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Wrestling / Jay Lethal

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As ROH World and Television Champion.
Jay Lethal (real name Jamar Shipman, born April 29, 1985) is an American professional wrestler trained by Dan Maff and Mikey Whipwreck, best known for his tenures in Ring of Honor and TNA over the course of his career.

He began his career mainly competing for ROH and Jersey All Pro Wrestling, being introduced in the former under the ring name Hydro through the stable Special K, a bunch of rich kid ravers with no respect for anything. Aside from being a stark contrast to his actual personality, this was also a comical heel gimmick which masked his growing in-ring talent. CM Punk and Samoa Joe both noticed this after facing him in the ring, to the point that Joe would go out of his way to get Lethal out of Special K (thus relinquishing the Hydro ring name) and make him his protégé and sidekick in the feud against the Rottweilers, most notable of which being Low Ki and Homicide. During this stretch he also became the fourth of only seven men to hold the ROH Pure Championship. Eventually, Lethal would turn heel on Joe, engaging in a short feud with him before leaving ROH for the greener-seeming pastures of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

During his TNA tenure, after starting as a jobber with occasional flashes of brilliance, he first came into his own through a find-your-niche angle with Kevin Nash which introduced his skill at impersonating legends, creating the "Macho Man" Randy Savage Captain Ersatz persona of Black Machismo with the blessing and approval of Savage himself. It was during the Black Machismo gimmick that Lethal won his first TNA X-Division Championship, and though that run lasted less than a week due to the Samoa Joe-Kurt Angle Match of Champions angle, he would win it a second time months later by defeating Angle himself, establishing Jay as a shining star of the X-Division as he went on to hold the title six times. He also formed a successful tag team with Austin "Consequences" Creed, winning the TNA World Tag Team Championship once.

Shortly after casting aside the Black Machismo gimmick in 2010, Lethal also had one of the most memorable segments in TNA history in the midst of a short feud with another of his childhood idols, Ric Flair, which was again set up by his impersonation talents and resulted in him beating both AJ Stylesnote  and Flair himself cleanly in pay-per-view matches just after Styles had come off losing his TNA World Heavyweight title. These highlights became the first thing people would think of when they thought of Jay Lethal as a wrestling entertainer, though it wasn't enough to save his career in TNA, as he would be released in 2011 to head back to Ring of Honor. But this turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Upon returning to ROH, Lethal has reinvented himself into one of the company's top wrestlers, winning the ROH World Television Championship a few months into his return. As storylines went on following his TV title loss, including the occasional return of his Macho impersonation gimmick under the new handle "Machismo King", frustrations and ambitions built up with his character until a turning point was offered to him behind the scenes in April 2014.

At Supercard of Honor VIII, Lethal became the new centerpiece of Truth Martini's Power Stable, the House of Truth, as well as the first ever two-time World Television Champion, by accepting Martini's help in taking the title from Sicilian badass Tommaso Ciampa. Since then Jay has gone on a dominant tear with the championship, defending against many of the company's top mid-to-upper card talents and becoming the first champion to hold the belt for over a year. At this point he would declare himself the ROH Champion, aka the only champion that matters, over the company's actual World Champion Jay Briscoe. This eventually culminated in a winner-take-all match between the two Jays at Best in the World 2015, with Lethal pinning Briscoe (the first man to do so in over two years) to remain TV Champion as well as finally become ROH World Champion. This made him only the third triple crown champion in ROH's then 13-year history.

Months later he would lose the Television Championship to former House of Truth centerpiece Roderick Strong. However, he has continued to retain the World Championship and maintain his position as the top wrestler in the company all the way into the second half of 2016, with himself and Martini even undergoing a nominal Heel–Face Turn through enduring violent attacks by ex-House of Truth teammate Donovan Dijak as well as the reinvented, newly-hostile Bullet Club faction, the latter resulting in the loss of first his hair, then his World Championship, at the hands of Adam Cole.

