Home is where the heart is and despite major appearances for Ring Of Honor and All Elite Wrestling this month, Matt Sydal says he’s still an independent wrestler at heart.
Sydal spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard about his return to Ring Of Honor for the Pure Championship Tournament. Sydal’s opening round match against Delirious just aired this week on ROH TV and he’s also enjoying some additional air time with recent appearances for All Elite Wrestling. Despite not appearing regularly for a major TV promotion since leaving IMPACT Wrestling at the end of 2018, Sydal doesn’t agree with the sentiment that he needs a “home” promotion. Sydal says he’s still running his own operation himself and really took time away to heal up, and now he’s feeling like he can match up with anybody.
“I’m the same guy I’ve always been. I’ve always been an independent wrestler at heart. You say I haven’t had a ‘home’ but a company is not a home, a house is a home, a family is a home and I have that. From my home is where I operate my entire wrestling world from and I just have my own thing [going]. I run my wrestling school, SyDojo, I do independent wrestling events all over the world. Just recently I did the All Elite Wrestling All Out pay-per-view, and just the independent spirit is alive right now. I think a lot of people depend on, or rely on an organization to fulfill them and bring them happiness, the promotion and the love and adoration they need, and I just try and keep it all self-sustained. I try and have my own fan group and people that support me and care for me, and I operate the same way as when I was an indie wrestler still in college. I make my wrestling gear at home, I watch wrestling at home and think of ideas, I go to wrestling school and work on stuff, then I show up on the weekends and go crazy and try to be at the crest of the wave of the business and that’s really where I’m at right now. I feel really good, I feel healthy.”
“As far as that ‘marathon’ is considered, I have run into a lot of issues since leaving IMPACT. When I was at IMPACT and X Division Champion, my neck wasn’t able to handle the workload and after losing the belt to Brian Cage in a match I just realized my neck just can’t handle this anymore. So basically, I took all of 2019 off and I did some Rev Pro shows,” Sydal said. “It’s just important for me to be healthy and just to take care of my body. Fans will appreciate the sacrifices we make with our bodies but I was just working a little more hurt than I should. During this pandemic, I’ve been able to get healed and healthy and I’m able to go toe-to-toe with you if you’re 22 or 42 or 52 or 32.”
Despite not being tied to one promotion right now, Sydal does agree that working in front of a dedicated audience and some exclusivity does have its benefits.
“Well, you’re right and that really does make me happy when I can have a place to be on TV consistently for the fans because as much as I wrestle for myself, when the match is over, it’s what I’m giving to the people. It’s all I have to give and I give everything I have in the ring and once it’s done it’s for everybody. Hopefully with people seeing me at All Out it made them more excited and want to see me in the ring more. You’re going to get that chance when I take on my longest rival of all time, who I hadn’t wrestled in maybe five years. But Delirious, a guy who I trained with and got all of my first breaks with and I never would have had a career without—this is a matchup that you cannot see anywhere other than Ring Of Honor, so I have to go to Ring Of Honor to get these matches. To get a chance to wrestle Dalton Castle or Jay Lethal, I have to go to [ROH]. If I want to wrestle Dave Finlay or Rocky Romero—which I do—those matches have to happen in Ring Of Honor. And that’s what’s so cool about these matches is that I get to hunt down what I want,” Sydal said. “Ring Of Honor is so good with their talent, fostering their talent and growing their talent. As every wrestler is a wrestling fan and wants to have good matches—with the marathon I say I don’t see the finish line but I know it’s not too far away. I don’t have a million matches left in me so every one counts, every one matters.”
Sydal’s ROH appearances were taped before his live debut at AEW All Out and timing is everything, especially in the current climate. Sydal says both companies followed proper protocols and precautions, and he worked in another event in Dallas between those stops as well. Sydal explained how and when he was tested for each promotion, as well as the fact that he’s not going to let the pandemic slow him down.
“It was very serendipitous that the events aligned up so nicely, but even between the two events, the filming of AEW and Ring Of Honor, I also went and did a show in Dallas and at every show I did I was tested for coronavirus. Ring Of Honor had the nasal swab test which is super-intense, we did one before we traveled and then upon arrival and departure. Then I did blood tests with AEW and in Dallas and that just made sure that nobody had coronavirus. I’m a big mask wearer; I have no problem wearing one and just got used to it. My theory is that we already live in the future and we’re a ‘space-based society’ since we send our data, I’m communicating with you through satellite and we’re using space, so it’s no surprise to me that we need to walk around in biohazard suits. These are direct consequences of industry run amok and lack of government regulations to protect citizens, the water we drink is getting poisoned and the air we breathe is getting poisoned and viruses are mutating. Wrestling is a beautiful thing but it inspires me to all work together because one thing I’ve learned in wrestling all throughout the world is we’re all the same and we share common ancestry and history, so for us to handle all of these problems we all have to work together.”
“And that’s why it’s great to see all of the people in the wrestling industry working together to keep their wrestlers safe, so that if there is a guy that does go from Ring Of Honor to AEW and back the other way around, no one locker room is a dangerous hotbed for the virus and the other one is not. Everybody takes precautions because they respect their talent and they care about them and I felt very well looked after in both places. AEW has a strict wristband policy, with the wristband to prove you tested [negative for COVID-19] and Ring Of Honor had a list and you knew everybody there, I think they tested over 100 people. This is the modern world we live in and we just have to move on and adapt to move forward. I’m so happy this is something that we can do, still wrestle throughout, and I don’t plan on letting the pandemic stop me from my training, from my work and still getting that chance to entertain everybody.”
Sydal takes on Shawn Spears on tonight’s Late Night Dynamite special broadcast; he will face Jonathan Gresham in the second round of the ROH Pure Tournament.