Singles Star (2009–2010)
In September 2009, Black had surgery on a bulging disc in his neck. On October 10 Black defeated Kenny King in a first round match and then Claudio Castagnoli, Colt Cabana, Delirious, Chris Hero and Roderick Strong in the finals to win the Survival of the Fittest tournament; this earned him a match for the ROH World Championship. On December 19 at Final Battle 2009, ROH's first live pay-per-view, Black wrestled ROH World Champion Austin Aries to a 60 minute time limit draw. Because of this draw, ROH commissioner Jim Cornette booked the two in a rematch between February 13, 2010 for the company's Eighth Anniversary Show. The booking saw Cornette set up a judging panel with himself on and one person picked by each competitor, in order for there to be a decisive winner in case of another draw. Aries picked Kenny King while Black picked Roderick Strong, whom he guaranteed a title shot should he win. At the event, Black pinned Aries to win the ROH World Championship.
On April 3, Black retained the title in a three-way elimination match against Austin Aries and Roderick Strong at The Big Bang! pay-per-view, thereby depriving Strong of his championship chance in a singles match. He also retained at the following pay-per-view, Death Before Dishonor VIII, on June 19, in a match against Davey Richards. Black turned heel at the August 20 tapings of Ring of Honor Wrestling, after news broke that he had signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). His new heel character involved him criticizing the fans who were labeling him a sell-out for signing with WWE, a feeling Lopez states was based on true feelings. He also threatened to take the ROH World Championship with him to WWE, and refused to put the championship at stake in a match with Davey Richards on August 28 which he then lost by submission. On September 11 at Glory By Honor IX Black lost the ROH World Championship to Roderick Strong in a No Disqualification match with Terry Funk as a guest enforcer. This was his final ROH appearance.
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“Its better to star in Oshkosh than to starve on Broadway.”
—James Gleason (18861959)