At Full Gear 2021, Lethal would come out and announce that he had signed with All Elite Wrestling, immediately challenging Sammy Guevara for the TNT Championship.

"The Greatest First Generation Tropes of All Time!":

  • The Ace: Arguably, the top face of ROH for the major part of his career. He's skilled, can cut a good promo and manages to get over with the Honor Nation. Eventually, the role is now passed to Jonathan Gresham.
  • Affably Evil: Representing The House Of Truth, Lethal obviously doesn't adhere to the "keep the playing field level" part of the code but in the event he does respect an opponent, he will go out of his way to show it, if only before and after the bells.
  • Aborted Arc: Special K were one of the teams Alex Shelley lead Austin Aries, Jack Evans and Roderick Strong against at ROH Generation Next when the group appropriated the event's name for themselves. Shelley was also the first wrestler in ROH to recognize Hydro's potential and try to convince him to leave Special K (for his own group, of course). And while Jay Lethal teaming with Samoa Joe to defeat Generation Next was decent closure, there was obviously a lot more that could have been done if most of the men involved hadn't been caught between TNA's conflicts with ROH. On one hand, this isn't so bad because Shelley and Lethal ended up facing each other several times in TNA anyway. On the other hand, Generation Next itself briefly showed up in TNA for a month but Aries and Strong got themselves suspended before any further interaction with Lethal could take place.
  • Afro Asskicker: On occasion, most memorably during his Pure title run and his first X-Division title run. Otherwise…
  • Arch-Enemy: Samoa Joe is a common enemy of his whatever they are feuding.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Mocking or disrespecting his family has been successfully used to set him over the edge in both TNA and ROH.
    • (Before he beat Jay Briscoe at BITW) Do not disavow the legitimacy of his TV Championship belt! It is the ROH Championship, the only championship that matters, and the reason it's that important is because he made it that important!
    • You wanna cite a list of great ROH wrestlers and you don't include Jay Lethal? Nothing could be more disrespectful! He is the man, this is his house, and any man that walks into ROH better first thank the greatest wrestler in the world for letting them be here!
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: The little guy next to Samoa Joe and later Donovan Dijak in the House Of Truth. Against the usual in that if there was a leader it was definitely Joe but straight in the House Of Truth, as Lethal is their most valuable asset.
  • Call-Back: His mission to prove the Television title was more important that the World title wasn't just similar to Jay Briscoe's "real world champion" phase, it called back to Joe's feud with Austin Aries, where he had attempted the same with the Pure title, which then continued on with Nigel McGuinness and Bryan Danielson, hence McGuinness setting them at each other.
  • The Cameo: One of many in The Wrestler.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Courtesy of Matt Taven.
  • Composite Character: One of his most outstanding skills, this is actually as much a testament to his studiousness and his love of the wrestling business as anything else. He's been able to absorb and study the idiosyncracies and character motivations of his favorite wrestlers that he watched growing up, to the point that he can perfectly imitate some of them when the occasion calls for it. In fact, shades of the three wrestlers mentioned below whose impersonations he's broken out on camera can all be found within Lethal's promo style as his own persona.
  • Cool Shades: As Black Machismo King.
  • Cowardly Lion: Jay Lethal can get it done without them but since joining the House Of Truth Lethal became dependent on their backup, to the point he becomes flustered when even a fraction of them are forced to leave ringside.
  • Crossover
    • During JAPW/ROH Collision Course Angel Dust, Izzy and himself sobered up for a scramble match, reverting to Azrieal, Insane Dragon and of course, Jay Lethal, for a scramble match against the other half of Special K (who decided to go in as usual and lost).
    • A contestant on the TNA episode of the Family Feud game show.
  • Crowd Chant: Even though as slight assist from Truth Martini and a low blow helped him get there, the crowd still told Lethal "You Deserved It" after he became a double champion at the 2015 Best In The World.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: At No Surrender 2007, this kid who just recently went from jobber to a semi-comedic heartwarming parody of a legend beats TNA I-got-everything Champion KURT ANGLE clean in the middle of the ring for the X-Division Championship.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: CM Punk got Hydro to follow the Code of Honor. Samoa Joe got him to cut out the Hydro crap altogether. Not that it ended well.
