Former All Elite Wrestling world champion Chris Jericho’s week ahead of his dethroning could be best described as enlightening. Not because he had the wherewithal to bring in Meredith Bell for a bomb performance of his entrance theme at Saturday’s AEW Revolution event. No, Jericho’s true move of mastery was having AEW women’s world champion and LGBTQ advocate Nyla Rose on his “Talk Is Jericho” podcast.
The hour-plus long interview saw Rose regale Jericho with stories of her early days in the ring, making her name in Japan and her background in theatre. But the meat of the conversation was an in-depth discussion about Rose’s transgender identity that ultimately amounted to a foundational education on what it means to be trans.
The chat expectedly touched on current attitudes toward trans athletes as well.
“I think there’s a lot of misconceptions and a lot of people conflate their personal feelings with facts. Especially in pro wrestling,” Rose said. “Anytime I do anything, people have everything in the world to say about it, but they don’t keep that same energy for straight-up intergender matches… [people] are always like ‘beat her ass’ and I’m like, wait a minute. Y’all are protesting me, but here’s a man, born a man, wrestling as a man wrestling a woman and y’all are absolutely ok with that… it’s a strawman argument.”
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Informative and interesting chat w @allelitewrestling Women’s Champion @nylarosebeast on #TalkIsJericho now! #NylaRose explains how she was recruited into #AEW by @kennyomegamanx, training for wrestling as a man, her time as the legendary #RobotNinja, becoming big in Japan with #TofuWrestling, the near fatal bus crash she experienced, the meaning of #DILLIGAF, behind the scenes stories of her first match on @aewontnt, PLUS Nyla goes into great detail explaining her journey as a #Transgender female and explains in detail what exactly that transition entails, when she knew she was a woman as a teenager, her faith, how her friends and family reacted to her decision, how she deals with internet trolls, what makes her a true female from a biological standpoint, how she feels about being a role model for the #LGBTQ community & more on @Spotify, @itunes & @applepodcasts NOW! (This is one of my favourite episodes of #TIJ ever, as I learned a lot about things I had no idea about. Thanks for the education Nyla!) @westwoodone
Jericho’s genuine desire to learn and Rose’s patience and willingness to work through topics and terms that so many seem to write off with no attempt to understand turned the discussion into one of the better examples of how to talk about LGBTQ, specifically trans, issues with the unfamiliar.
“Part of the hope is that people will approach us with an open mind,” Rose said, adding, “You can explain and talk until you’re blue in the face, but if someone already has their mind made up, it’s pointless… just come with an open mind and let’s have a dialogue.”
Rose also made sure to stress how showing a concerted effort to learn about trans identities should supercede any verbal stumbles people might make while educating themselves. “We appreciate the effort. Be respectful. Don’t overthink it. We see the effort. Don’t make it a big deal if you say something. Just say ‘my bad’ and move on… respect and try,” said Rose.
Jericho’s curiosity was especially endearing as he has faced criticism for having controversial figures, such as Donald Trump, Jr., on his podcast. Interestingly enough, Jericho brought up his interview with the president’s son while speaking to Rose, but did so to point out that he edited Trump, Jr.’s derogatory comments about trans athletes out of the episode out of respect for his AEW counterpart.
“I don’t know the facts. I don’t know if [Trump, Jr.] knows the facts. And when I played it back, out of respect for you and knowing you, I said, ‘I’m just going to edit this out’ because I don’t know enough about it and I don’t know if he knows enough about it,” Jericho recalled.
Nyla Rose turned Chris Jericho into an outspoken trans ally in less than an hour wow her power pic.twitter.com/5vnTGXBIOW— DJ ACCIDENT REPORT (@eric_shorey) February 26, 2020
And it seems like the educational intent behind featuring Rose’s voice produced the desired effect. Jericho came to the defense of Rose on an Instagram post promoting the episode, jabbing at comments that purposefully misgendered Rose and telling those users to educate themselves in quintessential Jericho fashion. “Go study the transgender process and get back to me junior,” Jericho retorted.
The pod’s influence didn’t end there though. Twitter user @DocHollidayHair, who was in the crowd at Saturday’s AEW Revolution event, relayed a conversation he overheard during Rose’s title defense against Kris Statlander that offered hope. “This guy kept spouting low-key transphobic shit during one match. Luckily before I reached my breaking point his buddy said, ‘did you listen to Nyla Rose on Jericho’s podcast, you should educate yourself.’ Inclusivity is achievable!”
Yes, inclusivity is achievable. One Beast Bomb of knowledge at a time.