I think it’s safe to say that most people were surprised when Matt Taven beat Adam Cole for the TV title at the 11th Anniversary Show. He was the underdog, the guy who’d only just got a contract. On top of that Cole had a programme with Matt Hardy set up and ready to run into.
Taven’s victory is not a bad decision though. Far from it. ROH has needed to find some new talent for quite some time. Taven looks and wrestles the part, and has Truth Martini to sound the part for him.
It’s his pairing with Martini that should help Taven excel. Since being introduced as Roderick Strong’s life intervention expert in 2010 the House of Truth head honcho has replaced Prince Nana as ROH’s premier cornerman. The association originally looked like something of a comedown for Truth but that’s no longer the case. It’s clear that he’s still being presented as a top notch manager affiliated with winners.
The importance of being the man to beat Cole shouldn’t be understated either. While it wasn’t clean (Martini and the Book of Truth got involved) it’s still a vote of confidence in Taven’s abilities to grow into the spot. It’s a good way to start making the new boy a star.
Cole had reigned as the television champion since June 29th last year. The only man to have bettered his eight month run was inaugural champ Eddie Edwards. Not only that but Cole had restored credibility to the championship following a period of it being treated as an afterthought. That’s not to knock El Generico, Roderick Strong or Jay Lethal, who held the belt during this period, but Cole’s reign seemed to mean more to fans than any champion since ‘Die Hard’. He is seen as one of the future headliners of ROH. Being the man to end his reign means a lot.
The next few months will be interesting. It seems reasonable to assume Taven will be presented as an undeserving fluke champion for a while. That angle should be played up but shouldn’t outstay its welcome. Sooner rather than later Taven will need to be given a decisive victory to show that he does belong in the spot, otherwise it will harm his long term worth.
Obvious opponents right now are Matt Hardy and Adam Cole. A three-way bout at ‘Supercard of Honor VII’ or ‘Best in the World’ (preferably the former) would be an ideal way of presenting Taven as a sneaky opportunist. If Shelton Benjamin’s sticking around I think he’d pair up nicely with Taven. Mike Mondo and the ever popular Briscoe brothers would work well as challengers too.
Beyond those established stars Taven has fellow newcomers Silas Young and ACH to tangle with. If the promotion really wants to present the TV title as the belt worn by up-and-comers Taven versus ACH is the natural feud to go with.
Putting a secondary strap on a newcomer isn’t the sort of thing that should be done all the time but once in a while it works. It’s a move designed to make Taven a star. I hope it succeeds. I also think it will.