Corey Graves in August 2013 as one half of the NXT Tag Team Champions
|Birth name||Matthew Polinsky|
February 24, 1984 |
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Corey Graves
Sterling James Keenan
Iron City Irvin Ickleman
|Billed height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Billed weight||208 lb (94 kg)|
|Billed from||The Sunset Strip
Iron City, Pennsylvania
|Trained by||Boomer Payne
Dory Funk Jr.
Matthew Polinsky (born February 24, 1984) is a retired American professional wrestler and current color commentator better known by his ring name Corey Graves. He is currently signed to WWE and works in its developmental territory, WWE NXT, as a color commentator. He is a former NXT Tag Team Champion with Adrian Neville. Polinsky is also known for his work on the independent circuit under the ring name Sterling James Keenan.
- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 2 Other media
- 3 Personal life
- 4 In wrestling
- 5 Championships and accomplishments
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Professional wrestling career
Polinsky chose his ring name the night before his first professional wrestling match, and picked the name "Sterling James Keenan" as a tribute to Sterling Sharpe, Polinsky's favorite American football player as a child, and Maynard James Keenan of the band Tool.
Keenan debuted on March 22, 2000. Throughout the next few years, Keenan appeared for various promotions, including Dory Funk Jr.'s "Funkin Conservatory", where he competed with wrestlers including Paul London, Adam Windsor, and Onyx. In 2002, Keenan teamed with "Dreamachine" Chris Cage to win the Funkin Conservatory Tag Team Championship by defeating the team of London and Windsor.
Keenan also made appearances for NWA Upstate, Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South, Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling, and Full Throttle Wrestling. On April 26, 2002, Keenan and Mad Mike won the NWA East Tag Team Championship by defeating The Premiere Players. Keenan was part of the Union of Independent Professional Wrestlers promotion in both of its incarnations. He won the UIPW Keystone Cruiserweight Championship. Beginning in 2005, he appeared regularly for Far North Wrestling (FNW), and on November 2, 2007, he won a Battle royal to win the FNW Heavyweight Championship. He defeated Samoa Joe and Rikishi by countout on August 23, 2007 to win the Ballpark Brawl Natural Heayweight Title. On February 24, 2008, Keenan won Absolute Intense Wrestling's Heavyweight Championship by winning a 30-Man gauntlet match.
Keenan competed for Pro Wrestling Zero1, and has won the Zero-One United States Heavyweight Championship on two occasions. On March 8, 2008, Keenan defeated Mr. Wrestling 3 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to win the championship for the first time. He only held the championship for a week, before dropping it to Dr. X on March 15 in Morganville, New Jersey. On May 9, Keenan won the championship for the second time, defeating Jake Manning in Limerick, Pennsylvania. He held the championship for just under a month, before losing it to Rick Landell on June 1.
Throughout the years Keenan has also made sporadic appearances for Ring of Honor (ROH). His debut appearance for the promotion was at Round Robin Challenge II on April 25, 2003, where he teamed with EZ Money in a Tag Team Scramble match won by The S.A.T.. He returned to ROH over two years later at Redemption on August 12, 2005, where he participated in a Four Corner Survival match won by Ace Steel. In October 2005, he lost a singles match to Claudio Castagnoli and a singles match between Keenan and Steel at Tag Wars 2006 in January 2006 ended in a no contest due to interference from Chris Hero and the Necro Butcher. Six months later, at In Your Face, Keenan and Jason Blade lost a tag team match to The Briscoe Brothers. He made a single appearance in ROH in 2007 at the Fifth Year Festival: Dayton event, losing to Jimmy Rave and another appearance in March 2009 at Steel City Clash, losing to Delirious. He also appeared on the Ring of Honor Wrestling television show on the April 4, 2009 episode, losing to Erick Stevens.
