Mike Bennett on TNA debut, Miracle character, time in ROH

Donald Wood sent this in.

We had TNA Star and Former Ring of Honor Champion “The Miracle” MIKE BENNETT on the show this week, and it was a great episode with plenty of exclusive content.

YouTube interview: https://youtu.be/Og7bbKx4e3M

Blog Talk Radio Episode: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ringrustradio/2016/01/19/ring-rust-radio–jan-19-w-wwe-royal-rumble-tnas-mike-bennett-chat–part-2

Ring Rust Radio: Your debut during Impact Wrestling’s first episode on Pop was the highlight of the show for many fans. What went into your decision to sign with TNA and how did it feel getting out there for the first time?

Mike Bennett: The whole situation with TNA is we knew that the Kingdom and Ring of Honor was on its peak­ – or almost to its peak – and we really wanted to take a leap of faith because we didn’t want to just stick around and just ride and be like, “Well, the Kingdom is doing good so let’s just sit back and ride.” If we couldn’t be innovative or new or reinvent ourselves, then we always thought it would be better to leave on top and leave them wanting more. So really it was time for a change. We didn’t know exactly what the change would be for me and Maria. We were on our tour of Japan and our Ring of Honor contracts were coming up and TNA called us and said, that they had a deal with Pop and they wanted to bring us in and think we would be great. To us it is one of those things where we were like, “Should we wait play out our options or should we just go and make that decision?” There’s a lot to be said about a company that really wants you and really wants to fight for you regardless of anything. So we made the decision and we said let’s go do it. As far as walking out that first time, it gave me goosebumps. I felt like the Internet wrestling world and wrestling in general is really in this boom period. There are a lot of free agents going around and it’s really cool to be one of those free agents that everyone was talking about. The minute me and Maria walked out that place just exploded and I got goosebumps. I was like, “Wow, this is something special.” When I was in that ring cutting that promo, all I could think about was that we do have something special here. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something that’s going to click, and I guarantee you it’s going to work.

Ring Rust Radio: It’s already apparent that you have a really unique character with “The Miracle,” so what went into making that a reality? Who created that gimmick and what was either your reaction or TNA’s reaction to it when it was presented?

Mike Bennett: It’s one of those things where when I was 15 years old, I was a skinny little kid in high school, and I had just started training to be a pro wrestler. I was hanging out with my buddy and he said, “You know you should call yourself ‘The Miracle’ Mike Bennett.” I thought, “Wow that really does stick, sure I’ll do that.” So when I was 16 before anyone had a clue what I was and that I was an awful wrestler in bingo halls and gymnasiums, I was “The Miracle” Mike Bennett. I then progressed from that and went on and did stuff with Ring of Honor. When we finally decided to sign with TNA, David Laguna gave us a call and said this is a good name, The Miracle. Marie and I kind of looked at each other and laughed and he didn’t understand why we were laughing. I asked if he knew and he had no clue that I used to call myself that. Life and wrestling always comes full circle so just seemed like fate. So let’s take it and play with it. Then he started showing me the vignettes they had been working on and that’s when my wheels started moving. Then I thought what can I make this and what can I take from them that they think this should be and turn it into Mike Bennett. I didn’t want to lose my character because my past is what made me, the Kingdom made me, New Japan made me and Ring of Honor made me. I am still that guy. Because if I’m not that guy, then it’s not a big deal that I’m coming out. I’m just Joe Schmoe TNA just signed. If I’m still Kingdom Mike Bennett then I’m somebody. I went to Maria – who is my brainchild in life – and asked her what we should do. That’s when I came up with this guy who is going to come in and save pro wrestling and TNA. Everyone’s talking about this new deal on Pop; who would be the best guy to have as your front man? The Miracle. The guy who is going to save TNA and that’s how I brought it all full-circle for me.

Ring Rust Radio: The main reason I tuned in to TNA’s debut on POP was for the possibility to see your debut and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. I thought you and Maria stole the show from her introduction, to your awesome theme music and then your excellent promo. What were your thoughts of the debut and was there anything you would have changed?

