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Buddy Matthews Looks to Make Splash vs. Kazuchika Okada in NJPW Debut

Buddy Matthews is a “Paul Heyman Guy”.

Formerly known as Buddy Murphy–or just Murphy–during his eight-year run in WWE, his career reached new heights when he joined Raw in 2019. That is where his work caught Heyman’s attention, leading to the most compelling stories during his run in the company.

“I got momentum thanks to Paul Heyman,” said Matthews, whose real name is Matthew Adams. “I wanted to work for Heyman. He was someone who’d been in my ear saying, ‘I don’t know why you’re not on TV every week.’ He was very high on myself and Aleister [Black], and our program shot us up in the WWE. Heyman always had the time for me, he listened to my ideas, and he gave me the platform and the opportunity to do what I wanted to do.”

Matthews enjoyed a successful stretch in WWE up until earlier this year. His storyline with Seth Rollins and the Mysterios, which had initially appeared to end at the prior year’s SummerSlam, lingered on far too long. He then started a program with Baron Corbin, until he was part of the company’s releases this past June. But Matthews’s work from WWE endures, with standout matches against Roman Reigns, Black, Bryan Danielson and Mustafa Ali capturing his brilliance in the ring.

Courtesy NJPW

“It is very humbling that people remember my work,” said Matthews, who is a native of Melbourne, Australia. “My niche is in my wrestling. I honed in on that intensity. That’s the category where I belong, bringing in fans by my believability.”

The desire to be the top in-ring performer through a physical form of storytelling remains the sole goal for Matthews. He has been afforded an opportunity to stake his claim to that title, as he debuts on Saturday night for New Japan Pro-Wrestling against industry standard-bearer Kazuchika Okada.

Matthews meets Okada at New Japan’s Battle in the Valley show in San Jose, California, which airs live in English on FITE, following AEW’s Full Gear pay-per-view on Saturday night. The chance to share the ring with Okada is a remarkable opportunity to show his value against the company’s most elite star.

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“I’m not the little cruiserweight guy anymore,” said Matthews, who is a former WWE cruiserweight champion. “I’m not a junior heavyweight. There was a time when I went straight after Roman Reigns, and now I’m stepping into a new house and I’m coming after their big dog. This is a once-in-a-lifetime dream match, and I’m so excited to get started with Okada.”

WWE has a particular style and format for its wrestling. Matthews changed his style to grab people’s attention, adapting his work on 205 Live by incorporating a creative flair that fit within the WWE boundaries. He can do even more in the ring than he was allowed to showcase in WWE, and his approach fits perfectly with New Japan. If this working relationship extends beyond Saturday, it would make a perfect home for Matthews.

“I love the Japanese style,” said Matthews. “Wrestling should be looked at as an art and a competition. I am trying to draw out that realism.”

While it had appeared that there was a long future ahead of him in WWE, Matthews instead stares directly at a new challenge. He is hungry, determined, and tremendously skilled, bursting with the potential to extend New Japan’s reach in the United States as well as put on some outstanding matches in Japan.

“I am primed to take the next step in my career,” said Matthews. “That’s what I want to do in this match against Okada.

“Wrestling Okada, this is a chance to make a real splash. I get to wrestle their best. In my mind, I’m the best. I thought I was the best on 205 Live, Raw, and then SmackDown. I have to feel that way. And on Saturday at Battle in the Valley, I’ll get to prove it.”

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.