International Wrestling Cartel (2002–2007)
Keenan debuted in the International Wrestling Cartel (IWC) on October 19, 2002, defeating Troy Lords. On the following IWC show, Keenan defeated CM Punk, before losing to Shirley Doe on two separate occasions but defeating Josh Prohibition. On December 28, Keenan teamed with Dustin Ardine to challenge the Devil's Advocates for the IWC Tag Team Championship, but were unsuccessful. In May 2003, Keenan participated in IWC's Super Indy tournament, defeating B.J. Whitmer in the first round, but losing to Colt Cabana in the second.
At IWC's Revengeance show in September, Keenan defeated Al B. Damm to earn a match for the IWC Heavyweight Championship. He received his championship match on November 1, 2003, and defeated Dennis Gregory to win the championship. At Rebirth of Extreme on November 22, Keenan successfully retained the championship in a rematch against Gregory, and made further successful defences against Punk on December 12, Dean Radford on January 31, 2004, and February 24, and against Super Hentai on March 6. Two weeks later, on March 20, Keenan lost the IWC Heavyweight Championship to Radford, and failed to regain it in a rematch on April 3, and on April 17, when he lost a Tables match to Radford.
In July 2004, Keenan unsuccessfully challenged Chris Sabin for the IWC Super Indy Championship. That December, after Sabin had vacated the Super Indy Championship, Keenan won a four-way match against Petey Williams, Josh Prohibition, and John McChesney to win the vacant championship. He made a successful defense of the championship against AJ Styles on February 24, 2005, and Claudio Castagnoli the following night. In April he retained the championship against Nate Webb, before losing a championship match to Justin Idol by countout in final championship defense on April 29, 2005. That same night, McChesney won the Super Indy Tournament, winning the championship as part of his victory, despite having not beaten Keenan. The next night, a match for the championship between Keenan and McChesney ended in a double countout.
In March 2006, Keenan unsuccessfully challenged Doe for the IWC Heavyweight Championship. That September, Keenan was part of a tournament for the vacant IWC Heavyweight Championship, but was eliminated in the first round after losing to Ricky Reyes. On August 4, 2007, Keenan lost another match for the championship, this time to long-time rival Dennis Gregory, in what proved to be his final match in the company.
One Pro Wrestling (2005–2009)
Keenan made his debut for the United Kingdom-based 1 Pro Wrestling (1PW) at their inaugural show, A Cruel Twist of Fate, on October 1, 2005, defeating D'Lo Brown. He quickly formed an alliance with Abyss, and the pair defeated Sabu and Ulf Herman in a hardcore tag team match on January 7, 2006. In March, Keenan competed in a tournament to determine the inaugural 1PW Heavyweight Champion, but was defeated by AJ Styles in a quarter-final match.
He moved on to feud with Spud, defeating him on May 26 at Know Your Enemy Night One. At Fight Club 2 in July, Keenan defeated Spud in an Iron City Street Fight. Three weeks later, Kennan replaced Matt Hyson in a tag team match, where he and Spud challenged Jody Fleisch and Jonny Storm for the 1PW Tag Team Championship. They were unsuccessful after Keenan attacked Spud during the match. At Invincible in August, a tag team match featuring Keenan and Hyson versus Spud and Teddy Hart ended in a no contest after several other wrestlers interfered, prompting a 10-man elimination tag team match, which Keenan's team won.
At Resurrection in April 2007, Keenan challenged Romeo Roselli for the Nu-Wrestling Evolution Heavyweight Championship, but was disqualified for using the championship belt as a weapon. He then began challening Ulf Herman for the 1PW Heavyweight Championship, but was unsuccessful in a four-way match on June 29 when Herman retained the championship. Keenan failed to win the championship again on June 30 and August 18. On October 13, at 2nd Anniversary Show, Keenan defeated Herman to win the championship in a steel cage match. Keenan successfully defended the championship against Doug Williams on January 25, 2008, and Martin Stone, Darren Burridge and Abyss in a four-way match the following night. His next defense was on October, when he lost to Johnny Moss via disqualification, and retaining the championship as a result. At the 3rd Anniversary Show that same month, Keenan retained the championship against Raven. Keenan eventually lost the championship to Martin Stone on April 18, 2009 at To The Extreme, ending his championship reign at 554 days. He continued to feud with Stone in an unsuccessful attempt to regain the championship throughout 2009, and made his final 1PW appearance at the 4th Anniversary Show in November.
