The new GCW World Champion Matt Cardona joined Busted Open Radio to talk about his victory over Nick Gage at GCW Homecoming Night One this past Saturday night. When asked whether Cardona ever expected to reach this level in his wrestling career, his answer was the affirmative.
“100%,” Cardona said. “Why else would I go down this crazy road if I didn’t think I was going to end up on top? I didn’t do it to prove people wrong, I didn’t do it to prove I was a tough guy. I don’t need to do that. I did it to win and to change GCW, change the whole landscape of the company. And of course I wanted to use them to get buzz, and it worked. I was trending #1!”
Cardona, who currently wrestles for Impact wrestling and has previously wrestled for AEW and WWE, is not someone known for wrestling in a death match environment for GCW. As such, it was a different and, as Cardona admitted, scary experience this past Saturday, starting from when he made his initial entrance.
“I’ll be honest, there was some fear,” Cardona said. “Like walking through that curtain? You can watch the replay on FITE, like I can’t even get through the curtain. There are fans just in my face, and luckily GCW had some security for me because I think someone would’ve took me out, or tried to. It’s impossible for me to get to the ring. I finally get there and you could just feel the genuine hate, and not like ‘oh this is a bad guy we’re supposed to boo’, like hate. And during the match, the atmosphere was exciting. People like, they just wanted me to die in there. I was getting tweets like, people wanted me to die and they wanted Nick to kill Chelsea. These are human beings really typing this on their phones or their computer, like ‘what the hell is wrong with these people?’
“And then when I win? Bro, you saw the video. They were just throwing stuff. Bottles, full bottles. Somebody threw a pizza cutter? Jesus, come on. I tried to enjoy it but I was genuinely concerned. I was like ‘this isn’t stopping. This isn’t like nWo where they throw a couple bottles in and you stand there and smile.’ I didn’t know what was going to be thrown. I had no idea. But I was in there for as long as I could, I tried to get the money shot with the title. And then the GCW security was like ‘we’ve got to go. We’ve got to go out the front. Run out the front, run out the front!’ So they brought me out and fans were still chasing us out, through the Showboat Casino. It was wild.”
While death match wrestling is not something Cardona wants to do going forward, he did walk away with respect for Gage. In particular he praised Gage’s ability to connect with the crowd and talked about the polar opposite Gage’s entrance was to his.
“I’ve said before this death match style is not for me,” Cardona said. “It’s not my style at all, I’m not a fan of it at all. But I respect it that there are people who like it, and who am I to say what’s right and wrong in wrestling? I can’t say that. So I’ve always had some sort of respect for Nick. The guy almost died and wanted to keep going in one of his death matches. But after being in the ring with him and seeing the punishment that he takes. But not only the punishment he takes, but to see the love the fans have for him and he has back. My entrance was wild because the people wanted to kill me, his entrance was wild because the people loved him and wanted to touch him. It was nothing I had ever experienced before. You would’ve thought they were trying to kill him, but they just wanted to like bring their king to the ring. It was nuts and I respect the hell out of him. That man is one tough SOB. But it just wasn’t his night.”
Ultimately Cardona does believe there’s a place for death match wrestling, both in GCW and in mainstream wrestling. As GCW’s new champion however, Cardona is looking to represent the company in a different way.
“I do. I think there’s room for everything,” Cardona said. “Listen, we live in a world right now where there’s wrestling every weekend, there’s wrestling on TV every single night of week. There’s a time for everything. Will I be involved in that death match style? Probably not. I think it’s probably a one and done when it comes to death match, but it’s not one and done when it comes to GCW. I want to be the face of that company, change the company. If there’s death match wrestling on the card? Great, cool, I’m all for it. But I want to bring this company to new heights and I know that I’m the person that can do it.
“You can love me, hate me, whatever you want to say about me. There is no denying that people were watching that show and people are still talking about that show, and that’s because what I brought to the table and what Nick Gage brought to the table. I’m not taking all the credit here. 100% it was Nick Gage vs. Matt Cardona. People wanted to see what was going to happen, and I think that’s beautiful storytelling. That’s wrestling to me. You can build it up, you can have this kick ass match and people are still talking about it.”
There’s been much talk to the post match reaction to the match, which saw Cardona pelted with bottles and even, as Cardona pointed out, a pizza cutter. While he wishes someone hadn’t thrown the pizza cutter, Cardona called the reaction a once in a lifetime experience and doesn’t regret it one bit.
“It’s 2021, we all know the deal,” Cardona said. “But to get that kind of reaction? There’s been similar reactions before but I’ve personally never seen anything like that, or I’ve never been apart or in the building, as a fan or a wrestler, never. So for me, it was a once in a lifetime experience. Do I wish that the fans would’ve shown me a little more respect? Cool. Do I wish someone hadn’t thrown a pizza cutter? Cool. But man, I don’t regret any of it because that will live forever.”
Finally host Dave LaGreca asked where this past weekend ranked in terms of the best moment of Cardona’s career. He considers this GCW Title victory two be in the top three at worst, though one moment might just barely top it.
“I mean listen, winning that Intercontinental Title with my dad coming into the ring, that’s number one,” Cardona said. “But if this isn’t number two or three, I don’t know what would be. I had a kick ass death match against this death match king, I beat him, and then the place legitimately riots. You can’t really top that. It’s an unbelievable feeling, and you know I’ve been running my mouth the past couple weeks saying ‘oh I’m going to take this title to Disneyland.’
“Right now I’m in the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland resort. I’ve got the title, I’m going to clean off the blood, I’m going to put it in a backpack and I’m going to take a picture in front of the castle. And the GCW Universe is going to hate me for it, but all my fans are going to love and that’s the best part. I’m not changing me. I’m not turning heel, I’m not being a bad guy, I’m being me. And my fans love me, normal people love me, but this GCW Universe hates my guts and I think it’s the greatest environment. I love it.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open Radio and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription