wrestling / News

Matt Taven On the Feeling of Winning ROH World Title at MSG, Roddy Piper’s Advice to Him, More

August 2, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Matt Taven ROH

– Matt Taven spoke with Interactive Wrestling Radio for a new interview ahead of Summer Supercard discussing his World Title win and more. The show sent us the following highlights and audio:

On getting the “monkey off his back” and winning the ROH World Heavyweight Title: “I guess so. It still is kind of a whirlwind looking back on it. It was such a grind getting to that moment. For it to go down at Madison Square Garden like that, there was so much excitement about it. I didn’t really think of getting the monkey off my back. Instead, I thought, “This is my moment to shine!” But now, after the Manhattan Mayhem match with Jay Lethal and Kenny King strung together with all my other title defenses, it almost feels more now like “get the monkey off my back.” Look at my resume. To deny it just shows how big of a Melvin you are!”

On Jay Lethal saying he can sleep well at night knowing Taven is ROH’s Champion: “I mean, Jay’s no fool. I never take away anything from what Jay has meant to Ring of Honor. He may be the best Ring of Honor Champion there has been before me. We take a lot of pride in what we do. And, I do think there is a lot of fan boyism out there. So, maybe Marty was the sexy pick and people weren’t paying attention to what was going on on the screen missed the story that had been developing. If they had been paying attention, it was no surprise. But, you know, a lot of Melvins like to keep their heads in the sand. That’s fine by me because I just keep pulling them out one by one.”

On his hour-long PPV main event with Lethal in March: “I have my own podcast that I do and they send in questions about times I was nervous before a match. That was probably the most nervous I have been in a long time because you know A. Madison Square Garden is right around the corner and this is really a make or break moment and if it doesn’t go well, it could cost you what is ahead in the future. And, if it does, it just solidifies your place. And then, you’re going out there with one of the best to be in the ring. It is pressure! But, man, something happened in that match that is the reason we are wrestlers in the first place. That adrenaline rush and that feeling. Man, my blood was pumping… When that bell rang for the 60 minutes (mark), it was like, we could have even kept going! I couldn’t even believe 60 minutes had gone by. I was keeping time in my head and that second half went by so quick… Especially with the energy from that crowd. There is no doubt we could have kept going and going and going! But, man, that will probably go down, when I look back at my career, as one of my favorite matches.”

On the feeling of winning the title in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden: “You hear the stories of the people that you idolized and those moments that happened in their careers and you’re always like, “Yeah, but what about the moment itself!” Everyone always talks about the little things that happen before or after. The moment really is so big that it truly is the drive home… It isn’t that far of a drive for me to go from New York to Boston. You know, a lot of my friends were there. Driving back, reliving those moments in my mind is finally when it kicked in like, “Holy! WOW! This all just happened!” The energy is incredible in the moment. I love it! The reaction when I grabbed that belt and looked around, the mixed emotions of love and hate – People with just gutteral emotions coming out of them. The smile on my face after that moment was so real. Like, “(sigh) We made it! We did it!” But, again, afterwards you’re in the locker room and you’re doing interviews… Until you have that moment to yourself, it is like, “Ooh, it is all over and that is what happened.” It doesn’t sync in until then.”

On there being more pressure now that he’s finally World Champion: “Definitely. We’ve gone through a transition period in Ring of Honor and I like to be that guy who… I can guide us through rough waters until we come out the other end. That is all it is. Ring of Honor has seen changes happen over and over again. I see Ring of Honor continuing to rebound and continuing to rebuild and continue to build itself on being the best wrestling there is on the planet. Just looking at the guys that have come in since the beginning of the year, it is unreal the amount of talent that is within Ring of Honor. I take a great sense of pride of kind of leading the ship during this time. (laughs) It is funny because you put so much effort into getting to Madison Square Garden and you almost feel that is where the story should end. Then, a week later I’m in Pittsburgh… Columbus, defending the title and it is almost like I didn’t have the chance to take it all in and then it is on to the next thing. I’m still kind of living all this as one big piece. From Madison Square Garden until now, I’m still proving myself as the champion. I put a great sense of pressure on myself but it really is just pride in what this title means and the expectations of it. I’ve worked real hard, 6 years in Ring of Honor, 7 now. I wasn’t going to let it be something that happens and then I let my guard down and then, before you know it, it was over. I plan on making sure this title reign is one to remember!”

On getting to throw out the first pitch at the Boston Red Sox game: “Unbelievable! To think I won the title at the Garden and just a couple of months later, I’m throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park! It has been quite a year! For me, growing up in this area, always going to Fenway, been a Red Sox fan my whole life… To think of all those who threw pitches from that mound from the Pedros to Curt Schilling and the whole World Series run that happened there, to be able to walk out there with the World Title around my waist to throw out the first pitch… It is even weird right now saying it. It is definitely a dream come true for a life long Red Sox fan and someone who grew up in this area.”

