Wrestler of the Day – March 19: Evan Bourne

Today is Evan Bourne. Do you remember him?

Bourne, under his original gimmick name of Matt Sydal, got started in very small indy companies in 2000 but we’ll pick up in 2004 at the Super Indy tournament. The event was held in NWA Wildside, which produced AJ Styles a few years earlier.

Super Indy Semi-Finals: Matt Sydal vs. Fast Eddie

Eddie is the Wildside Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Sydal has Daizee Haze in his corner while Eddie has Sal Rinauro. Eddie gets taken down by a quick armdrag but he grabs the leg to take over, sending Eddie into the ropes. Off to a cross armbreaker but Eddie is in the ropes again. Back up and a spinwheel kick sends Eddie out to the floor to complain about his face.

Eddie gets back in and sends Matt into the ropes, allowing Sal to trip him up. A Samoan drop puts Sydal down but Eddie applauds himself instead of covering. Sydal flips out of a German suplex but walks into a clothesline to drop him to the mat. Matt fights out of a superplex attempt and hits a twisting Lionsault for two.

That’s a good example of the indy stereotype having some truth to it. What difference does the twist make there? The crowd is going to pop for a Lionsault anyway, so why add the twist? It doesn’t add any impact and it takes away from the Lionsault, so why do it? Back up and Eddie hits a Backstabber but still won’t cover. Matt breaks up another superplex attempt but has to fight off Sal again, allowing Eddie to get two off a tombstone. Haze sends Sal into the post and Sydal breaks up another top rope attempt, setting up the Shooting Star for the pin.

Rating: C-. Questionable twist aside, there wasn’t much to see here. Sydal wasn’t the wrestler he would become in future years but that’s why you work the indies before you make it to the big time. Fast Eddie wasn’t much to see but you often have heels like him as a Cruiserweight Champion so a high flier can beat him for the title.

It was soon off to ROH, including this match at Joe vs. Punk II in October of 2004.

Angel Dust vs. Matt Sydal vs. Josh Daniels vs. Trent Acid

Daniels is some indy guy that I’ve heard of and that’s about it. Angel Dust is an indy guy known as Azrieal and had a one off appearance in the X-Division Showcase on Impact as Federico Palacios. Acid is an indy guy that died last year and Sydal is Evan Bourne and a heel here. This is called a survival match but it’s one fall to a finish. Ok then. Acid is in the shirt, Dust is in the bandana and Daniels has the gold/yellow trim. Got it.

Dust is part of a team called Special K which I believe was a bunch of drug addicts. This is a fast paced match but Dust loses a headlock for a second on Sydal in a bit of a botch. Acid sends Sydal (who I might call Bourne) to the floor and it’s off to Daniels. I think if you go to the floor it’s the same as a tag. Daniels sets for a dive but runs into a forearm from Acid. Dust tries a huge moonsault to the floor but misses everything.

The announcers have no idea who is legal here. Everyone is back in now and it’s a big brawl still. A Blue Thunder Bomb gets two for Acid. I think it’s Daniels vs. Acid who are legal but Dust tags himself in. Daniels is like cool man and fires off some kicks. Sydal comes in out of nowhere and tries a shooting star but lands on his feet. Everything breaks down and Acid hits a reverse inverted DDT on Sydal but Daniels hits a German on Dust and they’re legal so Daniels gets the win.

Rating: C. Fun match but it was totally insane. The fans liked Acid the best and were MAD when he lost. Still though, this one got too insane and it was hard to tell what was going on at all by the end of it. That can get very annoying and it did so here. Not a horrible match or anything but it was too big of a mess to make much sense.

We’ll stay in ROH but jump ahead a bit to Final Battle 2006 with a six man tag featuring talent from Dragon Gate.

Matt Sydal/Shingo/CIMA vs. Delirious/Austin Aries/Roderick Strong

Sydal is more commonly known as Evan Bourne as I mentioned above. Shingo is from Dragon Gate and CIMA might be as well. His name is pronounced Shima so this could lead to some misspellings. Also, I’m not capitalizing his name again. It’s the same thing despite what some would have you believe. Delirious is….yeah.

Aries is the only two time ROH World Champion so he’s something special here. Strong is a guy with something like 16 ways to hit a backbreaker. This is under Dragon Gate Rules which aren’t explained. Strong, Aries and Sydal were in a team called Generation Next together.

