Ring of Honor celebrated the end of an era with their Final Battle pay-per-view on December 11. The promotion is now going on a hiatus, with the intention to return at some point in the future.

ROH Chief Operating Officer Joe Koff recently dropped by on the Ring of Honor Strong Podcast to discuss the event. Final Battle: End of an Era saw many surprises, including the return of Jay Lethal, who Koff has much admiration for. Lethal replaced Bandido in the main event against Jonathan Gresham for the original ROH World Championship. The former ROH World Champion was unable to travel due to contracting Covid-19.

“It was like, ‘Serendipity’,” Koff said on the return of Jay Lethal. “Obviously I would have loved to have both of them of there, but we were prepared either way. As it happened, you know, there’s something to if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

“I don’t want that meant to be to go to Covid for Bandido, but for Jay to play Final Battle was kind of sweet for the fans. Sweet for everybody, because Jay was beloved in our organization because he’s a fabulous person, a real professional and respected, as he should be.”

Jay Lethal left ROH and debuted for AEW on November 13. Joe Koff confirmed that he was not involved in the process of bringing Lethal back for Final Battle: End of an Era. He instead trusted his team to work out all the details.

“No,” Joe Koff stated in response to being asked if he was involved in the finer details of bringing back two-time ROH World Champion. “As much as this might be surprising, and it really shouldn’t be, because it’s always been the same way. They called me and told me that’s what they did. I trust my people to make the right decisions for the organization because they feel about the organization as I do. So when I heard it, I smiled, just like many fans did.”

In regards to Lethal’s departure from Ring of Honor, Joe Koff mentioned that it was emotional to see him leave and he didn’t want to stand in his way. He confirmed that Jay Lethal wanted the freedom to talk to whomever he wished, company-wise, for his wrestling career.

“Jay’s been a good steward for the wrestling part of the business. He’s done a good job, he’s admirable, he’s honorable. If any of them came to me on that day with that request, of course, I would do that, why would I stand in their way? I haven’t stood in anyone else’s way. Why would I start doing it on that day? You’ve got to be consistent in how you behave,” Koff said.

As well as Jay Lethal appearing at Final Battle: End of an Era, there were also many other surprise appearances. IMPACT Wrestling star Deonna Purrazzo appeared, former WWE Superstar Braun Strowman and AEW tag team FTR also made their presence felt.

“Let me touch on that,” Koff replied when asked about the “Forbidden Door” now being open for Ring of Honor. “I’d never even heard of that, I didn’t even know what that meant. Somebody used that term and I asked them ‘what are you even talking about?’ When you think about that for a second, when did we really have a forbidden door? I mean we worked with New Japan, we did promotions with NWA, we worked with New Japan America. I mean yes, we did not work with WWE at the time, but it wasn’t because we didn’t necessarily want to, they wouldn’t want to. I mean, it wasn’t even a thought. They set their own rules, and respectfully so. I would never question what they do, they do an unbelievable job.

“AEW, you know we didn’t really have a lot of opportunities. They’re building their promotion, they wrestled through Covid. I think had Covid not hit, I think we probably would have seen a little bit more.”

One of the surprises from AEW, FTR, was performing in Ring of Honor for the first time. Joe Koff said was blown away by the respect they showed his organization that night.

“I do want to say one thing about the guys from FTR, and I really hope they don’t mind me telling this story. I went up to thank them for being there because I thought it was important. I wanted to make sure Tony Khan knew how appreciative I was,” Joe Koff began the story. “I met them for the first time. I said ‘I really thank you for being here.’

“One of them, and I’m not sure which one because I don’t know their names off-hand so I apologize guys. He said ‘you know, I’ve always dreamed of wrestling in Ring of Honor and tonight I can cross it off my bucket list.’ That meant so much to me. That’s that respect. That’s that respect for who, and what we are that he felt that, and this is a guy that’s played on the big stage over the last two years. I mean, they’ve been to big places. But to have that sense of that just really meant a lot to me.”

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Ring of Honor Strong Podcast with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

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