The week of ROH Final Battle was a whirlwind for Jonathan Gresham as he was originally scheduled to challenge Bandido for the ROH World Title.
Days before the event it was announced that Bandido was off the card after testing positive for COVID.
Speaking to Chris Jericho on Talk Is Jericho, Gresham reflected on the days leading up to Final Battle and learning of Bandido testing positive for COVID.
"I really didn't know it was happening until closer, to where they said they were going with me going forward. Just preparing, talking to Bandido on and off, keeping in touch. Maybe a day or two before, I get a message from Bandido saying, 'I'm sorry, amigo.' I'm like, 'what happened?' I contacted him, he didn't hit me back. I contacted my buddy Dragon Lee and I'm like, 'What's going on with Bandido? He hit me up and said Sorry, amigo' and [Dragon Lee] tells me [Bandido] got COVID. By this time, it's the day before I fly out. I contact Hunter (Johnson) and he already knew. Now, there is the race to find out what's going to happen with the main event of Final Battle. At that point, I was kind of relieved, I had never been in that position before of being in the main event of a really big match that people were looking forward to. I've had smaller ones, but nothing that big. I was relieved like, "Great, I don't have to do that match,'" said Gresham.
He later clarified that he was not relieved Bandido had COVID, just that the pressure of being in the main event against him was now off.
Gresham continued, discussing how he learned of Jay Lethal being the replacement for the bout and that the ROH World Title would still be on the line.
"I got a call from Lethal, we're shooting the shit, and he goes, 'there's a possibility that it might be us at Final Battle.' My heart started pounding again. I thought, 'that's not going to happen because he works at AEW.' The next day, before I left, Hunter text me, 'It's you and Lethal.' As it stood at that moment, it wasn't for the Ring of Honor World Title. 'Great, we're not the main event, pressure is off.' I've wrestled Lethal a dozen times before, I'm great. I'm on the plane and I get the message, 'we'll address the World Title situation on Hour One of Final Battle,' I thought that could only mean they would go with the World Title, so I'm the main. The show starts to unravel and I know I'm the main event now," he said.
Gresham mentioned that he thought OKG (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) vs. The Briscoes (Mark & Jay Briscoe) could have been the main event if his bout with Lethal wasn't for the Original ROH World Title.
Fans may have noticed that the bout between Gresham and Lethal wasn't as long as they may have expected. According to Gresham, the time was cut way down due to things running long.
"I'm nervous because our match time was in the ballpark of 30 minutes. I've done 30 to 40 minutes of wrestling before, so I'm not nervous about that. I'm nervous about the show closing on beat. Now it's like, I have to do good. It gets more nerve-racking as the show goes on because referees and different people come to me to let me know that time is being chopped off the match. At first, we started with 30, then it went to 25, then it went to 20, then 17. We get out there and Todd Sinclair goes, 'you guys have 11.' So many people were going long, promos went long. The main event got chopped off and a lot of fans weren't aware that the live feed went off so abruptly because we didn't have more time. We ended up going 15. We had such a long, storied match and it got chopped down to 11 minutes, so a lot of the story that was supposed to be there, wasn't there. I never envy people in the main event position because you, not only have to follow everybody, but you have to work with the time remaining," he said.
After Jericho explained that sometimes matches in WWE would be cut if things went long, noting that the main event is always protected, Gresham said he wasn't conscious of cutting a match if time was short.
Jericho stated that hitting time is very important and that it's "disrespectful" and "unprofessional" to not do so, saying they have meetings in AEW about it.
Gresham was victorious in the bout, capturing the ROH World Championship. He continues to defend the title in various promotions, including IMPACT Wrestling, where he defeated Chris Sabin at Hard to Kill to retain the belt.
If you missed anything from IMPACT Hard to Kill, check out Fightful's full report on the show by clicking here.
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