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Jericho On His Third Cruise, Stadium Stampede Match And More

Top AEW Star Chris Jericho was recently interviewed by Sports Illustrated on a number of topics including AEW getting “Iron” Mike Tyson on TV, having his third cruise during these trying times, what will be different about this third cruise, the Stadium Stampede Match and more.

Below are the highlights from the interview:

On AEW getting “Iron” Mike Tyson on TV:

“Tyson is so hot and popular right now, having him on our show is very much a coup. It just goes to show timing is everything. Had we done this a year ago, it wouldn’t have been the same. It was very much a timely decision that paid off hugely with press coverage worldwide, with headlines from Chili to Portugal to Mexico to Italy to France, all about Mike Tyson appearing in AEW with Chris Jericho. It’s great for our company, it’s great for me and it’s great for Mike. It puts him right back in the spotlight, right where he wants to be.”

On having his third cruise during these trying times:

“The second cruise was such a hit, we knew we had to do a third. Then the pandemic hit, and ‘cruise’ became a dirty word for a while. But we never wavered, and this isn’t a fool-hearty decision where we said we’d do this no matter what. Norwegian Cruise knows that their business is in trouble if they don’t do things properly and do them right. After much research and deliberation to make sure the boat is as safe as it can be, times a zillion, we decided to move forward.”

“When I say ‘we,’ I’m just a cog in the Norwegian Cruise lines, but I’m all for it. This is February, nine months from now. I think we’ll have a lot of things resolved by then. If not, then we’ll just postpone and do it later. But we have to at least plan for it. If October or November come around and everything’s cool, then it would be too late if we hadn’t planned. We’re going in optimistically, but also smartly.”

“And the reaction that we got is just off the charts. Our pre-sales are the same now that they were the last time, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so that’s insane to me. There are also a lot of people that don’t like the idea, and that’s fine, too. If you don’t like it, don’t come. If you like the idea, we’re going to make it the best vacation, like we have for the past two cruises. It’s completely safe, I’m taking my family, and putting together the lineup now is one of my favorite things to do. We’ve been working on this since the week after our last cruise ended, and we can’t wait to surprise people with all the talent we have coming on board.”

On what will be different about this third cruise:

“Our plan is to do a live taping from the ship. Last year was a taped show, and this year, we want to go live. We don’t do house shows, and guys enjoyed working matches on the ship for four days. That’s almost like our own house show loop, and it’s where the guys get to have fun. Last time, Janela and Kazarian had a drink-off in the middle of the ring. We’re doing things you can’t do on TV, but you can on a cruise ship. The biggest difference this time is we want to take it live from the sea.”

On The Stadium Stampede Match:

“That wasn’t so much a match as it was a short film. We wanted to make a spectacle. We knew that, and we wanted to go all the way with that.”

“In terms of criticism, I heard what Jim Cornette said and it really disappointed me. I’ve known Jim for 25 years, and now he doesn’t want to be friends with me because he didn’t like my match? That’s a very myopic statement. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. It’s that simple. Don’t say you to don’t want to be my friend anymore because you didn’t like it. I was really disappointed to hear that.”

“Wrestling has always had this element of humor to it. When I was growing up, I loved Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant, but I also loved Corporal Kirchner taking his zipline down into the middle of a pool and dropping into it. It’s entertainment all across the board, and that’s what we wanted to do with the Stadium Stampede match.”

“When we walked out on the field that Thursday, we had a completely empty football field with tens of thousands of empty seats, and that was it. We needed to be creative about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. We found the pool, the bar, then we asked for a mascot and cheerleaders.”

“When we were filming, there was a huge thunderstorm at 3 a.m. that stopped us from filming for an hour. That’s when we watched the rough edit, and I said, ‘Holy s—, this is great.’ When I walked out of there, after 30 years of being in the business, I said that was one of the best things I’d ever been involved in. And when we played it back and tightened it up with commentating, I was right. If you didn’t like it, that’s cool. But there are hundreds of thousands of people watching that loved it, and all of us in the match all felt the same. If you weren’t entertained by that, you have a problem. You might not like it for hardcore wrestling, and that’s fine. To me, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

On what excites him most about working with “Iron” Mike Tyson”:

“What excites me most? A program with Mike. We didn’t have a script for Mike; we’re not giving him cues. He’s going to do what he wants, and you saw that on Wednesday night. There were guys in the ring that I didn’t even know were going to be in the ring. Mike wanted them to be in the ring, so OK. That’s Mike Tyson. He’s a loose cannon, he can go off at any time and he’s dangerous. I don’t care if he’s 53 or 33 or 23, he looks crazy and he is crazy. That’s why we love him.”

“I loved the concept of Piper-Mr. T, but the actual execution was not good. We’ll never do a boxer vs. wrestler. Either we’ll do a straight up boxing match—I’m not kidding. So what if I’m knocked out by Mike Tyson? I’ve been knocked out by worse—or we’ll do a street fight. Right now, the match is secondary to the pomp and circumstance that we will have in getting to the spectacle of the pay per view. That’s what wrestling is all about, it’s the story. People are so focused on the in-ring, which is great, but if there’s no story, there’s no match.”

“Whatever we decide to do, it’s the buildup that needs to be great. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We have ideas; his people have ideas. And if we’re able to work something out where Mike isn’t just the enforcer, and he’s in the match, then people won’t know what to expect. You’ll have two loose cannons, because I’m just as crazy as Tyson is, putting on a great performance for everybody that wants to see it.”

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