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Matthew Kaye (June 26, 1974) is an American wrestling commentator and semi-retired professional wrestler, better known for his time in WWE as Matt Striker. He served as color commentator on WWE Superstars. He is also an occasional actor in film. He was released from his WWE contract on June 20, 2013.
After obtaining a master's degree in educational psychology, Kaye began working as a high-school teacher. He also began a career in professional wrestling, and made his debut in 2000 after being trained by Johnny Rodz. In his first year as a wrestler he won 10 different championships, and went on to become a mainstay on the independent circuit in the New York region. He toured Japan with the Pro Wrestling Zero1 promotion in late 2004 and early 2005. In early 2005, Kaye quit his full-time teaching job at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, when the school board found out that he had been using sick days as a way to pursue his wrestling career.
Kaye signed a contract with WWE in mid-2005, calling himself Matt Striker, and quickly developed a persona of a heel (villainous) teacher. He started out on the Raw brand, where he hosted a segment known as Matt Striker's Classroom, before moving to the ECW brand in 2006. There he joined the New Breed alliance and was involved in a scripted rivalry with the ECW Originals. After this, he began managing wrestler Big Daddy V until 2008. In August 2008, Striker began working as the color commentator on ECW and, alongside his commentary partner Todd Grisham, won the 2008 Slammy Award for Announce Team of the Year. Striker was then moved to the SmackDown brand where he commentated from October 2009 to January 2011.
After obtaining a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in educational psychology, Kaye began working as a high school teacher. He worked part-time as a substitute, filling in when other teachers were on leave. In mid-2004, he was hired full-time as a social studies teacher at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens, New York, but continued to wrestle part-time during his vacation time and on weekends. He resigned from his position as a teacher, however, when the school found out that he was using sick days as an excuse to keep up with his wrestling commitments. According to the school system's Special Commissioner of Investigation, Kaye falsely claimed 11 sick days in December 2004 and February 2005, during which time he was actually wrestling in Japan. Kaye later said in an interview that he would have taken personal days instead of sick days, but he "didn't know there was a difference". The school system's Special Commissioner of Investigation recommended Kaye's dismissal and also recommended that he should be considered ineligible for future employment in schools, and as a result, Kaye chose to resign in April 2005 upon advice from his lawyer.
Professional wrestling career
Early career (2000–2005)
After being trained by Johnny Rodz at Gleason's Gym in New York City, Kaye made his debut in 2000. He initially worked for small independent promotions and quickly achieved success, winning 10 different championships during his first year. He also participated in the King of the Ring 2002 commercials.
He wrestled for World of Unpredictable Wrestling (WUW), where he won the WUW Continental Championship, Total Professional Wrestling, where he won the Light Heavyweight Championship and held the Tag Team Championship with Reid Flair, and the East Coast Wrestling Association, where he won the ECWA Tag Team Championship with Ace Darling in February 2003. The pair held the championship for seven months, until losing it in September. He also worked for Connecticut Championship Wrestling, and won the promotion's main championship in February 2004, by winning a tournament. Also in early 2004, he teamed with Josh Daniels to win the PWF Tag Team Championship, and with Simon Diamond to win the USA Pro Wrestling's tag team championship. On June 19, Striker and Diamond lost the USA Pro Wrestling Tag Team Championship at a USA Pro Wrestling Show. A few hours later that same night, he appeared at a Pro-Pain Pro Wrestling (3PW) show as "The Ultimate Striker", an impersonation of the Ultimate Warrior and teamed with Rob Eckos in a loss to "Slyck" Wager Brown and April Hunter. He also appeared for 3PW impersonating "The Macho Man" Randy Savage, The Sandman, Sabu, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair. On August 21, 2004, he and Eckos entered a tag team battle royal as The Bushwhackers, the Road Warriors, and the team of the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff.
While working full-time as a teacher in 2004, he continued to wrestle during his vacation time and weekends, and using sick days. On December 16, 2004, Striker began a tour of Japan with Pro Wrestling Zero1, and was later invited back for an extended tour in early 2005. After resigning from his teaching position, he continued to wrestle around New York, and on April 30, 2005, won the New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC)'s Heavyweight Championship by defeating Mike Mondo. A few weeks later, on May 21, while still the Heavyweight Champion, he defeated Joey Braggiol to win the NYWC Interstate Championship, but only held the championship for two weeks, before losing it back to Braggiol on June 4. He made a few appearances for Ring of Honor in mid-2005, before returning to NYWC to lose the Heavyweight Championship to Jerry Lynn on July 30, after holding it for four months. He continued to wrestle for independent promotions throughout mid-2005, until he signed a contract with WWE.