Apparently you don’t have to tag to switch off but you have to be on offense. Ok that makes sense. Delirious goes into a trance and goes insane once the bell rings. He’s definitely interesting if nothing else. He’s great in the ring if nothing else. He starts with Sydal who I’ll likely call Bourne at least once. This is your usual insane Japanese match and apparently the fans like Cima.

There isn’t much to talk about here other than it’s just general insanity the whole time. This is what you call a spotfest with some mild wrestling involved. It’s not bad or anything, but it’s not comparable to traditional matches. It’s weird seeing Sydal being considered a serious competitor rather than a spot monkey or jobber.

The fans like both teams. Aries is getting beaten down pretty fiercely. I think the team with the Japanese guys and Sydal are the heels even though Daniels, Sydal’s partner, was ridiculously popular. Fisherman’s suplex gets two on Aries. Strong gets the tag and comes in and he and Delirious clean house.

Cima is getting his head handed to him. With everyone brawling on the floor, Sydal goes up top and the crowd just rises to their feet. Great visual there. Delirious hits Shadows Over Hell (Splash to the back of a guy not on the mat) is followed by a 450 from Aries. This is totally insane. Cobra Stretch, Delirious’ submission, is broken up. Cima hits a package piledriver on Delirious for the pin.

Rating: B. This falls into that gray arena of entertaining but bad as far as flow or anything like that goes. Then again that’s kind of the point of the Dragon Gate promotion. This was supposed to be completely insane and it more or less was. It was fun though so I can’t complain much at all.

Now it’s time for something you probably haven’t heard of before and for good reason. Sydal was part of an organization called Wrestling Society X which was kind of Vince Russo’s dream promotion on steroids. Picture this: a secret society of wrestlers that performs in a hidden bunker (meaning you enter the arena by climbing down a ladder) where falls always count anywhere and everything is insane, including exploding rings, piranhas, WAY over the top gimmicks and musical performances. I think you can understand why it only lasted ten episodes. Here’s probably one of the only matches I’ll ever look at from the promotion. This is from some point in spring 2007.

Human Tornado vs. Matt Sydal

Tornado is like a 1970 blaxploitation pimp from Hollywood, Alabama. Sydal and his chick Lizzy Valentine are called the prom king and queen of WSX and they’re the villains here. Matt doesn’t like Tornado talking to his woman but gets dropkicked down and sent to the floor with a shoulder. Oh one more thing about WSX: to play up the gimmick, the mat is held together by tape.

Tornado tries a big flip dive but lands in the crowd and takes out about 30 (of the hundreds) of plants. The four man commentary team is impressed as Sydal takes him back inside and rubs spit in Tornado’s face. Sydal moonwalks the apron before hitting a slingshot dropkick to the chest for two. A hard running clothesline hits Tornado in the corner but he dropkicks Matt off the top.

Some more dropkicks have Sydal in trouble but he sweeps the legs and hits a standing moonsault for two. Lizzy tries to come in with a low blow but Tornado is apparently made of steal down there (announcers’ words). Sydal hits a modified Cradle Shock but stops to read a fan letter that Lizzy dropped. Another low blow has no effect and a release belly to back suplex (called That Ninja’s Dead) is good for the pin on Sydal.

Rating: D+. Do I need to explain my problems with this one? I didn’t think so. Lizzy was good looking though.

Not long after this it was off to OVW under a WWE developmental deal. Here’s one of his matches against perennial loser Johnny Punch in November of 2007.

Matt Sydal vs. Johnny Punch

Johnny has the good looking Melody in his corner and is a rock star character. Sydal easily takes him down into a front facelock but Punch comes back with a nice belly to back suplex for two. We hit a cross arm choke from Punch but Matt fights up and gets two off a spinwheel kick and a rollup. A cross body gets two more for Matt before Sin Cara’s La Mistica sets up the Shooting Star for the pin.

Rating: C-. That’s Punch’s 85th consecutive loss which should tell you how predictable this was. Sydal was quickly rising up the OVW card at this point despite only being around for a few months. He would be put into the main event scene almost immediately win the OVW Title less than a month after this.

However he would only hold the title for a few months as WWE severed ties with OVW and brought Sydal up to the main roster as Evan Bourne. He debuted on ECW on Sci-Fi on June 3, 2008.

