an official partnership (like the one NJPW has with CMLL, and AEW with AAA) and the companies have barely acknowledged each other’s existence on their wrestling programs, the Ace’s comment prompted rampant speculation about if this was a real stipulation for the match and if so, what that would mean, especially considering some AEW talent’s negative comments about New Japan recently.
What this means for how AEW and NJPW interact in the future remains to be seen, but as of this weekend, Tanahashi can officially earn a shot at the AEW Championship. Jericho broke the news in a YouTube video that starts with him claiming to be able to, “speak and read perfect Japanese,” which he says is how he found out about what Tanahashi told Tokyo Sports. Le Champion said he asked Tony Khan if he could grant the Ace’s request, “and he said yes. So if you can beat me in the Tokyo Dome, I will give you a championship match for the AEW title.”
NJPW reposted this video to its YouTube channel with an added match graphic at the end and has advertised this new stipulation on all its social media platforms. Official AEW accounts had not shared the video that the time this article was written.
Does this change your prediction for Jericho vs. Tanahashi? Could you see the Ace showing up in AEW, or Jericho defending his title on a New Japan show? Let us know in the comments.