When Jay Lethal made his surprise debut in AEW at Full Gear 2021, where he challenged Sammy Guevara for a match for his TNT Championship, the reaction from the professional wrestling world was mixed.
For fans who have been keeping up with the “Black Machismo” since he made his debut in Jersey All Pro Wrestling all the way back in 2001, his addition was widely viewed as a positive, as Lethan has well over 1,000 matches on his resume and 28 title reigns to back that up. But for others, who weren’t avid Impact Wrestling and/or Ring of Honor fans, the idea of bringing over an older star to wrestler for the mid-card title and then lose in his very first match rubbed more than a few fans the wrong way. Even if AEW was light on babyfaced mid-carders, which Lethal was being billed as at the time, the prospects of bringing him in before the news broke that Ring of Honor was going to release all of their talents and sell off their television library rubbed some fans the wrong way.
Fortunately, or not, depending on where you initially felt, Lethal’s first year in AEW likely hasn’t changed that many opinions one way or another.
While turning Lethal heel was the right call, and bringing over Sonjay Dutt was a treat for long-time fans of Impact, his program with Satnam Singh hasn’t exactly made new fans, nor has his current run with Jeff Jerrett, his tag team partner from Rick Flair’s Last Match, even if that program is still in the very early stages. Outside of his match with the Motor City Machine Guns versus Wardlow and FTR at All Out and his initial match with Guevara, Lethal doesn’t really have a “signature match” in AEW, and unless his forthcoming match at Full Gear with Jarrett, Darby Allin, and Sting goes really good or really bad, that isn’t likely to come in his return to New Jersey next weekend.
So what gives? Is Lethal about to pull an Andrade and try to work his way out of the company in favor of greener pastures? Will he be fighting backstage with other wrestlers, or worse, taking to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction? Well, based on his conversation with fellow TNA/Impact alumni Kurt Angle on his podcast, The Kurt Angle Show, it certainly sounds like Lethal has no plans of leaving Tony Khan’s company any time soon.
Jay Lethal wants to be an AEW lifer.
Asked about why he would stay in one company for so long during each step along his professional wrestling career, Lethal declared that for him, professional wrestling is more about establishing a legacy than jumping from company to company in search of the biggest short-term paycheck, as transcribed by Fightful.
“If I didn’t get fired, part of me believes I’d still be [at IMPACT Wrestling] because my dad and I have always talked about being loyal and wrestling and not just going to the highest bidder,” Jay Lethal said. “If a company is taking good care of you and you like them, and you guys respect each other, and there are no real issues, you can chat about the money later. Your loyalty and your word have got to mean something. I would have been in IMPACT Wrestling, I believe, to this day if they didn’t let me go. Ring of Honor, if they didn’t close down, I would still be wrestling for them to this day.”
“Things happen for a reason. Now, I am in AEW, which is amazing. It’s a godsend. Then, they bought Ring of Honor, but I’ll be at AEW until the company closes, they let me go, or they fire me, because, to me, in wrestling, if I’m going to put my body, my life, and my career on the line for you, I’ve got to appreciate and love you. There is some bond between us and I’m going to try my hardest to not ever break that bond. So, if you don’t break it, I’m not going to break it, and we’ll bond forever.”
Welp, there you have it; whether fans like his current run, believe he’s being incorrectly booked, or would rather not see Lethal on your television set much moving forward, it sounds like he’ll be sticking around in AEW for the foreseeable future. Whether he’s working a big-time program, forming an anti-AEW faction with his former TNA boss, Double J, or transitioning into a Madison Rayne-style player-coach, it sure sounds like the pride of Elizabeth, New Jersey, would like to see out his wrestling days with TK as his boss.