One of the more compelling matches in the upcoming GFW pay-per-view entitled Destination X is the clash between the monstrous Lashley and the high flier Matt Sydal.
I finish watching the latest episode of GFW Impact on TV before I call Sydal, a man who featured and definitely impressed everyone in the Impact Zone and those watching at home, in the main event match.
Sydal comes across as the ultimate good guy during our conversation, and even tells me how difficult it is to play the babyface, as compared to the heel. Here are some highlights from our exclusive interview.
1: What made you come to GFW in 2017?
Sydal: It was just the perfect opportunity to have a platform to tell people how I feel, what I think and a great platform to get my message across that we are all one, that you should trust yourself and question authority.
2: I saw you wrestle in India and I was blown away by your athleticism, up close. Are there any highlights from the trip?
Sydal: It was a truly magical moment in my career to wrestle for the Indian fans. The amount of joy, jubilation, enthusiasm, and celebration that they put into the matches while they were going on, amped up my adrenaline level to the next degree and I was able to use that to come out on top and win the Sony Six Challenge.
India is a big part of my success. When I become X-Division Champion or World Champion, it will be because of the Indian fans rallying behind me and believing in me. When I left India, I really felt like I had connected and bonded with Indian fans and I really hope they will go to bat for me like I do for them. We're all in this together.
Regardless of where you're from and what language you speak, we can all enjoy pro wrestling together. That's the beauty of Impact Wrestling.
3: Being known primarily as a babyface in almost every promotion, do you also long for a heel turn in the future?
Sydal: You know I'd be all about that if there were guys who could take my place as a babyface but there is no one that can step into my shoes. There's no one who can do what I do. So, there's plenty of good heels in the business.
I don't see guys who can get fans to rally behind them like I do. It's hard. It's the hardest job in the business and I'm doing it every single night. I don't take shortcuts. I don't take the easy way out. I'm not looking for the short answers. I'm looking for the big answers for the questions that are hard to ask. I've been in this game since 1999. I will be in this game for the years to come. So, I've got a lot of experience and I'm still learning lots.
4: What do you think makes you such a great babyface?
Sydal: Because the number 1 advantage I have, a lot of people when they wrestle, they play a character.
They want to be something they're not. I am real, I am genuine, I am 'the authentic' and I'm striving to be as authentic as I can possibly be, which is open, honest. Which means you can see me fall and you can see me get back up.
I think that's why people get behind me. Because they see me get squashed and they see me get back up every week and they've seen me fall in my personal life and get back up and I keep showing up.
That kind of resiliency, that determination and focus, and unwillingness to quit in the face of life threatening danger, this is boldness, this is courage that I display and I encourage other people to act fearlessly, and act courageously. That's why people can support me. I am the real deal! There's no smokes and mirrors in my case.
5: We recently saw the departure of Davey Richards from the X Division. Is that a big blow?
Sydal: Where did he go?
6: I think he's decided to become a doctor!
Sydal: I wish him nothing but the best. I love these guys who don't let wrestling defeat them. That go on to become successful, intelligent people and Davey's certainly a guy with a brain. I wish him nothing but the best.
Is it a loss for the X Division? No, because I'm still here. You can dwell on the past all you want, but Davey Richards is gone, there's a new show in town and I don't think anyone's going to be changing the channel.
7: Why do you think the sight of your shooting star press becoming an RKO is a memory that stands out after so many years?
Sydal: The hardest thing to do in wrestling is that every time you show up, there's just a ring with three ropes, turnbuckles on each side, it's extremely hard to do something to surprise and shock the fans.
So, I can't tell you the mentality behind the stuff, because that's thousands of hours manifested into one moment, maybe in the shower or driving down the road that the idea comes and the genius strikes and sometimes, it happens moments before you go to the ring.
I'm glad I got to do the spot with Randy Orton because we started a sensation called 'Outta Nowhere' and people love it when that happens. However, I do hate taking a belly flop on the shooter, it is really painful and yeah, it's a sore spot but I'm glad people enjoy it. Once the art is made, it's up to the fans to enjoy the fruits of my labor.
8: We all love your finisher. Is there a favorite of yours from any promotion that you enjoy watching?
Sydal: Dalton Castle's got a pretty nice finisher called the Bang-A-Rang. I've always enjoyed the sharpshooter. That's a favorite of mine. I love a good submission hold.
9: What is your favorite professional wrestling match of all time?
Sydal: Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis from ECW.
10. Are you following the G1?
Sydal: Nah. I've seen a few matches. I saw Juice and Okada. I always watch it, but unless I'm there I'm not keeping up with it.
11. Are you in touch with Kofi Kingston and have you seen The New Day gimmick that he's playing right now?
Sydal: Yeah of course, and I mean Xavier Woods and Big E are guys I know also. I mean honestly, if New Day were to ever get a new member, if they were ever to be the Bullet Club and just started adding guys, I think I would be top of the list because there's nothing I like to do more than to go out to the wrestling ring, have some fun, share what I enjoy with the world and put smiles on faces.
To work with Kofi again would be a treat because he has incredible in-ring work and what I said about being a babyface? That's why Kofi Kingston is loved by so many fans because he is true to himself and genuine. That's how he lives his life. I definitely want to be like that.
12. When you heard that Impact Wrestling would be known as GFW, what was the reaction backstage among the boys?
Sydal: I'm not about being an insider. I'm about being an outsider. I believe it was Shakespeare who said that a rose by any other name would be just as sweet.
A name is a placeholder for a feeling. I want to create a feeling and you can call it whatever you want, as long as you can identify it.
13. What do you wish to achieve in GFW? If there's someone on the roster you haven't worked against, whom would it be?
Sydal: I think this X-Division is going to be where I stake my claim. However, I'm not limiting myself. How things play out will be very dependent on my match at Bobby Lashley at Destination X. Everything.
My year, my future is on the line. My goal, in general, is just to empower individuals across the world to realize that they have the answers. They don't have to look at anybody else. When I go to the ring at Destination X, it is my chance to prove that!
14. Why should fans watch Destination X and what can they expect from Matt Sydal vs. Lashley?
Sydal: Well, here's the thing about Destination X. You're not just going to watch Destination X by yourself. Get your friends over. It's going to be memorable. It's going to be something you remember. It's going to be something you've never seen before.
The unpredictability that came from the Shooting Star RKO? You'll see that during me vs. Lashley, except I'll be the one delivering the unpredictability to Bobby Lashley. I think it's going to be a great card from top to bottom.
I don't think you'll be let down. The shape of GFW going forward will be forged on this night!