  • Determinator/I Can Still Fight!: After he was told by his doctor he may never be medically cleared to wrestle again following a Ghetto Stomp-Cop Killa combination from the Rottweilers, he came back for revenge a month later.
  • Dirty Coward: Wants absolutely nothing to do with Cedric Alexander after losing to him at PWX It's All About Me and in a Golden Ticket Six Way Gauntlet on ROH's SBG show. Unfortunately for Lethal, Silas Young's broken leg and ACH's absence meant he had no excuses for opting out of an Alexander challenge at All Star Extravaganza VI Luckily for him, Seleziya Sparx happened to stumble into the way of a charge and distract the challenger. Faced with Alexander again at Survival Of The Fittest Lethal refused to put the television title on the line.
  • Ditto Fighter:
    • As Black Machismo. Among other tributes, he introduced his then-girlfriend, SoCal Val, as "Miss Elizabeth" (previously played by ROH babe Maria Kanellis).
    • The "Machismo King" (ROH) was this to Randy Savage's Macho King, complete with a black "Sherri" on his arm. Delirious played the part of the Ultimate Warrior, feuding with Jay while constantly being pelted with Sherri's shoe just as in the past. The King and Queen being escorted to the ring on a cheap loading platform is the final touch to this 90's love-in.
    • The story of his short feud with Ric Flair in TNA was him trying to pull one of these on Flair, who was less than pleased in kayfabe, especially seeing as Lethal stole his Hall of Fame ring in order to do it. He even got Flair to tap out to the Figure Four leg lock a couple times during the feud, including the match where he beat the Nature Boy at Victory Road. (In reality Flair had heard his impersonations backstage and was so impressed with him he basically asked to do the angle with Lethal, and it was Flair's idea for Lethal to beat him with his own move.)
    • He's even demonstrated the ability to do a convincing Dusty Rhodes in at least one online interview.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: It's still called The House of Truth for a reason; the stable is a brand name onto itself, was a thing before Truth Martini was even in ROH, in fact that was the name of Truth's wrestling school which trained the likes of the Motor City Machine Guns. But it was Jay Lethal credited with reviving the group, even though it was due to Martini's manipulations, and by April 2015, he had effectively overshadowed Martini. By the fourteenth anniversary Lethal's membership had become an after thought. With Dijak turning on the group and hospitalizing Martini the blaring "We Are The House Of Truth" is the only reminder this isn't strictly the Lethal show.
  • Enemy Mine: Even though Cabana had made him lose face, even if Cabana was still the biggest(legitimate) threat to his title reign at Aftershock, Lethal was willing to put that aside for the sake of beating Adam Cole and the Young Bucks.
  • Evil Former Friend: Turned on his former Foundation teammate Jonathan Gresham, whom he was considered as his best friend, in ROH Supercard of Honor XV.
  • Evil Laugh: His combined with Martini's can be truly unnerving.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Prince Nana accelerated the House Of Truth's weakening, leaving Lethal with only Taeler Hendrix for support against an assault on ROH and himself from a heel turned Adam Page and Bullet Club. (Though what Nana wanted was a classic good vs evil with Dijak vs Lethal)
  • Face–Heel Turn: After spending nearly his entire post-Special K career as a face save for a brief turn in the winter of 2005-06, he accepted the help of Truth Martini in 2014 to win the ROH TV Championship and began a journey that would see him become the Big Bad of Ring of Honor.
  • Fanboy: During the X-Division Jackass angle.
  • Finishing Move
    • Hydroplane (springboard DDT), That's All She Wrote (Kryptonite Krunch)
    • Lethal Injection, Lethal Combination, Lethal Injection II, Diving Dynamite (Dynamite Kid Diving Headbutt). There are actually four Lethal Injections but the handspring cutter and diving DDT are the two most well known ones.
    • And of course, as Black Machismo, the Savage Elbow.
