In the coming weeks, AEW fans are set to see the “Labours of Jericho”. A series of matches in which Chris Jericho will be forced to compete, in order to get his match against his bitter rival MJF. Each match will have a mystery opponent and stipulation, both chosen by MJF. Tailor made challenges to deal maximum physical, as well as psychological damage to the aging Jericho. And as fans eagerly await each match to get announced, I believe enough seeds have been planted that we may know exactly who Le Champion will have to face.
1. (Worst Case Scenario) Oops, All Pinnacle
To start, let’s cover the worst case scenario. As of my typing, the first labour of Jericho has been set. Chris Jericho vs Shawn Spears in a match where ONLY Shawn Spears can use a chair. I think this is the perfect match to start the labours. It may not be the most exciting match, but it does it’s job. For one, it shows that these stipulations can be wildly one sided. And for two, it sets the bar low, making future surprises all the more impactful. But it also sets up the worst case scenario.
The worst thing AEW could do is make each labour a member of the Pinnacle. Fans started to tire of the Inner Circle/Pinnacle feud after the two group’s second meeting in Stadium Stampede II, and having the labours be more of the same is not only uninspired, but they also risk pushing fans away from the angle entirely.
2. Wardlow/The Pinnacle’s Cerberus
I think it’s likely one of Jericho’s labours will be Wardlow. Since his debut, he’s been MJF’s personal attack dog. Wardlow faced Cody Rhodes in a cage match before the pandemic, in a storyline very similar to the tasks Jericho faces today. I think a Jericho vs Wardlow match, maybe in some form of cage, is a no-brainer. But there may be a devious twist.
It was made clear during the MJF/Jericho contract signing that the labours of Jericho were inspired by the Labours of Hercules. The last of which pits Hercules against the tri-headed dog known as Cerberus. It’s possible MJF could be planning to have Jericho face his own version of Cerberus in the form of Wardlow and FTR. If you can’t have all the labours be one member of the Pinnacle, why not have one labour be all the members of the Pinnacle?
Seeing Jericho go over a promising up-and-comer as well as one of the best tag teams in the modern era might not sit well with some fans. But I think with enough help from Proud & Powerful and the rest of the Inner Circle, they can get away with it.
3. Sammy Guevara
When coming up with ideas for this article, this was the direction I was least enthusiastic about. The concept of forcing somebody to honestly fight their friend is a hard concept to get right. But if they do it right, it has the possibility to invoke a powerful emotional response from the fans.
These tests are about pushing the limits of what Jericho is willing to do to get his hands on MJF. Both physically and emotionally. Being AEW’s resident snake, I could see MJF cooking up a match between Jericho and Guevara, where if Guevara lets Jericho win, he’s fired. Forcing Jericho and Guevara to go all out on each other is the perfect labour to put over the emotional toll these tests are taking on him.
How great would it be if AEW decided to pay off a throw away line from the start of the storyline a little less than 2 years ago? In the segment that started this whole storyline, Jericho gave a list of the similarities between himself and MJF, capping it off with “It’s almost like your parents got horny when they were watching me beat up Juventud Guerrara, 25 years ago on WCW Saturday Night.” To which MJF responded with “Who the hell is Juvi?” Having the labours be a mystery opens the doors for huge surprises in the coming weeks. And what a surprise it would be if MJF conscripts Juventud Guerrera to take on Jericho.
Two WCW cruiserweights having a match 25 years later may not be the most enticing prospect, but the nostalgia alone would build intrigue. And I have no doubt that Chris and Juvi could still put on a classic match. Either way, Juventud Guerrera would be the perfect call back to pop older fans and long-time viewers of Dynamite alike.
5. Jeff Cobb
Hercules wasn’t the only legendary hero referenced when Jericho and MJF signed the contract setting these labours in motion. MJF made a point to reference the matches Jericho forced Jon Moxley to go through on his path to the AEW World Championship. Jericho had Moxley face off against various members of the Inner Circle, but he also brought in New Japan’s Jeff Cobb for a one time appearance.
It was speculated at the time whether Jeff Cobb was an honorary member of the Inner Circle, but the alliance was only temporary. This tells me that Jeff Cobb is like a mercenary in the universe of AEW. And mercenaries are something MJF is very familiar with. Bringing Cobb would not only be a fitting labour for Chris Jericho, but also a huge pop for fans of New Japan, or even just people who remember his previous involvement in AEW.
Editor’s Note: The day before posting this, AEW just announced that the second labour will be a No DQ match against Nick F’N Gage. Proving that literally anything can happen in the coming weeks. That being said, I still believe we have a chance to see one or multiple of the options I’ve laid out in this article, come to life in an AEW ring.