Matt Taven has certainly made himself synonymous with Ring of Honor over his decade-long run with the promotion. The former World Heavyweight Champion has nearly accomplished it all with ROH, not only winning the promotion’s top title but taking part in a number of ‘firsts’ with the promotion.
As part of our recent chat for Love Wrestling, I asked him about being part of so many of Ring of Honor’s memorable moments.
“You were part of their first [internet]-pay-per-view and pay-per-view and the first event, not just for Ring of Honor, but by a wrestling promotion not run by a McMahon in 50 years,” I remarked to Taven. “The titles the obvious, easy one, I think, so outside of that one is there may be a first in Ring of Honor history that you’ve been a part of that tugs at the heartstrings or means a little bit more to you?”
“Oh man,” he said, taking a second to collect his thoughts. “Yeah, you hit the big ones. Man, there’s been so many things. I was gonna originally say if you didn’t list it off that the first iPPV to me was a stepping stone. But, the first pay per view, I can remember saying to my friends and family like ‘you can just order. You don’t have to do like the online, like, you can just order it off your cable box this weekend.’ It was me and Jay Lethal, which is crazy.”
“And maybe, this isn’t necessarily the first, but me and Jay Lethal’s cage match is the last cage match that they’ve done in Ring of Honor,” the former champion continued. “That’s something that I actually went back and watched recently and it’s like, man, [me] and Jay Lethal somehow have fought for the Television Title, we’re on the first pay-per-view, did the cage match, then years later, we’re fighting for the world title, went 60 minutes in Vegas, did Madison Square Garden together. There’s no greater rival that I’ll ever have in my career because so much of it to this point has been with Jay Lethal.”
“Put all these matches on a DVD and sell that bad boy, because whooo, we put some time in on that one!”
I took the opportunity to interject. “I was gonna say, you could sell ‘the best of Matt Taven,’ and then a ‘best of Matt Taven versus Jay Lethal.'”
“Right? Because if they had me just choose the best of Matt Taven, so many of it would be against Jay Lethal. Yeah, that first pay-per-view was a moment that I think a lot of us took a lot of pride in, because we were seeing that snowball roll downhill and get bigger and bigger and bigger. Where we went from there and where we continue to go it’s just – it’s really cool to kind of look back at moments like that and be like ‘remember all the way back there?’ Or, even when I was doing dark matches, that first match that you’re talking about a year in and I’m like sleeping on like some rundown hotel floor and I’m like, ‘man, remember those days?’ They were still fantastic, but they make these days even sweeter. It’s very cool to kind of see the progression of my career and to see the progression of Ring of Honor as a whole.”
It’s a career that, frankly, wouldn’t have been possible without Ring of Honor. A little less than a year after beginning his official wrestling training, Taven made his first appearance for ROH in a dark match.
“You wrestled your first match for Ring of Honor a little less or a little more than a year after you even started wrestling,” I commented to him. “How does something like that come about? Because you know, there are a lot of first and second-year Albertans here in professional wrestling that are very good, but they’re not getting noticed at that level. Why do you think you did?”
“Well, it’s a combination of two things,” Taven began. “The first thing is something that I was told by one of my idols in wrestling, and it’s so true, is that wrestling makes no sense, and it’s just dumb luck sometimes, and you can’t drive yourself crazy over that. You just have to kind of roll with the punches, so it makes zero sense that that happened.”
We both laughed at the simplicity of the statement.
“I’m gonna write that one in my notebook,” I chuckled. “That’s my new excuse for a lot of things on my end.”
“There it is!” Taven responded. While he continued to smile, Taven took a slightly more serious tone before pressing on with his advice.
“But the second thing, and what I always try to tell people, is that you just got to show up, you know what I mean? Even if you think you’re not ready you just – that face in the crowd. I can’t tell you how many things have come to me because it’s like, ‘oh, man, we need someone to fill this spot. Hey, this kid’s always been here! You got tights? Get him in the ring!'”
“It was kind of the same situation with Ring of Honor. They needed an extra guy. I just happened to – it was in Boston, I lived there. I knew the guy, the other guy who was having a dark match. We had worked in another promotion, in Northeast Wrestling. He suggested me, I zoomed over there, and then the next day, I found myself in New Jersey, and it’s just one of those things where – I’m sorry, I didn’t go over there. I was actually just planning on being ‘oh, hi, does anyone need a water or anything?'”
“I was just, like, zooming over to this kid’s house to follow him around like a sheep anyway all day and it just happened to work out. That’s kind of one of the biggest things in wrestling is that opportunities come out of nowhere, and you have to take advantage of them, obviously, when they show up. But, you also have to be there so the opportunity can exist in the first place. I can’t tell you how many – and it’s one of the reasons why me and Mike Bennett are so close. I’ve gotten so many opportunities from just following him around like a puppy dog. I mean, I had those dark matches in ’09 with Ring of Honor only a year after I started wrestling. But later, once Mikey was kind of getting his footing in Ring of Honor, I was showing up to the TVs and just getting dressed up and helping out. Obviously, other people knew who I was at that point, I’d been wrestling a little more time. But then, an opportunity arose and I was able to fill that spot.”
“I can’t tell you how many things probably – Madison Square Garden probably never happens if I’m just not being that annoying guy that’s like, ‘okay, I’ll be in the back seat here!’”
Please credit Spencer Love/Love Wrestling with any of the above transcriptions.