  • Fix Fic: His ROH match as "Machismo King" with Delirious in the role of Warrior, Maria Kanellis as "Elizabeth". It was a recreation of their "retirement match", save a few crucial details...
  • Flipping the Bird: To Steve Corino when he claimed to be dating Lethal's mother.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Started out as a part of a group of idiotic rave kids. Now the most dominant wrestler in Ring of Honor and its World Champion. Man, Level Grinding sure does have its benefits.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Or an initialism, as he claimed ACH stood for "A Crack Head" after he missed a flight to Canada where he would have challenged for Lethal's television title.
  • Genre Savvy: Lethal (and Martini) deciding to keep and defend both of his ROH World titles separately is this both in and out of kayfabe. In kayfabe Lethal is making sure that he can't lose both titles at once under normal circumstances. Out of kayfabe it means the company isn't losing future use of one of its only two singles championships. The tradeoff was that he would often have to do double duty and defend in two separate matches at pay-per-views, and as reDRagon doubtlessly proved, if both challengers were friends they could use that to really get under his skin. That said, the decision panned out when he lost the Television Championship a few months later to Roderick Strong, as he still held the World title and credibility as the top dog in the company and would continue to do so until August 19, 2016.
  • Groin Attack: On the first night of the 2014 Survival Of The Fittest, Lethal's strikes, dives and even a successful suplex were proving ineffective against Hanson, but Lethal finally managed to halt the larger man when Hanson was charging Lethal in the corner and ran into a nut shot.
  • Handshake Substitute: He and Tara greet each other with simultaneous slaps to the face, Lethal saying it's the proper way to address such a lady. It's seemingly okay as long as it's in unison.
  • Hidden Depths: He's smaller than Punk and only slightly larger than Danielson but even during his Hydro days where he was best known for doing flips he was able to give both Dunn and Marcos of the Ring Crew Express, who pass the 300 lbs mark together, a dragon suplex at the same time.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Did this to Jay Briscoe. Briscoe had previously set up a "Real ROH World Champion" angle after being stripped of the title due to injury and being forced to surrender it to the winner of a tournament, who he went on to beat to become the official champion again. Lethal merely did the exact same thing to Briscoe in a more clever and subversive way, changing the claim to "I made this the most important title in the company so that makes me the real champion" while almost never addressing Briscoe or the World title directly until Nigel McGuinness put the two on a collision course.
  • I Have Many Names: Jamar Cunningham, Hydro, Black Machismo, JR Lethal, RPM, Machismo King
  • Insane Troll Logic: During a shared interview with AJ Styles about their World Title match at Final Battle 2015, Lethal had these thoughts on Styles' Darker and Edgier look, which he'd had for nearly three years at that point:
    "He's got a pleather jacket on, he grew his hair, baseball cap always covering his eyes, because he knows, deep down inside, I'M the greatest wrestler in the world now!""'
  • Irony: After spending at least four months trying to prove the television title was more important than Ring Of Honor's World Title, it ended up being the first of the two he would lose. To Roderick Strong no less, losing despite having Strong's former stable in his own corner the second time around.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Dave Meltzer was baffled by his Kevin Steen induced Face–Heel Turn during the early days of ROH's Sinclair Broadcast era but it ended up working out nicely.
  • Jobber: Made use of "LOCAL UNDERDOG CHAMPIONSHIP CHALLENGE" to increase his win count and put off defenses against actual contenders.
  • Large Ham: Particularly when he's either impersonating people or on a serious ego trip.
  • Leitmotif: Attenzione (Jens O. Remix), as with most of Special K, "Static" in TNA when not doing the Machismo gimmick, in which case it would be "Pomp And Circumstance", "A Lethal Dosage" back in ROH, with the House of Truth "Konkussion" (2008 Demo) in New Japan, Scorched Ops in ROH.
  • Level Grinding: His entire career. The introduction bio pretty much chronicles it.
