Jay Lethal on training with Flair: “I didn’t know what it was leading to”
AEW star Jay Lethal recently joined Busted Open Radio to discuss his participation in Ric Flair’s Last Match, and how he initially just thought that he was training the Nature Boy just for fun and had no idea it was leading to the historic event that took place last Sunday. Highlights from the interview can be found below.
When Flair first contacted him to begin training:
“I found out he moved or lived in Tampa in March, somewhere around March. He found out I had a school, he hit me up around end of March, early April. Me, being such a big fan, anybody standing around me at that time knew that I just got a text message from Ric Flair cause I’m going crazy. He said, ‘I heard you have a school, I want to get in, let’s do it.’ ‘Okay.’ The next day, I get a text from him that says, ‘Let’s do it, motherf***er. Let’s get in the ring.’ ‘What time?’ ‘Whatever time you tell me.’ We meet at the ring, do a little rolling around and locking up. When we leave, he goes, ‘Okay, same time tomorrow.’ In the back of my head, I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on here? Is this going to be a normal thing, me training with my idol?’ The next day, I don’t know what time he normally wakes up, but I wake up every day around 8:30, 9. I woke up to a missed call from him and I woke up to a voicemail. It’s a voicemail I will never delete. All it said was, ‘Wake up motherf***er, suplex off the top, let’s go.’ [laughs]. It started late March, early April.”
Says he thought Flair just wanted to take some bumps, and didn’t realize it was for his final match:
“I didn’t know what it was leading to. I just thought, ‘Ric is near a ring, he’s a wrestler, wrestling is in his blood, he just wants to get in there and roll around a bit. Feed the beast.’ It wasn’t until late April where I heard rumblings that he was going to potentially have a match. He never told me straight out, but he would hint at it. I was like, ‘How do I become a part of this?’ We were training since end of March, early April, and I had no idea what was going on.”
On the work Flair put in to training:
“Not to give away too much behind the scene stuff, but of course Ric Flair doesn’t believe in planning too much, he likes to do things on the fly so it feels more real that way. My favorite part of the whole, since the beginning of the training in March to last weekend, my favorite part of the entire thing was, we were supposed to get in the ring during the match. There was supposed to be a point near the beginning where we would get in the ring and I asked him, ‘When you and I get in there, what do you want to do?’ He goes to me, ‘The f*** you talking about? Listen to me, kid. Follow me and I’ll guide you.’ ‘Okay, fine, yes sir.’ Something about the way he said it was so cool to me. He didn’t miss a step. Another thing I’d like to point out is that I told Ric and everyone who would listen was, he really didn’t have to do anything. A few chops and a ‘Wooo’ and everyone would be fine. To be trying to take all these moves, he wanted to be in there forever to show he could still go. He wants us to ‘beat the shit out of me, you guys can’t hurt me, don’t worry.’ To do all that, it was unreal he still wants to do that. Nobody saw him being in my ring, practicing in Florida in that hot building, pushing himself to the point where he couldn’t get up. Nobody will see that. He didn’t have to do that stuff. It wasn’t needed, it was just a personal thing and he wanted to make himself the best he possibly could have. Pushing himself to the point to where he almost threw up and passed out. Nobody will see how hard he actually worked to put on the best wrestling match he could possibly put on. It motivated me like, ‘What the hell is my excuse?’ So many emotions when I would watch that at class.”