Mike Bennett is perhaps as well known for his openness with his mental health as he is for his professional wrestling. That statement should speak volumes in and of itself, and especially when considering the immense talent that Bennett possesses for the sport. Most are just as quick to recognize him as an influence on their own journeys with mental health as they are to note his influence on their in-ring work. While, personally, I’ve never experienced the in-ring side of things, Bennett’s willingness to share both his successes and his struggles have been monumental in my own attempts at personal development, and of course, I was excited to get the opportunity to ask Bennett directly about maintaining his positive mindset and his feelings on being an inspiration to so many.
“As a guy who’s very, very upfront about where his mind states at all possible moments,” I asked him, “how do you continue to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind and continue to keep yourself motivated that way?”
“It’s a battle, I won’t lie,” Bennett began. “I’m human. I think it’s a matter of just being honest with yourself and constantly telling yourself – like, to me, the industry is so negative and the fan base can be so negative sometimes. But, I’ve reached a point in my life and in my career where I’ve realized that if someone is that unhappy with me, what is going on in their life that they are bringing that unhappiness and presenting it towards me? [I’m] someone they don’t even know, or they don’t even understand. But, it’s also a culture.”
He began to elaborate.
“There’s been this culture in professional wrestling of like – I mean, I remember when I was coming up the first time in Ring of Honor, and guys would tell me like, ‘oh, if you ever want to go to WWE, you just have to be an asshole. You’ve got to be a jerk. [You’ve] got to be,’ because that’s the culture. That’s the mindset. Vince always wants people that are just – they told me that when I was with the company, they’re like ‘Vince likes assholes. That’s just how he is.’ So it is a culture that that trickles down.”
“But,” he continued, changing course. “What I feel like is ever since there’s been this uprising of indie guys getting signed and indie guys kind of changing the industry. I mean, there’s a ton of positivity now, too, if you look at guys like [The Young Bucks], or you look at guys like Kevin Owens, or myself, there’s a lot of guys that are like, ‘no, this industry doesn’t have to be this way.’ This is our industry. Even Cody! Cody always says that this is our industry. The industry is for the guys and girls that step in the ring. And we have the ability to change the mindset.”
Bennet paused for a breath before carrying on.
“I honestly think it was just always [that] there was so much negativity in the industry that it just trickled into the fans, too, until the fans started becoming negative,” the former ROH Top Prospect winner stated. “I’ll never understand why fans complain about some of the things they do. I’ll never understand why the fans will go to bat for a billionaire but will crap on the wrestlers that are unhappy. That’ll never make sense to me, but I don’t try to make sense of it.”
“But, what I can do is I can use my platform to try to spread some positivity and good, and it’s a struggle. I mean, I won’t lie. Daily I get comments about how terrible of a human I am, and some days it gets to me, and some days it doesn’t. But, what I have to do is just check myself at the door and remind myself like, ‘no, no. You’re okay. These people, they’re going through something, and clearly, they’re going through something,’ because for me, I’ve never in my entire life, I’ve never gone on Twitter and been like, ‘I’m gonna go attack someone I don’t know.’ It just isn’t my DNA. But I feel for these people, and I remind myself of that.
“So, you know, I think it’s a constant battle to try to stay positive.” Bennett concluded. “But to me, it’s a winning battle, and it’s an important battle, because I think especially more than just wrestling, in this world we’re living in during this virus and, like I said earlier, an insurrection and like this just political tribalism, it’s important to keep a positive mindset because this will consume you, and the negativity can consume you and you just have to fight back at it.”
Please credit Spencer Love/Love Wrestling with any of the above transcriptions.