July 6, 2009
REAL NAME: MATTHEW JOSEPH KORKLAN
Matthew Korklan is somewhat unorthodox for today's next generation of WWE Superstar -- he's small in stature (likely smaller, in fact, than his billed size), didn't compete in any reality TV game shows, didn't have a college amateur wrestling pedigree, nor come from a famous wrestling family. He spent years on the indy circuit, rising through the ranks before he got noticed and signed to a development contract. He had to prove himself again, working through WWE's developmental territories before appearing in ECW, and after achieving success there, getting onto Raw.
He got his wrestling boots wet in high school, competing on his school's amateur team, and even performing for backyard wrestling's Saint Peters Wrestling Organization. At 17, he started training to be a pro with his hometown Gateway Championship Wrestling (GCW) promotion. Three months later, he started wrestling for GCW in October 2000, becoming the first person under the age of 18 to be licensed to wrestle in the state of Missouri.
Education, however, remained a priority for Korklan, and he attended the University Of Missouri-Columbia, where he graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor's Degree in Business-Marketing. While still training as a wrestler, he used the degree to become a sales and marketing vice president for a small mailbox company in St. Louis.
By November 2003, Korklan debuted as Matt Sydal for Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South. He won his first title there -- the IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship -- and went on to capture the NWA Midwest X Division title twice with National Wrestling Alliance Midwest.
2003 also saw him make several appearances on NWA-TNA Xplosion, and in November 2004, he appeared on TNA's first three-hour pay-per-view, Victory Road, to participate in a 20-Man X-Division Gauntlet match.
In April 2004, Korklan debuted in Ring of Honor, where he would win the Tag Team titles with Christopher Daniels. Other high profile organizations for which he wrestled during this time were Japan's Dragon Gate and MTV's Wrestling Society X (WSX).
When his WSX contract expired, Korklan signed a developmental deal with WWE. He debuted with Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) in October 2007, and two months later, won the territory's Heavyweight Championship. By February 2008, WWE ceased its affiliation with OVW, and Korklan was moved to Florida Championship Wrestling, where he debuted in late March.
Korklan, however, was ready for bigger things, and on June 3, he debuted his high-flying skills to WWE fans on ECW. Although his first match as Matt Sydal was a losing effort when he succumbed to Shelton Benjamin by count-out, he immediately became a winner under his new handle, "Evan Bourne." He briefly teamed with his old favourite Mysterio on Raw, but he mostly remained on the ECW roster.
Bourne's first aired WWE pay-per-view match came in October when fans overwhelmingly voted him to face ECW Champion Matt Hardy at Cyber Sunday. Although he lost, Bourne's outstanding showing in the match certainly didn't disappoint the 69% who voted for him, and probably converted many of those who didn't.
Unfortunately for him, an injury set him back only a couple days afterward as he tore his deltoid ligament and dislocated his ankle. Gone but not forgotten, Bourne won a Best Finishing Maneuver Slammy Award for his Shooting Star Press.
By mid-March 2009, Bourne was back, feuding with Mark Henry and The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd). At the end of June, he was traded to RAW by Donald Trump and took on (but lost to) Randy Orton in a 3-on-1 Gauntlet match.
---compiled by Richard Kamchen