AEW

Is Chris Jericho the Best in the World?

Chris Jericho reigned as AEW World Champion for 182 days.

It seems like every other day, a new wrestler is christened, “Best in the World.” One day it might be Kazuchika Okada, another it might be Will Ospreay, and the day after that it might be Adam Cole. Despite how common it is for fans to talk about the litany of talent who could potentially be the “Best in the World,” it is rare for the professional wrestlers themselves to drop their own name in the hat. It is even more rare for that wrestler to be a 30 year veteran of the business. However, that is exactly what happened when former 7 time World Champion Chris Jericho sent the following (now deleted) tweet out early Sunday morning.

Chris Jericho’s since deleted tweet.

When I woke up and saw this tweet, I was immediately dismissive of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chris Jericho. He has been one of my favorite wrestlers since I was 12 years old. Not only that, but in the last year, Chris Jericho has put out some of the best in ring work of his entire career. His match with Cody at Full Gear was one of the best matches in AEW history, and does not get the credit is deserves. Coupling in matches with the likes of Jon Moxley, Darby Allin, Adam Page and Kenny Omega…Chris Jericho has an awesome track record of entertaining matches. But my mind refused to accept that 49 year old Chris Jericho could be the “Best in the World.”

Throughout the day, I could not stop thinking about his tweet. I slowly began to realize that it wasn’t because his claim was absurd…it was because he was right. Chris Jericho is the “Best in the World,” and I would say the race is not even close. However…this doesn’t necessarily mean Chris Jericho is the best WRESTLER in the world. Allow me to explain.

Chris Jericho reading from “The Lexicon of Le Champion,” a play on his former WWE gimmick.

Chris Jericho is not the best in ring performer. No matter where you turn, there is a wrestler somewhere that is currently more talented in the ring than Le Champion. New Japan’s Will Ospreay is putting on insane athletic contests that Chris Jericho could not. NXT’s Adam Cole is insanely quick and puts on the performance of a lifetime every time he steps inside the ring, something Chris Jericho cannot do. New Japan’s Kazuchika Okada puts on hour long Broadways that never lose your attention for a second, which Chris Jericho is unable to do right now. But the requirements for “Best in the World” span much farther than in-ring talent. As you start to look at people like Okada, Ospreay and Cole in that context, their flaws shine bright..

Kazuchika Okada as IWGP World Heavyweight Champion

To start off, Kazuchika Okada has a language barrier. I refuse to sit here and call him a bad promo, because I do not know if he is or not. But, that language barrier does hinder his connection with an American audience on the mic. That immediately removes him from the overall “Best in the World” conversation for me, although that is not his fault.

Will Ospreay, the winner of the 2019 NJPW Best of Super Juniors tournament.

When it comes to Will Ospreay, his issue is similar to Okada’s but for a different reason. Ospreay is not the best on the mic. This is not to say he is awful. When Ospreay speaks, he gets the job done, but his speaking style is very choppy. And despite his promos getting better everytime he speaks, they still aren’t up to the level they need to be in order to be called the “Best in the World.”

Adam Cole, the longest reigning NXT Champion in history.

And then there’s Adam Cole. I must say, this was the toughest person to find an argument against. Adam Cole is pretty much the total package: he’s phenomenal in-ring, good looking, and extremely charismatic. He is everything a Superstar needs to be. However, the more and more you watch this current version of Cole, the more and more you realize how formulaic he has become. No matter how hard you try, you’d be hard pressed to find an Adam Cole match or promo from the last year that isn’t nearly the exact same as the last. Obviously the formula works, but being formulaic does not make you the “Best in the World.”

That brings us back to Chris Jericho. He is everything the “Best in the World” needs to be. He is superb in the ring. He might not be putting on matches the level of Will Ospreay, but he never disappoints. Chris Jericho is the most effective mic worker in wrestling today. Whenever he talks, he not only entertains the crowd but he gets everyone he mentions in the promo over. He does the same on commentary. Sugar D would be nothing more than a random enhancement talent without Jericho, but because he called him “Pineapple Pete” on a live broadcast, Sugar D got over and is now set to wrestle Chris Jericho this Wednesday on Dynamite. On top of all of that, he is AEW’s star player. He is the reason people began tuning in on Wednesday nights, and he is a reason they stay.

Chris Jericho is not only a star, but a star maker. That is what it truly takes to be the real “Best in the World.” It doesn’t matter if you’re the best in ring performer of all time, if you cannot connect with a crowd via promos while simultaneously making everyone around you look better than they are, you are not fit to be called “Best in the World.” Jericho is the personification of all of that and more, and at the rate he is going, I do not see that changing anytime soon.

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