ROH Debut: “Revenge on the Prophecy” - West Mifflin, PA 1/11/03
ROH Title(s) Held:
(3/5/05 – 5/7/05)
ROH World TV Title
(8/13/11 – 3/31/12)
(4/4/14 – Present)
There are few who can match the talent and ability of Jay Lethal, even if his early days in Ring of Honor weren't as promising as he has become. From Elizabeth, New Jersey, Jay Lethal has gone from a kid squandering it all as a member of Special K, to the protégé of Ring of Honor icon Samoa Joe to one of the top professional wrestlers in the country and even the world, having held gold everywhere he’s went and achieving mainstream success along the way.
At 16-years of age, Lethal sought out training to become a professional wrestler. Two years later, at just 18-years-old Lethal made his debut in Ring of Honor at Revenge on the Prophecy under the name Hydro as a member of Special K, a group of kids who put all their money into partying instead of trying to achieve success, members often under the influence during matches, with Lethal seeming like one of the more sensible of the group despite his young age. Lethal would be known as Hydro for the duration of his time in Special K, until Samoa Joe saw something in him and took him under his wing, dropping the name Hydro and going by what we know him as today, Jay Lethal.
Lethal would endure a lengthy losing streak in 2004, breaking it at Glory by Honor III against Matt Stryker. Lethal would continue picking up wins and losses under Joe's guidance until he took up issue with The Embassy and Prince Nana, leading to Nana promising to end Lethal's career by putting him in matches with a variety of opponents. Lethal's feud with The Embassy would lead to his first title reign, with the ROH Pure Championship, when he defeated Embassy member Jon Walters at Trios Tournament 2005 to the anger of Prince Nana. Lethal was only 20-years-old.
Lethal would lose the Pure Championship in a match to his mentor Samoa Joe at the inaugural Manhattan Mayhem event. Lethal would gain the plaudits of Mick Foley who was trying to convince CM Punk to be an honorable champion, as Punk was trying to leave Ring of Honor with the World title. Punk would defend the ROH World Championship at Sign of Dishonor in July 2005, defeating Lethal as Punk's rival and Lethal's mentor Samoa Joe watched on from ringside. This would be another moment where people saw the potential Lethal held to become one of the best.
At Steel Cage Warfare, Lethal would again face mentor Samoa Joe but this time came out victorious after turning on Joe to the shock of everybody. Lethal would attack Joe with a chair to help gain the victory in what was the first sign people had seen of Lethal's mean streak. Joe would gain a measure of revenge at the 4th Anniversary Show when he defeated Lethal in their final confrontation. Lethal would soon depart Ring of Honor and would not be seen for nearly five years until his eventual return.
At Best in the World 2011, Jay Lethal returned to Ring of Honor, grown up and ready to recreate himself in the promotion he called, "home". He would return in winning fashion by defeating Mike Bennett. Lethal would waste no time in chasing gold and it didn't take him long to capture some either, when he defeated El Generico on one of the first episodes of Ring of Honor Wrestling to become the new ROH World Television Champion. Jay would hold the title for almost nine months, defending it against the likes of Mike Bennett, El Generico, Tommaso Ciampa and Kyle O'Reilly before losing it to Roderick Strong.
Lethal would begin what is now a long and seething rivalry with Tommaso Ciampa, who at the time was a member of The Embassy. Their issues revolved initially around the ROH World TV Championship but would develop into simply who was the better man once Ciampa cost Lethal the title when he defended it against Strong. Their initial rivalry culminated at Boiling Point in August 2012 when Lethal defeated Ciampa in a 2 Out of 3 Falls match after Ciampa had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) early in the match. Jay turned his sights to the ROH World Championship and would come out on top in the 2012 Survival of the Fittest tournament, earning a shot at the title in his home state of New Jersey.
At the Rahway Convention Center, Lethal challenged Kevin Steen for the title but the match was deemed a no contest after Steen spat at Lethal's mother and a brawl ensued, Lethal venting his frustrations on everyone including ROH executive producer Jim Cornette after he threw him over a table, leading to Cornette's exit from Ring of Honor. Jay showed an aggressive nature that had not been seen in years, and it was referred to as his "killer instinct".
Lethal continued his pursuit of the ROH World Championship, again gaining an opportunity at the 11th Anniversary Show against Kevin Steen. Lethal would again emerge unsuccessful but his defeat would be overshadowed by the growth of SCUM, as Steve Corino's "army" emerged from all sections of the arena and left carnage in the ring, tearing apart an ROH banner in a symbol of their intentions. Jay would be one of many ROH roster members who would go to war with SCUM, helping destroy the group on Ring of Honor Wrestling in a dramatic Steel Cage Warfare match.
With SCUM gone, Lethal refocused on capturing championship gold, taking part in the ROH World Title Tournament, defeating Sonjay Dutt in the first round before being knocked out by eventual winner Adam Cole in the second. With the ROH World Championship picture so hotly contested, Lethal focused on the ROH World TV Championship, held by Matt Taven, Jay began chasing Taven but was unsuccessful to taking the title from him before Tommaso Ciampa could at Final Battle 2013, which would lead to Lethal and Ciampa's reintroduction to one another on Ring of Honor Wrestling at the start of 2014.
Lethal promised he would take back the ROH World TV Championship and would challenge Ciampa twice, at Wrestling's Finest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in a Triple Threat match also involving Matt Taven and in a singles match where interference by Matt Taven was enough of a distraction for Ciampa to retain with Project Ciampa. Jay's frustration was evidently growing at this time, having lost to AJ Styles at the 12th Anniversary Show and being repeatedly unsuccessful at regaining the ROH World TV Championship.
At Supercard of Honor VIII, in a 2 Out of 3 Falls rematch from their Boiling Point 2012 match where Ciampa tore his ACL, Lethal shook hands with the symbol of evil in Ring of Honor, Truth Martini, when he helped form the new House of Truth and finally recaptured the ROH World TV Championship. Ciampa was far from finished with Lethal and would attack him on Ring of Honor Wrestling, two weeks after Supercard of Honor VIII, Matt Taven also seeking revenge after Truth Martini blew a fireball in the face at the event, hospitalizing him.
At Global Wars, Lethal retained the title in a Four Way match against Taven, Ciampa and Silas Young. The following week at War of the Worlds, he successfully defended the title against NJPW's KUSHIDA in an impressive and tiresome performance. Lethal would also successfully defend the title against Taven at Ring of Honor's first live pay-per-view Best in the World.