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22 Mar 2018

Impact Wrestling's Matt Sydal: ‘People should have their eyes on me. That’s how it works now.’ – exclusive interview

(Photo credit: Mike Kalasnik)

March 8th marked one of the most important days in the Impact Wrestling career of Matt Sydal when he defeated Taiji Ishimori in a title vs title match at Crossroads which saw him become a double champion.

Now, Sydal looks to life ahead with both belts as well as fending off challengers for both of his belts now he is sitting near the top of the Impact mountain.

RealSport spoke exclusively to Sydal about being a dual champion, his qualms about an Ultimate X match and why European wrestling is in such great shape right now.

Championship woes

RealSport: When we last spoke, Impact was still known as GFW, and under different creative direction. Has much changed since Scott D'Amore and Don Callis took over?

Matt Sydal: Yeah, I finally got my executive position here as X-Division Champion.

RS: The X-Division Championship, which you now hold, has been around in one form or another for near 16 years. How does it feel now to be the champion of a division with such a highly regarded pedigree?

MS: Well, for someone like me who grew up in the Midwest who really had his eye on the X-Division Title back when Impact was wrestling out of Nashville, it’s a really big deal for me. It’s a crowning achievement in what I feel is a generational continuation of this X-Division Championship. I was influenced by the original X-Division wrestlers and I’ve applied that to what I do today. So I think there’s no better spot for me right now.

RS: Last time RealSport spoke to you, you said you’d never want to be in an Ultimate X match; now you’re the champion, how much of a possibility is it that you’ll have to be involved in such a match? 

MS: Whoa whoa whoa, hold the phone. No one is talking about an Ultimate X match, don’t even put that idea out there – it’s way too dangerous. 

RS: But you said last year that-

MS: I know what I said but don’t even bring it up. We don’t need it to happen.

RS: You did say that – and I quote – “I wouldn’t be surprised if at a certain point this year, you caught me in one of those”

MS: No. I’ll forfeit like any UFC female did before they had to fight Cris Cyborg, they would just give up the belt. No, I’m not saying I would do that but the thing is that I’ve always prided myself on my creativity so I would definitely have to find my own way of a solution to that problem.

RS: So, you’re aware of the possibility of this match happening?

MS: My god, I just saw clips of this Elevation X match. It looked like the most insane thing ever. Nope. Not for me. I’ll leave that stuff for the birds, man.

RS: As well as being X-Division champ, you’re also the Grand Champion. What are some of the challenges of being a double champ?

MS: For me being the Grand Champion is great. I have plans for it, some very specific plans that I will put to you at a later date, and being X-Division Champion at the same time is great as well. Being double champion for me is great, being backstage with it and walking to the ring with them both, but I don’t want to become one of these belt collector guys that get titles for the sake of it or anything like that. 

I’m not here to show off, in fact being double champion is great, but I don’t mind sharing the wealth and you’ll see I have my plans for that Grand Championship and I’m going to do with it as I please.



Spirituality and success

RS: You proclaimed Josh Matthews as your spirit guide on the March 15th episode of Impact and handed him your Grand Slam Title. How did the idea of a spirit guide come about and what is the future of the title?

MS: Well firstly, your number one spirit guide is yourself and then the second spirit guide is someone you should get who is an expert in certain areas and who you can share the knowledge with them, so I was able to do that with Josh who supplied me with certain knowledge that is required for me to be successful at Impact. 

And I was able to apply that to winning the X-Division and Grand Championship and turn on something I like to call my killer instinct. It’s where I bring out that violence that is innate in professional wrestling and in me. Seeking out the spiritual and physical aspect of wrestling has made me much more dangerous.  

RS: Last time we interviewed you, you quoted the Buddha in one of your answers; would you say you are a spiritual person in your personal life? 

MS: Yeah, I believe that’s all that can affect your personally. Your entire world construct and world view is of and comes from that spiritual perspective. I think that’s one of my biggest advantages is that I’ve been looking for answers and spirituality helps me.



RS: It's clear from your social media accounts that you’re very big on yoga, something that is becoming increasingly popular with more and more professional wrestlers. How has it affected your in-ring work?

MS: My yoga keeps extremely limber and loose, it’s been extremely useful in injury recovery especially. You can’t train as hard as you want to with weights and such when you have these injuries, but you can train extremely hard with yoga and you can put yourself in some very strenuous circumstances without damaging your body, and yoga isn’t just a physical activity it’s a mental activity as well. It’s about remaining calm under pressure. 

It’s about having stillness and inner-strength, having a clear mind in the most extreme conditions. Extreme heat, extreme bodily strength, and you’re supposed to be able to have a total ability to focus in that moment and to be completely aware about every inch of your body and where your mind is at and where it’s going. So, yoga plays right into my idea of the mind and body connection, so with all of these wrestlers picking up on yoga they’re definitely doing something that’s beneficial to them in the long run.

