O’Shay Edwards spent years working toward an opportunity with Ring of Honor. All the sacrifice  paid off for the “Big Bad Kaiju” when he had his first TV match with the promotion in February. The Shane Taylor Productions member went the distance with Sledge, who just signed with the promotion and is also looking to prove himself.

“That was validation,” he said. “Something we all seek. For me, validation meant all those years and miles and missed meals, the sleepless nights and traveling when you had a regular job on Monday…It’s just the beginning. I call it one of my highest highs because I told myself and the world just watch what I’m going to do. There is nobody going to stop me but me, and I’m not going to stop.”

Edwards was admittedly nervous before heading to the ring. The former University of West Georgia football player likens it to being in your first NFL game.

“Once you get that first snap out of the way, you’re going to be okay,” he said. “Once the music hit and the bell rang I didn’t think about it anymore. I’m here to grow. I’m going to put in the work. It’s really easy to talk crap, but when that bell rings you have to back it all up. It felt good to get it out there and see it. I had to keep my mouth shut for a long time about it. When it finally happened, my mother and father got to see me wrestle on TV.

“That was a big deal. My mother cried…That was a big deal because my family has been my diehards. Getting a chance to get in the ring with Sledge and throw down was fun. To hear the feedback from everybody was amazing because I have such blinders on. Now that I’ve done it once, I want more.”

O'Shay Edwards

Edwards honed his skills in the ROH Dojo after gaining experience working on the independent scene. The time served as a motivator to up the emerging talent’s game. Just as momentum was building for the star the world shut down. Edwards had a packed WrestleMania week planned with around eight bookings over the course of four days.

“That time I got my body in the best shape it has ever been in. I was already good at talking, but I wanted to do more with it,” he said. “Twitter makes the world go round. Let’s start working on promos and making them better. Let’s make production better. All the things you don’t see in front of the screen, let’s work on that stuff.

“The lighting got better, camera, microphone. I started writing scripts and building sets. The joke was, ‘Hey man, are you trying to win an Academy Award?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I am.’ I wanted to set the bar for this is what we can do with a cell phone. It has been great to see what guys come up with and people put out there. It makes me smile.”

It was also in 2020 where Edwards opened up about living his truth as bisexual through a heartfelt entry for Outsports. He detailed struggles with his sexual identity, yet found acceptance and liberation entering the wrestling industry.

“Wrestling allowed me to be who I wanted to be,” Edwards, a former firefighter, said. “That’s what wrestling is all the way around. You get to be the one person you’ve always wanted to be. I always knew who I was, but I was never afforded the opportunity to express it. I loved being a fireman. I was in the middle of a career. Not a great time for me because I knew who I was in the room with. Reading the room becomes important and is a very underrated skill.

“Those who needed to know, knew. But that wasn’t the time [to share]. It wasn’t until I was able to mentally explore who I was before I could finally come out there and live my truth. Since then it has been one of the greatest things. There hasn’t been a single negative word. If there has been, it hasn’t been told to my face. At the same time, I had people come up to me thanking me. It’s hard. I understand, but  it gets better. It doesn’t define you. I’m still trying to make it like everyone else. I’m just out. That’s it.”

Edwards also hopes to inspire others through the strong group featuring men of color in Shane Taylor Productions. A faction that also includes Shane Taylor and SOS (Sons of Savagery).

“Growing up watching wrestling there weren’t really a lot of black main eventers at the time. The wrestlers of color were shown on TV we’re just exaggerated stereotypes of themselves or jokes,” he said. “I’m not knocking it. I get it. For what the time was, I understand it, but people can be more than a stereotype. As wrestling started to transform and evolve it got better.

“I knew when I started wrestling and started getting into it that now kids were going to watch me.  That eight-year-old is watching me now, so you have to be really careful about what you say, what you do, and how you say it, and how you do it. That kid is going to want to grow up to be just like you one day. Are you presenting the best version of yourself? That was a question I had to ask myself, especially when I’m wrestling and putting out this content for people to see. I always want to have the best version of myself out there for the world to see. I mess up. I’m human and will continue to mess up. But at the end of the day, I still want to be a good person. I never want that to be washed away. Representation is huge. Representation is everything. But at the same time I don’t want to be a charity case. I’m not here to check a box. I’m here because I’m good.”

And if Edwards had his way the Georgia native would be in ROH for the long haul. There have been talks between him and the company.

“Phone is open guys,” Edwards said. “It has been no secret that Ring of Honor is where I needed to be. It’s no secret Ring of Honor is where I strived to be. I put that out in the universe as what I wanted to do. At the end of the day, there are people above me making these decisions. I have to make sure at the end of the day I take away every reason for them to say no. That way it’s a unanimous yes.

“I would like to spend the rest of my career there because it’s where I want to be and getting to work with guys like Jay Lethal, Shane Taylor, Kenny King and Jonathan Gresham. These are the guys I always want to work with. To be in the room with them as more than another guy. It means a lot. That’s a feeling I’m not ready to give up just yet.”

Ring of Honor TV, Syndication and HonorClub. The full audio and video from O’Shay’s interview can be found below: