Before Ring of Honor’s London show on 25th October for the Honor United Tour (review here), Steelchair had a chance to sit down with ROH’s former Pure, Television and World Champion, and all-round wrestling legend Jay Lethal.
Here’s what he had to say about why he enjoys coming back to the UK, his dream opponent, flatpack furniture, and why he wants to be Batman.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to sit down with us and talking ahead of tonight.
No, thank you for requesting the time. It’s always something my dad would say. It’s something to have somebody want to talk to you. That means you or your company’s doing something right. So for them to thank you is just a little bit weird – you should be thanking them!
This isn’t your first time in the UK. You’ve been over here many times before.
More times than I can count.
What do you enjoy most about coming to the UK?
It would have to be the fans. One thing that I deep down inside love is the chants that the fans here just – I don’t where they get them from, but they’re the coolest chants. They all sound like songs, too. That’s my all-time favourite thing. But yeah, the fans – I really love them. Man, those chants are so cool! I want a chant with a song with my name in it.
We’ll have to see if we can sort one out for you. I think it’s football or soccer. If you went to a football match…
Which I’ve never been to one.
You should. Next time you’re over, you must go.
I was asked if I wanted to go to one yesterday, but I didn’t end up making it.
I saw on the ROH Twitter account that Kenny King went to the Arsenal match.
Yes. Yeah, that was the game.
Yeah, that’s where it all comes from, I think.
I think I should start watching some more soccer. It’s so cool to me. Man, I love it.
You wear your wrestling influences on your sleeve with moves like ‘Hail to the King’, which is a tribute to the Macho Man Randy Savage. Were Randy Savage and Ric Flair always your wrestling influences? Do you feel like your influences have changed over the years, given that you’ve had a lengthy career?
I don’t think that ‘changed’ is the right word. I think it started as just two, which would be Flair and Savage, and then along the way, you know, I’ll see people or see a guy that ‘oh I really like them, let me add them to the list.’ But sometimes they may not stay on the list long. But there’s been the two constants like Flair and Savage. Like, I know Bret Hart’s on that list. Chris Benoit is on that list. I mean, so I don’t like to use the word ‘change’ because, to me, that might imply that maybe Flair and Savage aren’t there anymore. I’d like to think it’s a constant list, well, two of them are constant, and some people get added and dropped. There are two constants the whole time.
Is there anyone who you’re watching at the moment if you’ve got the time to go back and watch matches, who you think is pretty good?
[Thinks for a moment]. No, not really. You know something that I’ve always done throughout my entire career is try not to watch too much of the current stuff because if I spark an idea from too much of the current stuff, then it’s very easy for someone to go ‘ah, look he’s doing [whoever]’. So, I’ve always, my entire career, focused on the old stuff, the stuff that nobody watches anymore. So, unfortunately, that means that I haven’t – that could be a fault – that I haven’t kept up with what’s going on right now because I don’t study that. So yeh, there’s nobody nowadays.
You’ve wrestled so many people throughout your career. You’ve had so many dream matches. Is there anyone that’s still on your list of dream opponents?
Chris Jericho. Chris Jericho one hundred percent. I thought it was going to be able to happen, and then those guys went off and did their own thing, and I was like ‘ah, man!’ He’s on the top of the list.
And of course, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to do it, but I mean, growing up I was a huge fan of the Undertaker. He could just do no wrong to me. I wouldn’t even have to wrestle him. Just getting to work with him in any capacity would be cool. But as far wrestling, I think Jericho’s on the top of that list.
There’s a couple of guys on the indies. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of people, and I’ve been around for a while, there’s a lot of people that I haven’t gotten to actually wrestle in a singles match. I don’t know if you know John Klinger?
The name rings a bell.
Well, he loves the Macho Man just as much as I do. I think he’s from Germany. I would love to get to wrestle him. There’s so many. How can you name them all? Definitely on top of the list is Chris Jericho.
Given the list of achievements that you’ve accumulated over the years, how do you stay hungry? What are your ambitions for the future now?
