Wrestler Of The Year: Matt Taven

There was a time when Matt Taven called himself the real world champion and people scoffed. Their reaction was justified because Taven hadn’t earned it and was carrying around a faux title belt.

On April 6, before a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden, Taven did become the real ROH World Champion. And there’s no doubt that he earned it.

Taven came out on top in a ladder match to win the title at the historic G1 Supercard show, prevailing over defending champion Jay Lethal and “The Villain” Marty Scurll. The instant classic was voted Match of the Year.

Taven became just the second Grand Slam champion in ROH history, joining Christopher Daniels as the only men to hold the ROH World, World Television, World Tag Team and World Six-Man Tag Team titles.

He went on to successfully defend the ROH World Title for nearly six months against a wide variety of challengers, including PCO, Jeff Cobb, Lethal, Kenny King, Flip Gordon, Mark Haskins and CMLL star Volador Jr., among others. Taven handed PCO and Cobb their first (and in PCO’s case, only) pinfall losses in their ROH careers.

Whether he was champion or contender, Taven delivered one strong performance after another in the ring in 2019. (He also had few peers on the microphone.)

Three weeks before he won the title, Taven competed in another strong candidate of Match of the Year, as he battled then-champion Lethal to a 60-minute draw at the 17th Anniversary show.

The year ended on a down note for Taven, who was brutally attacked by former best friend Vincent in November. At Final Battle in December, Taven lost to Vincent and then suffered a broken ankle at “The Horror King’s” hands after the match.

Taven begins 2020 on the shelf, but judging by his outstanding 2019, don’t be surprised if he comes back stronger than ever.