jonathan gresham
Photo Credit: IMPACT Wrestling

Jonathan Gresham Discusses His AEW/ROH Release

Jonathan Gresham opens up about his release from Ring of Honor and All Elite Wrestling.

Gresham won the ROH World Championship at ROH Final Battle 2021; when Bandido, the reigning champion, was unable to compete, Gresham defeated Lethal to win the title. After AEW’s Tony Khan bought ROH in March, the company held the Supercard of Honor event in April, where Gresham defeated Bandido to win the gold.

Gresham reportedly signed with AEW/ROH and made multiple appearances on AEW TV ahead of ROH Death Before Dishonor in July, where Claudio Castagnoli beat him to win the title. Following this defeat, reports emerged that Gresham cursed at Khan and was granted his release after he asked for it.

In an interview with Nick Hausman of Haus of Wrestling, Gresham discussed the situation. After expressing his gratitude for the way AEW let him honor his dates with wXw and PROGRESSS despite being signed, he detailed his mindset about his time with AEW and the new ROH regime. Gresham emphasized that he’s passionate about his character, and he’s protective of it because he has put years of work into crafting the persona.

Reflecting on his behavior, Gresham stated that he acted unprofessionally. He noted that he felt like he was being blown off, and he started getting frustrated, as he just wanted to be heard.

“I can admit that I was acting very unprofessionally while trying and failing to convey the message to my former employer,” Gresham said. “After weeks of feeling like I wasn’t being heard or blown off, I was frustrated, to be honest. All I wanted was to be heard and for the communication to be had. If they had agreed and liked my ideas and what I wanted to say, great, if not, I would have appreciated the time and just accepted the outcome.”

Gresham described how he had a good relationship with the previous regime, which led him to expect more of the same with Khan, and he admitted that he may have been wrong in doing so.

“Now, speaking about the actual meeting, leading up to it, I felt like I was blown off in different ways,” Gresham said. “I had made contact with my employer and me coming from, like I mentioned before, under the last regime with Ring of Honor, I had a really good relationship where we could talk over the phone. If I texted them, they would get back to me relatively quickly. It was just a really good back-and-forth communication. So, I think, for me, I was expecting the same thing and maybe I shouldn’t have.”

He then noted that Khan is busy, and he now understands that he was only one small gear in the proverbial machine. Gresham then detailed getting flown into a show and feeling somewhat thrown off because it was a new environment for him. He stated that he never got a time regarding the meeting, and he fruitlessly waited for two days to get a meeting with Khan. Gresham recalled how he had to “hunt” Khan down on another occasion in an attempt to get a meeting, and it felt like he was getting blown off because Khan introduced him to someone and walked away.

With these situations, Gresham stated that he felt like Khan didn’t respect him, though he stated that he was his own worst enemy because he was going through a hard time. He revealed that his mother had a “really bad incident,” and she was in the hospital.

“So, at this point, I am thinking to myself, ‘This guy must not respect me at all,” Gresham said. “I just started having things roll around in my mind and I think, at the time, I was my own worst enemy with this. There was a lot of stuff going on personally with me. Nobody but the Progress guys know that my Mom had a really bad incident, she was in the hospital for like a week and it was the first time I had ever seen my Mom so vulnerable with tubes going through her face and stuff. A lot of this was just me under a lot of stress, I believe. But, I really felt I was disrespected.”

The former champion detailed how he struggled with the way it felt like, despite his proven success, he couldn’t even get a few minutes of Khan’s time. He then brought up the meeting he finally had with Khan and expressed his regret for yelling and cursing. Gresham credited therapy for giving him some introspection on the matter. Ahead of the meeting, Gresham stated that he knew he was going to ask for his release, and being booked to lost the ROH World Championship had nothing to do with it.

“I remember getting a text from Sonjay and I was sitting with one of my buddies in the bleachers and, at that time, I had already checked out. I knew I was going to leave,” he said. ” I knew that I was going to ask for my release. The other thing that really bothered me was, a lot of people were under the impression that I left because I lost the Ring of Honor title and that’s not true. I’ve been wrestling for a long time and I’ve won championships and had to lose championships, that’s just part of business and life in general. You can’t be the champion forever, so, that’s not what it was.”

Regarding his behavior at the meeting, Gresham stated that he shouldn’t have yelled or cursed in a professional environment, but the situation got away from him. He then expressed his wish to apologize to Castagnoli for the difficult circumstances. While he noted that he hasn’t been in touch with anyone from AEW or ROH aside from some texts with QT Marshall, Gresham stated that Tony Khan told him that he hadn’t burned any bridges.

“After my match with Claudio, I was kinda booking it out of there, I couldn’t be there,” Gresham said. “Claudio did come up to me and say some things, along with Mr. Regal, who was there at the time. But, before I did get out of there completely, my wife had my bags and stuff, and TK, he didn’t have to, but he came over to me and said some really nice things. He told me that no bridges were burned, he shook my hand and he said he knows that I am not a bad person.”

Gresham pointed out that Khan constantly deals with athletes, so the AEW CEO likely knew where he was coming from and granted his request for his release.

Following his departure, Gresham eventually signed with IMPACT Wrestling in December, and he has been a featured member of the roster ever since.