Earlier this year, Matt Taven, inside of Madison Square Garden on April 6, 2019 at G1 Supercard, won the ROH World Championship in a three-way ladder match against “the Villain” Marty Scrull and champion Jay Lethal. Many people have said that Taven was the second Grand Slam champion in Ring of Honor history, behind “the Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels, who accomplished it in March 2018. In those records, both men held the ROH World, Television, Tag Team, and Six-Man Tag Team Championships at one point during their Ring of Honor tenure. Very impressive, considering the longevity of Daniels and the rise of Taven during the latter half of the 2010s.
However, in this writer’s unbiased (and in some cases, a little biased) opinion, on December 13, 2019, that view completely changed.
At Final Battle 2019 in Baltimore, MD, Jonathan Gresham and Jay Lethal upended the Briscoes to become the ROH World Tag Team Champions for the first time. With that moment, Lethal, in my opinion, did something even more impressive that no one else can ever accomplish.
“The Greatest First Generation Wrestler” became the REAL First ROH Grand Slam Winner.
Why you ask? Let me set it up.
In my opinion, and as I’ve written about in the Professional 3 over the years, I do not take away a single thing from the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championships. As I’ve written about HERE and HERE, the Six-Man Titles have been a fun alternative to the promotion, allowing interesting teams to be champions, from Bully Ray and the Briscoes, the Kingdom, and various versions of the Elite, to my favorite champions Dalton Castle and the Boys. It has allowed for a change of pace on cards and has helped give certain performers a chance to shine where there might not be a place for them to do so.
However, in my opinion, it’s not as impressive as Jay’s road to the Grand Slam.
Lethal’s run in Ring of Honor has had a multitude of twists and turns. From a rich kid raver in Special K, being Samoa Joe’s protege, and becoming the hottest free agent in pro wrestling, to established veteran, Truth Martini’s prized superstar in the House of Truth, and ROH’s “Franchise”, Lethal has grown up tenfold in front of the ROHbots.
He had already established himself as the greatest Television champion in company history, arguably the greatest World champion under Sinclair Broadcasting’s ownership, and will probably have a fun run as Tag Team champion with “the Octopus” Gresham by his side.
But what makes Lethal the REAL First ROH Grand Slam Winner? The ROH Pure Wrestling champion reign in 2005.
At 19 years old, at Trios Tournament 2005, Lethal became the YOUNGEST champion in ROH history, defeating John Walters with the Dragon Suplex to become Pure champion. To do, Lethal not only had to overcome the veteran nature of Walters, but limitations within the nature of Pure Wrestling rules.
Pure Wrestling rules are as follows:
You are only allowed three rope breaks; once you use them up, the ropes are to your disadvantage and you can’t use them to break the hold
No closed fists
A 20-count on the floor
Having limits to what you can do, Lethal had to overcome those, especially as a relative rookie in the ultra-talented ROH locker room at that time. To me, that is incredibly impressive.
(To read the written history of the ROH Pure Wrestling Championship, click HERE)
Add into that, Lethal can lay claim to being the ONLY man to hold every ROH singles championship in the company’s existence. And for that, I’m taking claim that the Pure title trumps the Six-Man Tag Team gold in this matter.
Sorry Christopher Daniels and Matt Taven, but Jay Lethal is the REAL First ROH Grand Slam Winner, in my opinion. Any thoughts?