FAIRFAX, Va. -- As streamers filled the ring and the crowd chanted his name, an emotional Jay Lethal heard the words on June 30 that he’d been waiting to hear for nearly two years:
“The winner of the match, and new Ring of Honor World Champion, Jay Lethal!”
The crowd then broke into a chant of “You deserve it!’ as Lethal gazed at the magnificent gold belt in his hands. Moments prior, Lethal pinned Dalton Castle in a Four Corner Survival Match -- which also included Cody and Matt Taven -- to regain the ROH World Title and end Castle’s impressive reign at 197 days.
Lethal’s long journey back to the title he held for 427 days (the fourth-longest reign in ROH history) in 2015-2016 had finally reached its destination. The man who is called “The Franchise” of ROH can now also call himself a two-time ROH World Champion, as he joins Austin Aries, Jay Briscoe and Adam Cole as the only men to regain the title.
“It feels amazing,” Lethal told ROHWrestling.com backstage after the match. “It means once again I’m at the top of my game because to have the Ring of Honor World Championship you’re going to be operating at a higher level, a level that most people never reach. There’s only a select few people that have been at that level twice. I plan on making this title reign way longer than my first title reign.”
Lethal had delivered his mission statement during an episode of “Ring of Honor Wrestling” in early May. He admitted he was lost without the ROH World Championship belt around his waist, but ROH management told him he’d have to amass more victories to receive another title shot. Lethal said he would do more than that; he’d defeat all the competitors who had defeated him recently.
After Lethal avenged his losses to Punishment Martinez, Taven, Chuckie T and Mark Briscoe, the only man left on his “to beat” list was KUSHIDA. Lethal scored a hard-fought victory over the Japanese star at the Best in the World pay-per-view on June 29 in Baltimore, so at ROH’s international television taping in Fairfax the next night, he issued a challenge to Castle.
However, Taven interrupted and said that he should get the next title shot. Then former ROH World Champion Cody came out and stated his case for another title opportunity. Finally, Castle -- who had successfully defended his title against Marty Scurll and Cody in a Triple Threat Match at Best in the World -- appeared. Despite dealing with multiple injuries, Castle said that he would put the title on the line against all three of them in a Four Corner Survival Match that evening.
All four men brought their “A” game to the match, but it would be Lethal’s night, a night he had been dreaming about for nearly two years.
In this exclusive video interview with Lethal backstage after his historic victory, he talks about becoming a two-time ROH World Champion, gives his opinion of Castle, and relives an “unreal” day.