Interview: Matt Sydal on his influences growing up, his main goal in Impact Wrestling and much more
We spoke to the former Evan Bourne.
Matt Sydal is perhaps best known as Evan Bourne from WWE. However, he now works for Impact Wrestling after a stint at New Japan Pro Wrestling. The former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion is also well travelled, and he’s made a huge name for himself on the indies. We had the chance to catch up with Sydal and pick his brain following his debut on Impact.
Sportskeeda: Who was your biggest inspiration growing up?
Sydal: Well that's a great question. There were two big eras of my life where I loved wrestling, at the time I watched wrestling and the time I wanted to become a wrestler. Guys like Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, & Dean Malenko. I was a big Bret Hart fan. I even loved guys like D'Lo Brown, so I loved an eclectic variety of wrestlers. Ricky Steamboat. I've always had a lot of influences. I've been influenced by the ECW era, Tazz, Sabu, Jerry Lynn.
Sportskeeda: Were you a WWF, WCW, or ECW kid?
Sydal: I didn't have cable so that I couldn't watch Monday night programming. I fell in love with the VHS I could rent from the video store, and then I find there was a local wrestling radio show. I really enjoyed listening to the local radio show, and that's how I found out about independent wrestling, and I loved that more than anything, because it was local, upfront, in your face, and from there I was able to train to wrestle. I never became obsessed with watching wrestling on TV; I was obsessed with doing it and being a wrestler.
I thought it was the coolest thing. Some people would chase down tickets to WWE events, and I went to Hell In A Cell in 1999, I went to a WCW event, but I was also going online and looking for Japanese deathmatches. Hunting down crazy, esoteric pro wrestling from Japan, Mexico, and ECW. You know, I grew up in a time where if you wanted to know what happened in a show, you didn't get to see the clips on YouTube or gifs on Twitter; you just read the results that were written down, and that's it. You just imagined what happened.
I grew up in a different era where there wasn't accessibility to all the wrestling and information there is now. Fans are so lucky today to get great wrestling, and they get access to it all easily. I used to have to scratch and claw to get a VHS that was dubbed over 3 times and was blurry. Now you get HD quality straight from Japan with a live stream.
Sportskeeda: Wouldn't it have been extremely difficult getting access to death matches alone. What about NJPW and AJPW?
Sydal: It would be difficult to follow, so I wouldn't stay current. I would get tapes of All Japan. I watched Kenta and Marufuji back in the day. Now it's amazing to see how many people steal these guys' move and don't give credit to them. The original Dragongate, if you watched the six man tag matches, it comes from those guys. There were a lot of originals back in the day, and since then there have been a lot of copies. I was fortunate to learn directly from all of these guys. I never thought I'd be able to get to and wrestle in Japan.
At the time, I was watching Japanese wrestling, and Americans just weren't going over there, but the world got smaller and American wrestlers got better, so we started getting opportunities in Japan and all over the world, and that's how we're connecting. Because pro wrestling really is a universal language that can be understood by anybody, anywhere, and that's exemplified by Impact Wrestling coming to India, being very popular in England, Ireland, Canada, America, and Mexico. It's a commonality that all these cultures and nations can have and share together, and you'll see that there are fewer differences between us and more in common.
Sportskeeda: Do you feel that high flyers in the WWE are not given the same opportunity, or that they're unfairly put in the midcard?
Sydal: No, it's different because I don't care about TV time. I see wrestling very different from other people. Maybe according to certain people, I've heard that as a commonality. I'll be honest; I never felt like I got a lack of time. Now they have their own TV show, and 205 Live didn't come out of nowhere. It's something WWE had been planning for ten years. You can't just make the show appear like that.
They work hard to feature all their wrestlers, and they're trying to maximize the amount of money they can make out of everybody, which is what WWE does really well, and they've managed to turn that not only into their own feature, but they could possibly turn that into a brand which travels separately and earns WWE a fourth income. So it's in the best interest that they feature the cruiserweights.
But sometimes there are the iconic people like Conor McGregor and George St. Pierre. You need the Bryan Danielsons, and Nevilles and even the bigger guys. What I'm saying is that there's no height or weight requirement to be an entertainer, and that's something that Austin Aries taught me when I was very young, and it shows right now with these incredible, eye-catching performers, and it's regardless of the height or weight, so that's my take on that.
Sportskeeda: Since you've been to all ends of this planet, has there been any country in particular that you've not performed in which you'd like to perform next or soon?
Sydal: I'm being honest, even if I weren't on the phone direct to India, I'd say that the place I want to go next is India. I've wanted to wrestle there for a long time. I've wanted to go just to visit, and I ended up going to South America a little bit more, but India is one of my shortlist of places to go, and it's been a dream of mine for a long time. It would mean a lot for me to go to a place with big hearts. I think that's something that's missing in American culture, is people who aren't afraid to open up.
It's a trip I've been waiting for for a long time, so I'm dying to wrestle in front of the fans in India. Plus, I used to travel with the Great Khali back in the day, I'm friends with Jinder, I've had neighbours up the street. I've been dancing with India since the day I was born, and it's long overdue that I arrive and come do what I do best.
Sportskeeda: Do you have any idea when Impact is planning to come over to India?
Sydal: We're filming television in Mumbai on May 29th and May 30th.
Sportskeeda: You've wrestled in PWG many times before. Apart from the audience, what do you think it is that sets PWG apart from every wrestling promotion in the world?
Sydal: My analysis is that what PWG has found is the low side of wrestling. WWE is about bigger lights, stronger sounds, more pyro, more more more more. PWG is less. Strip it down, minimise certain things and maximise certain things. Their emphasis is on the live show experience, and they're able to ride an incredible experience and do everything they can to make the crowd stand up and lose their mind.
PWG doesn't try to do too much or deviate. By running once a month in the same venue for such a long duration has established a special, symbiotic relationship between the fans and wrestlers, and you have to be there to experience it.
Sportskeeda: What would you say has been the greatest moment of your career so far?
Sydal: 2008 Slammy award for best finishing manoeuvre. Secondly was winning the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship with Ricochet. That was a moment I was really proud of. That was a personal career highlight.
Sportskeeda: Now that you've returned to Impact, do you feel like Impact Wrestling gives more creative freedom?
Sydal: It's really hard to compare since I've only done 4 TV tapings with Impact. I feel loose and creative, and I feel the creative juices flowing when I'm at Impact. It's a place where creativity, individuality and originality are encouraged.
Sportskeeda: What do you hope to achieve upon your return to Impact? Have you set any goals or are you taking it one step at a time?
Sydal: I do take it one step at a time, but I'm on my way to the path, and that path is leading me to my destiny. I've wanted to become X-Division Champion since I began wrestling. When that belt came out, it was MADE WITH MY NAME ON IT. That was the type of wrestling I wanted to embody. And I believe I've done that and carried the torch of the X-division even though I haven't been in the X-division since it debuted. Now is my chance to get the crown!
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