What Went Wrong: The Matt Morgan Story
Vince McMahon loved the giants. And with a billed height of 7’0″ and 300 pounds, Matt Morgan should have ascended to the very top of the WWE. But after only fourteen matches, he was gone from the company, which begs the question: “What went wrong?” We explore this and more!
Matt Morgan: A Promising Start
Matt Morgan was an accomplished university basketball player who entered the world of professional wrestling through WWE’s Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2002 after being discovered in the second season of Tough Enough.
A push was in evidence already; even before being introduced, he was teased by then OVW Heavyweight Champion Nova as his friend “Tiny.”
In athletics, and in the case of pro wrestling, having a body like Matt Morgan’s should get you at least one foot in the door of any significant promotion. It helped the Fairfield, Connecticut native as he was called up to SmackDown only a year after being in OVW.
Big Arrival in the WWE
On the October 30th, 2003 broadcast of WWE SmackDown, General Manager Paul Heyman declared, “And just like Brock Lesnar was ’The Next Big Thing,’ Matt Morgan will assert his dominance on every single athlete that falls before his greatness!”
Yet some say the Morgan hype was premature.
After only 14 matches of varying quality and importance, he was gone from the company.
Sometimes the size, look, and desire to succeed in wrestling aren’t enough.
Let’s explore what exactly happened.
Where Did It All Go Wrong for Matt Morgan?
After eight matches in WWE, including some pay-per-views, such as Survivor Series 2003 and the 2004 Royal Rumble, his planned tag partner Nathan Jones and later Brock Lesnar quit the company.
Jones deciding pro wrestling was not for him, and instead pursuing a movie career probably impacted Morgan’s career more negatively than Brock’s departure because Morgan and Jones were being considered for the tag titles at the next WrestleMania.
Right when it seemed like creative was primed to book Morgan on the top of their cards, he was sent back down to developmental for 15 months to hone his skills further.
Once back in OVW, he was told to work on his body language and was given a mask to wear. He was called “The Blueprint.” But naturally, the mask did not fool the fans one bit.
Simply put, this didn’t make sense for OVW or Jim Cornette, their head booker at the time.
While there, he became a two-time OVW Heavyweight Champion. While this is undoubtedly a commendable accomplishment, it was not yet championship gold in a major promotion.
Could he ultimately attain this lofty goal?
His Return to WWE
When Matt Moran was finally called back to the main roster, he ditched the hood but had a slight makeover. He sported a black goatee and more hair; maybe this would make a difference in how the fans received him.
But Creative, led by Vince McMahon, also egregiously slapped on an odd “stuttering gimmick.
Since this was seen as an opportunity, an idea handed down by McMahon, Morgan was advised to take it.
It can be said that this was what did him in.
At the time, Morgan did mention that he’d graduated Magna Cum Laude (top 10 to 15% of their class) in Public Speaking from Chaminade University in Hawaii, but this fell on deaf ears.
It almost seemed like he was being ribbed!
The Overly Sensitive Stutterer
On-air, Matt Morgan became defensive and paranoid of his speech impediment and, during each successive week, laid the smackdown on various lower card opponents who he thought were mocking him.
Brett Matthews (who later became Matt Cardona), Mickey Whiplash from England, Robbie E (later Robbie Stone), and Funaki all fell victim to Morgan’s new vicious-looking finisher called the Hellevator (vertical suplex side slam).
Very impressive at first, but unfortunately, this routine got old double quick and offered little variety.
It wasn’t exactly the comeback WWE management nor Morgan had hoped for.
One angle that had potential was Morgan attacking the massive Big Show and hitting an F5 on the gigantic man that sent him crashing through an announcer’s table. This sadly only led to Morgan becoming Carlito’s bodyguard and both teaming against John Cena and Show.
In Matt Morgan’s fourteenth match, The Big Show got his revenge.
Even with Carlito’s interference, another announcer’s table bit the dust as Show choke slammed Morgan outside the ring and disposed of “The Blueprint.
