Wrestler Jonathan Gresham has a lot on his mind. Over the last decade, the technical marvel has gone from a solid prospect to a major contender. Now, he’ll be stepping into the ring for the Ring of Honor world championship at Final Battle.
The main event is bittersweet for the star as the company plans to go on hiatus afterward, in their words, “taking the first quarter of 2022 to work internally to reimagine ROH.” Despite this cloud of uncertainty, Gresham remains focused on the task at hand, while holding out some optimism for the future. Below, he gets candid as he prepares for the biggest match of his career.
With ROH World Champion Bandido unable to appear at the #FinalBattle PPV, ROH officials have signed a new match as part of a double main event that truly encapsulates what ROH has represented for two decades: https://t.co/[email protected] 🆚 @TheLethalJay pic.twitter.com/OqKd6lw2oO
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) December 10, 2021
What’s your mindset going into Final Battle?
Jonathan Gresham: My goals stay the same. At one time, being the Ring of Honor world champion meant you were the best wrestler in the world. I want it to mean that again. The only way to do that is to win it and take it around the world and defend it against others who also feel the same.
What do you make of the stars already finding spots in other companies to work?
Jay Lethal owed it to himself to depart from Ring of Honor, regardless of the company’s situation. He accomplished everything. I’m very happy to see him go elsewhere to show the rest of the world what he is capable of. Hopefully, he can become a champion in AEW. [But] Ring of Honor continues to be where the best wrestlers of the world have grown and been impacted by being there. Stylistically, Ring of Honor has influenced wrestling for the last 20 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people show up when they return from hiatus.
There was a report about you being backstage at a recent AEW show. What can you tell me about your experience?
I can feel the energy backstage. There were so many moving parts from production to catering. By the way, the catering was amazing; I spent most of my time there. Everyone was very cool, very welcoming. I got a chance to meet CM Punk, which was really cool. I didn’t get the opportunity to meet Bryan Danielson. I didn’t get a chance to meet with Tony Khan. A lot of people think I may have been there to get a job. To be honest, I’m back there to support friends. You never know who you need to meet. For me, it was one of those things where I was in town, and I had nothing to do, so I thought why not? I reached out and they said come on down. I‘m very appreciative of that.
Many of wrestling’s top stars have said they want to work with you. That has to feel good to have the respect of your peers.
I’m taken aback by a lot of it, but I think my passion for Ring of Honor and wrestling and the industry as a whole shines through my matches. I think people who are like-minded and have similar visions are thinking highly of me. It’s great because they are the ones giving back to the industry. They are shining a lot on me with their positive words. I appreciate it and hope one day when I’m in their position I can do the same for another. A lot of people wouldn’t go out of their way to mention me like that. I want to let them know I appreciate it because it has helped my reputation and my career.
How important has it been having your wife and fellow wrestler, Jordynne Grace, to lean on and vice-versa in such a challenging business?
The fans are the lifeblood of wrestling, but there comes a time where fans can overstep their boundaries. People tend to say very hurtful things on social media that I feel they wouldn’t say if the individual was right in front of them. They look at professional wrestlers as action figures. But we have families. We are humans with emotions, mental health issues, and the same things they are going through. For some reason, it’s okay for them to tag us and say the most negative things. Thank god for the mute button and the block button because, without those, I would have to probably delete my social media. My wife has helped me through these things because I have a really bad temper. She helps me stay in control and remember what is important. I thank God for her.
This is the end of an era — is there any added pressure with that notion in mind?
I feel pressure, but I also feel a bit lost. My entire trajectory was always in the back of my mind to be in Ring of Honor and be champion, but I never said that out loud [before]. I always made small goals because my journey to Ring of Honor was difficult. My skin color and height played a huge role in suppressing me from getting a lot of opportunities in the business. I started to feel good about myself, which has led me to be in the main event of an end of an era show. It’s not the ideal situation, but I always wanted to create and have a legacy. When you ask for those things, you have to accept how it’s delivered to you. If I can win the championship at Final Battle, I will make history and cement myself in the legacy of Ring of Honor.
Does your gut tell you it might be your last Ring of Honor match?
I believe Ring of Honor when they say they’re coming back in April. I love Ring of Honor so much. They helped my life in ways that are difficult to explain. I will wait and see what they are planning to do. Then, if it’s something we can work with, I will stay. If not, I’m unsure if I will continue being a professional wrestler.
Outside ROH, you’ve also been working on a new concept and promotion Terminus, with its first event on January 16. What can fans expect?
Terminus is something a friend Baron Black and I have been talking about for years. We would go on independent shows that we felt we could do differently. We decided to invest in ourselves and the state of Georgia. What people can expect is, I like to speak about passion. I believe, when you’re genuinely passionate about something, it’s not about the money. People can feel that and want to be a part of it. I’m hoping we collected men and women who share the same passion for the industry. I believe that passion is what will save Ring of Honor.
Ring of Honor Final Battle, Saturday, December 11, 8/7c, Pay-Per-View and HonorClub