BANKIE'S HOT TAKE #3 - Matt Cross: Wrestling's Last Journeyman
When you think of stalwarts of independent wrestling, you think of guys like Colt Cabana, the Young Bucks, Samoa Joe, Matt Tremont, Nick Gage, among others.
However, there is one man that has never truly gotten his due as a true beacon of the indies. In fact, he might very well be the last journeyman within this era of wrestling.
That man would be “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross.
As a kid, I knew of Cross from the “Backyard Wrestling” DVD series in the early 2000s. He and his friends from the Cleveland backyard scene were cult heroes to kids like me. I watched those DVDs backwards and forwards, inspired to one day get involved in wrestling in any capacity.
M-Dogg 20 naturally evolved as an artist, training under the late, great JT Lightning in Cleveland at his wrestling school. And that step was where his journey truly began.
After making his debut within the Cleveland indy scene in 2001, Cross expanded his reach in 2002. Cutting his teeth in Combat Zone Wrestling, Cross gained a buzz in XPW, teaming with his friend Josh Prohibition as Youthanazia and winning the XPW Tag Team Championships from Mexico’s Most Wanted in December.
From that point on, Cross’s journey took him all over the world. Classic matches and memories were made in every stop, including and not limited to:
Joining the Resilience in ROH alongside Austin Aries and Erick Stevens during “Faction Warfare” in 2007, peaking during an incredible eight-man tag street fight in Philly, in which Cross walked the walls in the National Guard Armory and dove on top of the No Remorse Corps
Working alongside Bryan Danielson in Pro Wrestling NOAH in 2008 as “Raptor”
Innovated as "Son of Havoc" in the innovative Lucha Underground
Being apart of the 2011 version of WWE Tough Enough on the USA Network
Breaking up Youthanazia in AIW in 2013 and cutting the promo of his life on his “former” best friend Prohibition
Wrestling the opening match against MJF at the critically and universally beloved ALL IN on 9.1.18
Holding the Qatar Pro Wrestling King of Ladders championship for almost a full year (Personal enjoyment of that)
This is only scratching the surface of the success and accomplishments of Matt Cross on the indies. The man is truly an artist of the mat.
To me, Matt Cross is the closest thing to Steve Corino in this era of independent wrestling. Although he is now a coach in the WWE Performance Center, “the King of Old School” cut his teeth in ECW, became the top American gaijin in Zero-One in Japan, helped establish MLW as its first champion, became the NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion and helped make a great story with the late Shinya Hashimoto over the Ten Pounds of Gold, brought a multi-year war with Homicide to Ring of Honor, and found a way to be a trainer, color-commentator, and booker for multiple companies in multiple countries.
Similar to Corino, Cross has traveled everywhere and has gained 100% credibility and respect from his peers for his dedication to the industry and his craft.
At 41 years old, Cross hasn’t slowed down and still looks in tip top shape. He is a versatile performer and showed that age isn’t a thing. For wrestling fans, the legacy he is leaving deserves all the props and respect in the world.
Wrestling is Forever. So is Matt Cross. Continued success to the legend, M-Dogg 20.