Jay Lethal has shared his thoughts on why ROH is going on hiatus.
On October 27, 2021, ROH announced that they will no longer be running live events, with the exception of Final Battle on December 11, until April with Super Card of Honor. Not only is ROH on a live event hiatus, talent contracts will not be renewed if they are expiring at the end of the year but those still under contract will be paid through March 31, 2022.
Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp reported "Joe Koff told talent he had multiple meetings trying to fight for ROH, but ultimately Sinclair made the call. Talent was told there was some type of TV show that will be in place after Final Battle but weren't told what that would be."
During a recent appearance on Talk Is Jericho, Jay Lethal, who had been with ROH for the past decade, shared details about the Zoom call where everyone learned of the news and detailed how exactly he landed in AEW at Full Gear 2021.
"As soon as they dropped that bomb on us, we're in the Zoom call, and they drop this bomb on us. A whole roster Zoom call. 50 people. One telltale sign that something bad was happening was normally these Zoom calls just involve the people who are about to do our TV tapings. This Zoom call had literally everybody, even the people that were overseas that couldn't make the show. I was like, 'Oh boy.' Literally, while the Zoom meeting is going on in the middle of this big announcement I'm already thinking, 'Oh man, what's the next step for me?' So after the Zoom call meeting, about a day or two go by, I decide, you know what, I think I know what I want to do. I'm going to try to go to AEW. I asked for my release because, of course, nobody will talk to you, because that's the thing too, we were still all under contract. I even flew myself out to Baltimore. I didn't call them, I didn't send a message. I flew myself to Baltimore so I could meet with Joe Koff, and the other guy's name was Greg because they've been so good to me. They've treated me amazing. It was very sad to have to do that. So I flew out there, asked for my release, told them how much of a pleasure it was to work with them and as fast as they could they got me -- It took a day or so because legal, I'm sure they were going crazy with all their problems. It took a day or so to get it finalized and then I could finally have my talks. I didn't even talk to Tony Khan. I talked to everybody except for him. The first time I actually met Tony Khan was at Full Gear. That's how I came to being in AEW," Lethal said.
He continued on, saying that the announcement came completely out of the blue and caught him off guard.
"Completely out of the blue, and not to give too much -- I'm not sure who I'll piss off by saying too much of this, but we had gotten an email announcing that we were going to be having this Zoom meeting and the email sounded promising, like, 'Hey, we got a taping that's coming up, we're going to discuss 2022, the early parts of it.' So all of us were like, 'Alright, that's exactly what we wanted to hear.' So going into the meeting I, and I can't speak for everybody, but I was definitely caught off guard," Lethal told Jericho.
As for why he believes the promotion is going on hiatus, Lethal offered the following response, pointing out how much the company spent during the pandemic to ensure everyone was safe. Here are his full remarks:
"There's two reasons, I think. The main one is, during the pandemic they tried so hard to take care of everybody, which a lot of companies were doing. A lot of companies were taking care of their people, not releasing too many people, still paying everyone, which they did. But I think they tried to go above and beyond and had us all sitting home protected while still paying everybody. So there's no shows, no money coming in for almost the whole year. They did do a good job in trying to protect us and keep everybody safe even though everyone on the roster was willing to go and have those shows. We were all willing to travel, but they wanted us to stay home and keep safe. I think that really put us in the red. The shows that we did have, I don't know for sure, but the amount of money that I heard they spent on testing and everybody having their own room and this doctor and that doctor and all the hoops they had to go through, I heard was unreal the figures. So I think that was the biggest thing that led us to this."
Once the company did return to filming television, it continued to be in an empty arena, which had Lethal questioning where or how ROH was making any money.
"Yes, and they were still protecting us by having these shows be empty shows. So again, there's no revenue. In my head, I can't think of what money was coming in," he said.
Fightful will have live coverage and a post-show for ROH Final Battle this evening. Jay Lethal is set to face Jonathan Gresham in the main event after Bandido was forced to withdraw following a positive COVID test.
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