Wrestlezone’s Lovell Porter sat down with Impact Wrestling’s Grand Champion Matt Sydal for this exclusive interview.
Lovell Porter: You’ve been wrestling for almost 20 years at this point. What made you first want to get into the wrestling business?
Matt Sydal: I think it was when they told me to not try it at home. That was the number one thing. When we got together as kids to watch wrestling they loved to say, “don’t try this at home”. The first thing I thought was why would they tell us that? For me, as much fun as it is to watch wrestling is, actually wrestling is what struck a chord with me. Of course, I was an insane ECW fan. You don’t get this deep into wrestling unless you are obsessed with wrestling so that was the final hook.
LP: Just as a side note, when watching you work it is obvious that you are having a blast in the ring. I can only imagine what it’s like for you living your dream.
MS: … I thought you were about to say I look like a backyard wrestler (laughs).
LP: (laughs) I am far from qualified to ever make a statement like that! As you grew within the wrestling business, who did you idolize or model your ring style after?
MS: It was sort of… I had a lot of idols along the way. The people I liked to watch were sorta what I was trying to recapture in my performances. Mostly the guys I worked with like wrestling AJ Styles, Jamie Noble, wrestling Chavo Guerrero, wrestling Rey Mysterio… As much as I try to be an individual or unique I can’t deny the strong effect these guys have all had on me. The only reason I am even good at wrestling is I have been on shows with the best wrestlers on earth since I was able to find a car and find a show where they were at.
Because when I was on shows as a young kid, so I was a young cocky backyard wrestler, I would look around the locker room and I was like “I am better than everyone here”. There was no separation, there is no one who is teaching me anything, I wasn’t learning. So Delirious and I sought out to find a place where we were the worst guys on the show. That’s sort of been my mantra my whole life. Be the worst guy on the show. With the idea that performing is a learning experience, so you want to be around the best. It’s going to rub off on you. I think it did quickly since you notice I climbed to the top pretty rapidly for a 160-pound kid from Missouri that’s got no name in this business and no land to stake a claim on.
LP: That’s an interesting statement. What do you think makes you so different from the other 160-pound wrestlers that are out there?
MS: (laughs) I mean there is a lot more now because of me I’d like to think! What I see in these guys now is an insane amount of talent. It’s unbelievable how rapidly the game accelerates and to be at the crest of the wave is no simple task. To be at the front of the movement is not easy and for me I found that the wave keeps growing higher and higher and taller and taller with every time somebody has a show there is a new stand out start, there is a new internet darling, there is a new wrestler worthy of our admiration. There is no stop to it. Wrestling has only been getting better since I got into it. Especially the last five years things have only gotten better. That’s where I stand on that.
LP: In all your years of experience do you have any regrets? One or two things you wish you had done or anything along those lines?
MS: I mean I imagine I could have done a better job with keeping my paperwork and paying my taxes. For the most part, everything happened exactly the way it should. My philosophy doesn’t really have good luck or bad luck everything happens just as it does. It’s not good or bad, it just happens. The reality is I am really proud of all that has happened to me. To Look back on my accolades really is startling to me because I never intended to accomplish this much in wrestling. I just thought I would be a local jobber and never do anything beyond that. That’s as high as I set my goals because I thought that was reality but what I did was my passion, the passion I had for wrestling has kept me in it and has continued to this day.
LP: The new tagline for your Impact Grand Championship is “One fall to a finish; the judges are the competitors”. You were the first person I heard say that phrase. Did you come up with that? It’s a great line…
MS: Of course, that was me! I was going crazy. I just decided the Grand Championship was something I set my eyes on. I thought it was absolutely absurd. I couldn’t comprehend where the rules had come from. It seemed insane to me. So, I thought, “what would make people like me is if I spoke my mind”. Rather than of following the rules, which I tended to do my whole career, I decided it was time to speak up and do what’s right, cause a commotion and create my own opportunity and change the way the Grand Championship is done.
