Matt Sydal

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Matt Sydal
Evan Bourne .jpg
Matt Sydal as Evan Bourne in 2009
Birth name Matthew Joseph Korklan[1]
Born (1983-03-19) March 19, 1983 (age 33)[1]
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.[1]
Residence Clearwater, FL
Alma mater University of Missouri
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Evan Bourne[2]
Matt Sydal[1]
Billed height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)[2]
Billed weight 185 lb (84 kg)[3]
Billed from St. Louis, Missouri[2]
Trained by Gateway Championship Wrestling[1]
Debut October 20, 2000[4]

Matthew Joseph "Matt" Korklan (born March 19, 1983), also known by the ring name Matt Sydal, is an American professional wrestler, perhaps best known for his time in WWE under the ring name Evan Bourne.

Between 2000 and 2007, Korklan wrestled on the independent circuit, for promotions including NWA Midwest, IWA-Mid South, and Ring of Honor, winning both singles and tag team championships. He also wrestled for the short-lived Wrestling Society X and was featured on Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's early pay-per-view events. Beginning in 2005, he wrestled for Dragon Gate in Japan, and won the Open the Brave Gate Championship in early 2007. Korklan signed with WWE in 2007, and made his main roster debut as Evan Bourne on ECW the following year. In 2011, he formed an alliance with Kofi Kingston, known as Air Boom, and they won the WWE Tag Team Championship. In 2012, Korklan was suspended for violating WWE's wellness policy, and then suffered foot injuries in a motorcycle accident, forcing him out of action. Without reappearing on television, he was released from WWE in 2014 and returned to wrestling on the independent circuit under his former ring name. He also made his debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he is a former two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion and a one-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion.

He is known for his high flying, lucha libre-inspired style of wrestling, and was named the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Best Flying Wrestler in 2008.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Training and independent circuit (2000–2007)[edit]

Korklan was on his high school wrestling team.[1] While a senior in high school, Korklan began training with the St. Louis, Missouri-based Gateway Championship Wrestling (GCW) promotion. After three months of training, Korklan began wrestling for GCW on October 20, 2000, becoming the first person under the age of 18 to receive a wrestler's license in Missouri.[1][4] Prior to this, Korklan had briefly wrestled as Lance Sydal in the backyard wrestling promotion, Saint Peters Wrestling Organization.[1]

In 2003, Korklan (now known as Matt, forgoing a surname)[4] formed a stable in GCW, known as Operation:Shamrock. In addition, Korklan and fellow stable member Billy McNeil formed a tag team. Operation: Shamrock maintained a feud with the villainous Ministry of Hate faction, led by Nikki Strychnine.[citation needed]

Sydal at a Chikara show in 2007

Korklan debuted in Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South (IWA Mid-South) in November 2003, combining two of his old ring names into a new one, Matt Sydal.[1] He won his first championship, the IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship, on January 17, 2004, by defeating J.C. Bailey.[5] Sydal lost the title to Delirious on June 26, 2004.[5] Sydal joined NWA Midwest that same year. On July 30, he defeated Justin Kage for the NWA Midwest X Division Championship, which he lost to Delirious after holding it for nearly a year.[6] Sydal teamed with Daizee Haze in an intergender tag team match against Delirious and MsChif, of which the male wrestler on the winning team would become champion. Haze pinned MsChif to win the title for Sydal.[6] Sydal lost the title to Jaysin Strife roughly four months later[6] before leaving the promotion.