Before signing a contract with WWE, Keenan made several appearances for the company. On April 26, 2006, Keenan and CM Punk lost a dark match to The Gymini prior to the SmackDown taping. On June 6, 2006, Keenan teamed with Jon Bolen in a loss to Jamie Noble and Kid Kash. Keenan appeared on an episode of WWE Heat that was taped on August 6, losing to Val Venis. Keenan appeared on the August 10, 2007, episode of SmackDown!, where he was easily squashed by Mark Henry.
Developmental territories (2011–2014)
In August 2011, it was reported that Polinksy had signed a developmental contract with WWE. Polinsky announced that he would be performing in WWE's developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), under the ring name Corey Graves. He debuted at the FCW television tapings on September 25, losing to Erick Rowan. The following year, on March 17, 2012, Graves won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship with Jake Carter by defeating Bo Rotundo and Husky Harris. When WWE rebranded FCW into WWE NXT, Graves and Carter participated in the inaugural tapings in June 2012. They defeated CJ Parker and Nick Rogers in match aired in July.
Graves was re-established as a singles wrestler on November 14 with a win over Oliver Grey; Following a submission victory over Yoshi Tatsu in December, Graves attacked the NXT Champion Seth Rollins, and was awarded a title match on the January 2, 2013 episode of NXT. Graves failed to capture the championship despite winning via disqualification following interference from Rollins' associates in The Shield. After singles victories over former partner Carter and Alex Riley, Graves faced Conor O'Brian in a number one contender's match; the match ended in a no contest after The Shield attacked both men, and Graves later lost in a triple threat number one contender's match. Graves transitioned into a feud with The Shield, challenging them to a match for costing him title opportunities. He faced Rollins in a lumberjack match, which he lost when the other members of The Shield interfered. In May, Graves began feuding with The Wyatt Family following a confrontation (and later match) with leader Bray Wyatt. After being eliminated by Wyatt in a battle royal, Graves teamed with Kassius Ohno to unsuccessfully challenge Luke Harper and Erick Rowan for the NXT Tag Team Championship, and Graves, Ohno, and Adrian Neville lost to The Wyatt Family in a six-man tag team match. After the Wyatts injured Ohno in storyline, Graves began regularly teaming with Neville, and on the July 18 episode of NXT, they defeated Harper and Rowan to capture the NXT Tag Team Championship. The duo held the championship for nearly three months, before losing to The Ascension in September. After failing to regain the title, Graves attacked Neville to provoke a feud, thus turning heel. They traded victories, before Graves suffered a legitimate concussion, rendering him temporarily inactive. He returned in January 2014, to enter a feud with Sami Zayn. Graves defeated Zayn on April 3 but was defeated in a 6-man tag team match teaming with The Ascension against Zayn and The Usos. Graves then suffered a second concussion, causing him to be absent from television for several months.
In-ring retirement; commentating (2014–present)
Graves returned on the NXT TakeOver: R Evolution pre-show on December 11, where he announced his official in-ring retirement due to his concussion issues. He also announced that he would be joining NXT's commentary team with immediate effect, with his duties beginning at that event. Graves was then offered a two-year commentary contract by Triple H, and was later added to the pre-show panel for Raw.
He is also the host of WWE Culture Shock, a WWE Network original series. In August 2015 (following Dolph Ziggler's 2014 shout-out, March's reveal of Xavier Woods as a member of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom, and Sheamus being shamed in April by Ziggler about Bronies on TV), he attended BronyCon at the Baltimore Convention Center to investigate the fandom, where he dressed in an Applejack costume and interviewed Bronies. WWE released a free preview of the episode on August 26, 2015 following the August 22nd NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn event and the August 23rd SummerSlam event.