Evan Bourne vs. Shelton Benjamin

Kofi Kingston is on commentary due to a feud with Shelton. He’s still VERY Jamaican at this point so the voice gets annoying fast. Shelton takes over with a quick pumphandle slam but gets kicked in the face to put him down. A headscissors sets up a top rope double knee to Benjamin’s chest for two.

Shelton gets his wits together and takes Evan down for some choking. A hard whip into the corner puts Bourne down and we hit the armbar. Bourne gets dropped by a clothesline and Shelton throws him to the floor. Shelton starts jawing with Kofi before picking Evan up for a powerbomb on the floor. Instead he throws Evan at Kofi and slides back in to beat the count.

Rating: C-. The match wasn’t bad but it didn’t do much for Bourne. He had some nice moves and high spots but having him lose by countout might have been a bad move. Instead have Shelton’s distraction cost him the match and then let Kofi make the save when Shelton goes after Evan post match.

Evan would get over with the fans and be voted into the ECW Title match at Cyber Sunday 2008.

ECW Title: Evan Bourne vs. Matt Hardy

Henry got an embarrassing SIX percent. That’s just funny. Bourne has been around 8 months at this point? Really? He’s been around almost three years? I wouldn’t believe that if they hadn’t said it. Yeah that’s not right. He’s been there like 5 months and debuted in June of 08, so he hasn’t even been around two and a half years yet. That’s more like it. This is the rare face vs. face match which can work well if done right.

Bourne hits a NICE standing moonsault for two. This is a solid back and forth match that there isn’t much to say about as there isn’t much to make fun of. Bourne is good by the way, despite what people want to believe. Matt hooks an abdominal stretch and Matt picks up one of his legs to make that look even more freaky. Bourne counters Splash Mountain, which is a Razor’s Edge into a sitout powerbomb.

Side Effect gets two as Bourne really only has the Shooting Star in his arsenal but getting that move set up is easier said than done. His offense has evolved a good bit since then and he’s a more complete wrestler now. He counters…..something, with a spinwheel kick, making me smile since that’s one of my favorite moves. Striker throws out a bunch of obscure title changes that have happened here because SO many people care that Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett beat Big Bossman and Ken Shamrock in Phoenix.

The Shooting Star misses but the Twist of Fate is countered here. This has cranked WAY up, and just as I say that the Twist of Fate hits to end it. This was one of Hardy’s more entertaining matches in a long time. He was in a groove at this point and he looked very good here.

Rating: B. Solid match as Matt was very entertaining at this point. He was good for the ECW Title since he was a big name that didn’t belong as world champion or anything like that, but he could go out there and pop the crowd, which is the idea of a character like him. This was a very entertaining match as they let Hardy be more like his old self and get a veteran finish, which was nice. It’s not an instant classic like Todd wants us to think, but this was good.

Two days later Bourne would be injured and put out for about five months. We’re going to take a big jump here and go to Fatal Fourway in June 2010 for Evan’s biggest singles match ever.

Chris Jericho vs. Evan Bourne

You can never accuse Jericho of not helping the young guys. You can tell Bourne is excited and fired up to be here which is a very nice thing to see. It’s great to see the young guys being given a chance. Even if they botch it, they’ve got a chance. The fans cheer for Jericho as we’re in the smark capital of the world.

Bourne hits a sweet dive off the top to the floor to take out Jericho. Jericho hits a standard dropkick which isn’t something that he throws out most of the time. It’s nice to see things like that so I can’t help but smile. Jericho hooks a chinlock and you can feel an energy here which is nice. There’s a nice German suplex as Jericho is busting out a lot of stuff here. Jericho gets a great roll through of a something into the Walls and Bourne is in trouble.

He makes the ropes of course but there was a chance that it could work there. That’s something I haven’t felt in a very long time. Jericho throws him to the floor and he hits the table. FREAKING OW MAN. Back in, Bourne hits a double knee to the top of Jericho (call it his shoulders I guess) for two. He goes for Air Bourne but takes WAY too long. He lands on his feet but eats the Codebreaker. Foot on the ropes though as this is a VERY good match.

Jericho just starts yelling at him to stay down and runs into a rollup for two. Not really anything to sweat but a nice one. Air Bourne is blocked again and we go up. Jericho gets knocked down but Jericho gets up AGAIN and crotches Bourne. Sorry for all the play by play here but this is back and forth. Jericho goes down a THIRD time and Bourne hits the Shooting Star to the back and GETS THE CLEAN PIN. WOW.

