Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman welcomed one half of the ROH Tag Team Champions Jonathan Gresham to The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast to talk about the return of the Pure Championship as well as Gresham's role in ROH. Gresham was asked about being a locker room leader, but he explained why he doesn't feel that way about himself.
"You know, that's funny you say that. I've heard this recently, maybe three or four times now, about me being a locker room leader, and when I look around that locker room, I definitely don't see myself as that," Gresham admitted. "When I look around, I see guys that have the experience like PCO, guys that have been around like Kenny King that saw me when I first started, and I was getting squash matches at FIP back in like 2006.
"I don't see myself as a locker room leader. I see myself trying to, I don't know, prove myself still because I feel like my size, it makes people not want to put me in certain position, so I have to overcome it, continue to earn respect essentially. I've never been one of those guys that my reputation precedes me. Wherever I went, whatever promotion that I went to, I had to start over at the bottom.
"I wasn't like really good in CZW and being world champion. Then all of a sudden, I had to come over here to whatever promotion. I was still having to wrestle on the bottom of the card again and then building my way up. It never did anything for me to be in the main event picture anywhere."
Gresham was called a locker room leader by Kenny King when King appeared on The Wrestling Inc. Daily. However, Gresham noted that pro wrestling takes more than just one person and that he credits all the other aspects of pro wrestling to a wrestler's success.
"So essentially all I'm saying is I don't see myself as that, but I think it probably comes from me just, I pride myself on not allowing professional wrestling to gas me up," Gresham stated. "I see a lot of guys get gassed up because they wrestle for a certain company, or they hold a certain title or they're having five-star matches all the time. At the end of the day, you can't do it alone. Everything we do in pro wrestling, you have to have a partner for it. You're only as good as the man standing across the ring from you, and oftentimes, both of you guys can be great, but you have to make sure and you have to have faith in your referee.
"There's so many parts of the match that enhance the experience of one match, the announcers, the commentators and the referee. They don't get enough credit for making the matches what they are. You watch a great match, a five-star match with really s--t commentary or s--t referee, it ruins it."
Gresham credited his tag team partner Jay Lethal for being one of the people behind the scenes that gave him opportunities. He also praised Lethal's promo skills that left him wanting to let Lethal take over and listen and learn from him.
"I can't take credit for anything in that regard, but with Lethal, I give credit to Lethal for a lot," Gresham said. "I don't often allow him to I guess speak in a way where he can take away that credit because I feel everything I have now in Ring of Honor is due to a few men that, for some reason, saw something in me and gave me opportunities that I probably wouldn't have gotten if it wasn't for them.
"So guys like Alex Shelley, Cody [Rhodes], when he was around, and Jay Lethal, they've done a lot for me behind the scenes, and I can't thank them enough for those opportunities to show that, I guess, I belong, but what I learned from Lethal is a lot of things outside of the ring, not necessarily wrestling related, but how to present yourself. Watching him do promos, being next to him and me just like not wanting to say anything and just giving him the floor completely. I learned a tremendous amount from just listening to him and how he decides to use words and different things of that nature."
Hausman asked Gresham what it is like to be in a position where he can influence and create change. Gresham discussed the idea of wanting to be more constructive and not to "add noise to arguments".
"That's been my, and I talked to a lot of younger wrestlers as well because I'm a firm believer... there's a lot of arguments going on, political arguments, in the world right now, and I feel that a lot of the hate and a lot of the misunderstanding comes from people making noise," Gresham explained. "So the way I see it is, yes, people speaking out about suppression and injustices not just in wrestling, but in the world in general, is very important to bring awareness to it.
"But if you're just going to say something like, 'oh, f--k that guy, or forget that guy,' that's just adding more noise to the argument, and then in turn, turning people against the movement that otherwise probably would be neutral. So if you don't have anything constructive to say, definitely have a platform on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or whatever, I think you need to use those platforms and not add noise to arguments because it just makes more division. So I've always been the kind of person that if I see something and I want change, I want to now become a part of it to change it from the inside like you said."
Gresham used the example of becoming the head trainer at the ROH Dojo where he hopes to bring pure wrestling and technical wrestling to ROH on a regular basis. He said he tries to make people feel comfortable and tries to being back the vibe of ROH in 2005.
"That's my whole thought process, and when I saw Ring of Honor and I saw OK, I can say it all day long. They don't want to push pure wrestling, I guess," Gresham pointed out. "I'm not sure why. Maybe because they were banking on The Young Bucks staying around, or I don't know, but I said, 'OK, we have to think about the next crop and the next group of guys.' And I looked at the indies, and I said, 'a lot of these guys aren't stylistically like Will Ospreay and The Young Bucks. And eventually, the style is going to change again to where that high flying, high impact style is still going to be there but something else is going to replace that.' So I'm hoping that is pure wrestling, technical wrestling.
"So I want to make it where guys and women want to be a part of this company, and so that's when I decided to, instead of just doing my own training camps that I was doing on my own, I decided to become a part of Ring of Honor and approach management about being a coach at the dojo since they had a dojo. And they didn't really have someone to be the head trainer there. So we talked about that, and then I ended up becoming the head trainer there. I just treat people the way I want to be treated, and if people are feeling like that about me and about Ring of Honor, I feel like I'm just doing my job.
"I just want to make people comfortable, and I want the best wrestlers to gravitate towards coming to Ring of Honor. I want them to want to be here. I want people here that want to prove that they are the best at whatever they're presenting themselves as. I want that vibe. I feel like that's the vibe that Ring of Honor had back in 2005, and I want that vibe to be in Ring of Honor again."
Jonathan Gresham can be seen every week on ROH TV. For more information please visit ROHwrestling.com. Gresham's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.