Matt Taven On Appreciating The People Who’ve Had His Back, Tuning Out Negativity

Photo Credit: RING OF HONOR/Ian Storck

Matt Taven recently spoke with Wrestlezone’s Managing Editor Bill Pritchard about his accomplishments in 2019, which included a 174-day reign as ROH World Champion. Taven was asked about the ‘Melvins’ out there who criticized him despite his accolades (and an apparent change of heart), and the former champion said he’s always been a loyal person, but maybe he was focused on the wrong people.

“For so long I was scratching to get some sort of sniff at the World Title, and I was doing anything possible, and really letting anyone know that was stepping in my way, you know, ‘Screw you, Melvin, I’m Matt Taven, I’m meant to be in this position,’ and then once that happens,” Taven said, “instead of hearing the negativity, you start to hear the people that support you a lot louder than you have in the past. And there’s been a big appreciation for the work that I’ve done.”

Taven is just the second-ever Grand Slam Champion in Ring Of Honor history, but often played the villain role before recently. While wrestling may now see more shades of grey instead of babyface and heel, Taven says he’s always had fans and now he’s seeing the more positive side of things instead of dwelling on the haters who don’t give him credit for everything he’s done.

“Once people see that you love this thing more than anything else, that you’re willing to sacrifice your body, you’re willing to kind of, really focus your entire life on one goal because you just have that much love and passion for wrestling, the respect starts to turn and starts to come your way. In reality, I’ve always been loyal to the people that support me and the people that have backed me,” Taven said. “And now that that support has been growing – and I think the appreciation has grown with the loss of the Ring Of Honor World Title, it might seem that I have had a change of attitude, but I’ve always been with the people that support me and I will continue to be that way.

“My fan base is one that I wouldn’t trade for the entire world, and the one that helps me get out of bed when my ankle is so swollen I can barely walk on it. That support really keeps me going. And since that support base is growing, it might seem that Matt Taven, his heart is growing three sizes, but in reality, it’s always been that way, just more people are starting to appreciate it.”

When asked if it’s easier to accept criticism, Taven said it stops becoming about proving people wrong and more about having a better appreciation for the people that have had your back the entire time.

“You don’t need to kind of light that fire under you as much, because now that you’re there, you know you’re there for a reason. You don’t have to question yourself anymore, you don’t have to listen to any of the doubters because, ‘Who cares what they think?’ You’ve made it. Now they look stupid. So now you’re able to hear and focus more on the people who have had your back,” Taven said, “the people that are part of team Taven, the people that get it, and the people that have helped you along the way. So while there are still people to turn into believers and still be able to turn them and make them part of this Kingdom*, I’m definitely able to see and appreciate more all the ones that kind of believed in me since day one and help me to get here.”

Related: Matt Taven vs. Vincent, Shane Taylor’s Next Title Defense Set For ROH Final Battle

*This interview was recorded prior to ROH’s The Experience and ROH Unauthorized