My personal taste in professional wrestling and professional wrestlers leans towards a faced passed, aggressive, technical, high impact maneuver style (both in wrestler and match style). Neither Ethan Carter III (picture above to the left) or Michael Bennett (picture above to the right) fit with what I listed, and that’s not just fine, it’s good for pro wrestling.
As I have grown up I’ve become less dogmatic when it comes to personal taste, especially when it comes to personal taste in entertainment based subjects. In my adolescence I would have been the smarkiest, snarkiest Mike Bennett hater on the internet. But that is when I was naïve enough to think my personal taste and opinions deserved to be conformed to by the outside world.
For the longest time I didn’t understand why Mike Bennett was on the ROH roster, then I learned he was dating and later married to former WWE Diva and Playboy Playmate Maria Kanellis. The increased attention and publicity someone like her could bring to ROH if she was associated with it explained why they would bring him in, but not why they would keep him for years.
Michael Bennett is completely different from anyone else on the ROH roster. He is very much a look based, body guy. He gets heat from the jealously of male wrestling fans, or as they’re most commonly known, wrestling fans. It is hard to get heat on the independent pro wrestling scene. This is because the wrestlers are usually trying to get pops from the crowd via high spots or are so untalented, they get booed for being bad at their chosen profession. There have been several matches that I have seen in person where Mike Bennett deserved to get booed for not having the talent to deserve the spot in the company he was/is in.
But he has grown, he has improved, he has evolved. ROH has shown confidence in Bennett in 2014 (notably allowing him a high-profile one on one match against the most popular wrestler in Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi at War of the Worlds in May). Bennett is now going to be representing ROH on a tour of Japan and he has earned it. How? Certainly not for being a skilled technician in the ring. Bennett gets heat, and heat is what draws money in pro wrestling, not high spots. If high spots drew money, then ROH and WWE would have opposite financial standings.
Ironically, Michael Bennett did nothing to make me see this. It was only after Ethan Carter III (formerly Derrick Bateman in NXT) debuted in TNA earlier this year and had a string of what I thought were very impressive matches did I realize that I had been judging Bennett completely wrong. I read so much anti Carter/Bateman talk on the internet it completely threw me off, I thought he was very entertaining. The words used to describe EC3 were essentially the same words I used to describe Bennett.
Guys who are more about look than technical proficiency always have had and always will have a spot in professional wrestling. EC3 and Bennett are much more technically proficient than many body guys that have come before them but many fans don’t see/realize this, why? John Cena obviously.
Hahaha, it’s all Cena’s fault. You’ll notice that there is not much text below this, so a long anti Cena rant is NOT coming. But with Cena being over exposed and over pushed for now over a decade based on him being a body guy, the fan base that watches pro wrestling as their dominant form of consumed entertainment, is not just tired of Cena, but of all body guys…Bootista anyone?
EC3 and Bennett are not to be confused for Bret Hart or AJ Styles, nor would they contend they should be. If one can look past the fact that both men are in better physical shape and are better looking than they are, they will see two young professional wrestlers who love the business, respect the business, and want to become better at their craft.
I can see the effort and improvement in both of them every time I see their matches and/or promos. If a person can’t, they are letting emotion and bias be fuel for negative emotion directed towards them…which means that both EC3 and Bennett are doing their jobs.