Jonathan Gresham is considered by many to be one of the best professional wrestlers in the world, but the Ring of Honor star wants to use that platform to spotlight other great talents.
Speaking with Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp, the ROH Pure Champion reflected upon the significance of his name being mentioned when discussing the best wrestlers in the world. He also took the opportunity to highlight performers such as Lee Moriarty, Fred Yehi, and Jay Lethal as others that he thinks should be a part of that conversation.
"For a while, I really felt weird about it because I don’t feel like I’m on that level," Gresham began by saying. "I believe, of course, everyone wants to be the best at their craft, but the more and more I thought about it, to be honest, I’m more so happier about that people are looking at that someone that looks like me as someone that can be best in the world. ‘Cause for years black people, people that look like me, have not been considered or in the conversations of being the best in the world. So, when I look at who the best in the world is right now, I look at guys like Lee Moriarty, Freddie Yehi, Jay Lethal. It’s great to hear my name come up so often, but also I want to put out that there’s so many other great wrestlers out there that should also be getting attention as well. So, I’m just happy that people of color are actually getting looked at in a different way now."
As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. This is not lost on Gresham, though, as he shared how an interaction at GCW's Homecoming event helped him contextualize his status and ability to influence the lives of others. Here is what he had to say:
"It’s so funny. Recently—and this is not me being braggadocios—it was actually a story that touched me in a way that made me re-evaluate what I need to be doing going forward. I wrestled Starboard Charlie at the GCW Homecoming show. Unbeknownst to me, his mom was there. After the match, I went to go sell merch and I’m hanging out, and she just comes up to me to have some conversations and something that she said, I don’t think garnered the reaction that she thought. She told me that Starboy, in so many words—she literally said, ‘Idolized’—but, looked up to me.
I’m like, ‘Okay.’ I had to step outside of myself for a second and go, ‘Okay, with people looking at me like that, I now have a responsibility, even if they’re not asking for me to be responsible for my actions or what I’m doing going forward. I have to be better than I have been.’ Now I’m just taking it a little more serious because people would tell me and I just thought maybe they were fluffing me or whatever, but now I’m starting to understand that me being inspired by the people that came before me is now passing through me going to other people. So, the things that I’ve learned and studied from others, I think they’re seeing that collection of knowledge I’ve adopted from others."
Inspiration comes in many forms, and for Gresham, the first person to attract him to pro wrestling was none other than Bam Bam Bigelow.
"The first person I saw, and I’d liked wrestling for a long time before I actually settled on one person. It was really weird because of the way I wrestle now, but the person that attracted me to pro wrestling and when I saw them I said, ‘Okay, I’m gonna be a pro wrestler,’ I didn’t know how or when it was gonna start, but it was Bam Bam Bigelow. I’m not really sure why. Everybody’s always shocked by that, but yeah, it was Bam Bam Bigelow," Gresham shared.
Gresham is scheduled to compete on both nights one and two of Ring of Honor's Glory by Honor. On Friday, August 20th he will defend his Pure Championship against Rhett Titus. The very next night he will team up with his fellow Foundation members (Jay Lethal, Tracy Williams, & Rhett Titus) to take on Violence Unlimited (Brody King, Tony Deppen, Chris Dickinson, & Homicide).