Polinksy, as Corey Graves, made his video game debut as a playable character in the WWE 2K15 video game and has his own path in the "Who Got NXT" mode for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, documenting his matches in NXT. Corey Graves was a part of e:60 documentary: "WWE: Behind the Curtain".
Polinsky is a professional piercer, after training as an apprentice at the request of a friend of his who needed a piercer in his tattoo shop. He has worked in the Naughty Vibrations shop in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and in a shop named True Image in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Polinsky is known for his tattoos. He got two of them before the age of 18 with his parents' permission, and after turning 18, got sleeve tattoos on both his arms, made up of several clearly visible and separate tattoos tied together with designs. He also has tattoos on his neck, and has the words "stay down" tattooed across his knuckles.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- "The Savior of Misbehavior"
- Entrance themes
- "The Outcome" by Andy Mendelson from Metro Music (NXT 2012-2013)
- "Dead And Gone" by Carl Bensley (NXT 2013-2014)
- "Christcontrol" by Cancer Killing Gemini (NXT March 7, 2014 – December 11, 2014)
Championships and accomplishments
- Absolute Intense Wrestling
- AIW Absolute Championship (1 time)
- Ballpark Brawl
- Natural Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Far North Wrestling
- FNW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- International Wrestling Cartel
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Union of Independent Professional Wrestlers
- UIPW Keystone Cruiserweight Championship (1 time)
- "Sterling James Keenan". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "WWE looks to independents for latest developmental signing". Pro Wrestling Torch. August 25, 2011. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- "Corey Graves bio". WWE. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
- "Sterling James Keenan". 1 Pro Wrestling. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- Hurley, Oliver (June 1, 2006). "Sterling James Keenan Interview". Skin Deep. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
- Malone, James (January 16, 2003). "!BANG! TV Report". Dory-funk.com. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "Ballpark Brawl Wrestling". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "ZERO1 United States Heavyweight Champion". Pro Wrestling Zero1. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "Past Events". Ring of Honor. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- Boutwell, Josh (April 5, 2009). "ROH on HDNet Results – 4/5/09". WrestleView. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "International Wrestling Cartel". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "1-Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling 101". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "1PW Heavyweight Championship History". 1 Pro Wrestling. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- Keller, Wade (June 7, 2006). "WWE News: Hogan says he wants to wrestle Austin, Smackdown taping note, Bret Update". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- Waldman, Jon (August 10, 2007). "Smackdown: On the highway to hell?". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "Spoiler for Florida Championship Wrestling for September 25, October 2 and 9: two new champions crowned and another Rollins/Ambrose match".
- "Champions Roll Call". Florida Championship Wrestling. Archived from the original on July 3, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- "WWE News: FCW name being phased out". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
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- James, Justin. Wrestling Torch "James's WWE NXT Report 7/4 – Week 3: Chris Hero (Ohno) debuts, Vader's son, Bateman, six-man main event; Overall Reax" Check
|url=scheme (help). Retrieved July 14, 2012.
