Jay Lethal has become synonymous with Ring of Honor over the last 15 years. The 33-year-old veteran first wrestled for ROH in 2003 under the name Hydro. Now, Lethal holds the ROH World Championship and will main event their biggest show of the year, Final Battle, this Friday against Cody Rhodes.
Speaking to Chris Walker of Sporting News, Lethal discussed starting with ROH in 2003 and how the company has changed over the years.
"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," said Lethal "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."
Lethal left ROH in 2006, signing a deal with TNA/IMPACT Wrestling. He remained in TNA until 2011, when he returned to ROH. He has been part of the ROH roster ever since, helping elevate the company to new heights over the past seven years.
"They’ve done so well to get eyes on the product in recent years and I think the way streaming is done now means it’s a lot easier to get people watching your stuff. One click of a button means you’re able to watch almost any wrestling company and it never used to be like that when Ring of Honor was first getting started," Lethal said. "For me, Ring of Honor has always been the home of the best in-ring wrestling in America for a number of years now, but it was restricted to how it was able to be viewed. Look at the guys who’ve dominated the main event scene in various wrestling companies in the last 10 years and look how many started off with Ring of Honor. We’ve always been the home of quality wrestling and now you’re seeing us hopefully make the move into arenas on a regular basis. We’ve got Madison Square Garden next year and that’s a big deal for a Jersey boy like me, but I think that will tell us a lot about where we are at this moment."
ROH Final Battle is scheduled for this Friday, Dec. 14. Fightful will provide live coverage of the event beginning at 8 p.m. ET. You can check out the full card here.