Hiroshi Tanahashi Says He’ll Pursue The AEW Championship If He Beats Chris Jericho At Wrestle Kingdom

Hiroshi Tanahashi has a match coming up at Wrestle Kingdom 14 against AEW World Champion Chris Jericho, but the Canadian wrestler’s current titleholder status hasn’t been mentioned in New Japan Pro Wrestling programming.

There’s no championship on the line in Tanahashi vs. Jericho, which has been promoted as a legend vs. legend match and Jericho trying to end the Ace’s career. But though NJPW and All Elite Wrestling have continued to not acknowledge each other on their TV shows (aside from that time Kenny Omega used New Japan’s “lion mark” logo as a villainous presence in his Undertale-tribute entrance video on Dynamite), Tanahashi teased in an interview with Tokyo Sports that he might try to be the American company’s champion.

Tanahashi referred to going to AEW as the “Forbidden Door” (as interpreted by Google Translate) and said his beating Jericho would open that door by giving him the right to challenge for Jericho’s title. He also called out Jericho for getting lazy with his themed NJPW nicknames, pointing out that he could have easily done “Ace vs. Joker” rather than sticking with the “Painmaker” moniker he adopted when he was challenging Okada earlier this year.

Jericho has yet to respond to Tanahashi’s statement and it’s very possible this is just the Ace building hype for the match; increasing his international profile is part of his character’s motivation for beating Jericho, and wanting to challenge for the AEW title fits that.