Going Ringside Ep. 22: The Chris Jericho title belt theft

Detailing the 2019 police investigation after the AEW title disappeared in Tallahassee

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was September 2019 and Jacksonville-based All Elite Wrestling (AEW) was just really starting as a promotion. They had held two pay-per-views and were only weeks away from debuting their new “Dynamite” program on TNT. Chris Jericho (real name Christopher Irvine), the company’s top star, had just become the company’s first champion the night before at their “All Out” Pay-per-view on Aug. 31 which was held in Chicago. Following the pay-per-view Jericho was flying back to Tampa from Chicago. Jericho lives in the greater Tampa area and AEW is based in Jacksonville. But his plane was diverted to Tallahassee. And as soon as he got off the plane is when this whole drama that reads almost like a wrestling angle, but was certainly real life began.

Within Jericho’s luggage was perhaps his most prized possession at the time. The AEW heavyweight title belt which he had just won in a grueling match with “Hangman” Adam Page. The police report from Tallahassee P.D. showed the belt was valued at $29,250. That value was determined when Jericho noticed the belt was missing and contacted AEW for a value of the item when police started investigating.

How the belt was lost is the confusing part and involves somewhat of a convoluted chain of events. There were five police reports provided to “Going Ringside” by Tallahassee Police. The first was the initial report filed after the belt disappeared. It reads “Irvine (Jericho) said he put his luggage and the belt in the back cargo area of the Chevrolet Suburban. He said he asked to take him and his party to Outback but the driver suggested they go to the incident location.”

That incident location was a Longhorn Steakhouse. On the way to Longhorn “they received a call saying they accidentally took someone else’s piece of luggage,” read the report. So Jericho and his party were dropped off while the driver of the Suburban left to return the belongings. Eventually the driver returned to the Longhorn to pick them up. At this point is when it was discovered the belt was missing. The report says the driver “went outside and came back in to tell him the belt was missing from the back area.”

At this point police were called and the driver was questioned. “I asked very general questions about timing and where he went,” wrote the police investigator. “Things were not making sense and I wanted to ask more specific questions.” So the report goes onto say the driver was Mirandized for further questioning. Eventually the Suburban driver was listed as a suspect in the case and Tallahassee P.D. listed the offense as “Grand 2nd Degree Theft $20k To Less Than $100k”.

Ever the showman, Jericho was not shy about letting the public know what had happened in the state Capitol. He posted this on Instagram at the time:

“Some lowlife scumbag committed grand larceny and robbed me of the AEW Championship,” said Jericho on Instagram. “I’m just imagining what I would do to that son of a b**** if he was here right now.”

In the ensuing days Tallahassee Police were thrown a curve ball when they started receiving reports that the belt had surfaced for sale on Facebook Marketplace locally in the Tallahassee area. The narrative of the ad posted online read: “Found this thing by the N. Monroe Nail salon. Weighs about 14lbs, really big on my waist. Smells like champagne and body oil. Thought about wearing it to work, but it would make coworkers jealous.” The “champagne” reference was a giveaway that the poster was a wrestling fan because they knew Jericho was in the midst of a gimmick where he was always drinking champagne or “a little bit of the bubbly” as he called it. So police contacted Facebook to stop the ad from being deleted and tracked down the poster. They went to his home and searched it to discover it was a hoax. He had just ready about the theft online and was making a joke. The police report on the incident wrote “he thought the incident was part of the storyline for AEW shows, and not legitimate.”

The next day the belt was actually found when it was turned into a police precinct. A man showed up with the belt. “He stated he was returning home from a scalloping trip at the coast on Sunday 9/1/19 evening,” read the report. That was the date the belt was lost. “Around 6:00 PM, he found the belt discarded in the turn lane of Hwy 20 at Blountstown Street.” Jericho, took to social media again following the belt being found and appeared to take credit for it being found.

Despite Jericho’s online self-congratulatory tweet, there was something odd about how the belt was actually recovered. It has to do with the timing of when the man turned in the belt to the police precinct. Coincidentally the owner of the limo service was actually sitting in the lobby of the precinct when this unfolded. Investigators took note of this in their report. But it appeared they arrived separately and didn’t know each other. The man who found the belt said he had originally posted it on Craigslist for sale but did not include pictures and had taken down the post. Then “his best friend sent him a message with news articles about the stolen belt,” read the report.

While it all seemed coincidental, police did note in their report that the man who turned the belt in “became very nervous and started fidgeting when asked about communicating with (the limo company owner) or the company, and repeatedly stated he needed to leave, before he abruptly walked off.”

Police continued looking for surveillance video but came up with few leads and no evidence exactly how the belt was lost. “At this time, it is unknown how the belt was removed from the vehicle and ended up in the area of Blountstown Hwy, where (the man who turned it in) locates it. At this time this case is being classified as open/inactive pending any further investigatory leads,” the final report concluded.

“Going Ringside” did reach out to the owner of the limo company and he said on the phone: “He walks in and showing to lady at the desk and I’m like ‘you’ve gotta’ be freakin kidding me!’”

He added, “Never could understand how it got out of the vehicle onto the street.”

“Going Ringside” also reached out to the man who found the belt but did not receive a call back.

We also reached out to AEW but they declined to comment on this case.

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.