Malvernes Matt Striker misses WWE WrestleMania 30, still enjoys pro wrestlings ride

Malverne resident and former WWE Superstar Matt Striker Malverne resident and former WWE Superstar Matt Striker now plies his trade with WWE Hall of Famer Johnny Rodz' World of Unpredictable Wrestling. Photo Credit: WUW

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Matt Striker describes a key mistake he made during his WWE career, then immediately admonishes his lack of a better sentence structure at the end of said description.  

Constructive self-criticism is ever present while speaking with Malverne resident Striker at Gleasons Gym in Brooklyn. The boxing facilitys rings have been graced by the likes of Mike Tyson and Sugar Shane Mosley, but on this night the World of Unpredictable Wrestling and its collection of pro wrestlings newbies and nomads have taken over.

An unvarnished 2x4 is visible holding up the gold lame curtain that hides the combatants before they walk out to the crowd of 200. One grappler picks up a victory, then rushes to the DJ booth assembled in a nearby ring -- still clad in trunks and boots -- to keep the music going between matches.

For Striker, who wrestled in front of 80,000 people in Detroit at 2007s WrestleMania XXIII, the more modest change of scenery isnt a downer. As he hangs out backstage with guys being trained by WWE Hall of Famer The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz, its hard to not recall Single-A tenderfoots surrounding Bull Durham catcher Crash Davis as he marveled at his 21 days in the show.

In Strikers case, it was a nearly 10-year stint in WWE as a wrestler and announcer. The ride ended last June when his contract wasnt renewed, and the former high school teacher is hoping to impart some wisdom on the squared-circles next generation, largely by being honest about where he fell short.  

Striker, 38, entered WWE with a brash, know-it-all Matt Striker: Your Teacher gimmick, a play off of his past career. When Strikers duties were moved to ringside to call others matches, too much of his in-ring persona may have come with him.  

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[I was] talking over peoples heads on certain situations, Striker admits of his commentary. And not realizing that the crux of the audience are the 8- to 11-year-old boys who want to see John Cena win and they have no care in the world that Daniel Bryan used to be called the American Dragon. Things like that came into my mind as a fan. I needed to learn to filter, so to speak. And I think the thing is, so many people base their legacy on the praise they get, and I think people should base their legacy on the constructive criticism that they can become better from.

Strikers last couple of years with the company were a hodgepodge of backstage interview duties and a return to in-ring action after previously serving as the voice of one of WWEs marquee shows, Friday Night SmackDown!

I think its a black and red thing, Striker says in looking back at his departure. I think it was WWE, they had a contract that they were paying someone that wasnt doing a lot to earn their contract. And if I was the one writing the checks, I too would say we have to cut costs here I would have swept floors for 100 bucks a week. I didnt have to have a big contract. I really generally loved what I did.

Sharing that love for the wrestling business why hes happy to be back with his former trainer Rodz in Brooklyn, working with the likes of ECW alumnus Spanish Angel.   

Theres gonna be a young kid at Gleasons Gym that wants to be a wrestler, Striker said.  And maybe I can help him do that the ways guys like Tommy Dreamer and Spanish Angel and Devon Dudley helped me become a wrestler. I think its -- keeping the wheel going is what Johnny says, and I think thats very important, just to try to help people.

When not wrestling Striker said he has dabbled in acting and stunt work, as well as reinstating his teaching certification. Hed love to get another shot with WWE if the right opportunity came around, but until then he has the unique privilege of keeping his WWE moniker. The man born Matthew Kaye asked for and was granted the rights to Matt Striker in his initial WWE contract.

His current main goal is to stay close to home. Although a Queens native, Strikers grandparents hailed from Malverne and he still has fond memories of playing roller hockey at Hot Skates in Lynbrook.

At the start of his teaching career an opportunity to take over at Woodmere Middle School for a teacher going on maternity helped get him established -- ironically under the supervision of principal Claudette Tableman, who was a Spanish teacher at Strikers junior high in Queens.   

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Those connections to the area give Striker a lot of comfort as he figures out his next professional move.

Well, the first thing you do is you start to count the nickels that you have in your pocket, Striker said of parting ways with WWE. And my first thing was, I dont want to leave Long Island. The summers coming, and Long Island is such a great place to be during the summer, and I spend my days in Long Beach and at Peters Clam Bar and places like that. So my first thing is make sure my bills are paid so I can stay here in Long Island as long as I can.

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