Eck’s Files: There’s No Shortage Of Worthy World Title Contenders; Mike Bennett Is Back To Stay; Is Trouble Brewing Between The Briscoes?

By Kevin Eck

The winner of the match between Brody King and Shane Taylor on this weekend’s episode of “Ring of Honor Wrestling” undoubtedly will receive serious consideration for a shot at the ROH World Title currently held by RUSH, and that’s why three men in particular will be watching the bout closely.

Flip Gordon, Mark Haskins and former champion Matt Taven are all guaranteed to challenge for the ROH World Title at some point.

Gordon earned his shot by winning a battle royal in February; Haskins was scheduled to face RUSH for the title at ROH 18th Anniversary in March, but the show was cancelled due to the pandemic; and Taven, who lost the title to RUSH is September of last year, is still owed his championship rematch.

RUSH has been dominant since making his ROH debut nearly two years ago, but I won’t be surprised if one of the aforementioned competitors dethrones him. Taven has already proven he has what it takes to be world champion, and King, Taylor, Gordon and Haskins are all very worthy challengers.

Of course, the list of viable contenders isn’t limited to those five, as the ROH roster is deeper than it’s ever been. It’s going to make for an amazing world title picture in 2021.

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The wrestling world has been buzzing about Mike Bennett’s dramatic return to ROH on last weekend’s episode of “Ring of Honor Wrestling.”

Bennett, who hadn’t appeared in ROH since 2015, saved Taven, his longtime best friend and fellow former Kingdom member, from an attack by The Righteous’ Vincent and Bateman.

When asked by backstage correspondent Quinn McKay if he was back in ROH to stay, Bennett replied: “I should’ve never left.”

Bennett elaborated on the subject during his appearance on “Trending With Taven,” a new YouTube series.

“Professionally, [leaving ROH] was the biggest mistake of my life,” Bennett said. “Personally, I had to do it. I had to find out who I was as a man. … I had to prove that Mike Bennett on his own could be Mike Bennett on his own.

“But hindsight’s always 20/20, and you look back and you go, ‘What were you thinking? Why? I had everything I wanted right here. The best wrestling. The best people. The best fans.’”

A wrestler as talented as Bennett is a welcome addition to any roster, but no one is happier to see him in ROH than Taven, not only because of their friendship, but also because Taven has been in desperate need of an ally in his war with The Righteous. He couldn’t ask for a better one in Bennett.

On a side note, how about that snazzy plaid suit Bennett showed up in?

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Another wrestler making his return after a lengthy absence is former ROH Pure Champion John Walters, and he has set his sights on newly crowned Pure Champion Jonathan Gresham.

Walters held the Pure Championship for 189 days in 2004-2005, the second-longest reign in the title's history. He has not competed in ROH since 2006.

Walters made successful title defenses against the likes of Jay Lethal (who eventually dethroned him), Nigel McGuinness, Homicide and Alex Shelley.

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Could the Briscoes soon be going their separate ways?

It seems unfathomable, but I’ve been told by a reliable source that Mark Briscoe is so frustrated by his brother Jay’s obsession with EC3 that he’s considering looking for another tag partner.

The 11-time former ROH World Tag Team Champion Briscoes are owed a title rematch with Lethal and Gresham. Mark wants that shot sooner than later, while Jay wants to settle his issue with EC3 first.

I find it hard to believe that Mark would actually pursue the tag title with someone other than Jay, but it’s definitely a situation to keep an eye on.

As for Jay, it’s clear that EC3 is in his head. In their match on last weekend’s episode of “Ring of Honor Wrestling,” Jay was disqualified in less than two minutes because he refused to take his boot off EC3’s throat in the corner.

When McKay asked Jay after the match why he of all people wouldn’t uphold the Code of Honor and allowed himself to be disqualified, he said, “Because, f**k him. That’s why.”

Jay does have a way with words.

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McKay revealed on this week’s “ROH Week By Week” that she is going into intensive training with the goal of taking on Angelina Love when Love’s suspension is over.

McKay began pro wrestling training at the ROH Dojo nearly two years ago, but when she was given an opportunity to be a backstage interviewer shortly thereafter, she walked away from training to focus entirely on broadcasting.

A longstanding war of words between McKay and Love culminated in Love (with an assist from fellow Allure member Mandy Leon) assaulting McKay on the “ROH week By Week” set a few weeks ago. Love and Leon were suspended indefinitely and fined for the attack.

McKay said she will continue her duties as host and backstage correspondent while she trains. My question is: Will she be physically able to continue those duties after Love is through with her?

McKay’s desire to exact revenge is understandable, but also undeniably unwise. Someone as green as the diminutive McKay has absolutely no business getting in the ring with Love, a seven-time former world champion, 20-year veteran and legitimate badass.

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I’ll be honest: I didn’t think LSG had any chance of beating Lethal in their Pure Rules match last weekend. It wasn’t a knock on LSG, who is a capable competitor; it’s just that I didn’t believe he could knock off a wrestler at Lethal’s elite level.

To my amazement, LSG took Lethal to the 15-minute time limit. The judges (Gary Juster, Sumie Sakai and Will Ferrara) awarded the bout to Lethal in a split decision.

The judges got it wrong (well at least two of them did). LSG should’ve won, but I think the judges who voted for Lethal did so out of deference to his status as “The Franchise of ROH.”

LSG went move for move with the two-time former ROH World Champion before seizing control of the match in the final minute and a half.

After scoring a near fall with a crucifix, LSG applied a crossface. As Lethal attempted to get free, LSG transitioned into a Sharpshooter and then a Muta Lock. Lethal was in the hold for more than 20 seconds before finally getting to the ropes seconds before the time limit expired.

Even though LSG didn’t get his hand raised, he undoubtedly opened a lot more eyes than just mine.

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The Soldiers of Savagery (Moses and Kaun) of Shane Taylor Promotions were my guests on the latest episode of “The ROHStrong Podcast,” which drops Monday morning on ROHWrestling.com and most podcast platforms.

SOS discussed their recent matches against the Briscoes, working with Taylor, and getting their college degrees and “real jobs” before pursuing a career in pro wrestling. They also shared memories of their trainer, RJ Meyer, who recently died of leukemia.

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ICYMI: Joe Hendry has an entertaining and informative new YouTube show called “Technique Tuesdays” in which he breaks down the in-ring techniques of top ROH stars.

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Until next time, keep safe and stay #ROHStrong!

Kevin Eck is a veteran pro wrestling journalist who has worked for The Baltimore Sun, WWE and WCW before joining ROHWrestling.com. Eck’s Files appears every Friday.