Chris Jericho discusses his most recent NJPW opponent and keeps the Naito feud alive.
On Nov. 3 at NJPW Power Struggle, Chris Jericho successfully defended his IWGP Intercontinental Title against Los Ingobernables de Japon member EVIL. Following the bout, Jericho continued to assault EVIL, who was saved by his LIJ mate Tetsuya Naito.
The IWGP Intercontinental Champion recently spoke to NJPW.com about his bout with EVIL, offering praise for the 31-year-old veteran.
"I’ve never been in a match with EVIL before. I think the fact that the match was so great; the quality, the fighting spirit, the intensity, the strong style. I think EVIL was very good. He’s got a great character, a great gimmick and I really enjoyed working with him," said Jericho "I think it’s the best match EVIL has ever had – a classic match, a must-see match. That makes it 1 for him and 557 for me, which is just a result of the experience that I have in comparison to EVIL. I really enjoyed it. He’s a very good wrestler here in Japan and I think he learned a lot from me last night. He almost won once or twice, which is surprising for me and good for him. But he didn’t win. I won, just like I said I would."
When asked to compare EVIL to previous opponents, Jericho said, "I don’t rate and think of performers that way, everyone is unique and different. If you say “Oh EVIL’s like this guy, or that guy” then it’s usually not a good thing. I think he’s got a great character. Obviously, it’s a little bit of an Undertaker theme, but it’s an original take on that. In the ring, I don’t know… it’s hard to compare… He’s a very Strong-Style type of wrestler, but he’s fast." He continued, "I just really think that if you put him in comparison with Okada, Kenny or Tanahashi; he’s different from those guys and I think that’s one of the reasons he has a chance to be a real top guy in NJPW because he’s unique, but he’s very good. He’s a very skilled wrestler; he has an exciting Strong Style, he’s kind of a throwback to Nagata and Choshu, that sort of style. He’s not really a high-flyer, but he can do anything that he needs to do to stand out. He’s a unique performer."
Following Power Struggle, NJPW announced that Jericho would defend his IWGP IC Title against Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 13. Jericho was quick to decline the match on social media. In the interview with NJPW, Jericho went into more detail as to why he turned down the match.
"Why does Naito get a re-match? Why? What does he do? He beat Zack Sabre Jr. You know, ZSJ is a great technical wrestler, but I can break him in two like a branch. I beat Naito. I beat EVIL," he declared. "To me, you don’t just get to have a re-match just because you say so. When I lost the WWE title to John Cena, I didn’t just come back the next day and say, “I want a re-match”, it doesn’t work that way. I don’t care what NJPW says, I don’t care what the NJPW officials say, I don’t care what Harold Meij says – there’s not going to be a re-match! If they want to try to make the match, I’m not approving it and I’m not agreeing to it. Hey, Naito’s amazing, he’s one of the best wrestlers in NJPW but I already beat him, so now you have to think of other matches that Chris Jericho can have, maybe versus Suzuki or Ibushi or Okada. Tanahashi even. These are the guys I’m looking at."
NJPW is still advertising Jericho vs. Naito for Wrestle Kingdom on Jan. 4. Jericho defeated Naito to win the IWGP Intercontinental Title on June 9 at Dominion.