Apparently Lethal will. Reports from ROH's latest TV tapings indicate that Lethal opted not to vacate the TV championship as he'd put too much effort into building it up. Matchmaker McGuinness then made the ruling that if Jay wants to stay a double champion he will have to defend the TV and world titles as separate entities. All of which makes sense from the point of view of Lethal's character and creates the chance to produce some fresh scenarios for championship defences and show-long stories at future events.
|The double champ is here.|
But at some point Lethal will lose the world championship, just as has happened twenty-two times before. Which is the point of this article: discussing the possible successors (as I perceive them) to Jay Lethal as the ROH world champion. As far as the TV championship goes I think he'll hold it for a few more months before losing it to guy who'd benefit from a surprise upset win, such as ACH, or being stripped of it after some form of shenanigans during a title defence.
I'll start with Jay Briscoe. There's a chance that Lethal will lose the title back to him but I think it would be dependent on him having a long title reign. I don't imagine ROH would take the gold from Briscoe only to get it back to him a couple of months later, even though it's an approach that would fit the sports-emphasis style of the promotion. But if Lethal has been made champion with no long term plan for a replacement (not that I think that's the case considering how well Delirious has done planning things out over the last few years) it's possible Briscoe could regain the belt in the far future (by which I mean some time next year). If Lethal left for WWE Briscoe would be a lead candidate for a short notice replacement.
As would Roderick Strong. My reasoning is the same as with Briscoe: he looks and wrestles the part, would be accepted in the role, and is unlikely to leave for another major promotion. I can't see him beating 'The Greatest First Generation Wrestler' at Death Before Dishonor XIII on July 24 but farther in the future he could be in with a chance. Right now he's more of a credible contender to stabilise Lethal's reign than anything else.
|AJ's already got a belt though, so...|
The first guy I'll name who I think has a crack at taking the title from Lethal in a long term planning capacity is Michael Elgin. He's one of the better wrestlers in the company despite fans having turned on him. In fact his current status as a heat magnet is a large part of the reason I think he could end up beating Lethal for the title. People would be genuinely irate if he become a two time champion with his current persona. He has the character and in-ring ability to make a reign as heel work and it would be nice to see him get the championship run he deserved to have last year. Although I think an 'Unbreakable' title win would be reliant on Lethal becoming a babyface at some point the response to his win at BITW indicates he'd be accepted as a good guy. I don't think it's something that's going to come any time soon though, if it comes at all.
Moose is a possibility too, which isn't something I would have expected to write a few months ago. He's comfortable in the big man role and could easily introduce some flashier moves to help him fit in at the top of the card (big lads need to have stuff like the cross body block he used at Best in the World when they're main eventing). He's also really, really over. His burgeoning programme with Cedric Alexander will likely keep him busy for a few months but he should be done with that in plenty of time to challenge Lethal at whatever big show ROH promotes in September or October or perhaps even at Final Battle (although there's someone mentioned below who I think would make a far better opponent for Lethal at Final Battle).
|No ROH champion has mastered the point into the crowd... until now.|
But I'm not going to make any of those names my official prediction. That honour goes to Adam Cole. Everything I can find on the subject indicates that he has a significant amount of time left on his current contract. If Best in the World and TV spoilers are anything to go by he's on the cusp of turning face. Having him work as a face champion would be something new for him and the company. By the time he's finished with what I suspect could be a lengthy breakup with his Kingdom stablemates we should be just about ready for a build towards Final Battle. Babyface Adam Cole versus heel Jay Lethal would not only be new, it would be one of the biggest matches Ring of Honor could promote. I think this will be the match to headline Final Battle.
That is my official prediction. Now watch as I'm wrong, just as I always am when it comes to predicting ROH title changes.