On today’s episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily, Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman sat down with ROH star Mike Bennett ahead of his Pure Championship bout against Jonathan Gresham this Sunday night at Best in the World. Bennett addressed getting a shot at the Pure Title so quickly after signing with the company.
“It’s cool, man, because I spent the last three or four years doing things, or trying to do things, and not being able to capitalize on goals or dreams that I have,” Bennett said. “So it’s nice to actually now go to a company and put something out there, and manifest it and tell the office that this is what I want to do.
“This is the direction I see myself going in, and to have them come back to me and be like, ‘Okay, yeah, we trust you to do that,’ that’s a really cool feeling. And I know it’s built up over time. I’ve been at Ring of Honor before. I was there for five years before, so it’s really nice to have that trust, and it’s nice to be able to just go there and be like, ‘Yeah, this is what I want’ and for them to be like, ‘Yeah, that’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. Show us, prove it to us and then we’ll put you in that spot.'”
Gresham won the Pure Title tournament last year and has held the title for over 300 days. Gresham has recently defended the title against Fred Yehi, but Bennett explained why he is the one to finally end Gresham’s Pure title reign.
“This Pure division, the Pure Title has kind of elevated him to this status in wrestling where most people would probably argue he’s the best technical wrestler in pro wrestling, hands down. He’s the best pure wrestler, 100%,” Bennett expressed. “I think the biggest difference for between me and Gresham is just our background, where we’re coming from, where my mindset is coming from and where his mindset is coming from.
“I’m not gonna say I’m the underdog because when you’re 20 years in and you’ve accomplished things that I’ve been able to accomplish, I don’t want to say I’m the underdog. I’m not the rookie coming in, or this and that. I’ve been lucky and fortunate enough to do a lot of cool things in my career. However, in this match, I’m looked at as not on Gresham’s level, and I think when you are put in that position, at least I know when I’m put in that position, it brings a little extra something out of you.”
Bennett went on to explain why this new version of himself has put more pressure on him than Gresham has.
“And not only that, but my wife always used to joke about me when I would talk to her,” Bennett recalled. “And I would say, ‘I don’t get it. I can’t seem to connect with fans. I don’t understand what my problem is. I tried to be nice to them. I tried to be an asset to them. I tried to do whatever to them. I just can’t connect, and I don’t get it.’ And she would always say to me, ‘You’re not dirty enough. You’re not grimy enough. You have a perfect story, a perfect career,’ and I think over the last four or five years, my life kind of took a turn, not on purpose, but it took a turn where it dirtied me up.
“It gave me a legitimate story to be like, oh, this is a real guy fighting for real things with real emotions behind it. And I think the difference between me and Gresh is I have a lot that I’m fighting for that he’s not fighting for. Yes, he is putting the entire division on his back, and he’s saying, ‘I’m reinventing the Pure division’ and that’s a lot of pressure. But to me, and you’ll see this in the coming weeks with the promos and stuff that Ring of Honor has put out, I’m putting my legacy at risk here. I’m putting my legacy on the line.
“This is the difference between me and him. If he loses, he’s looked at as the guy who built the Pure division, and that’s a great legacy. If I lose, I’m still Mike Kanellis, Mike Bennett, who can’t wrestle. A guy that failed in WWE. A guy that can’t seem to win the big one. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride type of guy. So I have a lot of motivation going into this, and I think definitely a lot more than he did. I’m redeeming myself. Once again, this is my redemption tour that I’ve been on. It started with the NWA Title against Nick Aldis, and it’s parlaying right into this Pure Title. This is my redemption tour, and there’s a lot to be said about that.”
You can follow Mike on Twitter @RealMikeBennett. Mike will challenge Jonathan Gresham for the ROH Pure Championship this Sunday at Best In The World. It will stream live on ROH Club and FITE.
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