It’s been just a week since Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonorand the wrestling world is still reeling with the ramifications of the Pay-Per-View spectacular.
Though FTR pulled out a win in Tony Khan’s ring in a fantastic Two out of Three Falls bout against The Briscoes, Dax Harwood further injured his shoulder in the process and has opted to work even more injured than he was previously instead of taking time out to recover either via rest or surgery. Samoa Joe won his match too, but he’ll likely be out of action for the foreseeable future too, thanks to his previous commitments to filming twisted metal for Peacock.
And yet, the very next day, when the dust had settled in Lowell, Massachusetts, the biggest story wasn’t Claudio Castagnoli winning the ROH World Championship for the first time in his career. No, the story was about his opponent, Jonathan Gresham, who reportedly demanded his release from his AEW / Ring of Honor contract after “cussing out” his boss for the way he was about to be booked in the co-main event of the show. Everyone had an opinion on the topic, the majority of his fellow Tully Blanchard Enterprises/Embassy members weighed in on the matter, and ultimately, the story went dark shortly thereafter, as neither party opted to air their laundry on the dirt sheets.
So naturally, when Gresham made his first return to a wrestling ring since DBD, in a four-way bout with Alan Angels, Konosuke Takeshita, and Nick Wayne at Ric Flair’s Last Match, it had the potential to be newsworthy for the sheer spectacle of the affair; what would Gresham wear, how would he wrestle, would he work heel or face?
— TheRingsideRoster.com (@RingsideRoster) July 31, 2022
Here’s everything Ring of Honor fans learned from Jonathan Gresham’s first match back in the ring.
Before we talk about what Jonathan Gresham did at Ric Flair’s Last Matchlet’s first recall his presentation at Death Before Dishonoras the context is relevant.
First and foremost, Gresham entered the match and ultimately worked it as a heel, turning bad in the leadup to the big show on AEW television by turning his back on Lee Moriarty and aligning with Tully Blanchard and his Enterprise. Gresh ditched his traditional red ring gear, left his The Foundation flag at home, and started working with the likes of Brian Cage and The Gates of Agony instead of working solo as the reigning Ronin of ROH looking to keep its tenants alive despite the promotion’s uncertain future and lack of weekly television.
At Death Before DishonorGresham ditched basically every element of his traditional presentation, including his sleeveless trenchcoat, his octopus mask, and his flag, in favor of a brisk walk down to the ring, and after a solid enough showing against Claudio Castagnoli in a losing effort, he kept the Code of Honor intact before exiting the ring to an uncertain future.
From there, speculation ran rampant; some suggested that Gresham may retire, while others theorized that a return to Impact to work with his wife Jordyn Grace may be in order, and when the former champ deleted his social media accounts shortly thereafter, it only escalated the speculation even further.
So naturally, as Ric Flair’s Last Match inched closer and closer, folks the world over wanted to see what would happen next. Would Gresham cancel his appearance in favor of keeping his future up in the air? Or would he instead work his commitment to him and go from there?
Fortunately, it was the latter, and fans were better for it.
Taking part in a four-way match to see who would win an automatic bid for the PROGRESS World Championship, Gresham was announced last and walked down to the ring in the blue iteration of his typical costume plus the Cthulhu-inspired Octopus mask, but minus his Foundation flag. After some initial feeling out, the owner of Terminus worked a pretty standard – aka very good – JG match, featuring hurricanranas, some sleeper holds, and even a few funny spots where he almost hit a move before laughing off his foe to hit another. Of course, his opponents of him carried their respective weights as well. Teenage Phenom Nick Wayne once again showed why he is one of the most promising young talents in wrestling today, Konosuke Takeshita again had a dominating performance, and Alan Angels fought like he had something to prove after his AEW contract expired.
— #StarrcastV (@StarrcastEvents) July 31, 2022
Hmm… So this match featured one wrestler who angrily demanded his release from ROH/AEW, one wrestler who had his contract expire in AEW, one wrestler on an excursion in AEW, and one wrestler who already has a future AEW contract locked in; While this match wasn’t officially sponsored by AEW like some other promotions opted to do on the card, it had Tony Khan’s fingerprints all over it.
In the end, Gresham pulled out the win in a very short match via an O’Conner roll on Angels, and secured the title shot at PROGRESS versus Chris Ridgeway, who actually took the title off of him back in June, which means that he has at least one more match in his not-too-distant future. Whether things get ironed out with AEW/ROH or not, that’s at least encouraging.