Leave it to Chris Jericho to make himself the biggest story in professional wrestling by virtue of partying too hard. The 48-year-old legend won the inaugural All Elite Wrestling world heavyweight championship at the company’s All Out pay-per-view on Saturday, defeating Hangman Adam Page in a solid-if-unspectacular main event. Much better than the match was Jericho’s post-show rant, which quickly went from a traditional heel wrestler brag to heartfelt complaints about supermarket salami to...well, a meme in the making.
While “a little bit of the bubbly” made such a splash that Jericho and AEW immediately put out shirts with the phrase on it, the instant-classic promo is only where the story of Jericho’s week begins. News emerged later in the week that the new champion had already lost the title belt, possibly while drunk and definitely at a Longhorn Steakhouse in Tallahasee, Florida. If that’s not some strong Divorced Dad Energy, I don’t know what it is. Jeremy Renner, take notes.
In reality, Jericho didn’t so much lose as the belt as have it stolen, as confirmed by a police report filed with the Tallahassee police department on Sunday night. Jericho, in his typical late-period heel persona, shot a promo on the unknown thief from a hot tub, as one does.
The story only got weirder and more pro wrestling-y on Wednesday, when Tallahassee PD posted a photo of the belt on Facebook, saying that it was found. That post was quickly shared by the AEW Twitter account, seemingly closing the case—only for reporter Jeffrey Burlew to note that the post was deleted from the police department’s Facebook; AEW’s tweet was subsequently also deleted. Burlew also said that, upon calling Tallahassee PD, he was told that the search for the belt was still “open and active.”
All’s well that ends well, though—the belt in police possession was confirmed to be the official AEW belt, although there are no suspects for the actual theft. When the title was returned to Jericho, he once again cut a promo on social media, because this is what pro wrestling is now, particularly at a company that doesn’t have a weekly television show just yet.
It’s saying something that the Jericho Belt-And-Bubbly Saga managed to stand out as the biggest story in what has been an unusually hectic week in the world of professional wrestling. Saturday featured three megawatt shows, with All Out closing out an evening that also included two other big bills from the United Kingdom. First, New Japan Pro Wrestling put on Royal Quest from London, in an event that was well-received, beyond the new NEVER Openweight Champion fighting while very clearly suffering the effects of a concussion. That was followed up by NXT UK’s TakeOver: Cardiff, which was a tighter show than anything else on Saturday, and culminated with the best match of the day between the reigning NXT UK champion WALTER and the big strong boy Tyler Bate.
WWE’s main roster show even featured a legitimate shock on Monday night, when long-time fan favorite Bayley turned evil by attacking Becky Lynch to close Raw.
It was a risky move to flip the alignment of a performer who has been a babyface for pretty much the entirety of her WWE career, but with AEW’s weekly show debuting next month, the Connecticut wrestling colossus was likely just looking to shake things up. It’s already moved NXT to a live show on Wednesdays after half a decade of taping the developmental show and ironing out kinks in editing.
If the stranglehold Jericho and his bubbly and his stolen belt have had over wrestling discourse for the better part of a week is any indication, WWE will need all the help it can get. Bayley’s heel turn and NXT’s new direction point to a new era of professional wrestling, or at least one in which WWE will have to compete with a promotion that’s scrappier, goofier, and maybe a bit savvier. WWE still has the edge in star power, but you never know when the bubbly will pop.