On a recent episode of the AEW Unrestricted podcast, Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone spoke with former multi-time tag team champion Matt Sydal. Sydal signed with AEW late last year, and he explained why he wanted to sign with AEW.
“Since I started in pro wrestling, I was never a guy who’s goal was to be in the WWE,” Sydal pointed out. “I always wanted to be a part of a start-up. When I started at GCW, Gateway Championship Wrestling, in 1999, we wanted to take us from cable access to local TV and then from local TV to a cable show. We wanted to grow ourselves like an ECW, and that’s why I’ve always wanted to be a part of AEW since it began because it’s people creating their own thing.
“They’re doing something really original, and when I got that call, it was amazing because there’s no direct path to joining AEW. I’m not going to just call up guys and say, ‘Hey, can I have a job?’ What I did was make sure that I’d be ready. I’ve been doing the work at home, training. I trained at my dojo, the SyDojo, and I live every single day like I’m a top level, TV-ready wrestler, whether I’m on TV or not.”
Sydal is a two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion holding the titles with current WWE Superstar Ricochet. Sydal explained on the podcast why his tag team with Ricochet holds special significance for him.
“The moments we created in the match and the lead up to it, it really felt like I was out there doing my true purpose,” Sydal explained. “That New Japan Junior Tag Championship run was sort of a four-way feud between myself and Ricochet, The Young Bucks, Rocky Romero and Trent Beretta and Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish. These were matches that I was proud of every single night. We were just smashing it. We were just busting each other up, having wild shootout matches that we really believed in, we were really proud of.
“We were all working really hard, and wrestling in Japan has always been special to me. It’s kind of where my career went from I was going to be a wrestler on the side, a weekend warrior, to a full-time pro wrestler when I started at Dragon Gate. And that’s kind of where I got my highest set of skills, and to go back with New Japan, there was a moment where after WWE, I was considering being kind of done with wrestling. I was questioning what I wanted to do, but I had this, I don’t want to call it a vision, but I had a moment where I saw myself going to the Tokyo Dome Hotel.
“And the Tokyo Dome Hotel’s right next to Korakuen Hall, one of my favorite places to wrestle. And I just kind of held that image in my head for a really long time. And so going back with New Japan and getting to wrestle at Korakuen Hall, it’s not a goal you set. It’s a place that has an energy, a feeling that you want to be a part of. I got to return there, and when we had these matches, look them up my friends, me and Ricochet are a great tag team. The matches we had with The Bucks and those guys were fantastic.”
After Edwards listed off Sydal’s list of titles and accolades, Sydal highlighted his Slammy for “Finishing Maneuver of the Year”. He revealed that he never got a Slammy, but he talked about why the Slammy was a significant accomplishment for him.
“I really don’t measure my career by championships or these kind of moments,” Sydal noted. “However, that first Slammy was everything to me because watching Owen Hart and what he did with his Slammys was just a huge part of my love of pro wrestling. So taking that Slammy home, which I actually didn’t do. I never even got the Slammy. Hey, you know a props a prop. So I never got the Slammy.
“For me, it was nice to get that accomplishment but really, being able to do the Shooting Star in WWE was a huge feat because when I began there, it was a banned move. It was on this list of things. ‘Do not try.’ It was against the rules, and I was able to not only break the rules and start doing the Shooting Star Press, I was able to turn that into Finisher of the Year and won a Slammy. That was really cool. I felt like I was onto something right there.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.