January 1, 2006
REAL NAME: Matthew Kaye
After being trained by Johnny Rodz at Gleason's Gym in New York City, Kaye began his career in small independent organizations such as WUW (where he was Continental Champion), Total Professional Wrestling (where he held the Light Heavyweight and, with Red Flair, the Tag Team titles) and ECWA (where he held the tag team titles with Ace Darling from February-September 2003) and Connecticut Championship Wrestling (winning that organization's title in a tournament in February 2004). In his first year as a pro, he held no less than 10 different wrestling titles.
Speaking of championships, Matt Striker would team with Josh Daniels to win the PWF Tag Team titles, and with Simon Diamond to win the USA Pro Wrestling tag team titles in early 2004. A testament to Striker's desire to succeed in the wrestling business was that, on June 19, 2004, he and Diamond lost the USA Pro Wrestling tag titles on one show, then appeared on a 3PW show as the Ultimate Striker (losing a tag match with Rob Eckos to Slyck Wagner Brown and April Hunter) just hours later.
Striker's appearance doing an Ultimate Warrior takeoff was not the first nor last time that he would impersonate a well-known wrestler on a 3PW show. He would also make appearances as "The Macho Man" Randy Savage, The Sandman, Sabu, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and, on August 21, 2004, he and Eckos entered a tag team royale rumble as the Bushwackers, The Road Warriors, and The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff.
Unfortunately, as any veteran of independent wrestling can tell you, it's not easy paying the bills on a wrestler's pay alone. To make ends meet, Kaye took teaching gigs at various schools in and around the New York City area, eventually catching on as a social studies teacher at Cardozo High School in the fall of 2004. Despite now having a full-time job, Kaye continued to wrestle at indy shows, using summer vacation, weekends and even sick days as opportunities to wrestle.
Unfortunately, Striker's dual career hit a snag shortly after he appeared on Smackdown, taking part (as Matt Martel) in Kurt Angle's Invitational Challenge in February 2005. When word of the story broke, and the school board disapproved of his taking sick days off so that he could wrestle, Striker, upon advice from his lawyer, resigned his teaching position, but gained much mainstream news coverage.
Striker continued to wrestle in the New York area, especially the New York Wrestling Connection where, on April 30th, he defeated Mike Mondo to win the NYWC Heavyweight Championship. On May 21st, still the Heavyweight Champion, Striker defeated Joey Braggiol to pick up the organization's Interstate title.
After a short stay in Ring of Honor, Striker returned to WWE in July to take another shot at Kurt Angle's Invitational and although he made a good accounting of himself (taking Angle to within one second of the time limit), it was the Olympian who came out on top.
Striker continue to work for smaller, independent promotions throughout the early summer of 2005. However, by late August, he was headed to WWE, appearing on Heat and taking on Johnny Parisi, Chavo Guerrero (during Guerrero's Kerwin White gimmick) and Shelton Benjamin.
Having spent time both in WWE and Deep South Wrestling over the fall and winter, in December, Striker returned to Raw, doing an heel teacher gimmick.