- Bishop, Matt (November 15, 2012). "WWE NXT: Mahal puts top contender status on line". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- Bishop, Matt (December 6, 2012). "WWE NXT: Kidd wins battle, loses war". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- James, Justin (December 27, 2012). "James's WWE NXT Report 12/19 – Week 26: Big Show main event, Rollins interview, Big E. handicap match, Overall Reax". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Howell, Nolan (January 3, 2013). "WWE NXT: Langston stands up to The Shield". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT Results 1/23: Tag Tournament begins, HBK appearance, Big E. in main event". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT Results 2/13 – Week 33: First NXT tag champions crowned, Paige vows to take over the show". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT Results 2/27: The Shield attacks in the main event, a match so bad that it's good, more". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT Results 3/6: Main Event #1 contender match to NXT Title, Shield delivers a message, Overall Reax". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved August 11, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT Results 4/10: Epic, must-watch Regal vs. Ohno match, Shield six-man tag match, Overall Reax". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT Reports 4/17 & 4/24 & 5/1: Jericho in action, The Shield, Clash of Champions featuring several title matches, Paige vs. Summer Rae feud continues, more". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT Report 5/15 & 5/22: El Generico debuts, O'Brian beats two NXT releases in same match, Bray Wyatt debuts mask, Natalya vs. Rae, more developments". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
- Trionfo, Richard (May 29, 2013). "WWE NXT report: number one contender battle royal; big announcement from Stephanie McMahon; and more". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT Results 5/29 & 6/5: Wyatts defend Tag Titles, NXT Women's Title introduced, #1 contender battle royal, Parade of released NXT wrestlers in matches". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT Results 6/19: Wyatts vs. Ohno & Graves & Neville six-man tag, Summer Rae wins tourney match, El Generico, Xavier Woods, more". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
- James, Justin. "James's WWE NXT report 7/3 – WEEK 53: Bo Dallas defends NXT Title, Women's Tourney continues, Mason Ryan". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- Namako, Jason. "WWE NXT Results – 7/18/13 (Neville/Graves vs. Wyatt Family)". WrestleView. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- Caldwell, James (December 11, 2014). "Caldwell's WWE NXT Takeover results 12/11: Complete virtual-time coverage of Neville vs. Zayn for the NXT Title, Itami & Balor, Charlotte, Kevin Steen/Owens's debut, Corey Graves retires". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
- Corey Graves receives a two-year WWE contract: NXT TakeOver: R Evolution, Dec. 11, 2014
- Ziggler, Dolph (7 September 2014). "HERE WE GO, BRONIES...". Twitter.
- 2K Tournament of Champions: Xavier Woods 6 March 2015 (wearing a BRONY shirt) "Xavier Woods here, reigning and defending 2K champion. This year at WrestleMania, people are gonna come and try to take my title, take my championship. That cannot be done, you ban't neat me! Brony: don't care, what up? Step up, and get bought!"
- "Neville vs Sheamus: SmackDown, April 16, 2015". YouTube.
I get why you don't like the English, 'cause they sure as hell don't like you either. Come to think of it, come to think of it Sheamus, neither do the Germans, Hungarians, Dutch, Welsh, Millenials, Bronies, you name it! Not even the Irish like you Sheamus!
- WWE Network: Culture Shock - "BronyCon" preview
- Sirani, Jordan (October 24, 2014). "WWE 2K15 WHO GOT NXT MODE ANNOUNCED AND DETAILED". IGN.com. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
- "WWE NXT taping spoilers: World Champion Big Show faces an NXT wrestler". prowrestling.net. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- "Short's WWE NXT Review: Roman Reigns in action". prowrestling.net. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- Trionfo, Richard. "WWE NXT Report: number one contender match; six Divas in action; The Sheild send a message; The Wyatt Family makes their presence known". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- Trionfo, Richard. "WWE NXT Report: Sami Zayn's debut is not generic; a feud that most will want to see; Mason Ryan returns; Wyatt versus Graves; big announcement and battle royal next week". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
- Namako, Jason. "WWE NXT Results – 11/14/13 (Graves/Neville – 2/3 Falls)". WrestleView. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
- Namako, Jason (November 21, 2011). "FCW Results – 11/21/11". WrestleView. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- "Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) 500 for 2013". The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
- Caldwell, James (June 21, 2013). "WWE News: NXT spoilers for summer episodes – first NXT Women's champ, Flair, more, plus NXT TV in the U.S.?". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
- Corey Graves's profile on WWE.com
- Online World of Wrestling profile
- Corey Graves at the Internet Movie Database