Sydal wrestled several top independent stars during his time as a regular in IWA. He lost three matches to A.J. Styles during a short-lived feud. He also faced CM Punk, Chris Sabin and Nate Webb.[4] On September 24, 2005, Sydal won the fifth Ted Petty Invitational tournament, defeating El Generico, Tyler Black, and Sabin to reach the final match, where he defeated Kevin Steen and Arik Cannon.[7] Afterwards, Sydal appeared infrequently in IWA, lastly in August 2007.[4]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2004–2005)[edit]

Sydal wrestled on Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA)'s first monthly pay-per-view event, Victory Road. He participated in a twenty-man X Division Gauntlet for the Gold match.[8] Sydal was a candidate in an online poll to determine who would meet Christopher Daniels for the TNA X Division Championship at Sacrifice, but was not chosen. During his run in TNA, Sydal was used as a jobber.[4]

Ring of Honor (2004–2007)[edit]

Sydal with A.J. Styles (left) in Ring of Honor during 2007

Sydal (along with his valet, Daizee Haze) debuted in Ring of Honor at Reborn: Stage One on April 23, 2004, defeating his nemesis, Delirious.[9] Following a brief feud with Trent Acid, Sydal teamed with Fast Eddie Vegas as The Air Devils, a name chosen by ROH fans. They only teamed once, on February 25, 2005, at 3rd Anniversary: Part 2, defeating The Ring Crew Express. After the match, Vegas turned on Sydal and joined the heel stable, The Embassy.[4] On August 12, Sydal and Haze joined Austin Aries, Roderick Strong and Jack Evans in Generation Next, a stable in the midst of a feud with The Embassy.[10] In late 2005, Haze turned on Sydal, leaving him and Generation Next and joining The Embassy. Generation Next fought The Embassy in several multi-man tag matches, culminating in a Steel Cage Warfare match on December 3, which Generation Next won.[9]

After wrestling A.J. Styles at Hell Freezes Over, the two teamed to unsuccessfully challenge Sydal's Generation Next stablemates, Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, for the ROH World Tag Team Championship. Sydal also teamed with Samoa Joe and Jack Evans to chase the title. Sydal went to the finals of the 2006 Survival of the Fittest tournament, before losing to Delirious. Sydal and Delirious renewed their rivalry in ROH, wrestling several matches in mid-2006.[9]

After several matches against each other in 2006, Sydal teamed with Christopher Daniels in another attempt to win the ROH World Tag Team Championship. They feuded with the champions, The Kings of Wrestling, before winning the championship at Dethroned. Sydal and Daniels successfully defended the title against CIMA and Shingo, and former champions Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, before losing it to The Briscoe Brothers at the Fifth Year Festival: Chicago.[11] During their title reign, Sydal developed a cocky, heelish attitude. After unsuccessful attempts (with Claudio Castagnoli) to regain the title, Sydal joined Larry Sweeney's heel stable Sweet n' Sour Inc. (which also included Chris Hero, Sara Del Rey and Tank Toland).[12] At Man Up, Sydal wrestled his final match for ROH, losing to long-time rival Delirious.[9]

Dragon Gate and Wrestling Society X (2006–2007)[edit]

Sydal began touring Japan with Dragon Gate in May 2006.[13] There, he aligned with CIMA, Don Fuji, and Jack Evans to form the stable New Blood Generation International. He also became a part of CIMA's Typhoon stable. At Wrestlejam, Sydal teamed with Generation Next stablemate Roderick Strong to win the $10,000 Tag Team Challenge.[13]

On February 12, 2007, Sydal won the Dragon Gate Open the Brave Gate Championship from Masato Yoshino, becoming the first gaijin to hold the championship. He held it for just over a month, successfully defending it against Yoshino in Hyogo and against Austin Aries at Ring of Honor's Fifth Year Festival: Dayton.[9][14] He dropped the title to Genki Horiguchi on March 25.[15][16]

Sydal was a part of the short-lived MTV promotion, Wrestling Society X, where he competed as a heel against Jack Evans, Scorpio Sky and the Human Tornado.[17][18][19] He began a feud with Syxx-Pac over Sydal's valet and on-screen girlfriend Lizzy Valentine,[18][20] but WSX folded before they ever had a match.[18][21]

World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE[edit]

Ohio Valley Wrestling (2007–2008)[edit]

