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Chris Jericho no longer under New Japan contract, open to return

Chris Jericho is no longer under a New Japan Pro Wrestling contract, according to Dave Meltzer in this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

The current AEW star's deal actually expired following his clash with Hiroshi Tanahashi at the second night of Wrestle Kingdom 14 in January 2020. 

"Harold Meij (then-New Japan president) was negative on (the contract) due to the high cost, but others in the company had a different opinion. Even after the pandemic, New Japan is going to have to get its finances back on track to where they can afford that level of a deal," Meltzer wrote.

Jericho's Wrestle Kingdom 12 match with then-IWGP Champion Kenny Omega was cited as the genesis for the idea that would come to be AEW.

Following that match, Jericho returned in 2018 and defeated Tetsuya Naito for the Intercontinental title, successfully defended it against EVIL, and then lost it back to Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 19.

Later in 2019, he lost to then-IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada at Dominion before the aforementioned final contracted match against Tanahashi.

Jericho has shown interest in working with New Japan once more, citing Jay White, Minoru Suzuki, Kota Ibushi and Will Ospreay as opponents he would like to work with. He also mentioned doing a tag team with Omega against Okada/Ibushi, Tanahashi/Okada or Tanahashi/Ibushi combo for a future Wrestle Kingdom match.