For all of the flak Matt Taven has gotten in his quest for gold, Ring of Honor have done a superb job of building him up as a believable ROH World Champion in my eyes.
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of Ring of Honor.
We don’t have to go down the rabbit hole as to why I’m no longer a fan of the promotion – trust me, it’s a big rabbit hole – but I haven’t made an effort to regularly watch their shows every week in about three years.
With that said, I do want to acknowledge one thing that they’ve been doing that seems to have demanded my attention. That’s the rise of Matt Taven.
Even though I’m not avid on watching ROH programming, I do still watch wrestling in general. So, of course, whenever I roam YouTube, I see some ROH thumbnails in my “Recommended” section. The only ones that have caught my attention over the past few months have those focusing on Taven.
At first, it was all because of his look and his new faction. Now, for context, one of the reasons I first got into Ring of Honor back when I used to be a big fan was The Kingdom.
Admittedly, the long necked, stringy haired Taven of old always stuck out to me as the least interesting member of the faction. For some reason, “indie Dolph Ziggler” always came to mind whenever I saw him.
At the time I stopped watching regularly, Adam Cole had traded his Kingdom colors for Bullet Club shirts and Taven was injured on the shelf. All of a sudden, I’m learning that Taven re-christened The Kingdom into his own image with two brand new guys, all while donning a mohawk? Color me intrigued.
Then, Matt Taven’s ROH videos became must see for me when I saw that he was calling himself “The Real ROH Champion,” and I came across this video.
For some context, Taven was promised a one-on-one title match against Dalton Castle. That match turned into a Four Way match that Jay Lethal won. Instead of getting a one-on-one against Lethal, he was shoved off to the back of the line.
In the above video, the king of The Kingdom looked like an absolute boss in that ring. Seeing him get his two cronies to bully announcer Bobby Cruise and referee Todd Sinclair made for an excellent segment.
It primed Taven perfectly as a character worth hating and worth investing in as ROH’s new top heel. The cherry on top was seeing him goad Lethal as a champion, while declaring himself the company’s rightful champion.
What wasn’t so great was knowing that Taven was walking around with a fake belt for four months, not only without getting an ROH Championship match in that time span, but being completely ignored by the champion in the process.
Definitely not a good look for Taven, as it made him come off as a geek not worth responding to. It’s one of those things that makes ROH easy to criticize.
Thankfully, eventually, ROH came to their senses. It took them four months, but Taven was finally on Jay Lethal’s radar. After Lethal smashed Taven’s title to smithereens, a title match was finally made for the company’s 17th Anniversary show. However, perhaps it was too little too late in the eyes of several fans.
While I admired Matt Taven and this angle from afar, I noticed that actual ROH fans in my wrestling circles and on Twitter did not believe in the Kingdom Movement as much as I did. It seemed like most fans did not buy into Matt Taven as a believable, legitimate challenger to the World Heavyweight Championship; yet alone a future champion.
I’m not sure why, but I got the impression that a lot of people thought that Taven looked, wrestled and acted too much like a B+ Player.
That made me have second thoughts about investing so much into Matt Taven. Maybe I was wrong in my assertions that ROH should be pushing Taven as a top title challenger, top heel and a top champion?
Now that they finally were doing that, it didn’t seem like diehards were feeling it. Obviously, they had to know better than I did about Taven when I was barely a casual viewer, right?
Maybe I was wrong about Taven.
Then, I was proven that everything I saw in Taven originally was correct when he tore the roof off with Lethal at ROH 17th Anniversary.
This is something else I have to actually give ROH credit for. The promotion recognized that fans were reluctant to the idea of Taven as a challenger and possible champion. So, they did the smart thing by giving The King a chance to prove it, rather than hand him the title that night.
From bell to bell over the course of an hour, audiences were enthralled with the leader of The Kingdom, seemingly more than they ever were during his push in the past year.
By time the final bell rang, fans were on the edge of their seats nearing a standing ovation.
I noticed that there was a change in conversation regarding Matt Taven in the wrestling stratosphere; both in my personal circles and on social media.
In complete contrast to the build for the match, fans were now at least in agreement that Taven belongs in headlining title conversations. Taven really proved himself that night and he proved why he not only belonged in the main event, but why he earned that spot to begin with.
And that brings us to G1 Supercard.
G1 Supercard was the biggest night of the year for ROH, and the promotion’s first time hailing from Madison Square Garden. While Taven failed to acquire the ROH Championship thanks to a time limit draw before, he was given a second chance at the Garden. This time with Marty Scurll in the mix and this time, with the title hanging above the trio’s heads in a Ladder Match.
Not only did Taven deliver, he won the whole damn thing.
During his match at G1 Supercard, Taven was insanely over as a heel. The boos he got when he yanked down the ROH Heavyweight Title were awe inspiring. Not to mention that along with Lethal and Scurll, his performance was spectacular and perfectly befitting of the high stakes situation.
That only proved to me all the more that Taven fits right at home as ROH’s top heel, especially now that the King has his crown.
Going forward, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be watching more ROH and I still can’t really say I’m a fan of the promotion, but I must say that I will continue to keep an eye on Matt Taven at the very least. ROH may not do a lot of things right – and some things they do are flat out wrong – but what they’ve done with Matt Taven has been right on the money.
I can’t speak on behalf of everyone else, but ROH sure did make be believe in Matt Taven as ROH Champion.