This past Saturday, at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Invasion Attack, Michael Bennett and Matt Taven defeated Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows to become the IWGP Tag Team Champions. This is the most high-profile moment in both of their careers, particularly for Bennett, whose success has bred some criticism.
For those who aren’t familiar with Michael Bennett, he is a wrestler from the Massachusetts area who is best known for his work in Ring of Honor. Bennett has also become a well-traveled performer who often finds himself in wrestling rings all around the world.
This sounds like he is a talented individual, but there are a lot of fans who feel he is overrated and isn’t worth the creative cache of a wrestling booking. While everyone has a right to their opinion, I’m here to inform the misinformed on their erroneous appraisal of the situation.
Full disclosure: I used to be a professional acquaintance of Michael Bennett. We both trained to become wrestlers, albeit at different times, at Slamtech owned by “Brutal” Bob Evans. We’ve worked on some of the same shows and I’ve booked him a couple of times for an independent promotion I used to run. He was a class act every time we worked together. However, I haven’t spoken to him in years, and no one asked me to write this piece.
Honestly, my eyes hurt due to the amount of times I’ve rolled them whenever I hear someone claim that Bennett can’t wrestle. In the wake of his big win over the weekend, I feel this is the perfect time to set the record straight.
Bennett is a blue chip player and you’ll be hard pressed to find a wrestler or promoter who isn’t impressed with his aptitude and talent between the ropes. That’s probably why he is constantly booked to work with big names such as Lance Storm, Jerry Lynn, and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Bennett’s in-ring style is that of a punch, kick, get heat type of guy, and that infuriates the hardcore masses who yearn for the flashy and innovative maneuvers that ROH is known for. In the broadest of terms, he is a sports-entertainer in a professional wrestling company.
You want to know what the best part is? He knows it, and he uses it to play the audience like a fiddle instead of trying to be something he’s not. Instead of damning Bennett with faint praise, perhaps fans should marvel at his subtle ingenuity.
Michael Bennett’s career is a prime example of what aspiring wrestlers dream of when they enter this crazy business. He went to wrestling school, turned in many hours in the gym to obtain a great physique, worked tirelessly on his craft, and gained a reputation as one of the best wrestlers in New England.
He parlayed all of that into a contract with one of the top wrestling promotions on the planet, gained notoriety, and as an added bonus, he married a woman who is also a contemporary in his field. As impressive as all that is, Bennett is still on the rise and will probably achieve a lot more before it’s all said and done.