Matt Taven was a guest on the most recent episode of the Running Wild podcast, and talked about his time in CMLL, his career goals, and more. Here are some of the highlights they sent along:
ROH World: Before you came back to Ring of Honor you actually went down to CMLL and you have been one of the few Ring of Honor guys who goes down there. Just recently,a banner with your face is flying from the rafters at Arena Mexico. How did you get this opportunity? We see a lot of CMLL and NJPW wrestlers in Ring of Honor guys, but you are the few Ring of Honor wrestlers in CMLL.
Matt Taven: I think the CMLL relationship will continue to kind of grow and there will be more guys to go down there. But I love being the first one to kind of represent the company to constantly be going down there. I love going down to Mexico. But that was another crazy thing where, I had a date set to come back and the Kingdom was all set and ready to go and then it was like, alright, October 1st will be the day you come back. And that’s kind of 9 1/2 months after and the most, you know, earliest, realistic date that my surgeon gave me after both the surgeries was 9 months.
I got a phone call one day saying that CMLL was looking for a guy to come down and they were interested in me from before. Things had gotten delayed in the process in the working relationship with Ring of Honor and CMLL-just getting everyone’s visas for guys coming up and guys going down and they had interest in me before and now they were wanting to finally getting it going, they were wondering if I was getting ready to do.
I remember looking at the calendar and it was three weeks before I was thinking of coming back. And I was doing rehab with the guys down at the Brigham and Women’s Gillette Stadium in Foxsborough where the Patriots are. And I remember coming in there and I was like “alright, new plan, I want to go to Mexico, let’s ramp everything up.” Do you think I would be ready by…I think it was the 2nd week of September? I remember my PT at the time saying “well, if you want it, let’s do it.” I was in there every day, just kind of going at it, going at it, pushing that knee, seeing how it was recovering. I’m not going to lie, I was petrified.
A lot of the stuff that I used to do in the ring involved a lot of jumping and doing things that are risky. Especially coming back from an ACL injury and I kind of mentally was not ready to do them and that date was getting closer and closer and closer. Finally it was like ‘well, all or nothing’. I ended up in Arena Mexico doing something that I have wanted to do since I was a little kid. Knowing the Jerichos and all the guys I used to idolize as a teen and a kid, watching wrestling. I have walked down that same ramp and I have been in that same arena and I’m like ‘well, here I am.
I remember sitting in there after that match and my knee was definitely sore and that was a whole other situation because you really just can’t get ice freely in Mexico. So I was buying these 5 pound blocks of ice every night at like the CVS and having to put that on my leg as I went to sleep after every match. But it was like, after that first match, I was like “wow, i’m ok.” I’m back. And from then on what a trial by fire that was for my knee. It was like 9 matches in the first 13 down. And after that was all done, I was like “hey man, there is no bigger test than you need than that last stretch of matches you just did. We are back and we’re ready to go.”
And it helped, because when I was ready to come back to Ring of Honor I was back to zero fear of my knee being anything but 100%. Which, it probably still wasn’t 100%, but you know, mentally I was ready to jump in the ring and do whatever I used to do and more with my knee with 100% confidence. It was a wild ride and going down to Mexico and to a place where you don’t know anyone and you are just thrown into the situation and you are wondering if your knee is going to hold up, it was pretty intense. But at the end of the day it was like just such an incredible experience because a) I got to live a goal that I have wanted to do forever and b) I knew that from that point forward I didn’t have to worry about the injury that cost me 9 months of my career.
RW: How do you call a match, when you don’t speak the language?
MT: That’s a thing that we kind of ran into in Japan a lot too. But wrestling is kind of an international language. A lot of the stuff you can pantomime and kind of walk through and I obviously know a little bit more Spanish than I know Japanese. And then a lot of the guys can speak some broken English as well. But there was a couple of things that throw you off so much, like it says “suplex – and that actually is a right-handed arm drag.” Even from locking up, they lock up on the opposite side. And so I could remember a couple of nights, where, my first night went really well and then nights two and three I was just trying to learn in the ring, trying to figure things out. So there’s a little bit rocky start after that first night. But that was more of just getting used to the style and like how things would be different there. As far as like the formats in the match, everything so different. Everything is like two out of three falls and not tagging. I mean the heels would all get into the ring, and I’d be like ‘well I’ve gotta jump in there.’ And the babyfaces are taking a knee at ringside and I’m like ‘ok, well, this is different.’
So it takes a little bit of getting used to and it becomes a bit of a culture shock when it comes to the wrestling. So now when I go down there I laugh because I’m used to the things that when I went down there I was kind of just looking around like deer in the headlights. It’s crazy, but you can pick it up quickly.
The biggest thing for me was that everyone down there at CMLL was looking out for me-Marco Corleone, Mark Jindrak, Sam Adonis-they immediately were helping me out and not only giving me the heads up on how things worked down there, but they knew I was down there by myself so they showed me around Mexico City and taking me out and showing me a couple of different places where I could find gyms and stuff was a huge help.
There was a bunch of guys down there – Titan and Ultimo Guerrero and all those guys helped me out so much that it made me being down there go from where I felt like a man not knowing anyone in the planet to “oh I love this place.” And it has helped that every time I go down there, I can go down there by myself and know that I’m absolutely fine that I know how to get everywhere, how to do everything, because those first couple of days everyone down there helped me out so much that now it’s like a second home.”
RW: You recently also earned a Ring of Honor opportunity again Christopher Daniels-what do you see as your goals for moving forward for Ring of Honor and just for your career in general?
MT: Well, you never know what’s going to happen in the wrestling business. It’s such a crazy world where, whether it’s your Mom or your girlfriend is asking you “well what’s going to happen after this?” And you are like “Well, I don’t know, we will have to see what happens after this.” But as far as the immediate goals for Ring of Honor, obviously we worked on those 6 man titles. We had a long road ahead of us that we had planned and we want to see that follow through. We want to see that come to fruition. So we want those back. As soon as TK [O’Ryan] is back and healthy our sights are set on those 6 man tag titles.
We took pride in being the first men to be in the 6 man tag titles and we wanted to be the only men to ever hold those belts as long as possible but unfortunately injuries happen. So now it’s time to get our stuff back. At the same time there’s only one belt that I’ve never won in Ring of Honor and that’s the World Title and whether it’s Cody Rhodes or whoever else might have it, I will always have my sights set on that Ring of Honor World Title. I want to be the first Grand Slam Champion ever in Ring of Honor history and hopefully the only one to ever pull that off and I don’t see my career done in Ring of Honor until I have that belt around my waist.