Following the expiration of his WSX contract and the close of the promotion, Korklan signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).[22] Sydal debuted in Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) at its October 10, 2007 TV taping, defeating Jamin Olivencia.[23] In December, Sydal defeated Mike Kruel to win the OVW Heavyweight Championship.[24] On February 7, 2008 WWE announced it had ended its affiliation with OVW.[25] As a result, Sydal lost the OVW Heavyweight Championship to Jay Bradley.[24]

Florida Championship Wrestling (2008)[edit]

Sydal joined WWE's new developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling, debuting on March 22, 2008, and defeating TJ Wilson. He was then called up to WWE's main roster.[1][26]

Brand switches (2008–2011)[edit]

Sydal made his debut for the ECW brand on June 3, 2008, as a face character. He lost a match by countout to Shelton Benjamin, after he was thrown at guest commentator Kofi Kingston.[27] The following week on ECW, he (now renamed Evan Bourne) teamed with Kofi Kingston to defeat Benjamin and Mike Knox in a tag team match.[28] In the following weeks, Bourne defeated Matt Striker,[29] Nunzio,[30] and Chavo Guerrero,[31] using the shooting star press as his finishing maneuver.[2]

Bourne making his ring entrance on an episode of ECW

Bourne also appeared on the Raw brand, saving Rey Mysterio from an assault by Kane. The two defeated John Morrison and The Miz the following week. At Cyber Sunday in October, WWE fans chose Bourne to face Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship. He was pinned after Hardy performed a Twist of Fate on him.[32] Two days later, during a six-man tag match on ECW, he landed a dive from the ring on his right ankle, dislocating it and tearing his deltoid ligament. Surgery was not necessary, but Bourne was not medically cleared to return to the ring.[33] On December 8, he won the "Best Finishing Maneuver" Slammy award for his shooting star press.[34]

On the March 10, 2009, episode of ECW, a vignette aired, promoting Bourne's return on March 17.[35] In his return match, he defeated Jamie Noble.[36]

On June 29, Bourne was traded to the Raw brand, and made his debut that night as the first of three wrestlers in a Gauntlet match against WWE Champion Randy Orton.[37] On the November 2 episode of Raw, he lost a United States Championship match to The Miz. On the December 29 episode of ECW, he defeated Mike Knox in an "ECW Homecoming" match to qualify for the "Homecoming Battle Royal", which would decide the opponent for ECW Champion Christian at the Royal Rumble.[38]

Bourne lost a non-title match to WWE Champion Sheamus on the January 4, 2010, episode of Raw.[39] The following week on ECW, he competed in the "Homecoming Battle Royal" but was the first man eliminated.[40] On the March 8 episode of Raw, he defeated William Regal to qualify for the Money in the Bank ladder match at WrestleMania XXVI, which was won by Jack Swagger.

The May 31, 2010 episode of Raw opened with Bourne being assaulted by Edge, after Bourne proposed Edge put his spot in the WWE Championship match at Fatal 4-Way on the line in a match. Later in the show, John Cena chose Bourne to replace his scheduled tag team partner, Randy Orton (who was earlier "injured" by Edge), in a match against Edge and Sheamus. Bourne pinned Sheamus to earn the victory for his team.[41] Two weeks later, Bourne defeated Chris Jericho by disqualification. Jericho had threatened the referee and attacked Bourne while he was in the ropes.[42] At Fatal 4-Way, he pinned Jericho in a rematch.[43] The following night on Raw, Jericho challenged Bourne to a third match, stating he would leave WWE if he lost; Jericho pinned Bourne to win the match and stay with the company.[44] On the July 5 Raw, Bourne teamed with Randy Orton to defeat Jericho and Edge.[45] Bourne competed in the Money in the Bank ladder match at Money in the Bank on July 18, but lost.[46]

On September 19, at Night of Champions, Bourne teamed with Mark Henry in the Tag Team Turmoil match for the WWE Tag Team Championship. They were the final team eliminated, by Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes. On the October 11 Raw, he lost a match (to decide who would be on Team Raw at Bragging Rights) to CM Punk, and was subsequently assaulted. This assault was the storyline reason to remove Bourne from television. In reality, he had shoulder surgery.[47]

