Chris Jericho is set to wrestle for another professional wrestling company other than WWE for the first time since 1999, as he is scheduled to take on IWGP U.S. Champion Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). With this announcement, many fans have been wondering the status of Jericho’s relationship with WWE and whether or not he’s still under contract with them.
Per a report from Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Jericho is currently not under contract with WWE and has been a free agent since May when his deal expired. Jericho and Omega had been going at it on Twitter for the past several weeks with many believing the pair had legitimate heat with each other. When news broke that they would be facing off at Wrestle Kingdom 12, however, fans immediately knew it was a work.
Meltzer noted that Jericho’s last WWE deal expired at WrestleMania 33 in April, but he signed a one month extension that went through May in order for him to drop the United States Title to Kevin Owens on SmackDown Live. He then worked various house shows in Japan over the summer in addition to a surprise SmackDown Live appearance in July. Jericho was asked to step in for Bray Wyatt during the TLC incident that occurred in order to face Finn Balor, but he was unable to do so due to previous commitments.
People close to the situation expect Jericho to return to WWE in early 2018, most likely for RAW’s 25th Anniversary show in January. Meltzer noted that Jericho returning off a high-profile match in NJPW would be a big deal, similar to the reaction AJ Styles received after debuting in WWE from Japan. WWE reportedly has no issue with Jericho working with Omega in Japan.
It should be noted that Jericho is partnering up with Ring Of Honor for his cruise next year in October, as Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks have been confirmed to wrestle on the cruise. Jericho had originally approached WWE to be a part of the cruise with its NXT stars, however, the idea was shot down.