Alex Shelley On Returning To Wrestling On His Terms, Why Matt Taven Is A Dangerous Champion

Wrestlezone’s Kevin Kellam recently interviewed Alex Shelley ahead of his big match against Matt Taven for the Ring Of Honor World Heavyweight Championship at ROH Summer Supercard in Toronto on August 9.

Shelley talks about the reasoning as to why he took time away from wrestling and discusses what his inspirations were for pursuing a second career as a physical therapist. Shelley has been open about his struggles away from the ring, including working towards his degree while also going through a divorce and being homeless for a short time. Shelley says he “had to eat a lot of shit” along the way, but he re-evaluated things in his life and he’s back in wrestling with a big opportunity in front of him. Shelley says he sees a lot of similarities in himself and ROH World Champion Matt Taven. He put over Taven’s path to Ring Of Honor, noting how Taven fought for everything he has and it speaks to the Kingdom leader’s skill.

“I think that what makes him unique is the amount of similarities that he and I have between us—I feel like we’ve both done a lot of the same things. He left his mark in CMLL and he’s impressed people in New Japan and he’s been a guy that’s flown under the radar at Ring Of Honor. I feel like you could check all of those boxes for me as well.

I am not surprised to hear he’s [ROH World] Champion. I’m not surprised that he won the belt because I know he’s been good for a really long time. I think what I like most about him is he paid his dues. He did everything the same way that I did and a lot of my friends did, and he worked really, really hard. I’ve said it before on commentary, and it’s not me playing to a storyline by any stretch of the imagination—I don’t do that. I really am a huge Matt Taven fan, I think he’s awesome.

As far as what makes him a dangerous champion, what makes him the top dog there? He’s just good. You get that experience going to the different parts of the world getting your feet wet, and you can’t help but pick up some tricks along the way. When I started out, the guys I looked up to—the Eddie Guerreros, the Chris Jerichos, the Dean Malenkos, the Chris Benoits—that’s what they did, and that’s what I said I was going to do too. I did it, and [Taven] did it too. There aren’t too many guys that have done it to that extent at a point in time where it was hard to do. He hasn’t been handed anything, he’s had to scratch and claw to get everything. I think that speaks volumes about him.”

Shelley was also asked about what has changed since he left last year, and he noted that it might not be the ‘right’ answer, but he found happiness and it’s not directly connected to professional wrestling.

“This may sound weird, and this may sound different than the answer you might be hoping for, but I feel disconnected from it. I feel autonomous with my own happiness, and that happiness doesn’t necessarily have to have happiness in it. For me, that was why I paid well over $100,000 for an education, that was why I sacrificed the contracts that I did. That was why I did things my way, because I realized a long time ago that if my happiness was intertwined with wrestling, then my happiness is going to be dependent on somebody’s subjective opinion. I wanted to make sure—especially a year ago—if I came back to pro wrestling, I was going to come back on my terms and do what I wanted to do. That is what was going to make me most happy in wrestling, and I feel very blessed to be able to do that.”

(Transcription credit to Bill Pritchard for WrestleZone)

Ring Of Honor’s Summer Supercard takes place on Friday, August 9 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Canada; the event is available to watch on ROH’s HonorClub streaming service

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