One of my favorite things about writing this column is that I've found wrestlers who I didn't even know existed when I started. Matt Makowski is just one of those wrestlers, and he has absolutely exploded onto the wrestling scene. He's got a couple years under his belt now, but 2021 has truly been the year of weapon X. He beat Hoodfoot's undefeated streak, won Beyond Wrestling's Greatest Rivals Round Robin, was a Super 8 semifinalist, and won Frogsport: an event named after him I might add, and that's in a span of just a couple of months. Makowski has become absolutely unstoppable, and has already found some amazing Rivals. For example, I need to see him challenge Wheeler Yuta for the IWTV title now(please make it happen Beyond) and he's had a couple standoffs with Chris Dickinson now. Despite all these big matches and accomplishments in the squared circle, they're are still people who would best know Matt Makowski for different work. Makowski competed in Bellator MMA, and in fact was one of the earliest to do so. Today we're going to take a brief look at Makowski's time in MMA, then look at his growing wrestling career, then finally look at a top ten of matches.
Makowski made his MMA debut in July of 2007 when he beat Julio Cruz at Extreme Challenge. It wouldn't be until 2008 that Makowski would fight again, as his October 2007 bout was cancelled with Colin O'Rourke. In the first half of 2008, Makowski would pick up two more wins against Joe Schilling and Nick Serra. In September of that year he would finally taste his first loss against Erik Apple. He would turn things around again in 2009, beating Sergio Vinagre in February and Aaron Traeger in April. The Vinagre fight was at Ring of Combat, while the Traeger fight was Makowski's Bellator debut. Not only was it his Bellator debut, this was Bellator 2. Only the second show in the company's history, and there was Makowski. He would return at Bellator 11 in the final loss of his career against Justin Torrey. Matt Makowski's final MMA match took place on February 27th, 2010, when he beat LeVon Maynard at Matrix Fights. Before getting into MMA, Makowski also competed in Muay Thai at least dating back to 2006 based on old footage I could dig up.
Makowski really burst onto the wrestling scene through Chikara, but very quickly found himself in other promotions. Makowski's first cagematch listed match is from May 2019, meaning he has risen to his current status in only two years. In 2019 alone he was competing in GCW, STAR, Pizza Party, Beyond and more. His biggest moments of 2019 came in Beyond beating both Tony Deppen and O'Shay Edwards in the Discovery Gauntlet series before falling to Gary Jay. These appearances really endeared him to people, and set up many big matches down the line. In 2020 Makowski would have great matches in Beyond, Pizza Party, become a mainstay of Camp Leapfrog, and even show up in Bloodsport. 2021 would really become the year of Makowski, as he won both Beyond's Greatest Rival Round Robin and Camp Leapfrog's Matt Makowski's Frogsport. And yes, Frogsport was even named after Makowski. Greatest Rivals Round Robin was four wrestlers assembled together who all somehow were connected(a full explanation of their connections was released by Beyond as a video package) and wanted to prove themselves better than each other. This series was incredible, and all six matches are worth your time. Makowski would enter the 2021 Super 8 tournament, and utimately lose to A Very Good Professional Wrestler in the semifinals.
A side note on Makowski is that he and I both love a particularly great video game: Infamous. When doing some digging on Makowski I found a short film he did casting himself as Cole McGrath from the game. If you're not familiar with the game, Cole gains electric superpowers, and you as the player has the choice to make him the hero or villain. I reached out to Makowski to ask if this love of Infamous ever moved from his MMA time to wrestling. He let me know that while he hasn't used Infamous in his wrestling yet, he would love to take the dark lines that populate Cole's face when he's evil and incorporate them into a corruption or brainwash character, and cited Luna Vachon as an inspiration in that regard. If you look at Evil Cole(yes that's his formal title) and then at Luna, it makes sense, and I'd love to see that worked into Makowski's character. So now that we have a good grasp on Matt Makowski, let's take a look at some of his best matches.
#10: Matt Makowski vs Richard Holliday
The newest match on this list, this fight took place at Beyond Wrestling's Project Reality. While that show will absolutely be remembered for the main even of Wheeler Yuta vs Lee Moriarty, this match from the undercard is more than worth your time. Easily my favorite Richard Holiday match(who once won Super 8 by the way, while Makowski only made the semifinals) and it's not hard to see why. Holiday is billed here as a wrestler's wrestler. Makowski is treated as the MMA guy coming into wrestling. The early stages of the match see Holiday keeping the pace and style of the match purely in the world of wrestling, as that's what he knows. Makowski is able to hang in that world though, and stays apace of Holiday's wrestling ability. As the match wears on, Holiday begins to lose control. The longer the match goes, the more it begins to lean towards Makowski, and the more the match feels like MMA. In this world Holiday just can't keep up, and Makowski gets the big win.
