In professional sports, when an athlete reaches the age of 45, they are most likely retired or barely hanging onto a career that has long passed by them. Sometimes an athlete just doesn’t know when to let go.
But, then there are cases when an athlete has amazing longevity and surprises all their doubters. That’s exactly what Jerry Lynn did in 2009.
While Lynn had been wrestling since 1988 and worked for companies such as the GWF and WCW, he didn’t make an impact in wrestling until he arrived in ECW where he wrestled from 1997 to the demise of the company in 2001.
He had a successful run with TNA from 2002 to early 2007, but by 2007 it appeared as if his run in the national spotlight was coming to an end.
Around the time that Lynn’s career was fading off from the national spotlight, Nigel McGuiness’s career was really started to heat up as he won the ROH World Championship on October 6th, 2007. Nigel would successful defended many younger competitors in ROH, which will likely he written about in a later edition of this series.
However, those young competitors didn’t have the same knowledge that Jerry Lynn had. Five hundred and forty-five days into his title reign, Nigel McGuiness defended against Jerry Lynn in Houston, Texas at ROH Supercard of Honor IV.
With Nigel having battled a series of injuries to his arms, after nineteen minutes of actions and emotional moments, Jerry Lynn was able to pin Nigel after the cradle piledriver to win his first ROH World Championship, and his first heavyweight championship in nearly nine years since he won the ECW World Championship in October of 2000.
Lynn would start his reign successfully defending the championship the next night at ROH Take No Prisoners on April 4th against Erik Stevens, D’Lo Brown and Bryan Danielson.
Roderick Strong would be the next guy to get a shot at Jerry Lynn for the ROH World Championship on April 24th at ROH A Cut Above. There had been some criticism that the match didn’t have any reason to take place, but the action that was provided seemingly caused those fans to shut up and appreciate the match.
The match was going fine until Strong missed shoulder tackle and hit his head on the guard railing and proceeded to get a nasty cut on his forehead and literally blood was pouring out of his head. Lynn, showing his veteran knowledge, attacked the cut and the match went from having little emotion, to a lot of fans enjoying the contest. After eighteen minutes of action, and two cradle piledrivers, Lynn was able to retain the title over Roderick Strong, who continued to fail at winning the ROH World Championship despite nearly a dozen attempts at winning it.
Colt Cabana, who recently made his return to ROH in March 2009, was next to challenge Jerry Lynn in front of his hometown fans in Chicago on April 25th. Cabana pulled out everything he had, including the Colt 45, and a middle rope Pepsi Plunge (pedigree), but Lynn was able to continue the miracle title reign by hitting the cradle piledriver to retain the championship after seventeen minutes of action.
May 8th, 2009 is the next defense for Lynn, this time against Chris Hero, who had defeated Lynn the last time they held a show in Boston. Despite a real lack of storyline aside from the previous victory, these two put forth one hell of a show and Lynn again somehow found a way to retain the championship after nearly twenty-five minutes of action when Lynn pinned Hero after the cradle piledriver.
It appeared at this point that the fans were starting to jeer Jerry Lynn. At the time, Lynn was putting forth some incredible performances for a man his age that wrestlers half his age weren’t capable of doing. Were fans annoyed with the reign of Lynn, or did they want a fresh face to breakthrough and be champion? The title reign has been a pleasant surprise, in my estimation.
Despite the fans seemingly turning on Lynn, he continued to put on great performances when he again successfully defended the championship on May 9th against Jay Briscoe at ROH Validation. Even with the victory after nearly sixteen minutes of action, the feeling among many was that the reign was coming to an end sooner rather than later.
In perhaps the greatest match of Lynn’s career, including his matches with RVD, Lynn defended the championship against Austin Aries, Tyler Black and Bryan Danielson on the June 6th airing of ROH on HDNET. It’s a match that everyone should watch as it was exactly what the promotion needed to be putting on television. Lynn was able to pin Danielson following the cradle piledriver. The match took place in Philadelphia, a fan base that once loved Lynn, but even the ECW Arena fans were growing tired of Lynn as the ROH World Champion.
Their wish would soon be granted. On June 12th, Tyler Black would pin Jerry Lynn in a non-title match. Black was a crowd favorite and a lot of fans wanted Black to be the champion since his departure from the Age of the Fall.
June 13th, Manhattan Mayhem III with a main event that was supposed to be Jerry Lynn defending against Austin Aries, only to be changed to a triple threat match with the addition of Tyler Black. Considering Black had a title shot to use and having pinned Lynn the night previously, it all made some sense. The bout was an elimination match, and shockingly, Lynn was the first one eliminated around the fourteen minute mark thanks to Black and God’s Last Gift. Lynn’s reign would officially end when Aries pinned Black following the brain buster to become the first ever 2-time ROH World Champion.
Lynn’s reign as champion lasted seventy-one days.
The title reign came at a time when Nigel McGuiness simply couldn’t continue to put his body through so much damage having wrestled several classics prior to his loss to Lynn. Back in December 2008, the popular movie The Wrestler was released and ROH seemingly put the belt on the aged veteran Jerry Lynn to go along with the film. At first, fans appeared to have enjoyed the reign and were more than willing to cheer on Lynn for an improbable reign.
Personally, I was surprised with how well Lynn was able to work at the age of 45. He hadn’t lost much speed it seemed and kept up well with the younger generation of wrestlers in ROH. The reign may have gotten crapped on towards the end, but one thing that can’t be taken away from Lynn was his performances during the time period. There have been some real stinkers of title reigns, but this certainly wasn’t one them.
Yeah, for the most part there weren’t any storyline driven matches for Lynn, but his matches with Roderick Strong, and the four way on ROH HDNet alone provided some great matches. Oh, and of course the match with Nigel that started the whole reign to begin with.
I’d suggest checking out his matches during the title reign and admire a guy in his mid 40s for being able to wrestle like he had done so during the prime of his career.
What are your memories of Jerry Lynn’s title reign? Did you enjoy the reign? Were you among the fans who booed Jerry towards the end?
Leave your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading.