So much of the daily news cycle is devoted to ill tidings of environmental upheaval, social discord, interpersonal strife between millionaires, and other dour topics that it can often feel like a gift when a single story unites people from all walks of life. Not just any old story can accomplish this. Sometimes, it takes a miracle on the level of a professional wrestler having his championship belt stolen from him while unwinding at a chain restaurant near a Florida airport.
On Tuesday afternoon, screenshots of a Tallahassee, Florida police report began to circulate about an incident of grand theft over the holiday weekend. The stolen item in question was the championship belt for the soon-to-be-televised promotion All Elite Wrestling (AEW), and the victim in question was AEW’s newly minted inaugural champion, Chris Jericho. The police report, per Fightful:
(Case No.) / Grand Theft/ 2400 N. Monroe Street / 7:13 PM
“The victim reported the theft of his championship wrestling belt while he was eating inside Longhorn Steakhouse. The victim stated he arrived at the Millionaire Club Airport Terminal and placed the belt inside his rented limousine. The limo driver shuttled the victim to Longhorn for dinner. The victim remained at Longhorn while the limo driver returned to the airport. The victim had taken the wrong luggage from the airport and the driver took it back to the terminal. When the driver picked up the victim from the restaurant, the belt was missing. Responding officers searched the limo and airport for the belt without success. On-call CID was consulted, and forensics responded to the scene.
Victim: Christopher “Jericho” Irvine, W/M, 11/9/70"
The theft has resonated with the public for several reasons:
- At 49, Jericho has done just about everything a professional wrestler can do in their lifetime, moving between so many different companies and eras of wrestling that he’s kind of the Forrest Gump of the form. He’s wrestled all over the world, working with just about every top industry name you can think of, and has largely made his hay in acting like a total goof while also being one of the best to ever set foot in a ring.
- AEW had its first championship belt stolen the day after it was assigned to a talent for the first time.
- This is precisely the kind of incident that sounds like an elaborate work (industry parlance for a storyline) until a police department comes forward to acknowledge that no, somehow it is not.
- In the last day or so, many have learned for the first time that wrestlers are traditionally charged with carrying their own championship belts around from city to city, off-camera.
- From the location to the circumstances to the nature of the stolen object in question, there may not be a more quintessentially “wrestling” news story out there.
Jericho, for his part, responded the way any industry veteran would: by maintaining character and doing his best to turn the whole episode into a canonical part of his gimmick as quickly as possible.
In true keeping with the medium of wrestling, as of this article’s publication, the status of the belt is surrounded by speculation. Jeff Burlew, a Tallahassee reporter, noted on Twitter this morning that local police published and then quickly deleted a photo of the recovered belt, before insisting that the investigation is still active:
It’s all madness. But at least Arby’s is on top of things: