Chris Jericho has been widely praised for his ability to constantly evolve. From "The Millennium Man" to "The Truth Speaker" to "The List of Jericho" to "Le Champion," and everything in between, Jericho has managed to put a new twist on his career through each stage.
And while he could simply "play the hits" at this point in his career, Jericho wants to continue to make new music in the world of professional wrestling.
“I have a great list of hits, but a lot of those will never be played again because I’m too busy concentrating on new hits and performing at the highest level,” Jericho told Sports Illustrated. “It’s hard to leave all the old gimmicks and catchphrases, and take a chance, but if you don’t do that, it’s like DX coming to the ring in 2019 and yelling ‘Suck it!’ It looks like a relic from the past, and I never wanted to be that. If I was still in the WWE, I would still have to be doing ‘The List’ and it would feel so old. I love all the great stuff I did in the past, but to go out there and say ‘Raw is Jericho’ or ‘I’m the Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla’ would really feel like a rock and roll band that tours that never puts on a new record and tours every summer. I always appreciate when bands play new songs, because I’ve been playing new songs, too. Otherwise, for me, there’s no reason to continue on.”
In NJPW, Jericho has adopted the moniker "The Painmaker," a play off Kazuchika Okada, who goes by "The Rainmaker." Jericho battled Okada at Dominion 2019, challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Okada was victorious, but Jericho kept "The Painmaker" name through his match against Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 14.
“I originally went into that Omega match thinking I’d be the same guy from WWE,” said Jericho. “But I was really into Bruiser Brody at the time–I think it was the 30 anniversary of his death–and watching him just beat the sh-- out of people. In Japan, people are still intimidated by that and they kind of like it. I really liked the lunacy of the character I played building up to and during the Kenny match, so when I went back for Naito, I didn’t want to wear sparkly tights and light-up jackets. It didn’t feel right. I felt crazier, and I decided that some paint needed to be worn. I was working with Okada, who is ‘The Rainmaker,’ so I said I was ‘The Painmaker. It just happened. Now it’s a whole other side of Jericho that could extend my career for another ten years if I wanted it to. I’m a huge fanatic and disciple of the band KISS and the way they market themselves, and I’m surprised it took me this long to wear some paint. I want to use it in certain cases. That’s why I used the paint against Darby Allin on Dynamite. I want to do this character like how the Great Muta did it.”
He continued, "There would never be a ‘Painmaker’ in the WWE because I’m sure they wouldn’t allow it. There are a lot of approvals needed and that’s the way Vince runs his show and it’s great, but to be completely on my own was an awakening, and that happened in Japan."
Jericho was victorious at night two of Wrestle Kingdom 14, tapping out Hiroshi Tanahashi in the co-main event. If you missed any of the action from Wrestle Kingdom 14, you can read Fightful's full report on the show by clicking here.