Matt Cardona is heading in to Game Changer Wrestling to capture the GCW World Title from Nick Gage on July 24 at Homecoming.
So what's he thinking?
"I’m thinking that I’m gonna walk in there—Major Pod Champ, Internet Champ—walk out with, obviously those belts are not on the line—I’ll still be the Major Pod Champ, the Internet Champ—but I will be the GCW Champ. So, that’s what I’m thinking, really," Cardona told Fightful in Nashville ahead of IMPACT's Slammiversary show.
Cardona was a decorated WWE Superstar who won the United States, Intercontinental and Tag Team titles enroute to multiple WrestleMania moments. That doesn't mean he's underestimating an underground king in Gage.
"No b.s. Nick Gage is legit. He’s no joke. I don’t take him lightly. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid, right? Because we all saw Dark Side of the Ring. He definitely has a couple of screws loose. But so do I. He has more to lose than I do. ‘Cause if hypothetically I walk in, I get my ass kicked. I lose. No big deal. Everybody expects me to lose. But if he loses to me, his shtick is done, right? MDK. Dark Side of the Ring. It’s over. ‘Cause I beat him. It’s done," Cardona said.
Not many people had Cardona vs. Gage happening ever, much less being one of the hottest wrestling builds of the year. Cardona explained to Fightful how it even came together.
"So, I don’t remember who started this on Twitter. If it was a fan asking a question, I responded or if he said something and I responded. But it turned into this thing. Sometimes in wrestling you actually have to give the people what they want, you know what I’m saying? People wanted to see this. I knew that. Listen, of course I knew it’d create buzz if I ran in and laid him out. I didn’t realize how buzz it would create. Like, way more than I thought. It was just awesome being in that environment—that GCW environment—because those fans really hated me," said Cardona.
To many GCW fans, Cardona stands for the opposite of what many of them do or love. He definitely draws a stark contrast to Gage. After appearing at a GCW show and attacking Gage, he's well aware of what he's walking in to.
"That is something I’ve wanted to do for so long is be me. I’m not coming [in being] Mr. Mean Guy Matt. I’m me. But this portion of the audience doesn’t like me. That’s great. I’m not gonna force people to like me. If they don’t like me, [gives two Jersey salutes]. Buy the shirt, ProWrestlingTees/MattCardona. I’m going into this match, this fight, deathmatch, whatever it is, I’m going in there to win. If he knocks me out, okay. I lost. But I’m not going to quit. I’m not going to run away. Once I’m in, I’m in. Like I said, I have nothing to lose. He has everything to lose. So, that’s the scary thing, or it should be, for him. I’m not trying to prove anything to these people. I don’t want them to be clapping afterwards or giving me the thumbs up or respecting me. I don’t give a shit. I just want to win."
After the years and miles that Cardona has put into the wrestling business, one has to wonder if there is still an underlying respect from GCW fans. A respect that says "we acknowledge what you've done, but just don't do it here.'
"I think it’s 50/50 because after I laid him out and I had to go to the back, there’s no guard rail, "Cardona elaborated. "There’s no security guard. There’s just fans at the apron. I’m like, ‘Holy shit. What if someone swings at me? I’m gonna have to swing back.’ So, I think some people are there as part of the show. They want to just hate me and I think some of them genuinely do hate me and that’s fine."
For Cardona, ten years after he was one of the most over pro wrestlers on the planet, being in a white-hot angle is not lost on him.
"I’m taking this very seriously. I want this to be the best possible thing it can be. I think so far we’re both doing a great job promoting it. We’re promoting it as much as we can. If you check out the Major Pod Network YouTube channel, I unboxed his bootleg micro brawler. It’s not even a real micro brawler. This guy’s a bootleg wrestler and a bootleg micro brawler. So, I unboxed that. Listen, we’re doing what we can.
Cardona didn't just invade a GCW show, Gage appeared at a Major Pod Network show at Jimmy's Famous Seafood and tried to attack Cardona, to an aggressive fan reaction.
"Okay, so, when I’m in his environment, I’m the bad guy. But when he’s in my environment, he’s the bad guy. That’s what’s so interesting and I think that will be interesting dynamic at Homecoming ‘cause my fans are going to be there, too. They’re buying the tickets. So, you’re welcome GCW. It’s gonna be a cool atmosphere. When Nick came to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, I don’t know if you can see it in the clip, but he has a fork. Like, this guy has a legitimate fork like he’s going to stab somebody. That’s dangerous. I don’t know what to say. Is that normal? 100% (that was Gage's first time being at Jimmy's Famous Seafood). That’s a nice establishment. He’s probably been to Red Lobster," Cardona said.
Speaking with Cardona off-camera, this extended well beyond the scope of what some may consider a pro wrestling angle. The excitement, nervousness, and concern are all there and all very real. He has a distinct vision of what he wants to accomplish.
"You cannot take away everything he has built. This past year alone. If you’re a wrestling fan, you know who Nick Gage is. Maybe you haven’t seen one of his matches, but you know who he is. I don’t want to say I’m using him and using GCW, but at the end of the day, I kinda am. I’m using them to further my career, to add another title to my collection of titles and to just keep moving forward. I don’t know what to say. This is not the goal, like, ‘I’m gonna have this deathmatch with Nick Gage.’ No, I’m gonna beat him, I’m gonna move on. Well, I mean, I want to represent the company, be the face of the company, the GCW universe. I don’t understand why they don’t like that either, the GCW universe. That’s a Championship. It’s not a belt, guys," Cardona said.
Being the face of GCW means that you'll have to deal with GCW promoter Brett Lauderdale, who is also a close friend of Gage's and appeared on his episode of Dark Side of The Ring.
"I haven’t gotten paid yet, I’ll tell you that. He’s a shady dude as well. But he knows that I can be the face of his company. I have teeth. I have nice teeth. I go to the dentist every four months. You don’t want someone like Nick Gage on a poster board. You don’t. It’s cool every once in a while, like, ‘Okay, the hardcore deathmatch.’ But then it gets old. How many times? Okay, deathmatch. Light tube. We get it, we get it."
Cardona elaborated on his criticisms of Gage, and thinks he's the change GCW needs.
"Sure. Listen, there’s not gonna be a tackle, drop down, do it again spot. If he has that light tube and he hits me with that light tube, it’s gonna suck. I’m not gonna lie. It’s gonna suck. But GCW at the end of the day, whether they want to admit it or not, I know they need me and I’m here to save them. Because they’re almost there. They’re almost at that mainstream and they need someone like me to be the face of the company. Wait until I’m on the posters. Those downloads are gonna go up, right?"
GCW Homecoming takes place July 24 & 25 with Gage vs. Cardona taking place on July 24. You can find out more information on the show below.
*SATURDAY 8PM*— GameChangerWrestling (@GCWrestling_) July 20, 2021
*GCW World Title Match*
ALEX COLON vs DREW PARKER
2 COLD SCORPIO vs REEFER
MARKO STUNT vs STARBOY
TONY DEPPEN vs NINJA MACK
AJ vs NOLAN
Watch LIVE on @FiteTV:https://t.co/TZDVjwG3lK