Former ROH World Champion Matt Taven recently spoke with Love Wrestling, talking about how his ROH Title run came about.
Taven captured the gold at the G1 Supercard event in Madison Square Garden, a co-promoted show with NJPW. The title change occurred shortly after AEW was formed in 2019, with a chunk of ROH’s main event scene leaving for Jacksonville.
“I mean, we knew what was coming,” Taven said. “You know, half the roster had left on the last day of the year before, and there’s only a couple of people that really would want to have that spot because it’s not the best one to have, knowing what’s coming down the pipe. But that’s why I’m – that’s what drives me as a competitor. You know what I mean? Not only have I been a wrestling fan my entire life, but I’ve been an athlete, someone who’s been involved in some sort of sport my entire life, and someone who’s just has a competitive nature. If we’re gonna play Monopoly, I will go all 16 hours until I win.
“You’re the banker, you’ve been cheating this entire time! One or the other is going to happen. That competitive spirit in me is like, ‘Let’s do this.’ I’ll take the heat, I’ll throw it on my shoulders. Let’s go forward and I’ll take the punches. And, when you go back and you watch, you know, I think me and Volador Jr, me and Tracy Williams, me and Flip, me, Jay Lethal and Kenny King in New York. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of that later. Even I like the Alex Shelley match. There’s so many. I mean, there was just match after match after match. And, you know, every single month I’m putting out these videos, this new promo, having a new match with another person.
“Maybe I’m biased, maybe it’s me. I don’t know. But I daresay anyone wants to go back and watch it, it’s something that I’m very proud of, and I truly believe will be looked back at fondly. When we get to look back at it with a little clearer heads with retrospect.”
AEW’s formation saw the likes of Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Cody Rhodes, and The Young Bucks leave ROH, but ROH is no stranger to losing talent, with the likes of Kevin Steen, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, and Tyler Black becoming main eventers in WWE.
“That’s what made Ring of Honor and still makes Ring of Honor so good, is that we look around the locker room, and I go, ‘Damn, he’s really good. I got to step my game up.’ You know what I mean?” Taven said.
“It was that way when I first got in there, and I probably wasn’t ready for that. But, you know, you’ve got the Kevin Steens and the Roderick Strongs, and the Briscoes that are still there, and Jay Lethal, and Adam Cole, and it’s like, ‘Oh, man, I gotta – these are thick, these are rough waters to swim in, and I’ve got to stay afloat.’
“I think that that has always been a feeling: a competitive, a good competitiveness in the Ring of Honor locker room has always been there. I think if there’s anything that’s different now, it’s more of a team competitive. It’s, ‘Alright. Maybe if people doubt us, let’s show them if they tune in that they’re looking very foolish for ever doubting us.’
“And we’re very supportive of one another now, but at the same time, man, I was watching the episode last night and it’s like, you got Shane Taylor and Dragon Lee and Gresham and Lethal and Kenny and Rush and you’re like, you start doing push-ups. You’re like, ‘I gotta do something to keep up with everyone!’ That’s a competitive spirit that I think has always been in Ring of Honor, and I think it’s always been the reason why Ring of Honor has been such an innovative force in the wrestling world.”