Ring of Honor has announced on Thursday that on April 21, 2019, the ROH World Championship will be defended in Israel, when ROH World Champion Jay Lethal puts the title on the line against challenger David Starr. While not a Ring of Honor presentation, the fight has been sanctioned by ROH and will take place at an Israeli Pro Wrestling Association (IPWA) event, Passover Bash, in Lehavot Haviva, Israel, at the Berale Club. Also slated on the show is 5x IPWA Heavyweight Champion Rabbi Swissa, plus other international stars like Matt Sydal and German stars “Bad Bones” Jon Klinger and wXw Shotgun Champion Marius Al-Ani.
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) February 21, 2019
ROH World Title To Be Defended In Israel in April
IPWA was founded in 2003 by Gery Roiff (who wrestles as Rabbi Swissa) and ran live events until 2014 when it ceased production as a promotion to concentrate on becoming a wrestling school, although the school still throws events off and on. “It is a huge honor to get such approval from Ring of Honor to have its champ on our show,” Roiff told ROH in their press release today. “It is a huge honor to have Jay. I think he represents everything a pro wrestler should be, both in and out of the ring.”
Pro Wrestling in Israel
Israel has had a fascination with the world of pro wrestling going back to the 1950s. The primary impetus for this curiosity stemmed from pro wrestler Rafael Halperin. Born in Austria, his family moved to Israel in 1933. In the early 1950s, he traveled to the US to pursue his pro wrestling ambitions, where he worked for Vince McMahon Sr. in Capitol Wrestling (the precursor to the WWE). He would work throughout the territories of North America in the 1950s and 1960s, working the US and Canada, before returning a national hero. He retired in 1973.
Throughout the 1980s, Texas’ World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) became a favorite wrestling promotion on Israeli television and Fritz Von Erich often brought his family to Israel for matches, furthering Israel’s growing love for the sport. In 2017, Kevin Von Erich wrestled his final match for IPWA in Israel, alongside his two indie wrestling sons, Ross & Marshall Von Erich, at IPWA Rage Megashow.
The last time a major wrestling World Championship was defended in Israel was during the WWE’s Israeli tour in 1994 when WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bret “Hitman” Hart defended his title against his younger brother Owen Hart in April of that year. A planned return from WWE in 2006 was canceled due to the Lebanon War, and in 2007, TNA/IMPACT Wrestling also had plans for an Israel tour (which would have featured then IMPACT star Jay Lethal) but it was also canceled due to business reasons. In 2016, WWE signed Scottish indie star Noam Dar, who was born in Israel, making him the first Israel born wrestler to sign with the WWE.