Kevin Steen’s ROH World Championship run has seen “Mr. Wrestling” tear through countless opponents, rendering many motionless, others simply defeated, and some exiled as was the case with El Generico after their brutal Ladder War confrontation at December’s Final Battle iPPV event. In a laundry list of foes one has not backed down and has remained a thorn in Steen’s paw for several months now.
That man is Jay Lethal.
Despite his young age, Lethal turns 28-years-old next month, the former “Black Machismo” is a veteran with over a decade of experience, having competed at the top level, capturing the ROH Pure Championship during its activity, being a former ROH World TV Champion, not to mention a former six-time TNA X-Division Champion among others, but one thing has always elluded the Jersey native – a World Championship.
Several months ago Jim Cornette, in an attempt to rile the roster up in hope they’d mount a serious challenge to Steen and SCUM, called on the performers to show a “killer instinct” when dealing with “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare.” Few seemingly listened, one however that did was Lethal, who since has been much more aggressive, attentive, determined and focused, developing a “win by any means necessary” perspective.
Triumphing over the likes of Davey Richards in a phenomenal match at Glory By Honor XI, several competitors to claim the 2012 Survival of the Fittest tournament and Rhino at Final Battle, Lethal has been given his opportunity from Steen despite Kevin’s initital reluctance, going as far as to demand that ROH officials never give Lethal a title shot again, something which Steen has gone back on.
Initially they fought solely over the ROH World Championship, meeting last October in Lethal’s home state of New Jersey in a match which culminated in a disqualification after Steen unintentionally spat on Lethal’s parents who were seated front row at the event – he spat of his own accord, he didn’t however know the recievers were the parents of his opponent on that evening.
Lethal snapped and viciously attacked not only Steen, but several ROH officials, launching Jim Cornette over a table which saw the “Louisville Slugger” land awkwardly on his hip, hospitalizing him, Cornette having not been seen since. Jay defended himself, but Steen would triumph through threats, promising ROH officials if they didn’t ban Lethal from gaining another chance at the title while Steen holds it that he would stop showing to ROH events.
Since this Kevin has had a change of heart, opting to afford Lethal an opportunity at the World Championship, replying to Jay’s list of reasons as to why he should be given the chance with simply, “I accept!”
In recent weeks Jay has dealt with sneak attacks from Steve Corino, Jimmy Jacobs and Rhino, even being defended by his opponent tomorrow night in Chicago, “Mr. Wrestling” Kevin Steen. Since his meeting with El Generico in December, Steen has fallen oddly silent, keeping to himself and speaking few words, allowing his actions express his feelings.
“The Ring of Honor Championship is prestigous. It’s more than just a title, it’s more than just leather and gold put together,” stated Lethal, speaking before the event only a few days ago. “It ain’t no prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box! It’s the Ring of Honor World Championship… it’s prestigous, it’s success, it’s an achievement, it’s a code… it’s fulfillment.”
Lethal has been able to deliver good, solid matches on television, his promos in recent weeks have been what has been expected of him since his finding of his “killer instinct”a few months ago, but he needs to deliver where it matters, he needs to deliver tomorrow night in-order to if not win the ROH World Championship than to at least look impressive when challenging.
Kevin Steen’s tamer persona in recent weeks has been alarming, some assume he could be turning over a new leaf, others believe this is the proverbial “calm before the storm” and that tomorrow night may be what Corino has predicted – the beginning of the end for Ring of Honor. Steen’s reign has been solid entertainment from the outset, and some continue questioning who else is there to mount a serious challenge?
If Jay Lethal is unable to defeat Kevin Steen, then the next person in-line ought to be either Michael Elgin or Adam Cole, depending on the outcome of their respective bouts on the night. A number of results and finishes could be predicted for this match, the only way to truly find out will be to watch the event live on iPPV tomorrow, Saturday, March 2nd.
Prediction: Kevin Steen