December 30, 2005
REAL NAME: Matt Bentley
An athletic youngster, Bentley also played basketball and soccer growing up, but it was baseball where he focused most of his energies. Although he studied liberal arts at Muscatine College, Bentley was there for the school's baseball program. However, he soon realized that he wasn't as interested in spending a career playing shortstop as he was in emulating his cousin, Shawn.
Although Michaels still tried to talk him out of it, Bentley enrolled in his cousin's wrestling school, the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy, in October 1999, just weeks before his 20th birthday.
After four months of training that included a run as the Texas Wrestling Alliance's Television Champion, Bentley, wrestling as Michael Shane, was off to Japan to compete for the Frontier Martial Arts organization.
Shane returned to North America to work for ECW during that organization's final days, including an appearance on the final ECW show in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on January 13, 2001. After ECW folded, Shane returned to Japan, wrestling initially under a mask as Omega Verifan. Michael Shane also made appearances in WCW and WWE, mostly in dark matches or low-level shows. Over the next two years, Shane wrestled (but lost to) Jerry Lynn, the Big Boss Man, Tommy Dreamer and the Hurricane on Velocity, Heat and Jakked.
Shane would fare better in Ring of Honor, where he battled the likes of Paul London, Spanky Kendrick and CM Punk. Although he didn't always defeat these opponents, his matches were much more competitive than those he'd had in WWE and WCW. Shane also became part of "the Group" with Samoa Joe and CW Anderson. Unfortunately, after a loss to the Prophecy (Christopher Daniels, Donovan Morgan and Dan Maff) at Night of Grudges on June 14, 2003, the Group was forced to disband.
Later in the summer of 2003, Shane, managed by Francine, moved on to Major League Wrestling, where he defeated Norman Smiley and, with CM Punk, defeated the duo of Smiley and Raven. After a trip to the Orient to compete for Zero-One Wrestling, Shane headed to NWA-TNA.
Shane's July 30th appearance wasn't his first for TNA, having wrestled in a tag team dark match back in April. However, on July 30th, Michael Shane took on Chris Sabin for the X Division Championship. Although Sabin retained that night, Shane served notice that he would be a force in the division. Shane continued to make appearances in MLW and ROH, but on August 20th, Shane won the Ultimate X match, defeating Sabin and Frankie Kazarian in the debut of that match to win the X Division Championship.
Shane's title reign included defences against Sabin, Jerry Lynn, Sonjay Dutt, Low Ki and Christopher Daniels. On November 26th, after a defence against Dutt, Shane was revealed to be Shane Douglas's New Franchise. However, Douglas could not have been pleased when Shane lost the title to Sabin during Ultimate X2 on January 7, 2004, nor was he happy to see Shane shake Sabin's hand during a subsequent title defence.
Douglas and Shane remained as a unit during the Tag Team title tournament in March 2004 (in which they were eliminated by Low Ki and Christopher Daniels) but later Douglas's valet Tracy Brooks and Michael Shane turned on their mentor. Tracy remained aligned with Shane, who continued to be a force in the X Division, competing in an August 2004 Gauntlet match for the X-Division title (won by Petey Williams. He also began teaming with Frankie Kazarian on a regular basis and although the team never made a serious run at the NWA Tag Team titles, they did take on America's Most Wanted, the Naturals and 3-Live Krew. In addition to wrestling for TNA, Michael Shane also made appearances in NWA Florida, NWA Cyberspace and USA Championship Wrestling.
In July 2005, Michael Shane ceased to exist, so to speak. With WWE wrestler Mike Shane having the rights to the name, Michael Shane had to revert back to using his real name, Matt Bentley. With a new name and Tracy Brooks at his side, Bentley lost to A.J. Styles in the first round of the Super X tournament, thanks to outside interference from America's Most Wanted.
A month later, with the expiration of his contract, Matt Bentley was gone from TNA, only to return in September with a challenge for any X-Division star to meet him in an Ultimate X match. At Bound for Glory, Petey Williams and Chris Sabin took him up on that challenge, with Williams getting the victory.
Matt Bentley continues to be a big factor in the X-Division title picture, competing in the Elimination X match (won by the ill-fated duo of Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels) at Genesis, then teamed with Austin Aries to defeat Alex Shelley and Roderick Strong at Turning Point.
Since the loss, Bentley has been working quite a bit with TNA's affiliate, UWF, appearing on several house shows for the company, with Tracey at his side, as always.