Jay Lethal Discusses His Final Battle Match With Cody, How ROH Has Changed & More

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Photo Credit: RING OF HONOR / PamElla Lee Photography

 

Jay Lethal is known as the Franchise of Ring of Honor and he is headlining ROH Final Battle against Cody Rhodes. Jay spoke to Sporting News about the match, and the changes ROH has gone through since he first debuted in 2003. Below are some highlights:

Jay Lethal On Training To Be A Wrestler:

There’s one match that made me want to become a professional wrestler when I was still a boy and I bet nobody could guess what it is. It was Bret Hart against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania VIII. The emotion and storytelling in the buildup and the match was some of the most believable wrestling I’ve ever seen. There was the interview segment where they’re talking like old friends before Piper ends up going off on one and then there’s the match itself. Piper goes to the outside and grabs the bell and he takes forever as he debates with himself whether he should hit Bret with it. Bobby Heenan is on commentary screaming “take his head off with it” and Piper has got this big decision to make. That few minutes in the match convinced me there and then that I wanted to be a professional wrestler because I wanted to be able to be involved in stuff like that.

Right, this was about the time that “Tough Enough” was doing OK for the WWE and the Jersey All Pro Wrestling school were running their own competition and the winner would get trained for free. They announced three winners and I wasn’t one of them, but because I was so young — I was 16 at the time — they were impressed by how hard I had worked and how enthusiastic I was, so they announced a fourth winner and that was me. It meant a lot to get the training for free, but it didn’t really make a difference as I was going to find a way to pay for it anyway.

Jay Lethal On His Run In IMPACT Wrestling:

I’ve really only got good memories of TNA because it allowed me to take risks with my character and take it to places I never imagined. I got the chance to work with Kurt Angle and we tore the house down when we worked together. Do you know how grateful I am for an opportunity like that? On Hogan arriving, I ain’t going to lie or let the opinions of others change my mind, but I absolutely loved having him, Eric and Ric Flair in TNA. That was at the height of my Black Machismo days so the moment they saw me doing my thing they were all interested in working with me and doing stuff together because of their history with Macho Man. Hogan and Ric were had famous rivalries with Macho Man and when they saw me doing my impressions, they had so many ideas for different skits and angles. Talking to you now and recalling those days, I realize just how fortunate I am to have been working alongside these massive names that I spent my whole childhood looking up to.

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Jay Lethal On How ROH Has Changed:

On a personal level, the biggest thing I can remember from back then is that I didn’t belong there. It’s like someone just going into an office and trying to do the job of someone far more qualified and expecting to get good results for the company, but I had to stick around there so I could digest from the guys around me. Honestly, it felt like I had literally fallen through a crack in the floor and ended up in a wrestling company that had the best wrestlers in the world. I walked in there not knowing a lot and then I’m surrounded by guys like Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and Low Ki. I literally had no right to be in the ring with any of those guys. It gave me a solid foundation to become the wrestler I am today. Ring of Honor taught me so much about the wrestling business, and then I had to go to TNA to learn about wrestling on TV, in front of cameras, on PPV, and that was another part of my life that went a long way to shaping my character. Today I feel like I could offer an awful lot to any wrestling company, but there’s no way I felt like that back then.

Jay Lethal On ROH Final Battle:

First off it’ll be good to back in NYC as it means my friends can come over from Jersey and watch me do my thing. Onto the match, well, what you’re going to get is two guys who take their job so serious and give 100 percent every single time they step in the ring and [this weekend] will be no different. When I wrestle, my main priority is to make sure that I give the fans value for money and that they leave the venue and go home with some amazing memories from watching Jay Lethal. Cody is exactly the same and if he’s going into next week’s match the way I am then I’m certain that we can deliver something special and everyone will go home more than happy after watching us go all out for my Ring of Honor title.

To read the full interview, click HERE.