Mike Bennett Interview – WWE’s Perception Of ROH Talent, Creation Of “Prodigy” Gimmick
Ring of Honor wrestler Mike Bennett appeared on Kayfabe Wrestling Radio with Alan Wojcik (interview available at WildTalkRadio.com). Highlights from the interview are as follows:
If banding together independents would help them as a whole and the state of independents as a whole today: “I think that’s would be a great idea and that would be wonderful. I think that’s the biggest problem with independent wrestling right now; with the exception of recently, that’s why the WWE didn’t look at independent wrestlers and independent promotions, because for every really good promotion, there was 10 or 20 really crappy promotions and I think it stems down to the ego of a lot of guys. They don’t know how to just shut up and know their role; if so-and-so gets mad at a promoter, and they go ‘Well, I’ll show you.
“I’ll go start my own promotion’ and then they’ve got their core group of crappy guys and then so-and-so gets mad and says ‘Well, I’ll show you, I’ll go start WWXCXYW’ and then it just snowballs from there. I think the idea of everyone banding together and putting on one really good show is theoretically there but I don’t think it would ever happen, because too many guys in wrestling have egos and it’s really sad because you tend to notice the guys that have the biggest egos shouldn’t have the egos.”
Does the success of past ROH champions elsewhere help to promote the product and talent within ROH today: “Yeah and I think to a certain extent, I’m almost positive, that they already do; I know WWE does. Just talking to guys there (WWE), I know as far as Ring of Honor goes, if they’re looking for talent, that’s where they look. I, personally, don’t consider Ring of Honor an indy; I consider it a national wrestling company for the sole reason we are owned by the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which is a nationally owned company and they’re huge all over the country and seen all over the country.
“I think as long as some of the wrestlers look at us as indy, we’re going to be indy, but I think the hardest part is convincing our locker room that we’re a national company, and as soon as everyone in our locker room says were national, we become national. It’s hard for a company like Ring of Honor to keep surviving because, like you said, we’re always having guys get ‘picked’ to go to TNA or WWE.
I think, I know for me personally, I went to this year’s Wrestlemania with Maria (Kanellis), and as we were leaving, we met up with a bunch of the guys from the production crew and I was talking to them. They asked me where I worked and I told them Ring of Honor and their first reaction was ‘Oh, you must be good then.’ That was just the perception; they didn’t know who I was, but their perception of ‘Oh, well, our top guy is CM Punk and if you talk to Triple H, he’s going to tell you ‘we look at guys from Ring of Honor.’ It really is a hot bed of wrestling talent right now and if WWE wants someone, they are going to look to Ring of Honor first.”
The creation of “The Prodigy” gimmick within Ring of Honor: “It’s funny, cause I get told this a lot by people I meet; they say ‘You’re nothing like what we watch on TV.’ I can tell you 100 percent truthfully, that me, in real life, is nothing what I am like on TV. I think having Bob and Maria only adds to my character. I was, for the first 4 or 5 years of my career, a babyface and then one time I just decided to try the heel business and clicked more naturally with me than the babyface stuff did so when I signed with Ring of Honor I think they always knew I was going to be a heel. It all kind of came about, to be the prodigy of pro wrestling but it really transformed into being a sports entertainer in Ring of Honor which was my idea.
“I don’t think they had any inclination or plans to make that my character but I kind of always wanted that because, well, what hasn’t been done in Ring of Honor before? I said well, maybe they (fans) love wrestlers, so I will be what they hate, which is a sports entertainer and when I started dating Maria it was like ‘Wow, if I adding her to the mix, and hopefully she’ll want to do it, then that would add even more to my character than what Bob already adds and what I have already added. She loves Ring of Honor and loves wrestling so she was all aboard right away so I think that just took my character to the next level that it needed and it made me, in the fan’s eyes from the new guy to an official part of Ring of Honor. I think once she came aboard, it became ‘Alright, this is a guy that is must see now.'”
How he plans on tackling the challenge in order to win Survival of the Fittest 2012: “I think I have the benefit of having been in it, and losing to Eddie Edwards the very first one I was in. That plays a huge factor in the fact that I’ve been there and felt the pressure that goes on and I know how seriously the fans take it and, more importantly, I know how seriously the wrestlers take it. And I think I benefit from having being in the ring with a lot of the guys already: I’ve been in the ring with Roddy (Roderick Strong), I’ve been in the ring with Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, and (Jay) Lethal.
“So, I think I have an advantage as I have been in the ring with all those guys; I just think it’s one of those thing were you just have to outsmart the next guy and having been in the ring with all those guys, it benefits me to outsmart whomever my opponent is. I think my biggest downfall will be if I have to face someone I haven’t been with yet; someone like a Rhino, or a QT. So, fingers crossed, I get in there with someone I know; I don’t know who that last two entrants are going to be but hopefully the last two are people I’ve been in the ring with. That’s kind of where my mindset is now; as long as I get in there with someone I know, and have wrestled before, I think I’ll do better than last year.”
If he’d want to face Kevin Steen or not for the title if/when he wins Survival of the Fittest 2012: “I want (Kevin) Steen to be champ because, as the way it goes right now, the Ring of Honor fans despise me and they love Kevin Steen and nothing would make me smile more than taking the belt from someone the Ring of Honor fans adore so much. It would just be so pleasing to me to beat Kevin Steen, and then look at the ROH fans and say ‘Not only did I beat your favorite person, but now I represent your company.’ It would just make me so happy.”