Jay Lethal has had an impressive run in professional wrestling over the past 15 years. He’s taken on legends like Ric Flair and worked with AJ Styles and Xavier Woods in TNA, and he’s currently in his second run at Ring of Honor, which he was the RoH World Champion for over a year in 2015 and 2016. Currently, Lethal is trying to reclaim the title, but he has to get through RoH’s current champ, Dalton Castle.
When not in the ring, Lethal finds himself playing quite a lot of video games with other wrestlers in RoH or accidentally finding out he does dynamite impressions of Ric Flair and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Lethal spoke to GameSpot about this, as well as his recent segment with RoH Champion Dalton Castle, which you can watch on the Fite app.
GameSpot: You are wrestling on the road quite a bit during the year. Are you by any chance playing Switch right now?
Jay Lethal: I tried to think of a smart ass answer. I’m sorry. But yes, I am. And I feel bad for those who have yet to been able to get their hands on one. It’s amazing.
What are you playing the most?
It saves my life. Right now, I’m playing Mario Odyssey, although I’m only on Lake Kingdom, which is still relatively early in the game. Me and my buddy Sonjay are addicted to just going around and getting the Moons, so I really don’t even want to go on to the next stage. What else? When we’re at shows, a couple guys [play]–me, Chris Sabin, and a few others. I know Flip Gordon, we play Mario Kart, and Chris Sabin is amazing at it.
You’re in for kind of a rude awakening when you beat Odyssey because there are even more Moons.
It feels like a never ending cycle.
See, that’s gonna work for me because sometimes when I get on an airplane–and I’ve been doing this for 16 years now–it’s a great companion for me–this Switch. What else am I playing? I downloaded Rocket League, although I enjoyed for the PlayStation. Especially since it was a free download. On the Switch, you had to pay for it, but yeah it’s okay on the Switch. Another thing, you know what’s funky to me about the Switch?
None of my other friends have this issue; I don’t want to dock it, even when I’m home. Even when I’m home, I wanna play it in just handheld mode, but Sonjay tells me that Mario Odyssey is better when you take the Joy-Cons off. I just want to keep it all connected. I like my portable system. I don’t want to dock it and be part of the TV. And if I take the Joy-Cons off then I might as well dock it, otherwise I’m playing on such a small screen because now I gotta sit it down, and it’s not in my hand up close. What about you? Do you dock yours at all?
I bought it day one, and I’ve had it docked three times, and that was just to see how pretty Zelda looked. And I refuse to dock it now. I love just sitting on the coach; my wife can watch something that she likes to watch, and I’ll just play video games.
See I’ve docked it twice, and both times it would have been because my girlfriend wanted to play Snipperclips with me. So, that was okay but I just don’t… I never dock this thing. And I never really want to. I never feel the need to.
Are you playing anything on PlayStation right now that really you’re into?
Not really. To be honest, I only got the PS… I’m an Xbox guy. I only have the PS4 because my older brother and my younger brother, they’re both PlayStation guys at heart. They don’t own an Xbox, so I only got it for them. My brother and I play Diablo. We’re looking for another game similar to that right now. My oldest brother, he’s a big sports guy. So, Madden. Every Madden, of course that’s what we play, but he’s way more into sports than I am, so he destroys me. Although every time the new Madden comes out, I tell him I’m gonna practice, and you’re not gonna be able to beat me, but he always, always does. But it’s because he understands sports more than I do. I’m not that big into sports. When we come up to the line, he knows how to read the play, he knows… I don’t know any of that. I don’t know what I’m doing.
So, you’re not into any sports games? Not even UFC, which seems to have a cross over with wrestling.
See, I like the first UFC, the way the transitions happen; you roll the stick in certain directions, but then they changed that up and then it became to hard for me to play.
I can’t even do submissions with the new system.
Yeah, you see? I used to be great at it. They changed it up a little and man I’m no good, although some of the guys on our roster they actually love that game.
I think the most important question is, have you sent Dalton Castle a friend request on Facebook yet?
Believe it or not, I don’t have a Facebook, so it’s impossible to do, unless I were to create one. I’m more of a Instagram and Twitter person. The Facebook has never been… I’ve never been a big Facebook guy.
So, Dalton Castle is apparently looking at a fake Jay Lethal Facebook page.
Hey, there are plenty of those out there I realize. He probably sent some requests to the wrong Facebook account because I don’t have one.
It’s some 12-year-old kid from Madagascar.
You had a really great segment with him after he won the title. How do you prepare yourself to do a segment with someone with such a bizarre personality, and you have to play the I’d say the straight man?
Ah man, I’m welcoming this one. When I first broke onto the scene, it was another in-ring segment with him and I where we first learned about the Boys and he made them… They laid down and created some kind of table for him to lay on outta their bodies. It was weird but cool at the same time, and I’m extremely interested in making more moments like that.
The look on your face during that segment were you sat down on one of the Boys… So good.
