In 2015, following a successful one-year tag team run alongside Matt Taven in Ring of Honor as the Kingdom, Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis opted to leave the company to sign with IMPACT Wrestling. A few months later, Taven effectively ended what was left of the faction when he kicked out former founder and leader, Adam Cole, promising to rebuild the group in his image when he returned from injury. In September 2016, Taven delivered on that promise introducing his Kingdom, consisting of himself, Vinny Marseglia, and TK O’Ryan. In 2019, Taven once again suffered an injury that was accompanied by the dismantling of the faction. As fans know, the last time Taven returned from injury, he did so with a new Kingdom. Perhaps this time, he’ll do so with a new-old Kingdom as both Taven and Bennett have been teasing a reunion, five years later.
Deemed a “non-essential” wrestler by WWE, Mike Bennett has been occupying his days as a newly unemployed individual in a variety of ways. He’s spending time with his wife and two kids, as well as creating new t-shirts at PWTees, starting up a podcast with Maria, envisioning a new Cactus Jack-esque alter ego inspired by the Office known as Prison Mike…Bennett, and tweeting up a storm. On April 21st, less than a week after the releases were announced, Bennett found himself catching the attention of an old friend, in Ring of Honor’s Matt Taven, who has been sidelined since December 2019 recovering from an ankle injury.
— Mike (@RealMikeBennett) April 21, 2020
It started simply with a hello. Literally. It was nothing more than “Hi @RealMikeBennett” with a waving emoji. Oh, and a photo of the two of them, Ring of Honor tag team belts slung over their shoulders, both men making the gesture of The Kingdom. The tweet received over 1K likes and no shortage of comments from fans about how great it would be to get the band back together. It also sparked a response from Bennett, who answered, “oh hi there @MattTaven,” with a photo of the two men giving the middle finger to the camera while the IWGP tag team titles were slung over their shoulders. The conversation continued with Taven asked Bennett what was new, while sharing a photo of himself, Bennett and Kanellis. Bennett then responded with a photo of him and Taven in the ring, saying that he got fired.
This prompted Taven, who shared yet another photo of the threesome, to suggest now that Bennett was free, the two should catch up. Bennett responded asking if he could wrestle, a reference to a tweet he sent out shortly after he was released stating his desire to be able to actually wrestle again. According to Cagematch, since the start of 2019, Bennett wrestled just 31 matches for WWE primarily for 205 Live. For the most part, he was kept off the live event circuit until recently as WWE began testing a tag team with him and Tony Nese for NXT.
In response to Bennett’s question, Taven replied, “don’t threaten me with good time,” to which Bennett concluded their conversation with…
— Mike (@RealMikeBennett) April 21, 2020
Things were largely quiet over the next few days but then, on Thursday, April 23rd, Mike Bennett resurrected an old logo from 2014, the names Taven, Bennett and Kanellis shown at the bottom and Cole’s edited out. This was the logo of the Kingdom, a faction that existed primarily in Ring of Honor but also was utilized in NJPW. The Kingdom was officially created in July 2014 when the team of Cole, Bennett and Cole’s mentor, Matt Hardy, accompanied ringside by Maria, wrestled War Machine and Michael Elgin to a no contest. As it would turn out, this was Hardy’s last match with ROH as he decided to return to IMPACT Wrestling. So with Hardy gone, the Kingdom was one member down.
Enter Taven, who joined the group in September. To that point, the Kingdom had wrestled just two additional matches making Taven essentially an original part of the faction. At the very least, his involvement allowed the faction to take off as now, the roles were defined. Cole, the leader and founder of the faction, was the main singles star, Bennett and Taven were the tag team specialists, and Maria was both manager and instigator, often using her sexual prowess to the group’s advantage. It was a match made in heaven.