Rating: B+. I LOVED this. It’s not a great match, but dang it built up really well and Bourne gets the clean win. That is how you make a guy look great. Also, to everyone that has said Bourne has nothing, screw you all. This was a great match which he seems to have more and more of lately. Nah couldn’t be talent could it?

Bourne would join forces with Mark Henry for a tag team in late 2010. Here’s their highest profile match from October 4, 2010’s Raw.

Evan Bourne/Mark Henry vs. John Cena/Michael Tarver

Bourne and Cena start us off and they shake hands. Bourne is skeptical about it, I guess because the months and months of Cena being a good guy, the helping Bourne and losing last night via cheating in a match Bourne tried to even the odds in and the proclamation that Cena read so begrudgingly, Bourne isn’t quite sure if Cena can be trusted. Cena tags out almost immediately and Tarver takes over as we go to a break.

Back with Henry beating on Tarver. Does someone want to explain to me why Bourne and Henry are a team again other than they both wear red? Tarver tries to make a tag but Cena keeps pulling his arm back. Every time I see that weightlifter on Henry’s tights I think it’s a pair of testicles with a penis hanging down from them. Tarver finally breaks Bourne’s momentum and goes to tag Cena but Cena drops to the floor and pulls out a Sharpie to sign some autographs. World’s Strongest Slam ends Tarver.

Rating: C. Going with average here because this wasn’t about the match whatsoever obviously. This is a nice introduction to the story that they’re going with here and it seems to be intriguing. I could see a few possible endings to this with the main one being Cena keeps rebelling until one day he joins willingly and turns full heel but I doubt it. Either way it’s something for him to do which doesn’t involve the title so all is fine there. The C grade isn’t indicative of the wrestling here but rather that the wrestling wasn’t the point here.

The team wouldn’t last long and Evan would go back to being a singles wrestler, including this match at Capitol Punishment.

Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne

The fans want Ryder again.  Let it go already people.  Basic power vs. speed here with no one caring but it’s hard to complain about free wrestling.  Bourne does his speed moves to fly around everywhere and confuse Swagger but Jack catches him and works on the ribs.  We hit the reverse chinlock as the Bellas are in the front row with the beer dude.

Swagger does the pushup on the chest of Bourne which apparently ticks the small man off.  A back body drop of all things gets two for Jack.  Vader Bomb gets two.  Bourne starts his comeback with his usual kicks and basic offense.  He loads up the Shooting Star but has to jump off due to Swagger being up.  Big boot gets two.

Spinning DDT gets two and Bourne busts out the kicks.  Pretty awesome finishing sequence as Bourne sets for the Shooting Star but lands on his feet.  Swagger gets a sweet running charge into the gutwrench powerbomb which is countered into a sunset flip into the ankle lock which Bourne rolls through for the pin.

Rating: B-. I liked this quite a bit actually but I’m a fan of power vs. speed.  This was just a bonus match and it ate up about ten minutes, making the main event far more realistic with about twenty minutes instead of closer to thirty or thirty five.  That finishing sequence was rather good and the whole thing worked rather well, especially when it’s just a bonus.  Can’t complain about free wrestling, especially when it’s pretty good.

The singles run wouldn’t last long either as Bourne would hook up with Kofi Kingston in the yet to be named Air Boom. They would receive a Tag Team Title shot on Raw on August 22, 2011.

Tag Titles: David Otunga/Michael McGillicutty vs. Kofi Kingston/Evan Bourne

This is a rematch from last week. Lawler points out that the champions haven’t done anything with the belts. We get a Bushwhackers reference as Lawler says they had better charisma. That’s true at least. Bourne beats on McGillicutty to start but that doesn’t last long with Kofi coming in. After some more attacking he goes outside after both champions and gets caught easily.

Otunga comes in to work over Kofi, hitting a corner clothesline for a very delayed two. Off to a chinlock for a few seconds and here’s McGillicutty who hits a double team dropkick/atomic drop for two. JR says that was an almost perfect dropkick. Off to another chinlock and McGillicutty yells at Lawler, asking if that was impressive. In a cool move Kofi nips up into a headscissors and brings in Bourne. He cleans house with jumping knees and a spin kick for two. Kofi sends Michael to the floor and hits Trouble in Paradise to Otunga. Shooting Star Press gives us new champions at 5:00.

