Matt Taven is on top of the world, in part because he wrestled all over it. He leads the villainous faction The Kingdom, which includes TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia, and is the top heel in Ring of Honor. In April, he became the ROH World champion at the G1 Supercard.

Competing around the world and learning different styles allowed Taven to accumulate more tools. “Growing up as a wrestling fan, there are all these different places and things that you are looking to experience. The people that I idolized growing up in wrestling did these pilgrimages to Japan and Mexico and the UK and learned all these different styles and turned them into who we are as a wrestler. For me, there was the same experience. Japan is a totally different atmosphere and crowd,” Taven told SLAM! Wrestling.

ROH World champion Matt Taven celebrates a victory. RING OF HONOR/Ian Storck

The fans in Japan are usually reserved and quieter than fans in other places in the world and Taven had to adapt to these new fans. “The first time when I was in Korakuen Hall, I was so excited and it gets a little bit quiet and its like, ‘Oh, okay. I was told about this.’ It makes it that much more exciting when they start to get back into it. It’s normally not a big cheer, it’s more like a ‘ooooo’ and ‘aaahhh.’ So it definitely takes a little bit of getting used to but it’s exciting at the same time. I always think back to the fact that I’m a giant wrestling fan and have been my entire life so I’ve watched these audiences, whether it was a VHS tape back in the day or on the internet now. It was something that I was coming in ready for,” said Taven.

Korakuen Hall is one of the most famous arenas to wrestle in and Taven wrestled his first match in Japan there. “It was a big sense of accomplishment. My very first night in Japan was in Korakuen Hall and it’s so funny because you see these places on video for so long that they have these grand kind of feel to them in your mind. You expect these places to be so big. Korakuen Hall isn’t the biggest place in the world, so the first night I did my dive, I flew so far that I almost ended up in the crowd because it’s a confined space in there but what a magical atmosphere. There’s really not a lot of places like it. I always say that Arena Mexico is probably my favorite place in the world to wrestle but Korakuen Hall would be up there as well.”

Another famous wrestling venue is Madison Square Garden in New York, where Taven won the ROH World title in a three-way ladder match at the G1 Supercard, beating the defending champion Jay Lethal and fellow challenger Marty Scurll. “It’s one of those things that as a kid, you almost imagine from a small age like, ‘Here I am in Madison Square Garden and I win the world title.’ I climbed to the top of the ladder and won the world title and for it to actually happen like that is such an amazing experience. It’s something that I will be forever grateful for and at the same time I don’t feel like I’ve sat down and really enjoyed it. You almost kind of watch it back and think of all the things, ‘Oh, I should have done this, I should have done that.’ There hasn’t been a time to smell the roses as they say, but I’m sure one day that accomplishment will put itself in perceptive for me and I’ll be able to look at it as one of the greatest moments of my life,” said Taven.

“Driving home from Madison Square Garden up to Boston, so it’s a short drive up 95, and it was really then that you tell yourself with your thoughts, ‘Man, I really won the title in Madison Square Garden,’ and you’re like, ‘This is what you’ve always wanted.’ Those moments are cool. At the same time, I still don’t think it’s fully sunk in.”

Matt Taven delivers a beating. RING OF HONOR/Ian Storck

Taven’s next major challenge is defending his ROH World title against Rush at Death Before Dishonor on September 27 in Las Vegas. “Me and Rush have had matches numerous times in Mexico and Rush is one of the most hard-hitting superstars that we have, not just in Ring of Honor but in all the world. If anyone is familiar with the stuff that we did in Mexico they would know that the two of us when we get in the ring together, we are going full steam at one another. It’s definitely a hard-hitting match, a little less finesse and a little more in your face intensity,” said Taven.

“Wrestling is all about longevity and legacy. Working as hard as I did and having that moment finally happen, it’s going to be over my dead body that I’m going to let it end in Las Vegas. Rush is in for the match of his life against someone that he’s familiar with but someone that I don’t think he realizes just how much this moment means to him.”

Catch Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor PPV on Friday, September 27, airing from Las Vegas. For more details, see the ROH website.

Other matches include: ROH World Tag Team Championship Match The Briscoes (c) Vs Lifeblood; ROH World TV Championship Match; Shane Taylor (c) Vs Flip Gordon Vs Tracy Williams; WOH World Championship Match; Kelly Klein (c) Vs Angelina Love; The Bouncers Vs Silas Young And Vinny Marseglia in a Barroom Brawl; Jay Lethal Vs Jonathan Gresham; and two bouts in the Final Battle No. 1 Contender Tournament—PCO Vs Kenny King and Marty Scurll Vs Colt Cabana.