Matt Knicks worked on the indies for about a decade with such companies as Black Label Pro, CZW and Evolve. He finally got his first taste of a major promotion when he appeared on Dynamite last week in a defeat to Cody.
Knicks talked about when he found out he'd be wrestling Cody when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
"It definitely came as a surprise to me. Going back a little bit, we had the opportunity to do extra work during All Out when they were here [in Chicago]. It was an awesome opportunity to be in that environment and being in the middle of history. When they were coming back to town for the TVs, I hit them up if they needed extra bodies. They said they would let me know," recalled Knicks.
"So, they talked to us and said they need some people. Myself and others were there and weren't sure what was going. Then they were like, 'Hey, we need you to wrestle Cody Rhodes. Is that cool?' I'm like that's totally fine. I think that can happen.
"I didn't really know until about 4 o'clock that day that it was happening and it just blew my mind."
Knicks has known Cody for a while and he talked about his history with him.
"I've met him in passing when he came to the [Pro Wrestling Tees] store for any events or signings," said Knicks. "We really didn't know each other but he was super-awesome and didn't make me feel nervous until I was standing out there and the pyro went off. I went, 'Oh sh*t. This is real.'"
Knicks assumed that Cody had heard of his own promotion Freelance Wrestling and noted that Kylie Rae came from Freelance and jumped to AEW.
"That was probably the coolest thing that will ever happen to me - being in that ring and hearing that chant [of Freelance]. Even he stopped and looked around and then looked back at me and gave me a smile. It was wild," stated Knicks.
The Dynamite match between the two lasted just 90 seconds and it appears that Knicks and Cody didn't have much time after the match either to catch up.
"No, we didn't have a chance to talk that much afterwards. I thanked him again for the opportunity and I thanked anyone that would listen to me. I was shaking hands with random production crew members and they probably thought I was a weirdo," said Knicks.
When indie wrestlers get appearances like this, not only does it give them national exposure, but it also usually lends itself to more bookings in the aftermath. Knicks was asked if the Dynamite appearance has resulted in more bookings or clout.
"It's been weird because I'm just a guy. I haven't even been wrestling that often over the last couple of months and just focused on running [Freelance]," revealed Knicks. "After it happened, Robert Anthony was like let me see your phone, I bet it's blowing up. I've gotten some texts from my family and stuff but nothing too crazy."
Knicks said it was a constant series of tweets and messages and since there was no service in the building, he didn't get a lot of messages until the next day.
"I woke up the next day with 150 text messages," recalled Knicks. "The amount of positive responses of people just saying they are happy for me was really cool. It really meant a lot to me to see that people actually care."
In addition to his work on the indies, Knicks is also the creator of his own indie promotion Freelance Wrestling. There were even some "Freelance, Freelance" chants during Dynamite and he talked about hearing those.
"It was definitely something special. If it leads to nothing more than just that night, I'm super grateful that I was even given that opportunity. It meant a lot to me but it meant a lot to the city as well and all the fans of Freelance. It was their voices getting heard," Knicks said before being asked if Freelance has become to Chicago like what ECW was to Philadelphia.
"Hey maybe, who knows what 2020 is gonna hold for us? I feel super motivated and super excited for any challenge that we may have."
Knicks' full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of yesterday's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In the full interview Knicks discusses his match with Cody Rhodes on AEW Dynamite, his history with Cody, founding Freelance Wrestling in Chicago, balancing responsibilities as a promoter and wrestler, Kylie Rae returning to pro wrestling at Freelance, CM Punk's rumored secret Freelance appearance and more.