Rating: C. Eh just a quick match here. Otunga and McGillicutty aren’t horrible but they were boring as champions. Either way this wasn’t too bad but hopefully this starts a new thing in the division as JR and the announcers make it seem like it’s kind of a big deal. This wasn’t bad and them winning that fast was probably a good thing.

They would defend their belts at Hell in a Cell 2011.

Tag Titles: Air Boom vs. Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger

Cole: “And yes folks that name is your fault!” Ziggler vs. Kofi to start us off. See, this is old school booking: these were four guys in two singles feuds and they didn’t really have anything else to do after that so they were combined into one feud and made into tag teams which gives them new matches down the road while still being able to feud with the same people in a different feud. See it’s not that hard.

Ziggler gets beaten down for awhile but gets a boot up in the corner to take down Bourne and bring in Swagger. Everyone but Ziggler is in blue. We get into the standard Air Boom formula: hot start, then they get into trouble and by that I mean Bourne gets beaten down for awhile. Cole talks about how Vickie is going to get Swagger matches and spots he wants which is what you do as a manager. You have someone like Vickie who is a heat magnet and you have two guys like Swagger and Ziggler with talent but limited charisma. It’s a perfect match as they can do in the ring and she supplements it with the talking. Everyone wins.

Kofi comes in and Swagger pulls the rope down to send him to the floor so Ziggy can take over. Cole goes on a long rant about HHH and how horrible he is and Booker is like man I was in WCW so don’t try to tell me about politics. Not in so many words but it’s almost kind of maybe in a way implied. We mix up the formula a bit here so that Kofi is the one getting beaten down.

After Ziggler gets his beating in it’s the ankle lock by Swagger. Kofi escapes and hits a DDT to put both guys down. There’s the hot tag to Bourne and everything breaks down. Ziggler bails so Kofi takes Swagger down and breaks up the ankle lock with a top rope cross body. Bourne hits a standing moonsault to Dolph for two. The challengers set for some assisted powerbomb off the top but Bourne counters into a rana off the top to pin Swagger at 11:13.

Rating: B-. I liked this and I’m glad that they kept the belts on Air Boom. They need to build up a team like them so that we can have another team step up to challenge them. It doesn’t mean anything to have worthless teams lose and win the titles over and over again. Having a team like Air Boom on TV a lot and win the matches over and over again makes them interesting and builds up their reputation. See how it works?

They would drop the titles in early January to Epico and Primo. Here’s their rematch from January 16, 2012 on Raw.

Tag Titles: Epico/Primo vs. Air Boom

Neither team even gets intros. Great to see how well the new champs are treated. We actually get clips of the title change last night. There’s a fortune to be made in filming house show stuff and releasing like 3 hours of it for ten bucks on DVD or WWE.com or something. The matches are already there anyway so just film them. Epico vs. Bourne to start us off.

Bourne hits an awesome standing rana to Epico off the top to send him into Primo. Off to Kofi who cleans a house that wasn’t very dirty in the first place. Boom Drop gets two and it’s Trouble in Paradise time, but Primo breaks it up. The kick hits Epico a second later but the Shooting Star takes too long to hit. Backstabber keeps the titles on the champs at 2:20.

And that’s it for Bourne. He would be Wellnessed for sixty days before destroying his foot in a car wreck, breaking it in four places and dislocating it in five. This is being written in late March of 2014, over two years since his accident and he’s had one untelevised match since, which was over a year ago.

I don’t want to say Bourne is a one trick pony but he’s not much higher than that. He can hit one heck of a Shooting Star but besides a nice spin kick there isn’t much to him. Thankfully there’s always a niche for a guy like him but the injury completely sidetracked him. I’d be surprised if he can do much once he gets back, because two years off is one heck of an injury. Still though, he’s fun to watch and that’s all you need a lot of the time.

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  1. Vintage Nick says:

    Didn’t he have about three name changes at one point when/right before he debuted in ECW? I have a fuzzy memory but I remember a huge topic about it over on the wrestling section of Gamewinners.

  2. Dark Grin says:

    He will always be that guy that was on the receiving end of my favorite RKO ever…. and I can’t stand Randy Orton.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I was there. That was amazing.

  3. M.R. says:

    I can’t be the only one that found WSX entertaining… Good? No, but kind of like a carwreck that goes aerial.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I did to a degree. It’s like Total Divas: I have to keep watching to see what happened next.