Matthew Joseph "Matt" Korklan (born March 29, 1983), also known by the ring name Matt Sydal, is an American professional wrestler, best known for his time in WWE as 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 was one-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions, and former two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight 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
Training and independent circuit (2000–2007)
Korklan was on his high school wrestling team. 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. Prior to this, Korklan had briefly wrestled as Lance Sydal in the backyard wrestling promotion, Saint Peters Wrestling Organization.
In 2003, Korklan (now known as Matt, forgoing a surname) 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.
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. He won his first championship, the IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship, on January 17, 2004, by defeating J.C. Bailey. Sydal lost the title to Delirious on June 26, 2004. 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. 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. Sydal lost the title to Jaysin Strife roughly four months later 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. 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. Afterwards, Sydal appeared infrequently in IWA, lastly in August 2007.
Dragon Gate (2006–2007)
Sydal began touring Japan with Dragon Gate in May 2006. 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.
On February 12, 2007, Sydal won the 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. He dropped the title to Genki Horiguchi on March 25.
Return to Dragon Gate (2014–2015)
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. After another year away from Dragon Gate, Sydal made a surprise return to the promotion on June 28, 2015. On July 20, Sydal and Ricochet unsuccessfully challenged Naruki Doi and Yamato for the Open the Twin Gate Championship.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (2015–2016)
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. On October 12, at King of Pro-Wrestling, Sydal unsuccessfully challenged Omega for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. 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. On November 1, Sydal and Ricochet defeated The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) to advance to the finals of the tournament. On November 7, at Power Struggle, Sydal and Ricochet defeatedRoppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero) in the finals to win the 2015 Super Jr. Tag Tournament. 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. On February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka, Sydal and Ricochet defeated The Young Bucks andreDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly) in a three-way match to become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. They lost the title to Roppongi Vice on April 10 at Invasion Attack 2016, before regaining the title on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2016. 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. 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.
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. On July 20, Sydal, representing ROH, entered the 2016 Super J-Cup, defeating Kaientai Dojo's Kaji Tomato in his first round match. On August 21, Sydal defeated Will Ospreay in the second round of the tournament, before being eliminated in the semifinals by Suzuki-gun's Yoshinobu Kanemaru. 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. Sydal missed two shows over three days, officially due to "travel issues". It was later revealed that he had actually been arrested upon entering the country. He was replaced at Destruction in Kobe by David Finlay, who afterwards also took his spot as Ricochet's regular tag team partner.
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.
Both of Korklan's parents are school teachers. He has an older brother Mike, who wrestles under the name "Mike Sydal" in addition to two other brothers who do not wrestle. He attended Parkway West High School in St. Louis. In 2001, Korklan enrolled at the University of Missouri, studying marketing, as he was unsure whether he could earn a living from wrestling. He continued to wrestle, attending college three days a week, while wrestling mid-week and on weekends. 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.
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. 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 was released from prison and returned to the United States on December 12.
- Finishing moves
- As Matt Sydal
- As Evan Bourne
- Air Bourne (Shooting star press)
- Signature moves
- Cannonball (Diving leg drop)
- Corkscrew plancha
- Cradle suplex
- Inverted leg drop bulldog into a pin
- Muta lock
- Multiple kick variations
- Corner drop, sometimes preceded by a catapult
- Shining wizard to a cornered opponent
- Springboard 450° splash
- Springboard corkscrew senton
- Standing moonsault sometimes from the top rope
- Suicide dive
- Daizee Haze
- Jade Chung
- Lizzy Valentine
- Allison Danger
- Larry Sweeney
- "Air Bourne"
- "King of Gin"
- Entrance themes
- "Warrior Man" by Dr. Dog (ROH; 2014–2015)
- "Clavicle" by Alkaline Trio (Independent circuit)
- "Axeman" by Damian Wes, Lenny Charles and Sparky Buddha
- "Born to Win" performed by Mutiny Within and composed by Jim Johnston (WWE; July 27, 2009 – June 12, 2014)
- "Born to SOS" by Mutiny Within and Collie Buddz (WWE; September 5, 2011 – October 3, 2011; used while teaming with Kofi Kingston)
- "Boom" by Jim Johnston (WWE; October 7, 2011 – January 16, 2012; used while teaming with Kofi Kingston)
- "A.I.R" by May's (NJPW; September 23, 2015–September 23, 2016)
Championships and accomplishments
- Dragon Gate
- Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- NWA Midwest
- NWA Midwest X Division Championship (2 times)
- Ohio Valley Wrestling
- OVW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Fit
- The Lord of The World Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Ring of Honor
- World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
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