RAW soon drafted Carlito, and the short-lived tag team of Morgan and Carlito was dissolved.
Thanks to the interfering Mexicools (Super Crazy, Psicosis, and Juventud), his scheduled fifteenth match against William Regal was never official.
Morgan ended up outside of the ring, beaten and humiliated.
To further add to the indignity, while already discarded, a rake was launched at him by the wild Mexicools.
WWE seemed to have given up on Morgan and released “The Blueprint” on July 5th, 2005.
The experiment had failed.
The Blueprint’s Resurgence
Matt Morgan quickly regrouped and briefly went overseas to Japan, touring with NJPW and AJPW, and later Austria and NWE in Italy.
Returning to the U.S., a slimmed-down and more agile Morgan became a mainstay with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling from 2007 to 2013.
After feuds here and there and almost getting lost in the shuffle again, he finally obtained gold in a major promotion, becoming a two-time TNA World Tag Team Champion with Hernandez and later with Crimson.
Differing Views on Matt Morgan
Some, like Eric Bischoff, will argue that Matt Morgan didn’t get over in TNA either.
“I like Matt a lot,” Bischoff explained on his 83 Weeks podcast. “He’s a really good guy and a smart man.
“A lot of people tried to get Matt over in WWE. He couldn’t get over in TNA no matter how hard we tried and how hard he tried. And by the way, he did try! It wasn’t from a lack of effort.”
Bischoff emphasized the importance of charisma.
“When the red light goes on, if it doesn’t connect, it doesn’t connect. There’s nothing you can do. You can put a rocket ship on him, and he’ll still crash and burn. And Matt was that guy.”
Bischoff admits that some error lies in faulty booking, where he had a hand.
In the above statement, he referred to a babyface Morgan unable to get over against a heel Jeff Hardy at Turning Point 2010, where Morgan failed to win the TNA Heavyweight Championship.
He had a rematch at Final Resolution and also fell short.
Then on February 10th, 2011, on an Impact episode, Mr. Anderson retained the same title against the challenger Morgan.
This became Morgan’s third strike in his quest for TNA singles gold.
He later got sidetracked with a feud with former tag partner Hernandez.
Booker T, on Heated Conversations for Title Match Wrestling, admits Morgan was a heck of a talent but says they wanted him to job out for Matt when he was leaving TNA. Booker refused. He claims not to have a problem putting young talent over, but not how they wanted him to go out against Morgan. He felt insulted.
On the other hand, as he noted on The Kurt Angle Show, Kurt was impressed by how good Matt Morgan stepped up in their match together on Bound For Glory 2009.
Angle considered Morgan a star but believed that “he didn’t reach the potential that he should have, but was definitely up there as one of the best big guys in the business and proved that time and time again. I believe he deserves more credit than given.”
Personal Takes On Matt Morgan
On the Jim Cornette Experience, the always opinionated “Louisville Slugger,” who was OVW’s booker at the time, sensed Morgan had a bright future. He stated that most would have told you Morgan was destined to be a star within the next three to five years in the business.
“Nobody had any faith in him,” Cornette admitted.
“Back and forth, heel, babyface. He had everything. He had the size; he had the look, the physique, he could talk, he could cut a *****’ promo if you booked him and promoted him properly and had the people perceive him properly. He had all the tools and was coachable.”
Jim Cornette Continues His Thoughts On Matt Morgan
Cornette continued, “There’s no reason why Matt Morgan looking the way he did, talking the way he did, and with the professionalism he had… for the majority of his active run, if you just knew what the **** you were doing, could you not get Matt Morgan over to at least main event?
“You had to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to be able to get this guy over!” he concluded.
And a star he became, though in a different setting, as he competed as Beast on Season 2 of the relaunched American Gladiators.
GladiadorsTV.com described him as “Half-man, half-monster…beyond big, badder than bad and absolutely immovable. The Beast competes without an ounce of mercy and obliterates everything unlucky enough to cross his path.”