Bourne returned on the February 28, 2011 episode of Raw, defeating Sheamus after Sheamus was attacked by Triple H before the match.[48] On May 23, he began feuding with Jack Swagger, with the two trading victories on several episodes of Raw.[49][50] Bourne then defeated Swagger at WWE Capitol Punishment to end the feud.[51]

Tag Team Champion and injury (2011–2014)[edit]

See also: Air Boom
Bourne with the WWE Tag Team Championship belt in 2011

On the August 22, 2011, episode of Raw, Bourne won his first championship in WWE. He and Kofi Kingston defeated David Otunga and Michael McGillicutty for the WWE Tag Team Championship.[52] On the August 29 Raw, the team was named Air Boom and made their first title defense, defeating Otunga and McGillicutty in a rematch. At Night of Champions, Air Boom retained the title against The Miz and R-Truth when The Miz was disqualified for attacking the referee. At both Hell in a Cell and Vengeance, Air Boom retained the title against Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger.[53]

On November 1, WWE announced it had suspended Korklan for 30 days for his first violation of the company’s wellness policy.[54] Bourne returned to television on December 5.[55] On December 18, at Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Air Boom retained the Tag Team Championship by defeating Primo and Epico.[56] On January 15, 2012, Air Boom lost the WWE Tag Team Championship to Primo and Epico at a house show.[57] The following night on Raw, Air Boom was awarded a rematch, but failed to regain the championship.[58] The following day on January 17, Korklan was suspended for 60 days for his second failure of a wellness test.[59]

In March 2012, Korklan was involved in a car accident which broke his foot in four places and dislocated it in five.[60] After a year-long absence, Bourne returned on March 28, 2013, at a NXT live event, defeating Sami Zayn.[61] The following year, on June 12, WWE announced that Korklan had been released from his contract, without him reappearing on television.[62][63]

Return to the independent circuit (2014–present)[edit]

From August 30 to 31, Sydal took part in the 2014's Battle of Los Angeles. After winning against Chris Hero, he was later eliminated from the tournament by Kenny Omega.[64][65] On February 7, 2015, Sydal debuted For Family Wrestling Entertainment (FWE), unsuccessfully challenging Paul London for the FWE Tri-Borough Championship.[66] On December 11, Sydal unsuccessfully challenged Roderick Strong for the PWG World Championship.[67]

Sydal became active in the UK scene, most notably in Revolution Pro Wrestling, feuding with Will Ospreay.[68]

On October 3 2015, at a show in South Korea, Sydal briefly held the PWF Lord of the World Championship, defeating Namsuk Kim, before being defeated in an immediate rematch. This was his first singles championship since leaving WWE.[69]

Evolve (2014)[edit]

On August 8, Sydal made his debut for Evolve, defeating Johnny Gargano. The following night, Sydal unsuccessfully challenged Ricochet for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship in the main-event of EVOLVE 32.[70]

Return to DG (2014–present)[edit]

On July 20, 2014, he made his in-ring return to Dragon Gate, tagging with Cima to take on Ricochet and Masato Yoshino. They came up short in the bout, when Cima tapped out to Yoshino.[71] After another year away from Dragon Gate, Sydal made a surprise return to the promotion on June 28, 2015.[72] On July 20, Sydal and Ricochet unsuccessfully challenged Naruki Doi and Yamato for the Open the Twin Gate Championship.[73]

Return to ROH (2014–present)[edit]

Sydal made his return to Ring of Honor on September 27, 2014, losing to A.J. Styles at the Ring of Honor Wrestling television tapings.[74] In November, he was part of the 2014 Survival of the Fittest tournament, won by Adam Cole.[75] He unsuccessfully challenged Jay Lethal for the ROH World Television Championship at Final Battle 2014.[76] On August 21, 2015, Sydal defeated New Japan Pro Wrestling's IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Kushida in a non-title match, after which Kushida accepted his challenge for a title match.[77]

New Japan Pro Wrestling (2015–2016)[edit]