Mike Bennett: To me, I don’t think so. I don’t like to live in the past and with regrets. As a perfectionist and entertainer, I always sit back and watch my matches and promos. I sit and think to myself, “Oh I should have said that, or should have moved this way, or should of looked at the camera, or taken off my sunglasses.” As a whole, I thought everything from Maria’s part to the entrance, the music, the lighting, it exceeded my expectations. I felt like that night everyone in the company from writers to ring crew everyone was on point. That moment is something you can look at and think that is the moment everything changed. That’s the impact you need to be a major player in pro-wrestling. I critique myself a ridiculous amount, but as a whole it definitely exceeded my expectations.

Ring Rust Radio: One of the dream matches now that you’re part of the TNA roster is a battle against Ethan Carter III. Is this a feud that would interest you and do you feel it would be a better matchup in the ring or on the mic?

Mike Bennett: I have been getting tweets about it, which I love because that means people are talking about it. To me this whole EC3 thing is exactly what TNA needs. They just brought in a free agent, they already have a guy that the company is based around, so let’s take these two guys that everyone’s buzzing about and let’s build this company around them. I have said this before, but I am ready to take this company and put it on my back, and I feel like Maria and I have already started doing that. As far as one of the biggest reasons why I love this idea, is because of the mic work we can do and the promos. I think it will start off with people seeing us going back and forth and seeing this as really entertaining. Then it will build to the point where people want to see us rip each other part in the ring. EC3 probably is one of the best in wrestling on the mic right now and I am a huge fan of his in ring work. I am super excited to see this because we have two different styles yet very similar styles, if that makes any sense. I feel like he has a very different style to me, but we have a similar mentality when it comes to wrestling. I think this is the feud that a year from now people will say that is just what TNA needed.

Ring Rust Radio: Speaking of EC3, it seems that there are some obvious parallels between you guys in terms of having charisma on the mic and excelling at that cocky heel character. Did seeing what TNA did with EC3 with regard to pushing him to the top and making him the world champion so quickly factor at all into your decision to sign with TNA? Did that type of commitment appeal to you?

Mike Bennett: Absolutely. I feel like this past year was my most successful run in wrestling, but it has been in tag-team wrestling. I do love tag-team wrestling and I got to travel the world doing it with my best friend and my wife. We got to win the IWGP tag titles which to me are very prestigious. If you called me and told me at five years old that I would win those, I would’ve said, “No you are wrong. I will never even go to Japan.” There’s something extremely satisfying and tempting and motivating about a company coming to you and giving you the ball and wanting you to run with it. I never got that opportunity in ROH and that’s no one’s fault but my own. I got it in tag-team wrestling, which I am super grateful for, but I never got it as a singles wrestler. I should have done more to make that happen in ROH, but now TNA is giving me the ball to do that. I saw what someone who is hungry enough and talented enough can do when they are given the ball to run with it like EC3 did. To me I’m like, “Give me the ball. I can do this and put the company on my back and let’s roll.”

Ring Rust Radio: Maybe the one negative about your move to TNA in the eyes of many wrestling fans is the dissolution of The Kingdom, which was regarded as one of the top stables out there. Obviously Matt Taven is injured right now, but could you see yourself rejoining forces with him and Adam Cole at some point in TNA, or is it your preference at this point to proceed solely as a singles guy?

Mike Bennett: 100 percent honest, I could see us coming back together in TNA. I put out a tweet today just to tease the fans, and I said, “I feel like Kingdoms don’t die, they expand.” I feel like that’s what the Kingdom is doing right now. We talk about the Kingdom a lot as what we see on TV, but the Kingdom in reality is kind of like what the Kliq was in WWE. The four of us are all best friends, and Marie and I are husband and wife. I have known Taven since he broke in and Cole and I got each other jobs at ROH just through dark matches. We talk on a daily basis and I talk to Taven every day about his knee surgery. The Kingdom is not just what you see on TV, it’s 100 percent real and I think that’s why it works so well. For me to sit here and say, “No that will never happen,” it would be foolish of me. That would be like me saying the four of us will never be friends again. I can 100 percent see the four of us in TNA just run roughshod like we did in ROH. I would be very surprised if you never saw the Kingdom together ever again. I would put money on the fact that the Kingdom would get back together at some point.

Ring Rust Radio: What has the atmosphere been like backstage and TNA compared to Ring of Honor? Any similarities and differences? How have you and Maria been received since coming to TNA?