  • Lured into a Trap: Took Eric Bischoff at his word and came with the other unaffiliated TNA Champions (besides the three knockouts) to make a truce with Immortal before Genesis 2011. That was the beginning of the end of Lethal's reign as X Division champion and the second to final nail in the coffin of his TNA run.
  • Momma's Boy: And proud to be. That said, it can also be a weakness, though. See Berserk Button above. Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas, as the pompous protege of the House of Truth he will spare a genuine smile for his parents when they come to support him.
  • Nothing Personal: Said he had nothing against Satoshi Kojima, who had given up his spot in the 2016 G1 Climax for an opportunity to take the ROH World Title belt from Lethal, but said his intentions to crush Kojima were out of necessity for a snowball effect in his on going efforts to get revenge on Bullet Club, compounded by a loss to Kojima would deny him Adam Cole at Death Before Dishonor.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When he was doing Black Machismo or imitating Ric Flair he was a pretty fun loving guy. But when he drops the act and starts talking to you in his normal voice you better watch out.
  • Perky Female Minion: Being in The House of Truth has awarded him with the services of Seleziya Sparx and Taeler Hendrix.
  • Power Stable:
    • Special K in the early goings of his ROH run.
    • The TNA Frontline in 2008 in their war against the Main Event Mafia.
    • Became the new figurehead of the House of Truth in 2014 to amazing results.
    • Teased with Los Ingobernables de Japón but the spot ultimately went to SANADA.
  • Pride: An obvious vulnerability during his World Title reign, although it was one Truth Martini was able to recognize and reign in before Lethal stumbled into traps set by the opposition. Hendrix on the other hand had much less success in this area after Dijak had put Martini in the hospital, resulting in Colt Cabana entering into contention after a five year absence from ROH by pinning Lethal in a match he was under no obligation to accept.
  • Put on a Bus: From TNA to ROH in 2011. Ironically he briefly became more important to TNA storylines since then, as it was used to fuel the motivations for both Fortune and the X-Division against Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff's Immortal faction which was running things at the time.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Rich Bastard Stoners: Part of this as "Hydro" with Special K, though Samoa Joe would put an end to that period of silliness.
  • Red Baron: Black Machismo/The Machismo King in his Randy Savage Ersatz persona. As part of the House of Truth, however, he's the Greatest First Generation Wrestler (in the world/alive today/of all time/etc.).
  • Run the Gauntlet: Defied. After being one of those assaulted during "The super kick party" on at the 2016 Global Wars, Lethal vowed to run through Bullet Club, taking down each and every last member, one by one]]. He only got as far as Adam Page before the rest of the group jumped him and shaved Lethal's head.
  • Seven-Year Rule: It's 2003, Fox Sports Net has two wrestling shows with an Impact Zone, TNA and IWA Puerto Rico, okay, Zona Impacte for the latter, who are running an angle where Ray Gonzales and Super Phoenix are having a title match where Savio Vega must be suspended above the ring in a cage. Seven years later, Vega is working on TNA's B Show and Jay Lethal is in a match with Robbie E, where Cookie is suspended above the ring in a cage. Both matches even shared a spot, Vega/Cookie dropping brass knuckles down from the cage for Phoenix/E.
  • Spiteful Spit: After Kevin Steen spat on his mother, Lethal spat on Nigel McGuinness to show him what it feels like and let him know why he wanted to hurt Steen for it so badly.
  • Spot Monkey: Special K were a mockery of the concept, being rich perpetually high kids with no respect for anything, let alone the business they had entered. Lethal also had some traits of this in the X Division, as it was often focused more on spots than wrestling and Lethal is good at doing flips and such while landing on his feet. If there was ever a time he didn't have a grasp on Wrestling Psychology though, Hydro gained it by the time he was asked to leave Special K by Shelley and even his least psychological X division work was deemed acceptable to good by the Observer.
  • Stripperiffic: Most of what is worn by pro wrestlers is admittedly. What made Lethal standout on Family Feud is that he opted to simply wear his entrance attire even there, while everyone else came in casual clothing, covered up with merchandise or wore their least revealing gear(which in Von Erich's case wasn't much better). Yes it was commented on and no Lethal did not change until the last day.