RS: Especially being a double champ, yoga must have a say your ability to balance everything?

MS: Yeah, I would absolutely grant it (the ability to balance) and sometimes at the end of a yoga class it’s just nice to take 10 minutes of stillness which is completely non-psychical, and that’s when then you allow the ideas to move around in your head and they can explore places that they can’t reach under daily stress and daily disturbances. So yeah being into a deep meditation can be very beneficial.

RS: So mental recovery is just as big a part as physical recovery in being a professional wrestler?

MS: Yeah, you know I mean there’s a lot of pressure in this industry. We beat up our bodies every weekend whilst wrestling and travelling from city to city takes a toll, it’s really hard. There’s loud lights, bright lights, loud sounds, and so much craziness. So, to be able to return to the stillness is very helpful to allow me to return to my centre, and that’s where you are your best self and that way you’re swinging on either side of that pendulum for when you’re trying to focus and centre. 

For me, I’m a big believer in the middle way and the more centred I can become. After a weekend of wrestling, one good yoga class could get me centred for the rest of the week, sometimes it takes two, sometimes it may take all the way to the next weekend, because wrestling is extreme and so wild and crazy. So I put everything I have into that first and then I worry about the damage after, so yoga is just giving me a chance to apologise to my body and my brain for what I’ve just put it through that weekend.



Social media, Europe and wrestling’s biggest weekend

RS: Do you think that social media has a positive effect on professional wrestling?

MS: Yeah, I mean just look at how good wrestling is right now. That’s a direct response to the fans and no longer can the fans be insulted and ignored they have to be recognised and represented within the product and they are nowadays. That’s the beauty of the internet. It empowers people and decentralises power and gives it to the individual and that’s what you’re seeing right now at Impact Wrestling.

RS: With the wrestling world settling around New Orleans for the weekend of April 6th-9th, Impact will be taking on Lucha Underground in an event that will be streamed live on Twitch. We’re yet to hear whether or not you have an opponent for the event; who would you like to face from the LU roster and why?

MS: The man from the heavens, Jack Evans would be my ideal opponent. Although, I prefer six-man and tag matches especially with the Lucha rules. I’m starting to think that the six-man tag matches are my speciality, so that would be the one I’m most interested in participating in. 

I love wrestling with the likes of Fenix, Pentagon, Johnny Mundo, PJ Black, Paul London, the list goes on and on of guys that I’d love to face, and there’s such a whirlwind of opportunities right now. What’s so great about that weekend is that you’re getting a lot of matches that can’t happen and won’t happen anywhere else in the year. So it’s a great reason to check out the Impact shows that WrestleMania weekend.

RS: What do you think about Impact doing co-branded shows with various promotions? Do you enjoy it?

MS: Yeah, I mean I think that when I started wrestling it was a closed off area but now we’re all about inclusion and I think that’s the better mindset. You can learn more when you work with others. Cooperation and collaboration are always a good way to yield better competition, and that’s definitely what’s happening.

RS: With Austin Aries popping up everywhere at the moment, most recently at ROH to challenge for their television title, are there any other belts in other promotions that you have your eye on?

MS: No. Dude, I’m X-Division Champion. People should have their eyes on me. That’s how it works now. It comes to me. These belts, I don’t even go after them, they pull themselves to me. You know right now I’ve got a little bit of heavy gravity and people are getting sucked into it, and you know I could just stand here, not quite at the top of the mountain, but I could just be where I am and start shoving people back downwards. So that’s what I’m doing right now.



RS: You were recently over in Germany with wXw for their 16-carat gold tournament, how was that experience and what do you think about the wrestling scene in Europe?

MS: I could tell that the European boom in wrestling was coming when I wrestled in England a few years ago I had a great sense of what was coming. wXw is such a highly professional, really class standard for a wrestling organisation. It feels to me like they took all the best stuff from Japanese wrestling and mixed it with all the best stuff from the history of German catch wrestling and British wrestling and the fun stuff from American wrestling and they were able to smush it altogether and called it wXw. 

These guys are incredible. It’s a movement inside of itself, and I was really proud to be able to be a part of that 16 Carat Gold tournament. And it was a great opportunity for me and the young rising stars of the independent European scene to meet with the students of the wXw academy who are definitely to be the stars of the future and hopefully open up a line of communication between my school here in Largo and the academy over there. They’re a really high level professional organisation. Like it didn’t feel like Indy wrestling, even when I was over there in 2006/7 it was the same. 

They’ve always had the same attitude of what they do, and that’s the spirit of do it yourself and that’s why WxW has been so successful. I haven’t been more impressed with a company lately than wXw. I’ve worked for all kind of awesome places but wXw really blew it out of the water for me at the 16 Carat Gold tournament.



What do you think about Matt Sydal as a dual champion? Is there another promotion you're hoping to see him in? Are you planning to attend the Lucha Underground vs Impact Wrestling event during WrestleMania weekend? Let us know in the comments below!