On September 23, 2015, Sydal made his debut for NJPW at Destruction in Okayaka, teaming with Hiroshi Tanahashi in a tag team match, where they defeated Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga. During the same event, the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega nominated Sydal as the first challenger for his title.[78] On October 12, at King of Pro-Wrestling, Sydal unsuccessfully challenged Omega for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[79] On October 24, Sydal and Ricochet entered the 2015 Super Jr. Tag Tournament, defeating Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and Kushida) in their first round match.[80] On November 1, Sydal and Ricochet defeated The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) to advance to the finals of the tournament.[81] On November 7, at Power Struggle, Sydal and Ricochet defeated Roppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero) in the finals to win the 2015 Super Jr. Tag Tournament.[82] On January 4, 2016, at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in Tokyo Dome, Sydal and Ricochet took part in a four-way match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, but were defeated by The Young Bucks.[83] On February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka, Sydal and Ricochet defeated The Young Bucks and reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly) in a three-way match to become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.[84] They lost the title to Roppongi Vice on April 10 at Invasion Attack 2016,[85] before regaining the title on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2016.[86] Later in the month, Sydal entered the 2016 Best of the Super Juniors. He finished the tournament with five wins and two losses, tied with Ryusuke Taguchi, but failed to advance to the finals due to losing to Taguchi in their head-to-head match.[87] On June 19 at Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall, Sydal and Ricochet lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to The Young Bucks in a four-way elimination match, also involving reDRagon and Roppongi Vice.[88]

On July 3, Sydal and Ricochet teamed up with Satoshi Kojima to defeat Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship.[89] On July 20, Sydal, representing ROH, entered the 2016 Super J-Cup, defeating Kaientai Dojo's Kaji Tomato in his first round match.[90] On August 21, Sydal defeated Will Ospreay in the second round of the tournament, before being eliminated in the semifinals by Pro Wrestling Noah's Yoshinobu Kanemaru.[91] On September 25, Sydal, Ricochet and Kojima were stripped of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship due to Sydal failing to make a scheduled title defense at Destruction in Kobe.[92] Sydal missed two shows over three days, officially due to "travel issues".[93] It was later revealed that he had actually been arrested upon entering the country (see below). He was replaced at Destruction in Kobe by David Finlay, who afterwards also took his spot as Ricochet's regular tag team partner.[94] Sydal's profile has since been removed from NJPW official site.[95]

Other media[edit]

Image Entertainment, Inc. released a DVD titled "Before They Were Stars: Matt Sydal: Bourne Is Born" on January 20, 2009, which features every match from Wrestling Society X Korklan participated in as well as various promos and a music video.[96]

Personal life[edit]

Both of Korklan's parents are school teachers.[97] He has an older brother Mike, who wrestles under the name "Mike Sydal" in addition to one other brother who do not wrestle.[98] He attended Parkway West High School in St. Louis.[97] In 2001, Korklan enrolled at the University of Missouri, studying marketing, as he was unsure whether he could earn a living from wrestling.[99] He continued to wrestle, attending college three days a week, while wrestling mid-week and on weekends.[99] He graduated with a bachelor's degree in 2005, and began working as a sales and marketing vice president for a small mailbox company in St. Louis, although he continued to wrestle.[1][97][99]

On September 23, 2016, Korklan was arrested at the Kansai International Airport under suspicion of cannabis smuggling. According to local authorities, Korklan had 2.12 grams of liquid cannabis hidden with an electronic cigarette. Korklan was convicted in Osaka on October 13.[100][101] On December 1, it was reported that Korklan had pled guilty to the charges and accepted three years of probation as his sentence. After a verdict the following week, Korklan would be able to return to the United States.[102]

In wrestling[edit]

Bourne performing Air Bourne on Chris Jericho in 2010
Bourne attempting Air Bourne in 2009 on Chavo Guerrero

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Evan Bourne with the WWE Tag Team Championship belt, which he held with Kofi Kingston
Sydal and Ricochet as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions in February 2016

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