The four came together for a common cause. They were overlooked, underappreciated and it was time the world took notice. With all four members possessing top-notch mic skills and in-ring ability, it was no surprise that the Kingdom was quick to find success both in ROH and NJPW over the next year. Adam Cole, who had just been coming off his first world title reign with Ring of Honor shortly prior to the Kingdom’s formation, spent much of the year working his way back to the top in an attempt to regain the belt. Meanwhile, Matt Taven and Mike Bennett struck gold early on. The duo entered the World Tag League that November, finishing third in their block and picking up big victories over the Bullet Club team of AJ Styles and Yujiro Takahashi, La Sombra and Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Yoshitatsu, and TenKoji, which featured Hiroyoshi Tenzan teaming with Satoshi Kojima.
Back in the U.S., the Kingdom continued their ongoing feud with the Briscoes and reDRagon, but in Japan, as Adam Cole was sidelined with a shoulder injury, it was up to Matt Taven and Mike Bennett to represent ROH’s top faction against NJPW’s dominant Bullet Club, as the two had begun a rivalry. This led to Taven and Bennett receiving and winning their first IWGP tag title match against the Bullet Club duo of Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson at Invasion Attack in April 2015. Cole returned in May as the Kingdom trio continued to feud with Bullet Club into the summer at which point Taven and Bennett lost the tag titles back to Gallows and Anderson at Dominion in July.
In the midst of this, however, tension began to bubble within the three members so much so that Cole teased turning on Taven and Bennett and reforming FutureShock with his old partner Kyle O’Reilly. However, it was all a ruse as Cole turned on O’Reilly costing him his world title match against Jay Lethal at All Star Extravaganza VII in September. That was the same night Taven and Bennett won a triple threat tag team match against the Young Bucks and then tag champs the Addiction, to claim the first ROH based title for the faction.
The Kingdom remained united until Final Battle in December when Taven and Bennett lost the titles to War Machine. At that event, Taven suffered a knee injury in a post-match altercation, leading to him missing eight months of action. it was the first significant injury of his career. A few days after Final Battle, after failing to come to terms on a new deal, Bennett and Kanellis headed to IMPACT Wrestling. Seemingly, that was all they wrote as the faction went on hiatus for several months.
In March 2016, Taven returned on crutches to make a promise. Cole had recently failed in his attempts to capture the world title but Taven assured the fans that the Kingdom would win gold all over the world once again. Only they’d be doing so without Adam Cole. In September, Taven entered his new Kingdom into the world six-man tournament and as promised, his Kingdom reaped the rewards as the trio became the inaugural champs, winning the titles at Final Battle 2016.
The new Kingdom held the belts for 99 days in their first reign. In all, the Kingdom won the belts on three separate occasions making them the only trio to have accomplished that feat. By 2019, Taven’s Kingdom had finally helped him launch into the main event scene of the company where he defeated Jay Lethal and Marty Scurll at the G1 SuperCard in a ladder match to claim his first world title. Taven held the belt for 174 days.
— Mike (@RealMikeBennett) April 23, 2020
All seemed right with the Kingdom, but cracks had developed and in September 2019, Marseglia attacked Taven thus ousting him from the Kingdom and leading to an ankle injury for the former world champ. This led to the end of Taven’s Kingdom. At least, the end for now…
With Mike Bennett a newly minted free agent and Matt Taven returning to a crowded ROH main event scene, it makes all the sense in the world for the Kingdom to return and pick up right where they left off. During their initial one-year run, the Kingdom really was one of the best stables in ROH history as Cole once called them. And while he won’t be around for any reboot (hence the black bar covering where his name used to be on the logo Bennett shared on Twitter), as a duo, Taven and Bennett were a great team and still have value as such, especially with Kanellis causing trouble as a manager.
ROH’s tag team division, and to an extent NJPW’s as well, could benefit from a Kingdom comeback. Who knows, maybe even a Taven/Bennett vs Gallows/Anderson rematch could be on the way. And if that happens, we can certainly expect another classic Anderson/Kanellis moment. Just don’t tell #HotAsianWife.
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