Mike Bennett: In all honesty, it has been really great. When I got to TNA, I had already known 90 percent of the people since the wrestling world is so small. You just kind of meet up through indie shows or tryouts or hanging out with other wrestlers and having a good time. That’s just how the wrestling world is. To me the biggest thing that stood out is the work ethic of every single guy in TNA. It really is unbelievable. I’m not just saying I didn’t expect that, I’m just saying they really blew me away. To do five shows in a row of tapings is extremely grueling. It’s really grueling for guys who are not only filming Impact matches, but also Explosion matches and One Night Only matches. These guys are killing themselves. Eric Young wrestled like 12 times and he went out there and killed it every single time. Bobby Roode, James Storm, and even to see Kurt Angle go out there five days in a row is inspiring. What I took away from it is the locker room is fired up and trying to be better. I thought there would never be a locker room that could do that besides ROH and New Japan. Then I came here and saw they are the same way. These guys want to kill just like everyone else did. I hate this perception that the morale is down and low. Everyone just wants to go kill it and everyone believes TNA is bringing it. The morale these past five days is just through the roof. Everyone was like, “Wow, we really do have a great thing here, from production value to writers, and let’s go put this on the map. Let’s go show that Pop did invest in the right wrestling company and let’s go kill it.” That’s what I loved about it.

Ring Rust Radio: You and Maria have obviously been vital parts of each other’s characters for quite some time, and a lot of fans are happy to see that it’s carrying over to TNA. Were you two always going to be a package deal, or could there have been a scenario where either just you or just her would have signed with TNA or another company?

Mike Bennett: It was one of those things that we were just taking it as it comes. If you think about it the way we think about it, we are husband and wife first and foremost. That comes first and we are family first. What’s best for me and her is always going to be what’s best. If that meant her going somewhere by herself and me going somewhere by myself, we would’ve done it. If it meant going together, we would’ve done it. If it meant her not working and me just working, we would’ve done it. If it meant me not working, but her working, we would’ve done it. It’s whatever is best for us as a couple. That’s why we always say we are a couple first that just happens to be pro wrestlers. I think every couple has the tough decision where the guy gets a good job in San Francisco, but is it worth to move the whole family out to San Francisco. I think every family deals with that just like we deal with that. If the scenario came were WWE wanted Maria and ROH wanted me, I’d go there. If TNA wanted Maria, and WWE wanted me, we would do that. Just so happens that what’s best for us not only as wrestlers, but as a family, was TNA wanted the package deal. That’s really how we came to our decision.

Ring Rust Radio: I think it’s safe to say most expect you to contend and win the TNA World Championship very soon. Donny mentioned EC3, but the biggest matches I would like to see for you is against Lashley. Is there anybody along the way that you’re looking forward to wrestling against the most?

Mike Bennett: I think one of the most intriguing parts of me coming over was the talent. It’s funny that my pay-per-view debut was against Robbie E and I have literally known him since I started wrestling. So it’s kind of ironic that we got put in that match together. Hopefully it’ll happen, but I doubt it since Kurt’s retiring, but I would love to get in there with Kurt Angle. Solely because he is Kurt freaking Angle and he is the man. I just want to get in there with Bobby Roode, Eric Young, James Storm and all these guys that I think are super talented. It’s funny because Eddie Edwards and I, we literally started training together in Massachusetts, so I have had great matches with him. Since the last time we wrestled, I think I’ve got one million times better, so I would love another match to see what I and he could do. There are just so many guys that I would love to see, but on the top of course is ECIII. Right off the bat, I really think there is something special there.

Ring Rust Radio: Signing with TNA and leaving Ring of Honor was a big move for you and your career. Now that you’re a key building block for TNA, what are your long-term goals with the company?

Mike Bennett: To me, like I said, I want to take the company and put it on my back and say let’s go. I want to be that guy. To me that’s my motivation, and my motivation is the pressure to be that guy. I want to be that guy. I want to be the world champ, and want to be the one the company is built around moving forward. I’ve said this a million times and I hope this gets around; I want to be to TNA what Stone Cold was to the Attitude Era. I know that’s a huge statement and I’m not comparing myself to Stone Cold or anything because he is legit one of the best that ever laced up the boots. I want to be looked at as “the guy.” Like, “This is what happened, then holy cow, Mike Bennett showed up and it was gravy train from here on out.” I want to be that impact player, and I want that pressure and to me, that’s what it’s all about. If you don’t live for that, what’s the point of being there?