World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE
Early appearances (2005)
Kaye wrestled Kurt Angle, using the name Matt Martel, in an invitational match on the February 24, 2005 episode of WWE SmackDown! in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After the revelation that Kaye was a teacher appeared in mainstream news publications, Kaye made a WWE second appearance on the July 11, 2005 episode of Raw to face Angle for a second time, again using the name Matt Martel. His news coverage was played up by Angle, who told the audience that Martel was really Striker, and Angle defeated him again in under three minutes. The following week, he appeared on Raw again, still claiming to be called Matt Martel, and challenged Angle again. Angle exposed him as Matt Striker again, before defeating him for the third consecutive time. Striker went on to compete on Heat and appear in WWE's developmental territory, Deep South Wrestling.
Striker developed a heel (villainous) teacher gimmick, calling WWE his school and hosting a segment called Matt Striker's Classroom on Raw, which debuted on December 12. During the segment he ridiculed the audience, and treated the crowd as intellectual inferiors. During a match against Lance Cade at an untelevised event on December 18, Striker suffered a shoulder injury. He was out of action until January 23, 2006, when he continued his Classroom segments once again, and then appeared mainly on Heat for several weeks.
Striker would reappear on Raw on April 17 for another classroom segment where he claimed that "school is cool". Carlito, another wrestler, took exception to Striker's statement, and spat an apple in Striker's face, in keeping with Carlito's gimmick. Striker returned to Raw in-ring action on April 24 and participated in a six-man tag team match, in which he, Chris Masters and Shelton Benjamin were defeated by Carlito, Rob Van Dam, and Charlie Haas. During the Backlash pay-per-view, Striker hosted an edition of his classroom segment, with Eugene, who in storyline was mentally impaired, as his guest. Eugene attacked Striker during the segment, which led to Striker attacking Eugene with a dictionary the following night on Raw. The scripted feud between the two also involved Carlito, who attacked both Eugene and Striker after Eugene inadvertently caused Carlito to lose a match to Striker by Disqualification on the May 8 episode of Raw. The feud between the two ended when Eugene gained a mentor in "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and defeated Striker, after losing to him only two weeks before. Following his loss to Eugene, Striker attacked him, but was stopped by Duggan, and ran away.
At the end of August 2006, Striker left the Raw brand to join ECW, making his debut on August 23. He continued his Classroom segment on ECW, which provoked a feud with The Sandman as Striker insulted him. During one Classroom segment on September 5, 2006, however, Striker made a controversial remark that alluded to the death of Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin, who had been killed by a stingray 36 hours earlier. Due to the outrage caused by the remark, the incident was edited out of the replayed Australian broadcast and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon released a public apology on WWE's official website following the incident. Striker made his in-ring debut for the brand on the September 19, 2006 episode of ECW, teaming up with Mike Knox and Test to face Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, and The Sandman. Striker, Knox, and Test lost the match by disqualification due to Test pushing the referee. Striker continued his feud with The Sandman until the October 17 episode of ECW, when The Sandman defeated Striker in a Singapore Cane on a Pole match. At the December to Dismember pay-per-view, Striker faced Balls Mahoney in a "Striker's Rules" match, which meant that no eye gouging, hair pulling, top rope attacks, or foul language was allowed. Despite the match being of his own creation, Striker was pinned by Mahoney. Striker and Mahoney continued their rivalry until December 19, when Striker defeated Mahoney on ECW.
On February 6, Striker aligned himself with Mr. McMahon's New Breed stable (faction), along with Elijah Burke, Kevin Thorn, and Marcus Cor Von. The New Breed immediately engaged themselves in a feud with the ECW Originals (Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu and The Sandman). Different members of the New Breeds wrestled members of the ECW originals over several weeks, leading up to WrestleMania 23. At WrestleMania, the New Breed was defeated by the ECW Originals in an 8-man tag team match, but won a rematch on the following episode of ECW. In the midst of the feud with the ECW Originals, tension began to appear between the leader Elijah Burke and Striker, after Striker and Cor Von were defeated by the debuting Major Brothers. As a result, Striker began trying to avenge the loss to the Major Brothers, and defeated Brett Major on the May 22 episode of ECW. The feud with the Originals lost momentum, however, as Sabu was released from his WWE contract in mid-May, and at the One Night Stand pay-per-view, the feud ended when Striker, Cor Von, and Burke lost to Dreamer, Sandman, and CM Punk in a tables match.
On June 12, Striker was defeated by The Boogeyman in a singles match, and two weeks later, The Boogeyman attacked him during an edition of Piper's Pit, both times dropping worms from his mouth into Striker's. On July 10, Striker invited Boogeyman to the ring to educate him on worms, only to bring out the debuting Big Daddy V to attack Boogeyman. Striker then formed an alliance with Big Daddy V that lasted until March 2008, and acted as Big Daddy V's manager, regularly accompanying him to the ring. In November, Striker and Big Daddy V started a feud with Kane, after Kane attacked Striker. The feud saw Striker and Big Daddy V take on Kane in a handicap match, and also saw the pair align briefly with Mark Henry. Henry helped Big Daddy V win a match against Kane on the November 27 episode of ECW, and in return, Striker refereed a match between Henry and The Undertaker, and refused to count a pinfall against Henry.