So now the championship rules are one fall to a finish with no judges… That’s what people want. That’s what wrestlers are best at, that’s we demanded. In wrestling nothing is sacred and nothing last so that’s why you can’t try to hold on to any accolade. You can’t be ecstatic one day to win a championship because you have to know that one day inherently you’ll have to lose it. Everyone agrees It should be a traditionally held and traditionally won pro wrestling championship.
LP: Your first defense was against Fallah Bahh, who is a great talent. I enjoy watching him work. Bahh is considerably larger than you. How difficult can it be to match up with a competitor so much larger than you?
MS: Nope! That’s my specialty. When I wrestle a heavyweight… I’ve spent a huge portion of my life wrestling greats like Mark Henry, being in the ring with Big Show. I wrestled Great Khali my first time on the road with WWE. I’ve stared down the face of giants like it was a morning cup of coffee. So, working with Fallah Bahh it wasn’t his size that was my concern. My concern is that he is a really good wrestler. He’s got tools and charisma that almost makes me not want to hit the guy. You know? Fallah Bahh is the type of guy who can lull you into a false sense of security then headbutt you into next week.
LP: Very true. I enjoyed the match you guys had. Speaking of Bahh makes me think about foreign wrestlers in general: how do you communicate with a wrestler who doesn’t speak English well or at all?
MS: My friend, it’s simple! I speak the universal language of humanity. We all speak the same language if you stop thinking about the words and just listen to somebody and feel the vibrations coming off of them you can see everything. You can kind of understand what’s going on. I’ve been able to get by for many years without speaking another language. Wrestling is technically a language in itself. I went to Korea to do a wrestling match and my younger brother is an English teacher there, so he came to help translate. When it came to going to dinner or the day-to-day stuff; I needed him to translate. When it came time for me to teach and train wrestling in Korea I didn’t need a translator. Wrestling really is a universal language. Sometimes there are weird things like if you say suplex in Dragon Gate that’s an arm drag in America. Brain Buster in Dragon Gate is a regular suplex. There are colloquial differences.
LP: Is there anyone on the Impact roster that you would most like to get in the ring with? It could be just for the thrill of competition out because you think they deserve a kick in the face and you want to be the one to give it to them.
MS: This Impact Roster has a ton of talent. For me, the guys I would love to just kick in the teeth is the Cult of Lee. Trevor Lee and Kaleb Conley… I feel like as a vet it’s my obligation to hold those guys back, smash them, and make them make me look good. There is a ton of talent at Impact. I was shocked when Petey (Williams) showed up, I was shocked when (Austin) Aries showed up. Every time I show it I can’t… If they keep surprising me like this I mean you aren’t going to hear very many complaints out of me as long as I get to keep working with these guys. The surprises have been great. I’d like to think the direction that Impact takes will be something that unfolds over the next few months. People are gonna start to gain a little momentum and we are all going to be a little more involved in the storylines as things progress.
LP: Last question: Impact wrestling is clearly on the rise. The show gets better each week. What do you think makes Impact wrestling great?
MS: What makes Impact Wrestling great… The fact that it’s wrestling that you are watching. It’s wrestling that people can connect with. There’s no smoke and there’s no mirrors. It’s just that pro wrestling you wanted to see when you were young. We have been denied for so long. There it is. Come and take it, come and get it for everyone, a nice healthy dose of pro wrestling. It’s good for what ails you! It’s good for the blues! It’s good for those wintertime depressions! It will help you kick out! It’s important to woo every morning and yell at the TV screen and make some noise. Don’t spend your whole lives in quiet solitude, silence, just absorbing the screen. React and interact. You know? For me, watching wrestling on TV is great but seeing it live is the only true way.
Wrestlezone will be kicking off its Impact Wrestling live coverage tonight at 7 PM EST! Join us then and let us know what you think about the show on Twitter using @WZChat or in the Disqus section below!