Mike Bennett is a man that has divided the Ring of Honor faithful for quite some time. Most said he didn’t belong in ROH; that his ‘sports entertainment’ style of wrestling didn’t fit in with the rest of the roster. Over time, “The Prodigy” has won over most of the fanbase which makes his lack of progression in recent times very strange.
Granted, Bennett did get a shot at the ROH World Title at Saturday’s TV taping in Pittsburgh. But even then, he had to rely on a ‘random draw’ rather than being booked in the match as somebody who had half a chance of winning. Unfortunately for Bennett, Mike Mondo got injured during their match at ‘Glory By Honor XI’ and will be out for around a year. With a third match between the two looking nailed on for ‘Final Battle 2012’, it seems as if Bennett won’t be on the card for ROH’s biggest show of the year.
If we rewind almost 12 months, Bennett had a shot at winning the ROH World TV title at ‘Final Battle 2011’. Despite being booked strongly on TV up until the event, he could not overcome El Generico and Jay Lethal to walk out as champion. Bennett was arguably at his hottest right then; Maria had just joined him and a title run looked on the cards. For whatever reason, ROH decided not to pull the trigger and that decision has haunted Bennett since. “The Prodigy”, although maybe not on par technically with a Davey Richards or Eddie Edwards, is one of the most entertaining guys on the roster. On the mic, he’s second to none and apart from maybe Charlie Haas, draws the most heat from the crowd.
Despite those qualities, Bennett has been overlooked, in my opinion, in 2012. The former ‘Top Prospect Tournament’ winner challenged Lethal again for the TV title and once again come up short. Yet another missed opportunity as Bennett, in my eyes, is a perfect fit for the championship. In fairness to ROH, they decided to choose Bennett to face the returning Lance Storm. The pair had their first match at ‘Showdown in the Sun’ and put on a brilliant match; arguably Bennett’s best in ROH. Bennett won the match and then disrespected Storm afterwards to set up a rematch at ‘Border Wars’ in Storm’s home country of Canada. Again, they put on a good contest with Storm coming out on top. ROH decided to book a third match between the two on TV. While it wasn’t really necessary, Bennett got the boost with another win in the rubber match.
Since then, however, Bennett has not been given the opportunities to progress. Beating a legend like Lance Storm twice should have been the foundation for a big push for “The Prodigy”. In my opinion, he would be the perfect man to take the TV title off Adam Cole but at this precise moment, he looks a long way off. The Boston native went on to have an on-and-off feud with Eddie Edwards that didn’t amount to much before his program with Mondo started. Their match at ‘Glory By Honor XI’ was very good and looked to set up a third instalment at ‘Final Battle 2012’. Even so, I think Mondo would have been the man picking up the win.
With Mondo out of the picture for the foreseeable future, it will be interesting to see what ROH do with Bennett. In “The Prodigy” they have somebody who is very much different from most of the roster. He’s one of the best talkers in the company and has improved both in the ring and character wise over the past six months. I see Bennett as a big asset to ROH if used correctly; something which isn’t happening at the moment. After the recent change in creative which has seen Delirious take on most of the work, I can only hope that Bennett gets the spot he thoroughly deserves.