During this time, Striker hosted a weekly segment on WWE's official website called "Best WWEek Worst WWEek".
As part of the 2008 WWE Supplemental Draft in June 2008, Striker was drafted back to the Raw brand. Once the SmackDown color commentator, Mick Foley, was storyline injured by Edge, however, Tazz moved to SmackDown to fill in for Foley, who had actually left the WWE in real life, and Striker returned to ECW to take over Tazz's duties as color commentator, thus turning Striker face and ending his in ring career at the same time. He made his commentary debut on the August 5 episode of ECW. Striker and his commentary partner, Todd Grisham, won the 2008 Slammy Award for the Announce Team of the Year. On the April 7, 2009 episode of ECW, Grisham and Striker's commentary partnership came to an end when Josh Mathews debuted as the new play-by-play commentator, to replace Grisham who was moved to the SmackDown brand. In addition to commentating on ECW on SyFy and ECW pay-per-view matches, Striker and Mathews represented the ECW brand on WWE Superstars every week, which started with the inaugural episode on April 16, 2009.
On October 27, 2009 it was announced that Striker would move from commentary on ECW to SmackDown, reuniting with Grisham. The move was made to help accommodate Jim Ross, who had been taking time off to deal with his recent Bell's palsy attack. In November, Striker replaced Jerry Lawler on commentary for Raw for one night, after Lawler was attacked by Sheamus, and in storyline, was unable to continue.
On June 7, 2010, Striker appeared on Raw for the "viewers choice" episode, announcing the results of the votes. At the end of the show, Striker was attacked by the season one NXT rookies, along with the commentators and Justin Roberts, the ring announcer. In October, Striker and Grisham were joined by Michael Cole on SmackDown, forming a three-man announce team. Striker remained a SmackDown commentator until he was replaced in early February 2011 by Booker T.
Hosting NXT; Backstage interviewer (2010–2012)
On the inaugural episode of NXT on February 23, 2010, Striker was announced as the host of the show and he conducted an interview with wrestler Daniel Bryan. As well as interviewing the wrestlers, Striker's host role resulted in him acting as the Master of Ceremonies for the Pro's Poll and for the various challenges each week, explaining the rules and announcing the winners.
In March 2011, Striker gained a co-host for the fifth season of NXT in the form of Maryse. On the June 2 episode of Superstars, Striker appeared as the new agent of Tyson Kidd and managed Kidd for that single episode of Superstars.
Striker wrestled his first match in three years on the August 2, 2011 episode of NXT, teaming with Titus O'Neil in a winning effort against Derrick Bateman and Darren Young in a tag team match, turning face for the first time since his debut. He fought Young in the next two weeks, but Young emerged victorious both times. Striker later teamed up with William Regal to face Young and JTG, but Striker and Regal were unsuccessful in winning the match.
Striker was reunited with his former broadcast partner Josh Mathews on the November 10, 2011 episode of WWE Superstars, commentating on both the Raw and SmackDown portions of the show. The Mathews/Striker tandem are the only announce team to call Superstars for all brands Raw, Smackdown and the former ECW brand since the show's inception in April 2009.
Meanwhile, as NXT host, Striker was frequently bullied and even assaulted by troublemakers Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks, eventually forcing him to hand over match booking responsibilities to William Regal on the February 29 episode of NXT Redemption even though Striker would remain as NXT host. On the March 21 episode of NXT Redemption, after Maxine and Johnny Curtis knocked out Striker with chloroform, Striker was kidnapped (kayfabe) by unknown persons, later revealed to be Hawkins and Reks, who intended to blackmail Maxine into using her charms to get Regal to leave them alone. Despite apparently being kidnapped, Striker continued to commentate on Superstars, with the explanation given being that to keep his kidnapping a secret, WWE hired a body double to assume Striker's duties. Striker was rescued by Derrick Bateman and Kaitlyn on the April 11 episode of NXT.
Host of After Burn and NXT Announcer (2012-2013)
After hosting NXT, Striker began interviewing WWE employees on Raw and SmackDown. During the summer of 2012, Striker became the host of WWE After Burn for international broadcasts. On the October 12 episode of SmackDown, Stirker tried to interview Team Hell No, after Kane fought Dolph Ziggler in a match, but was placed in the No! Lock by Daniel Bryan and chokeslammed by Kane. On the October 15 episode of Raw, Striker was placed in a match against Kane by Raw General Manager AJ Lee, in which he was defeated. On the January 28th episode of Raw he was knocked out by Big Show while attempting an in ring interview. On June 20, Matt Striker revealed on his Twitter that his WWE contract will not be renewed.
Independent circuit (2013)
He played hockey and football. In college, Kaye earned a bachelor's degree in History and went on to obtain a master's degree in educational psychology.
- Finishing and signature moves
- Golden Rule (Inverted Overdrive)
- The Over Drive
- "Modern Marvel"
- Tag teams and stables
- Wrestlers managed
- Theme music