Ring Of Honor commentator Kevin Kelly recently spoke with Kevin Eck for PressBoxOnline.com while promoting tomorrow night’s ROH Final Battle PPV.
Kelly runs down some of the matches on the card, including the ROH World Championship match and Cody Rhodes’ debut, and more. You can read a few excerpts below:
Kevin Kelly talks about the significance of Kyle O’Reilly vs Adam Cole:
Yes, this match does have incredible significance to me, not only because of my deep respect for both athletes and for the title that they are fighting for, but several years ago, while they were still a tag team as Future Shock, I had a dream that one day Kyle O’Reilly would wrestle Adam Cole in the main event of “Final Battle” for the Ring of Honor World Championship. I kid you not. I told both of them that, and at the time they were both a long way away from that coming true. And now here we are. They are at the absolute peak of their games. Adam Cole has shown his resiliency in coming back from injury and displaying the toughness and maturity required in becoming a two-time champion. Kyle O’Reilly has found his voice in the ring with blending his hybrid style and equating that to modern-day grappling arts of professional wrestling and being able to create a style that’s all his own. I think this match is everything that represents Ring of Honor. It’s young stars, it’s incredible athletes, it’s a modern-day presentation of professional wrestling with some of the most hard-hitting action that anyone’s going to see.
Kevin comments on how the fans will react to seeing Cody Rhodes debut for Ring Of Honor:
I think Cody Rhodes will get a tremendous reaction. Based on what kind of heart he shows in the ring, what kind of toughness he displays, the reaction at the end of that match will be more telling. I think a lot of fans will be excited to see him, but then he has to perform. He has to deliver. He’s a big name; he’s in a big spot; he’s wrestling a former world champion who has had one of the greatest years in professional wrestling and who looks to cap it off with a win over a second-generation guy. For the last two or three years, Jay Lethal has referred to himself as the greatest first-generation wrestler, and he’s facing one of the most high-profile second-generation stars in pro wrestling today. Cody has everything to prove; Jay Lethal has nothing to prove. I think that Lethal was seriously aggravated by the fact that when Cody Rhodes put out his list [of wrestlers he wanted to face after leaving WWE last May] that made so many headlines, Jay Lethal’s name was conspicuously left off. Was that an error of omission or commission? Cody is going to have to answer to that because I think Jay Lethal is going to look to show him and the world that he and Ring of Honor are the absolute best.
Kevin’s thoughts on the rumored ‘talent raid’ of ROH by WWE:
We look at it in one respect as flattery. Certainly, imitation is its most sincere form. We look at the number of opportunities we have given to stars throughout the years, and for each departure, we have found stars equal to or greater than those they replaced. We also are very committed to making sure that all of our potential free agents are presented with comparable contract offers, and we look for Ring of Honor to be a promotion of choice. We look for athletes that want to be here because they want to prove themselves against the very best. We know that for every roster spot that opens up, there’s an opportunity for someone new to step in and captivate the imagination of the fan base. We’re very excited about where talent is positioned for 2017 and beyond, and we’re actively locking up key members of our roster right now. The more that our competition pushes us, the more that it drives us, but we’re motivated by our own goals, and we have long-term plans in place for taking Ring of Honor to bigger and bigger heights. We feel very confident with our strategies and with our ability to re-sign and retain those who want to be here.