The reverberations are still being felt from Chris Jericho's shocking vignette in November that revealed he'd be taking on Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Heavyweight championship at Wrestle Kingdom 12, and his subsequent sneak attack in December. Jericho kept the negotiations close to the vest, with practically no fans, or even wrestlers, imagining a match of this magnitude was even possible. But the wait is nearly over -- on Thursday, we get Alpha vs. Omega.
The battle of the Winnipeg, Manitoba, natives might not be the standalone main event of Wrestle Kingdom 12 on Wednesday, but wrestlers from across the industry are looking forward to what the marquee matchup will bring.
We start with Cody, Kenny Omega's Bullet Club compatriot and co-star of the weekly web series "Being the Elite". Cody played a pivotal role in the Omega vs. Okada trilogy in 2016, having nearly thrown in the towel during that match. He crossed paths with Jericho on several occasions while both men were in WWE. Cody takes on Omega's former rival and tag team partner, Kota Ibushi, at Wrestle Kingdom 12.
"I think everybody will be on their A-game because this is one of those cards that you'll look at 5-10 years from now and say, 'How did they get all of these guys on this show? How did this happen? And it didn't happen in a WWE ring, it happened in New Japan Pro Wrestling in the Tokyo Dome,'" Cody said. "I don't think fans expected the Alpha-Omega thing to even exist with Jericho and Kenny, and then when they found out it did and they're gonna have this match, it's just a wonderful moment for wrestling.
"It's not above me to tell Chris, 'Thank you very much for the house.' They've doubled ticket sales from last year. Kenny vs. Jericho is such a special, must-see attraction. It's just a freaking whirlwind card. It's one of those ones you're gonna look back at GIFs of and photos of 10 years from now and be blown away that we even got all those guys on one show. The locker room is gonna be combustible. That's way too many egos, way too many. I hope Jericho has his own locker room."
The paths of Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho crossed many times over the last 20 years. They first met in the ring in WCW in battles for the cruiserweight championship, and numerous other times over the years, but the rivalry that stands out above all the rest was their heated months-long war in 2009 over the WWE Intercontinental championship.
"At first I was like, because the question was, 'Wow, I can't believe he's still in WWE and they let him go do a show for New Japan.' If you really think about it, what has Chris Jericho not done? He's done it all and more. He deserves that opportunity more than anyone. Right when I saw that match lined up, I know it's gonna be a great match. I have very high expectations for that match because I know Chris Jericho is gonna go out there and pour his heart out as well is Kenny.
"I'm very intrigued to see the outcome of the match. I think that's what has everybody on the edge of their stool, to see what the outcome of that match is. I don't think there's a doubt in anybody's mind that they're gonna go out there and tear the house down. What better place than the Tokyo Dome. That's one place that I haven't stepped foot into yet and I'm hoping that one day that'll happen... If that ever happens in the next couple years, God's looking out for me and saying, 'OK, here's one of your final wishes on your bucket list. Let's make this happen'".
Bully Ray (aka Bubba Ray Dudley)
Bubba Ray Dudley's career in the WWE overlapped Jericho's for a number of years, and both men are surefire future WWE Hall of Famers. They went to war numerous times over the tag team titles, and he knew the moment he heard about the match that Jericho was locked in to the bigger picture.
"Jericho announcing his match at Wrestle Kingdom against Omega, no shock to me. Chris Jericho is very, very smart. Knows how to constantly reinvent himself. Keep himself in the spotlight and he knows how to set up his chessboard. Pro wrestling is a chess game. You never think about your next move, you think ten moves ahead. I know this has been going on in Jericho's head for a long time. I think it's great for wrestling. I think Jericho vs. Omega is a bigger match than any WrestleMania match that will happen, because it's bigger and better for the wrestling industry.
"It's going to bring more eyes. It's different. It's unique. It's special. I'm not saying that Wrestle Kingdom is bigger than WrestleMania or it's gonna do more money than WrestleMania or a bigger buyrate than WrestleMania, I'm saying this one particular match probably has more people talking and will have more people talking than any match that goes on at WrestleMania in 2018."
Omega's Bullet Club compatriot, "Hangman" Adam Page, was just as shocked as anyone else when Alpha vs. Omega came together.
"It was cool [when the match was announced]. I had no idea. It's perfect. You needed something for Wrestle Kingdom and it was the perfect something for them. I had no idea. I don't think anybody knew. I didn't know. I don't think the Bucks knew."
Jay Lethal's battles with Omega date all the way back to 2007, when Lethal and Omega battled it out for New Jersey independent standout Jersey All Pro Wrestling four times over the course of four years. More recently Omega and Lethal faced off in the semifinals of the IWGP United States heavyweight championship tournament -- an event Omega ultimately won. Lethal couldn't help but feel a little bit of professional jealousy over Omega getting a shot at Jericho.
"The card is stacked and I'm wishing I was on it. Luckily I got to be on it at one point in time (Wrestle Kingdom 10). Hopefully I get to at some point in the future. Nothing I did or didn't do, but really kicking myself because I'm not on it. I'd love to be on it.
In a few interviews people have asked me, 'if you could have a wrestling match or feud with anybody currently who would it be?' and I was asked that question maybe 15 times in total and every time my answer was Chris Jericho. And then to see him doing that and Wrestle Kingdom with Kenny Omega, I'm like, 'wow, maybe I'll get to [wrestle Jericho]. Who knows what will happen after this? Maybe I'll get to have that match with him. You never know.'"