Ring of Honor is closing out 2017 in characteristically emphatic style. With its Survival of the Fittest tournament complete, the company has its ‘Final Battle’ on 15 December in New York before finishing with a TV taping in Philadelphia the following day. Of course, one of the RoH and indeed wrestling industry doyens is Jay Lethal. Having been tested by Punishment Martinez at Survival of the Fittest, he’ll be looking to dominate current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Marty Scurll at Final Battle. We had the opportunity to discuss Lethal’s career with him including his views on Scurll’s Bullet Club. Read on before final battle commences.
You’ve said you want to make Ring of Honor greater, every day. Are you happy with where Ring of Honor is as we close 2017, compared to where it was?
I’m extremely happy with the progress but that in no way means we’re ready to slow down or stop. One of the coolest parts to me, that proves we’re doing something right, is when other wrestlers want to come here. It’s one thing to have the fans want to show up because our product is cool and interesting. It’s another to have wrestlers from other companies want to come here. That’s when you know you’re doing something on both sides of the curtain very well. Guys like Cody Rhodes, and Bully Ray, right here? We’re definitely doing something right. That’s pretty cool to me.
You’ve been in the UK many times and came back with Ring of Honor. What are you thoughts on the UK scene?
The UK scene is booming now. All the years I’ve been coming, I think I’ve seen some of the best wrestlers in the world and the scene has always been amazing. I think the boom is that WWE decided to have that tournament, and everybody started watching and thinking it was new and fresh. But it was the same thing I’d been seeing for years! So sometimes I get a little bit upset, it’s a little frustrating.
Talking of upset, some cried when you lost your iconic locks in a hair match. Was that kayfabe, or a real-life necessity…?
I’ll tell you the truth! First of all, I was getting tired of the braids. I’d had them for over 13 years and also, braids, they pull your hair out. So I was starting to thin on the top and it got a little embarrassing, especially if I didn’t have my hair re-braided, then you could really tell. So one day I went to the barber, and said it was time to get rid of it. He was saying “noooo” and I said “yep, time to get rid of it”. Before he started cutting it, I said “hold on! Wait a minute! I’ve got a great idea!”. Then we came up with the idea to have my hair get shaved by Adam Cole on Ring of Honor TV, which came out awesome. I saw little kids and women in the audience crying, and holding their hands over their mouth because they couldn’t believe it.
You were shorn at the hands of the Bullet Club, which you were feuding with at the time. There are always Club twists and turns, might we see you join it?
What me? In the Bullet Club? I don’t think so, I don’t think so. No, no, those guys are too cool for me….
Looking at something you did in another company with our friend SoCal Val, did you enjoy the romance angle with her?
I did! I did – and here’s why. I don’t know if many people know it but Sonjay Dutt is my best friend. So any time I get to work with my best friend, it’s a night off for me! So not only was Sonjay my best friend, we did create this very cool relationship with SoCal Val and we’re all very good friends now. So it was just three people who were friends in real life, getting to work together on TV. It was one of my favourite times.
In Ring of Honor you’ve basically done it all – championships galore. What is there left for you to achieve?
There’s two things I haven’t done in Ring of Honor, that I would like to. The tag-team titles and the newly made six-man belts. If I could capture those belts that would mean I’ve had every title her in Ring of Honor ever, even the Pure Championship, because I was Pure Champion for a little while too.
Who would be your chosen tag-partner?
Who would I tag with? Oddly enough, I’ve feuded this year and gone back and forth with Silas Young, he would make a great partner. I think Silas Young is one of the greatest wrestlers ever, he just doesn’t get what I would call a ‘press’ or recognition for what he does. Because what he does, he does very well. Maybe I could make a few phone calls and get Lethal Consequences back together to do something in the ring and get the tag championships!
What’s the weirdest fan interaction you’ve had?
I remember somebody wanted me to sign something but didn’t have anything for me to sign, so they took their shoe off, and had me sign their shoe! The weirdest fan interaction is the fact that people come up to me and they like me! It’s a little weird to me. It makes me smile deep down inside. If anybody, anywhere just wants to say hello to me, they don’t necessarily want an autograph or need to want to buy an picture. Just the fact that they want to come up to me to say hello, I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.
Not just a great talent but a truly great guy, Jay Lethal is a pleasure to spend time with. We’re not sure Marty Scurll will be feeling the same once Lethal is done with him though!