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Jericho: ‘It doesn’t get any better’ as AEW Dynamite makes Calgary debut

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AEW Dynamite will emanate from the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary for the first time on Wednesday and the enormity of the event is not lost on Chris Jericho. 

The card for All Elite Wrestling’s flagship show will feature the both the men’s [Bryan Danielson vs. ‘Hangman’  Adam Page] and women’s [Mariah May vs. Willow Nightingale] finals of the Owen Hart Foundation Tournament, the second consecutive year the ‘Owen Cup’ has culminated in the late wrestler’s hometown.

The 53-year-old Jericho believes an event of this magnitude belongs in Calgary, a city rich with wrestling history and tradition.

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“You're talking about a city with such a rich wrestling lineage and such a legendary wrestling family like the Harts, and here we are celebrating Owen's life and remembering all the things that he did and how much of an influence he was on our business,” Jericho told “The fact that we get to celebrate him in Calgary, in the Saddledome, at Stampede, I mean it doesn't get any better than that.

"It's perfect to do the finals here. The stampede is such a party. The city is celebrating, and it's very much a celebration of pro wrestling in all of its shapes and forms. I think it is something that you'll see on an annual basis, as it should be.”

Jericho has a long personal history with the city of Calgary, as he began his wrestling career at the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling at the age of 19 and made his in-ring debut in Ponoka, Alta., in 1990.

Over his three-decade career, Jericho has wrestled in the Saddledome many times but Wednesday’s ‘Stampede Street Fight’ against Samoa Joe will mark the current FTW Champion’s AEW debut at the venue.

"I'm excited. I have such a history in Calgary. Yesterday I went driving around the city to see the old Jericho historical sights: Where I trained, where the Silver Dollar Action Centre used to be, the bar that I used to bounce at, the hotel I lived at while I was training. Just kind of seeing the origins of the Chris Jericho career and remembering how much I loved living in Calgary. It's such a great city. Winnipeg is where I grew up, but Calgary is where I became an adult,” said Jericho.

“Making my AEW debut in the Saddledome, where I wrestled countless matches for WWE, makes it that much more fun and special – especially the Stampede Street Fight with Samoa Joe. We've got a great story going on and it's the perfect way to continue the chapters of the book that Joe and I are writing.”

It may not be a happy homecoming for Jericho, who returns to Calgary as a heel with his new persona, The Learning Tree. Whether his reception at the Saddledome is positive or negative is not a concern for the former AEW World Champion, so long as the crowd is connected to the story he is telling.

"I don't worry about that as long as people are reacting. The mission is not to get completely booed or cheered, it's to get people interested. The best part about The Learning Tree is reading the room and creating this new persona that's leaning into some criticisms that makes those people angrier and makes people who understand what I'm doing like me even more,” Jericho said. “I think The Learning Tree is very much split down the middle, but the most important thing is that people are making noise. 

“That's the secret of pro wrestling. Getting people involved and connected to what you're doing and the story you're telling. As long as you can do that you'll always be successful.”

Jericho has been at the forefront of the promotion’s expansion to international markets, having wrestled a match with hometown favorite and current AEW International Champion Will Ospreay at the first All-In event at Wembley Stadium in London, an event that sold over 81,000 tickets. 

Both the men’s and women’s Owen Hart Tournament winners will receive a World Championship opportunity at the 2024 edition of All-In at Wembley. This is another way Jericho believes the company can further honour Hart’s legacy while continuing to expand to a more global audience.

“All In is becoming the cornerstone of the year for us. The enormity of that show last year kind of gets forgotten. It's the biggest wrestling show ever as far as people buying tickets. And the fact that we're going back a year later, and we've already sold almost 50,000 tickets without one match mentioned, shows the global impact we have,” said Jericho.  

“The fact that the winner of the Owen Hart Foundation Cup gets a title shot for the AEW [Men's and Women's] Championship at Wembley Stadium shows there's the big stakes behind it as well. After the first [tournament] went as well as it did, we had talks with Dr. Martha Hart, and we all decided to put some higher stakes into the tournament, and this is a perfect way of doing it.”

Jericho’s long-time rival John Cena sent shockwaves through the wrestling community when he announced his impending retirement from WWE this past weekend. Despite his contemporaries hanging up their boots, the 34-year veteran said he has no plans to end his in-ring career any time soon.

“I don't think that way. I’m still contributing at a high level. I still have a lot of creative ideas. I'm still enjoying it. I can still go out and have a great match and I can still create great angles and connect with the fans,” said Jericho. 

“I don't know. It could be tomorrow; it could be a year from now. The one thing I don't want to do is a retirement tour or a retirement match. I just don't ever see the point in that.  It  all depends on where I’m at from a mental and creative standpoint and from a contributing standpoint. 

“When it's time, I'll know, and I'll stop.”