Joe Koff recounts Jay Lethal asking for his release from ROH, says it was an emotional conversation

Ring of Honor C.O.O. Joe Koff details his last conversation with Jay Lethal before Lethal appeared at AEW Full Gear in November

Photo Courtesy: All Elite Wrestling

Joe Koff looks back on his conversation with Jay Lethal before Lethal joined All Elite Wrestling.

Just several weeks after Ring of Honor made the announcement that they were going to be on hiatus until April 2022 after Final Battle, Jay Lethal made his All Elite Wrestling debut at Full Gear and signed a full-time deal with the company. Lethal confirmed during his Talk Is Jericho appearance that he requested his release from Ring of Honor.

Ring of Honor C.O.O. Joe Koff was the latest guest on the ROHStrong Podcast and he detailed the conversation he had with Lethal before he joined AEW. Koff was not aware of Lethal’s next move, but said there was no hesitation to grant Lethal’s request.

First of all, I’m not gonna go into depth about it because Jay [Lethal] and I have a special relationship that’s built on trust, honor and respect. So when he asked [for his release from ROH], it wasn’t even a question. I didn’t know where he was going and he never told me. He just said he needed to have this kind of freedom to talk to whoever he was talking to and it was very, very emotional. It was very, very — it was special, it was private. But there was no way that was not gonna happen. So, you know, if we’re looking for some kind of drama out of this or some kind of high tensions that existed in the conversation, it was probably more tearing than jeering.

Well I mean, Jay’s been a good steward for the wrestling part of the business and he’s done a good job and he’s admirable, he’s honorable and you know, look, if any one of them came to me on that day with the same request, of course I would do that. Why would I stand in their way? I haven’t stood in anyone else’s way. Why would I start doing it on that day? Gotta be consistent in how you behave. So, it was special.

Lethal returned to Ring of Honor for Final Battle and he took on Jonathan Gresham in the main event for the ROH World Championship. Koff was not involved in bringing Lethal back for the show. That decision was made by his creative staff.

Koff shared that he’s not involved in the creative dealings regarding ROH and he trusts the people he put in those positions to make the right choices.

No [I was not involved in bringing Jay Lethal back for Final Battle] and you know what? As much as this might be surprising and it really shouldn’t be because it’s been the same way; they called and told me that’s what they did. I trust my people to make the right decisions for the organization because they feel about the organization as I do. So, when I heard it, I smiled like I’m sure many fans did and I said, ‘Oh, that’s just fantastic. I’m so happy to hear that. How fitting and how nice and how right’ but no, I had nothing to do with — I didn’t even know, they told me, and by the way, there’s a lot of that. I don’t — when I go to the matches or when I go to the arenas and stuff like that, I really wanna see what the fans are saying and I wanna see the outcome as the fans see it. I don’t really need to know who wins or who doesn’t win or you know — I’m so much more on the business side of, ‘Let’s make sure this show ends on time. Let’s make sure they get a good performance,’ you know what I mean? The matches I expect. That’s the bar.

New in-ring content from Ring of Honor will continue to air up until Christmas day which will feature matches and segments from their latest set of television tapings.

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit the ROHStrong Podcast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions. 

About Andrew Thompson 8465 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.