After being granted his release in July 2013, he worked for Mexico’s AAA promotion and various independents.
After a few more appearances in TNA, Morgan first retired from wrestling in 2014, and after some final appearances for TNA in 2015 and 2017 (now Impact Wrestling), he retired for good in 2019.
A Career Almost Derailed
Before his TNA run, Matt Morgan allegedly made a decision that could have ended a promising career.
On January 16th, 2006, various online sources claimed that local television station WLKY out of Louisville, Kentucky reported that Matt Morgan had been arrested for impersonating a police officer. However, the way it is said that it happened seems to have been a misunderstanding.
Apparently, while on his way to the gym for his usual workout, Morgan was cut off by another motorist who almost caused him to crash his vehicle. Luckily no one was injured. He then pulled up alongside the woman and confronted her.
After the brief incident, he then went on his way and thought the other motorist would do likewise.
The uncomfortable and scary scenario for both could have ended there, but instead, the shaken woman took down his license plate number and called the local authorities. She then claimed that Morgan had told her he was a police officer.
Later that day, when the police finally tracked him down, Morgan was taken to the police station, where he was asked to explain everything.
Morgan adamantly denied impersonating an officer but admitted to the confrontation. But once more details emerged, and because of a lack of evidence, plus the inconsistencies of the woman’s story, a judge soon threw out the case.
Some dubious wrestling news sites at the time irresponsibly claimed Morgan was intoxicated through it all, but there is no evidence of that.
Although Morgan has been sincere about his past addictions that took hold of him for a good five years of his life and caused him serious health issues, no substances were proven to be involved in the near crash back in January, 2006.
Resentment Towards Some Fans
Matt Morgan seemed to resent fans after his unfortunate run-in with the police for some time. And in a shoot interview for the Bloodstained Memoirs Special Edition DVD, he readily went off on internet fans and how he believes they have no right to criticize wrestlers.
“They have no business throwing rocks, especially when it’s these, you know, little dorky keyboard punchin’ losers.”
Of course, there was more colorful language he used, including a mention of wrestling fans not seeing women’s body parts since birth.
Morgan continued his tirade.
“I can right now see what they look like. They’ve got their glasses on, they’re probably this thick [holds up thumb and index fingers to indicate], this tall [short], this fat [wider than him], probably having Doritos in one hand eating, and with the other [typing and making clicking noise] ‘Matt Morgan typical big man squash match. Period.’
“You’ve got no business commenting on it unless you’ve been in it and done it for a certain amount of time. They don’t have an athletic bone in their body.”
Morgan concludes, “I was a multi-sport athlete. All through high school and college.”
He believes that Internet overexposure gives everyone a voice, where “any Joe Blow can get their radio show.”
Matt also seemed very bitter about his second run in WWE, especially the stuttering gimmick they slapped on him.
What stung him even more was that he was a superb public speaker, yet he was portrayed otherwise on television.
Life After Wrestling
Like many former pro wrestlers, including Jesse Ventura, Antonio Inoki, The Great Sasuke, Brian Blair, Ludvig Borga, and Kane, Matt Morgan later went into politics and served as commissioner, then Deputy Mayor of the city of Longwood, Florida, from November 2018 until May 2019.
The city commission then elected him as Mayor, where he served until September 2020. He was elected again at the May 2nd, 2022, City Commission Meeting and will serve until May 2023.
As of 2021, he was still involved in wrestling, where he’d joined the Wrestling Inc. Podcast (WINC) as a frequent guest and helps review RAW and SmackDown!
On February 27th, 2022, he posted on his Twitter account that he and his college sweetheart and wife, Larissa Vasper, were happily celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary.
Matt Morgan was a star who performed with the biggest names in the business and who also conquered the demons he allowed to enter into his life. But did he truly reach his potential, or was he a main event failure as some have labeled him? You decide.
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