On the hole left by the Elite’s departure & how they’re filling it in: “It is definitely going to be a process. The Young Bucks have been here really as long as I have and were such staples of the company. It is a big blow to take faces you’ve invested in and transition somewhere else. But, that’s the wrestling business. But, look at all the people Ring of Honor has brought in since the beginning of the year and think of all the fresh match-ups that are available from Rush, PCO, Mark Haskins, Tracy Williams, Bandito, PJ Black… Jeff Cobb is a fresh face. There is just so much good top tier talent that could be anywhere on the card. It is really one of those things where you make the best out of a situation and right now, you have an exciting time to see new talent and to see guys that maybe you had only been getting a little taste of. Mark Haskins had been here or there in the UK but now we have him on a full time basis. Rush, he and I have gone back and forth in CMLL forever but now he’s here in a US company. It is a really exciting time to be a Ring of Honor fan. I think that is going to be the thing that keeps us rolling.”

Remembering Roddy Piper on the 4 year anniversary of his death: “You know, I had a few interactions with Roddy Piper through Northeast Wrestling which is a large independent company in this area that would have him in from time to time. He was such a gracious person with his time. I really remember going up to him and talking to him about cutting a babyface promo. I was a young babyface at the time and it just didn’t feel natural. I remember him telling me, “Right now, you’re too afraid to be anything but babyface. You’ve just got to be you and see what happens and you’ve got to find your voice. You’ll figure out how to slant it as a babyface. But, you can’t go and be in front of a camera and go, “This is my baby face!” It so has got to be who you are!” At the time, I probably didn’t take it in as much as I do now as far as finding my voice. Whatever slant people are putting on it as far as their character, it still has to be from you. That was some advice that Roddy was gracious enough to throw my way in between me fan-boying between not only his wrestling career but also he was on my favorite TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. (laughs) Bugging him about what that experience was like. But, he was such a down to earth guy. Kind of crazy to think he’s been gone for 4 years because he left such a big impact on the wrestling world that you feel like he never left us.”

On rumors ROH could end up on local FOX Sports affiliate stations due to Sinclair’s Involvement:
“We really hear the same rumors that everyone else hears. Sinclair Broadcasting doesn’t really let Ring of Honor in on their business decisions. When people label us with Sinclair, you almost have to take it with a grain of salt because we are a small, very small, portion of that. So, we’re really not in on any meetings or they’re not coming to me and asking my opinions on anything. We hear those same rumors. But, with everything in wrestling, you’re going to hear a million different things going in different directions. Until it is done, you really can’t count your chickens before they hatch. Obviously, I would hope Sinclair is making every effort they can to grow the product. But, until anything is finalized, it is just wishful thinking at this point.”

On his view of AEW and if it is competition to ROH: “It is another place for the guys. I’ve never understood this but there is no wrestling organization that should be rooted against. If we’re fans of the business and you want to see it grow and thrive, you would hope that every aspect of the industry continues to get bigger no matter what company it is. To me, it is a wonderful thing… The more buzz you can create about wrestling will continue to grow the fan base. One place leads to the other. I was a huge wrestling fan as a kid and I was a huge WWF, WWE now, fan. Because of that, I found out about WCW and I would watch some of that. I found out about ECW and I would watch some of that. Wrestling, in general, would lead me to other places. The growth of wrestling in general is something we all should be hoping for and we should all be rooting for. I wish everyone nothing but the best.”

On defending the ROH Title on August 9th against Alex Shelley at ROH Summer Supercard in Toronto: “Alex Shelley is someone I have watched for years and really respect. He is someone that, honestly, doesn’t get enough credit for the innovation that we especially see in tag team wrestling these days. I look at The Young Bucks as Generation Me or whatever you want to call them against the Motor City Machine Guns in TNA and think, “Wow! This is leading to what we know now as tag team wrestling!” Alex Shelley is someone who has been all around the world. We have collided but always in tag matches – Never one on one. I think that is to my advantage. I am the Ring of Honor World Champion. Obviously I have a lot of experience in one on one matches. Alex Shelly is coming back from time off and hasn’t been in the ring in one on one matches. When he has been in the ring, it has been in tag situations. But, I’m not taking Alex Shelley lightly by any means. He’s a very accomplished wrestler. He has been in a lot of the same places that I have been and been successful. But, Matt Taven has worked harder than any man in history to become World Champion. If Alex Shelley thinks he’s going to be the one to take it off of him, then Alex Shelley might be a bigger Melvin than I thought!”