That’s a good question because most wrestlers are driven by the fact that they want to be the number one guy, the top guy in the company, the world champion. If deep down inside that’s not your goal and your dream and what’s driving you, then I don’t know if this is the right business for you. I feel like that is the ultimate motivation. So, by saying that I would definitely say that I still want to, even though I’ve done it twice, other people have had the belt more than two times, so I’d like to be the one with the highest number of Ring of Honor World Title runs. So, to become Ring of Honor World Champion is something that helps keep me motivated.
Also, just travelling the world. I am a big fan of going places that I’ve never been to before. For instance, I might, there’s a slight chance, I might get to go to Alaska. To go to Alaska and have fans in Alaska want to meet you, not only does it tell me that I’ve been doing something good or notable, it makes me want to keep doing that. You know, to keep going to these places that I’ve never been and have people want to just say hello to you. Man, there’s nothing better than that.
On his dream job if he wasn’t a wrestler:
I’m a huge dog person, so I like to think I’d be doing something with animals, mainly dogs because I can’t stand snakes. But to be honest, if I had to answer it truthfully, and seriously, I’d probably be a carpenter. My dad is a carpenter, and before I started training to be a wrestler, I would go to most of his jobs. I had my own tool set. I don’t think he was grooming me to be a carpenter, but he definitely was excited that I was taking a liking to what he took a liking to. So I think if it weren’t for wrestling, I’d probably be a carpenter right now.
Are there any pieces of furniture in the Lethal household that have been made by you?
Oh, all of it! All of it! [Laughs]. You know, my dad doesn’t like me messing with the electricity too much either, but I’ve changed a couple of light fixtures. I think most of the furniture in my house is from a place called Rooms To Go. Nothing that I’ve made yet. YET.
You’re building up to that… There’s still time…
[Laughs] Right! I mean, I’ve put furniture together, like, you know, I was so good at those, you know, you buy something from IKEA, and it’s in a million pieces, and you got to put it together. I’ve done that a million times. I’m really good at that. But making my own furniture from scratch, I haven’t done that yet. Although, now, you’ve just lit this fire inside of me. [Laughs].
You heard it here first! Lethal Carpentry!
Maybe that’s my new gimmick? The Carpenter! I’d have to team with William Regal, the Real Man’s Man. Building things with our hands, you know?
No more wrestling matches, you’d just come out and bang out a cabinet or something.
[Laughs] Right, right! I built the ring, so I know all the tricks and trades of the ring!
There’s a hole just over there!
[Laughs] Right, right!
A quick Halloween story for spooky season:
I love Halloween. My parents had six kids. My mum would be in charge of taking us trick or treating when we were younger. And I got a funny story about this. For years, and it felt like years to me, it was probably just one year, but in my head for years, I wanted to be Batman for Halloween. And in school, at least from grades one to five, when Halloween came you would bring your costume to school, get dressed and they would walk you around the block and the parents got to see it. And I wanted to be Batman for years but never got to be Batman because for one, my parents had six kids and my mum and dad said to buy costumes for everybody is a bit pricey, and we can’t really afford that. Plus, my mum was like ‘we’re more creative than that, we’ll make your costume’, and she was really good at making the costume.
I remember one year she made me a scarecrow. I remember in the back yard she cut up this hoodie and rubbed it in the dirt and put twine through the holes and stuff, and she was so proud of that costume. I liked it. But, that year, my friend Damian, and I don’t know if Damian will ever hear this but my friend Damian, he was Batman. And I wanted to be Batman. And you know what the ultimate satisfaction of the night was? While walking around the block, Damian peed himself. This had to be second or third grade, Damian peed himself, and I remember thinking, ‘you see, I should have been Batman.’
You were the real Batman!
I was the real Batman! And as luck would have it, throughout the years, once I’m an adult, I can be Batman any day of the week that I want, but I still never have been Batman. Never. And I think this year I might be Batman. We decorate the outside of the house, and I hand out candy. We don’t get too many visitors, but I think I’m gonna be dressed as Batman this time.
You should do a Halloween special for Ring of Honor, and you could dress up as Batman.
I might. If I did that, I’d have to beat Dalton Castle to the punch because that’s something right up his alley.
Images courtesy of Ring of Honor/James Musselwhite