The ROH World Title picture is as hot as ever, as champion Jay Lethal has no shortage of worthy competitors gunning for his title. Here’s a look at the top five contenders:
5. MATT TAVEN
Contrary to what The Kingdom leader says, he is not the “real world champion” and the purple leather-clad title belt he carries around is nothing more than a knockoff. That said, Taven undoubtedly is a world-class performer and he has scored multiple victories over Jay Lethal over the past four years. The big question is whether Taven truly is content with being a faux champion or if he’ll push for another shot at the only title he has never held in ROH.
4. DALTON CASTLE
The former ROH World Champion returned to the ring recently after taking a few months off to rehabilitate his nagging back and knee injuries, and he wasted no time in making it known that he has one mission: to reclaim the title he lost to Jay Lethal in a Four Corner Survival Match in June. Castle, whose first major test since his return will be against Matt Taven at Final Battle on Dec. 14, certainly proved to be a fighting champion during his near-200 day reign, and one of his first successful title defenses was against Lethal at the ROH 16th Anniversary show.
3. MARTY SCURLL
“The Villain” earned a future ROH World Title opportunity by winning Survival of the Fittest a couple weeks ago. Scurll, who joined the likes of Jay Lethal, Bryan Danielson, Tyler Black and Roderick Strong as SOTF winners, is brimming with confidence after not only prevailing in the tournament, but also coming out on top in his “Hero vs. Villain” series against Shane “Hurricane” Helms. Scurll’s willingness to go to any lengths to secure a victory makes him a dangerous challenger for any champion.
2. FLIP GORDON
There isn’t a hotter competitor in ROH than the high-flying native of Kalispell, Mont. Gordon, who has only been wrestling for 3½ years, showed just how far he has come by winning the Sea of Honor tournament on the Chris Jericho cruise last month to earn a future ROH World Title shot. Gordon temporarily put his feud with Bully Ray aside to defeat in succession: former ROH World Television Champion Marty Scurll, former ROH World Champion Dalton Castle and former ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe.
“The American Nightmare” has waited a full year for his one-on-one rematch for the ROH World Title, and he will get it against Jay Lethal at Final Battle on Dec. 14. Few wrestlers have had a better 2018 than Cody, who is the current IWGP United States Champion and also captured the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title this year in addition to scoring a victory over current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega. As great of a champion as Lethal is, no one should be shocked if Cody walks out of Final Battle with the ROH World Title belt.