Chris Jericho: What's next for the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion?

(Photo credit: Miguel Discart)

Chris Jericho has long been considered one of the greatest talents in wrestling ever. From his unquestionable skill on the mic, to his ability to constantly reinvent himself and his impressive in-ring skills, he is the total package, and he has been doing it for some 26 years now.

2018 has seen yet another new version of Chris Jericho, except this time outside of WWE. With his Wrestle Kingdom 12 match against Kenny Omega and his recent Dominion bout with Tetsuya Naito, Jericho has unleashed a vicious, brutal new persona on the world.

The Alpha Chris Jericho has bloodied his opponents in both matches and ferocious attacks during the build. He has turned into a supreme brawler, and taken his stock in the wrestling world even further with his two NJPW matches. His win on Saturday surprised plenty of people, myself included. As the new IWGP Intercontinental champion, Jericho's future in wrestling is somehow even more uncertain than it was before. So, what is next for the scarf-wearing genius?

Worldwide defenses

Chris Jericho is highly unlikely to be back in WWE any time soon since he is holding a title with their biggest rival, but that doesn't mean he couldn't appear elsewhere. NJPW have working relationships with the likes of CMLL in Mexico, Ring of Honor in America, and Revolution Pro Wrestling in England.

While that may be more fantasy booking from myself than anything else, the Intercontinental championship has been defended, and lost, overseas before. Shinsuke Nakamura lost the title to La Sombra at a CMLL show in 2013, and there is nothing to say that Chris Jericho couldn't defend it against Zack Sabre Jr in London or Dalton Castle in Chicago in the coming months.

One thing is almost certain though, which is that Jericho won't be in the G1 Climax. New Japan's heavyweight tournament usually includes the IC champion, but with Jericho's role in NJPW being more like Brock Lesnar in WWE, I doubt he will be able to perform at such a high level for nine matches across a four-week period.

Missing that tournament means the usual string of title defenses before Wrestle Kingdom 13 against anyone who defeated the champion during the G1 is not possible. So if he really means what he says about taking the title seriously he does need to defend it, and relatively soon.

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