Josh Woods reflects on winning the ROH Pure Championship and describes why it was a bittersweet day.
Woods was a featured member of the Ring of Honor roster in the later years of the previous era. He won the Top prospect Tournament in 2017, and he later became one of the top competitors in the company’s Pure Division. Woods dethroned ROH Pure Champion Jonathan Gresham in a memorable match at ROH Death Before Dishonor 2021.
Speaking on AEW Unrestricted, Woods reflected on his title win and recalled how his father was supposed to be there to watch him wrestle for the first time, but he passed away before the show. Woods noted that calling his father after every show had been a ritual for him while he was on the road.
“This is a hard one for me. So prior to that, which was in September, my father had never seen me wrestle before,” Woods said. “He saw me in college and in MMA stuff, and he was there when I won nationals and all that good stuff. So prior to that, we were gonna wrestle in Lakeland, and that’s nearly three hours from my dad. He had passed maybe a month before that show. He was gonna be there.
“Obviously we’d talk about wrestling. Any trip I had, whether it was an independent show or for Ring of Honor, I would call my dad after and we would talk about it, so that was kind of my travel ritual.
Woods then described how ROH Death Before Dishonor was the first show since his father passed away, and during Gresham’s entrance, he started crying because he saw someone who looked like his dad in the crowd.
“That would have been the first show I had since that happened, and he was gonna be there,” Woods said. “I didn’t tell him it was gonna happen just because it would have been more fun if he just saw. So we had a match, and I was jazzed to have him there. When he passed, it was a rough moment for me. Me and my dad were real close.
“So I do my entrance, and Jon does his, and I get out of the ring. There’s this dad who looks just like my dad, and I was like, ‘Oh, sh—.’ I just start crying. I’m like oh my god. I literally just start crying in Jon’s entrance. I’m like oh my god, what is going on with me right now? Then I’m like, ‘Well, I’m about to wrestle.’ Good thing I don’t remember any of that.”
Looking back on his victory, Woods described how it was one of his biggest accomplishments in his wrestling career because it showed that he reached a certain level. He made it clear that ROH’s trust in him was quite meaningful, and he’s confident that his dad would have been proud of him.
“Winning it, it’s kind of hard, it was probably one of my biggest accomplishments in pro wrestling for sure,” Woods said. “Not just because, ‘Oh, you win a belt or a title,’ but just what it means to do something like that, that you’ve hit X amount of credit or good at whatever you do. It’s more than just winning something. It’s that this company trusts you, and that’s insane, that this company trusts you to be the face of this division or to lead it, and that’s awesome for me.
“I know my dad would have been really proud of that. I think it meant more to me in the fact that my dad would have been really proud, so it was more so for that than the accomplishment of doing it. In regards of Jon’s standing with this company, he’s probably one of the best wrestlers in the world, and to have another match with him, it’s just constantly always good, top to bottom.”
ROH went on hiatus after ROH Final Battle 2021, and Tony Khan bought the company in March 2022. In recent months, Woods has frequently competed on AEW programming. He has formed a tag team with Tony Nese, and the duo have been named the Varsity Athletes.