AEW’s Jay Lethal Opens Up On ROH's Hiatus
The former two-time ROH Champion left before the hiatus came in to play
Not long after Ring of Honor announced its impending hiatus did former two-time ROH World Champion Jay Lethal jump ship to AEW, while the wrestling world was still reeling from ROH’s game changing announcement.
Jay Lethal being the first to publicly jump caught many off-guard, as he had been with the company on-and-off for over a decade, but Lethal himself has now cleared up how the hiatus news was revealed to the ROH locker-room, saying the following on an appearance on Talk is Jericho:
"As soon as they dropped that bomb on us, we're in the Zoom call, and they drop this bomb on us,” started Lethal. “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 finalised 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.”
Despite sensing something was up, Lethal says it all 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.”
It’s still unknown if this is the end of ROH, or if they will return in Q2 2022. Regardless, Lethal has his own views about why the hiatus came to be:
"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.”
“…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.”
Despite no-longer being part of ROH, Lethal stepped in to face Jonathan Gresham at this past weekend’s Final Battle 2021 show, after ROH World Champion Bandido was withdrawn due to a positive Covid test.