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#MustWatchMonday (5/23/16): Around the World with Evan Bourne (Matt Sydal)

New Japan Pro Wrestling's 24th edition of the Best of the Super Juniors is upon us (in fact, at the time of this writing, two days of the tournament have already passed), and for first time viewers of the product, they may be surprised to see a familiar face among the participants: Matt Sydal.

Matt Sydal, who was known as Evan Bourne while he was contracted to WWE, debuted for the company in 2008. While he wasn't quite pushed to the top of the card, he was able to make a name for himself, having good matches against wrestlers at the top of the pecking order such as Chris Jericho and Randy Orton. He later won the WWE Tag Team Championship with Kofi Kingston as Air Boom, and held that championship for 146 days. His career in the company was derailed by injury and Wellness Policy violations however, and by the time he was ready to return, creative had nothing for him. This lack of direction eventually led to his release on June 12, 2014.

While it was disappointing that Sydal wasn't able to live up to his potential in the WWE, him being released was probably the one of the best things that could have happened; both for his career, and for the viewers at home. 

During his run with the WWE, Sydal endeared himself to the WWE Universe with his high-flying style and his gorgeous 450° splash. After his release, he showed that he hadn't lost his touch, joining the 2014 edition of Pro Wrestling Guerilla's Battle of Los Angeles. Here he had good matches with the likes of Chris Hero (formerly Kassius Ohno from NXT; match starts at 16:40) and Kenny Omega.

Other promotions Matt Sydal found himself working in were Ring of Honor, a place where he wrestled before signing with WWE. Some notable things that he did while he was there include a match for the ROH Television Championship against Jay Lethal, as well as a best of five series against ACH.

One of Matt Sydal's most praised performances though came not from the USA, but from the UK, in Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW), when he went up against the "Aerial Assassin" Will Ospreay. If matches with lots of flips are your cup of tea, this is the match for you. Despite the high-flying styles of the two wrestlers however, they managed to balance it out with great limb work and just all-around, technically solid wrestling.

Being a former WWE Tag Team Champion, it was clear that he was a great tag team wrestler, and he continued to live up to this reputation after his tenure with the company. His main tag team partner has been Ricochet, and the two have been tearing it up in the States as well as in Japan. People may be familiar with the fact that these two were former holders of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, but did you know that they wrestled in Dragon Gate for a bit as well? 

Before Ricochet and Sydal turned up in NJPW, they went to Dragon Gate, a promotion both have a history in. Here they challenged for the Open the Twin Gate Championships against Naruki Doi and Yamato, one of the best tag teams you'll find not only in Japan, but in the world. You can find highlights of the match below, but if you want to watch the entire thing (which I highly recommend), click here. The match is very fast paced, smooth, and filled with combination moves that you will be hard-pressed to find in any other promotion.

Have you enjoyed Matt Sydal's time away from the WWE? Would you want to see him back? Leave a comment!

Brandon Sy is a PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics currently based in Sydney. Since he wasn't allowed to watch wrestling as a kid, he's been overcompensating ever since. Despite being a huge fan of Japanese wrestling, he still holds a soft spot in his heart for WWE's Kane. He's good for recommending matches from pretty much anywhere, whether it be Japan, Europe, the US or Mexico. He'd be ecstatic if you watched Dragon Gate though.

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