Thank you. Growing up, I loved moments just like that on TV when I was watching wrestling. And wrestling is something different to everybody. Everybody takes it differently, they like certain things, they hate certain things. But luckily, I’ve been able to live my dream in this wrestling world, getting to create moments that I as a fan would have loved.
I’ve always considered you very, very strong on the mic, very strong within segments and promos. Where did you develop your skills on the mic?
Hm. See, I never had a class or much practice, or someone pull me aside and say, this is how it’s done. It was pretty much trial by fire, is what they called it. The very first time that I ever really had to cut promo in front of a live crowd with a live microphone, live TV, was against Ric Flair. So, I really was set up to either excel or fail miserably. Luckily, I was able to excel, and I really think that program that I had with Ric Flair, all the interviews in the ring, all the backstage segments, and all the matches that I had with him–is most people only think I had one, but I actually had a few matches with him. I really think that, that’s where I broke out of my shell and learned the ins and outs of wrestling promos and such like that.
Also, growing up, I was a huge of his, so I memorized all of his stuff. Memorizing Ric Flair promos doesn’t make you great at promos though, so it took a lot of practice. But yeah, I would say that program I had with him is what really helped with my character’s development and in-ring promos.
What would be, looking at your long career, what would be your favorite moment? Not necessarily match but your favorite moment within your career?
Oh, I’ve got two of those. One was stepping into the ring with my idol, Ric Flair, wrestling him live on pay per view. And the other would be, me becoming the Ring of Honor World Champion, becoming the face of a company. It’s like that promotion at every job that you hope for. It was amazing.
Your impressions of Ric Flair and Macho Man are wonderful. Just so good. The Ric Flair impression is… Your facial expressions and the way you put beats within your wording is so perfect. Do you just sit and practice his voice all day?
Well, believe it or not, the Ric Flair impression, I had never even known that I could do. All my life it was me imitating Savage, I’ve always been able to do the Randy Savage voice. So, that one I had down pat, so when that became my story, that was easy for me. I just do what I did all my life. But I hadn’t even realized that because I had watched so much Ric Flair, I had naturally without ever even realizing had this awesome Ric Flair impression and that I had never even attempted or tried until one day we had an off day in the UK. I was with TNA, and we were doing a tour of the UK. I had an off day, and everyone was at the bar [and] had a couple drinks. Everyone’s laughing and joking. And I just bust out this Ric Flair. I don’t know I just thought I would try one. And it was amazing. And I haven’t been able to stop since. The impression that is, not being at the bar.
So, how did the famous/infamous 2006 TNA Ric Flair segment come to be? How did you guys kind of decide the back and forth between you two?
That was all on the fly and nothing was written down, which made it the scariest moment of my life, but when I was doing that Ric Flair impression at that UK tour that we were having, Ric Flair was not at the company yet. He wasn’t with the company. So, I actually did this Ric Flair impression a few times after that once we got home. Everyone on the UK trip told everyone who wasn’t on it, “Hey, Jay has this awesome Ric Flair impression. You gotta have him do it,” so that became the thing of the locker room, hearing me do this impression. And then it seemed like two, three months later as luck would have it just I don’t even know how but I gotta a message from Earl Hebner saying, you’ll never believe who’s coming here. And I was like oh my goodness, this is gonna be so embarrassing, I thought because I knew exactly what would happen.
When he came, people made me do the impression for him, and he’d either love it or he’d hate it but either way I’d be a little embarrassed ’cause their gonna force me to do it, which is exactly what happened. Except he loved it, so I think he loved it so much that he went to the office and said, “Hey I wanna work with this guy.” Because, I mean, at that point in time, Ric Flair does what Ric Flair wants to do.
So, I’m sure it was him going to the office and saying, hey let me work with this guy and they let Ric Flair do what he did. Also, the funny part about it is–the funny and scary–like I said up until then I had never been given a live microphone in front of live crowd, on live TV until that very moment, so that was the scariest moment of my life. I’m maybe giving too much away here, but I don’t think it’s any secret. Most of the time when a wrestler is in the ring with a microphone, they have some bullet points or they pretty much know what they’re going to be talking about unless you were in the ring with Ric Flair. Nothing was written, there were no bullet points. You go out there, I had the old school way I guess, you go out there and you do the thing on the microphone and that to me was terrifying because this was my first time every doing this, I had no practice. The company had never given me this opportunity before but luckily I did good.
Are there any other impressions of other wrestlers that you have not brought out yet?
See, I think only when I have a megaphone I think I can do a pretty good Jimmy Hart, he’s got a high pitched [voice]. He always calls me “darlin” whenever I see him. “Hey Jimmy,” “Oh, hey ‘darlin. How’s it ‘goin baby?” So, I think I got an okay Jimmy Hart but other than that… And I make this joke, until Ring of Honor does an overseas tour, and we have an off day and everybody goes out to the bar, then I won’t find out what my next impression will be until then.