The Inner Circle are a Professional Wrestling Power Stable currently appearing on All Elite Wrestling, comprised of Chris Jericho (leader), Jake Hager, Santana & Ortiz, MJF and Wardlow. Sammy Guevara was also one of the founding members of the group until his departure in early 2021.
Months after winning the AEW championship in the finale of the tournament against "Hangman" Adam Page, Chris Jericho gloated about his victory while asking for a 'Thank You'. He got his wish later on when Santana & Ortiz approached Jericho congratulating him fresh off of their own debut after the Young Bucks/Lucha Brothers match. This planted the seeds of the new faction when Santana/Ortiz teamed with Jericho against the Elite (Young Bucks & Kenny Omega) in the main event of the first AEW Dynamite episode. After that match took place, Guevara joined in the beat down alongside Jake Hager (who made his AEW debut) against the Elite. The following week, Jericho dubbed his faction the Inner Circle.
At AEW Full Gear 2020, MJF defeated Chris Jericho in a match, earning the right for himself and his bodyguard Wardlow to join the group.
These are the Inner Circle tropes baby!:
- Arch-Enemy: The Elite (Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Hangman Page, Young Bucks) as well as Dustin Rhodes by proxy and later Jon Moxley.
- Big Bad: First-ever AEW World Champion Chris Jericho is shaping up to be this with his vicious attack on Cody and Dustin Rhodes and the Young Bucks, alongside Sammy Guevara, Ortiz, Santana and a debuting Jake Hager.
- Butt-Monkey: All members of the Inner Circle can be counted on to sell all sorts of hilariously embarrassing injuries like a million bucks. Examples include Sammy Guevara getting hit by a golf cart twice, and Jericho getting dropped into a pool of mimosa.
- Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: They are characterized by their surprisingly close, almost family-like relationship despite being very ruthless.
- A Father to His Men: Jericho, surprisingly for such a deluded egotistical heel, is very proud of his boys, as well as quite protective of them.
- Foil: The Inner Circle evidently parallels The Elite. The Inner Circle are ruthless cheaters but very closely-knit while The Elite is a team of dashing aces of wrestling who keep bickering among themselves.
- Friendly Rivalry: Possibly uniquely for a heel stable, after MJF and Wardlow joined the group (following MJF defeating Jericho in a match) Jericho instituted a new system where the members of the Circle can civilly sort out any disagreements between each other in the ring, while keeping things friendly and professional to keep grudges from fracturing the group. Wardlow and Hager were the first to clash this way, with Wardlow winning, both remaining members of the Circle and the other members congratulating both men. They also agreed to a three-way tag team match between Jericho/MJF, Sammy/Hager and Santana/Ortiz to determine which pair would officially represent the Inner Circle in the tag division going forward.
- Mundane Made Awesome: During a picture-in-picture commercial break on an edition of Dynamite, Sammy Guevara carried out a large sign of texts so that way the viewers at home can interpret Chris Jericho's promo while the screen is mute for the duration of the break. This also mocked Darby Allin, whom Guevara was feuding with at the time.
- Poisonous Friend: Ever since MJF joined the Inner Circle the cracks have been forming. It's even implied that he's doing this on purpose.
- Power Stable:
- The Centerpiece: Chris Jericho
- The Heir Apparent: Originally Sammy Guevara; MJF would later usurp him in this position, driving Sammy to leave the group.
- The Enforcer: Santana & Ortiz
- The Muscle: Jake Hager
- The Psycho Rangers: Again to the Elite. To go into more detail:
- Jericho and Kenny Omega have both been seen as the best in the world at different points in time, both Canadian blondes with long title reigns under their belts. The difference is mostly in attitude, with Jericho seeing himself as the only reason to watch AEW, asking the audience to thank him for their enjoyment of the show, while Omega is comparatively humble and respectful of the fans. Jericho also presents himself as the coolest guy in the room while coming off more as an out-of-touch dad, while Omega is more willing to present his nerdier side.
- Sammy Guevara and Hangman Page are both (relatively) newer to the wrestling business than their fellow stablemates and are pushed as potentially the next big thing. The difference is mostly in the level of experience - Hangman's challenged for both the World Champion title (where Jericho defeated him) and the Tag Team one (where he, alongside Omega, won it by defeating SCU), while Guevara still has something to prove. Both are also the first to depart their factions, but while Page got kicked out of the Elite, Sammy simply left the Inner Circle of his own initiative.
- Santana and Ortiz and The Young Bucks are both well-established tag teams, spent time in TNA and are well known for doing ridiculous things in the ring. However, while the Young Bucks are charismatic, funny, well-adjusted brothers, the former LAX are just bat-shit crazy.
- Finally, Jake Hager and Cody Rhodes are both ex-WWE wrestlers who came off of ridiculous gimmicks (the 'We the people' thing and Stardust), but while Hager went to establish himself in the MMA world, Rhodes became an indie wrestling standout and founder of AEW.
- Rearrange the Song: When Jericho and MJF began teaming up, they used a mashup of "Judas" and "Better Than You" (MJF's theme) as their entrance music.
- Shout-Out: During the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, when wrestling activities were heavily restricted, the Inner Circle met up with each other on FaceTime in segments called "the Bubbly Bunch".
- Sixth Ranger: MJF became the first man to join the group since its foundation after beating Jericho in a match at Full Gear 2020, with his bodyguard Wardlow joining as well (the Seventh Ranger?).
- Too Dumb to Live: Averted, with Jericho stating on more than occasion that he watches the show, so hes aware when people are lying to him.
- True Companions: Surprisingly yes, at least so far. The Inner Circle have stuck by each other ever since the debut episode of Dynamite without any sign of turning on or falling out with each other, pretty much always have each other's backs, and generally seem to actually like each other. Jericho is a surprisingly Benevolent Boss who is genuinely proud of his guys when they win, never hesitates to put them over at every turn, doesn't punish or denigrate them when they lose, and gets angry when they're hurt (such as when Jon Moxley blinded Santana in one eye with a car key). After Sammy, Jake and Santana beat Cody, Hangman Page and Matt Jackson to determine which team would get the advantage in the upcoming 'Blood and Guts' match, Jericho cut a promo where he boasted that the Inner Circle had never argued or accidentally hit each other with misaimed attacks, as a validly-pointed contrast to the Elite who, aside from their tumultuous formative years at the head of Bullet Club, were yet again being shaken by infighting at the time (he also took a shot at Hangman for his drinking problem). While it'll undoubtedly be subverted at some point, the team is remarkably solid for a group made up of such egotistical jerks.
- On February 10, 2020 the fellowship finally broke with Sammy Guevara leaving thanks to MJF's antics.