  • Student–Master Team: With his trainee, Miss April.
  • Suddenly Shouting: His promo on ACH for their September 6th 2014 rematch for All-Star Extravaganza started with Truth Martini talking for Lethal after Lethal told him they were not going to yell. As soon as Martini started to raise his voice though, Lethal dismissed him and started to address ACH in a subdued manner, before shouting even louder than Martini was.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: After months of being taunted by chants of "AJ Styles", Lethal finally silenced the crowds by defeating the returning number one contender at the 2015 ROH Final Battle.
  • There Can Be Only One: Claiming you're the only champion that matters in ROH as well as replacing your secondary title belt with a belt that outright calls you the company's world champion in complete disregard to the actual world champion? Yeah, pretty much asking for this. Especially when you've both beaten pretty much everyone else.
  • Tournament Arc
    • Teamed with Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin and Sonjay Dutt and Alex Shelley to win TNA's 2006 World X Cup.
    • Won WSU's 2009 "Queen and King Of The Ring" with Miss April as his partner.
    • Won ROH's 2012 Survival Of The Fittest, which is more a series of qualifying matches for an elimation match but was originally intended to be a continuation of the Maryland Championship Wrestling Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup. He outlasted Adam Cole, Davey Richards, Michael Elgin, Mike Mondo and Roderick Strong in said elimination match.
    • Won a six pack featuring Dean Allmark, El Ligero, Martin Kirby, Marty Scurll and MK McKinnan to Southside Wrestling Entertainment's "Speed King 2013".
    • Competed in the ROH Pure Championship Tournament in 2020. He ended up being the runner-up to the eventual winner Jonathan Gresham.
  • Tranquil Fury: He was spewing his rage near the top of his lungs at almost every ROH show after Bullet Club shaved off his braids, but when he finally got Adam Cole in the ring, Lethal was stoic and methodical in his attack. Although he did end up losing his temper a few times, in part to Cole's constant disrespect, causing Lethal to make a few mistakes that ultimately cost him the match and his World Title belt.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Toward former tag team partner and mentor, Samoa Joe, a couple months before the end of his first full-time ROH run.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: After a hip toss he tends to cartwheel before doing a dropkick. He did it from the opposite direction after Lio Rush bounded past him the first time it was attempted on him.
  • We Used to Be Friends: In ROH, Samoa Joe was the guy that got Jay Lethal out of Special K and mentored him into a respectable competitor up until Lethal turned heel on him to beat him in a match. In TNA, Joe came in a monster on a mission and had no use for allies such as Lethal, squashing him on several occasions during the two's earliest days there, and aside from a couple of house show tag matches and association within the TNA Frontline in late 2008, they have never been on the same page.
  • Villain with Good Publicity
    • Equally good at representing ROH as he is The HOT. He was allowed to throw the first pitch at a White Sox game before Global Wars in Chicago, which lead to their Tampa Bay rivals also giving him the honor.
    • He also did WhatCulture Wrestling 's "10 things you need to know about ROH" in place of their regulars.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Lethal's told Jay Briscoe he hates him, told everyone who will listen that Briscoe is not on his level and told ROH a rematch with Briscoe after taking the world title from him probably wouldn't do any buys. His behavior in the ring tells a different story than his words and after that rematch happened, a year later, Lethal admitted he doesn't give Briscoe enough credit.
    • After an amazing match against El Ligero in WCPW where the two matched each other move for move, only to have it end in disqualification due to interference, Lethal vowed that Ligero would one day receive a shot at his ROH title because the Mexican Sensation brought out the best in him, and had earned his respect doing so.
  • You Are Not Ready: He was initially disdainful of having to defend his World Title against Lio Rush, proclaiming that ROH was out of ideas. After the match, Lethal decided that Lio Rush was good and might eventually become a better wrestler than him but that for now he was the best wrestler in the world and getting a defense against the 2016 Top Prospect Tournament winner clearly proved there were no challengers left in ROH.