#9: Matt Makowski vs Kennedi Copeland
This match is fantastic. Copeland is maybe half Makowski's size, but she decides to work the ground game with him. You'd expect this match to be Kennedi trying to keep her distance and use strikes and high flying moves to weaken Makowski, but she ends up in long chain sequences with him. In fact, one spot in particular was the opposite of what I expected, as Makowski misses with a roundhouse kick and Copeland goes from a backwaist lock to a roll up. Makowski spends most of the match looking for the armbar, but Kennedi does a great job at repelling that attack. She stays on top of Makowski with bulldogs and various pin attempts, and she puts in a great effort. Makowski is great at selling, and as such is great at making his opponents look good. My personal favorite spot of the match comes as Kennedi goes for a punt kick, but Makowski was playing possum and pops up to kick her in the gut: it's a spot you have to see to believe. In general, this match is tremendous fun and a good old fashioned fight.
#8: Matt Makowski vs Hoodfoot
A fairly short match, clocking in at under five minutes, this is all about the result. If you keep up with my Paradigm Pro Wrestling UWFi Contender Series articles, then you already know what's going on here. Hoodfoot came into this match 10-0 in UWFi rules. He retired Erick Stevens, beat guys like Dominic Garrini and O'Shay Edwards, and was the Heavy Hitters Champion. In his paradigm debut, Makowski was able to beat Hoodfoot, winning the title. That's how you debut someone, and Makowski made everyone sit up and take notice. No one was expecting this, as Hoodfoot had beaten many new Paradigm wrestlers, but Makowski did what many people thought was impossible. This match literally changed Paradigm Pro Wrestling, and that earns it a spot on this list.
#7: Matt Makowski vs Chris Dickinson 1
This match was the main event, and it absolulety deserved to be. Dickinson is Beyond Wrestling, and this pairing was absolutely perfect. The sheer amount of counters for counters for counters showed just why these two wrestlers are so fantastic. This match played a big role in setting up the Greatest Rivals Round Robin, but I didn't just include it for that. I included it because of how good Makowski looks even in defeat. This is the kind of match that makes you crave a rematch, and we wouldn't get that for half a year. Makowski and Dickinson, for this being their first time sharing a ring, clearly know each other so well. For some reason they just click, and with every takedown, every slam, every armbar, you feel like you're watching magic be made as they realize just how good they are together. Ultimately, Dickinson wins, but I think that was the right decision here. When a new wrestler never loses, it gives people expectations that are way too high. Looking good in defeat is an art form, and Dickinson is great at making his opponents look good. Makowski shows that he has taken to wrestling well, and Dickinson is a great opponent to show his hybrid style against. This was many people's first introduction to Makowski, and you can't ask for much more than this.
#6: Matt Makowski vs Wheeler Yuta 1
The first match for both men in the greatest Rivals Round Robin, it becomes immediately clear that these two belong in the ring together. They work so well together in fact they would do it again just two days later. Yuta was the only wrestler going into the Round Robin that Makowski hadn't faced before, and that's a true shame. These two could have been having matches well before this, but I'm glad they did finally step into a ring together. Their styles are incredibly different, as Wheeler is more of a high flyer but has the long limbs of a Zack Sabre Jr for good submissions. We kind of had an idea of what to expect from Makowski's fights with Deppen and Dickinson, but Yuta was a complete surprise. These two are able to string together wonderful sequences, and you genuinely don't know what to expect as the match continues. It's a perfect first encounter, and one that makes you excited for their second(and upcoming third) match.
#5: Matt Makowski vs Wheeler Yuta 2
So while writing this article a third match between the pair was announced under Pure Rules, but as of now this is the newest bout between these wrestlers. As I mentioned earlier, this pair just works so well together. Once they end up in any kind of lock up you just know that a wonderful sequence will unfold. Makowski's main weapons in matches are his armbar and his kicks, and as such, he uses his kicks in ways you wouldn't expect. He kicks the inside part of Yuta's arm as he winds up for a kick, and other non traditional methods of attack. What puts this encounter above their first is actually that it's shorter than the first match. We'll see later on this list a reversal of fortune, but in this match Makowski shows that while he wasn't ready the first time, now he can put away Yuta even quicker. It's a statement as much as a match, and does what all great middle acts should do: setting up a tremendous final fight, especially if they end up putting the IWTV Title on the line.
#4: Matt Makowski vs Tony Deppen
So this is technically the second match between these two, but I decided to leave their first match off this list. All you need to know is Makowski won in under three minutes, so Deppen wasn't exactly happy with him. Taking place as part of the Greatest Rivals Round Robin, Makowski had already beaten Wheeler Yuta and was looking to go 2-0. Deppen tries to have a mat based technical match, but genuinely looks shocked at some of Makowski's moves. Deppen and Makowski roll from an ankle lock to a pin attempt to a sleeper to another pin attempt to a half nelson to a pin attempt to an arm bar to a pin attempt before a rope break finally ends the sequence. And that's the kind of match we're looking at with these two. Long sequences where both men are looking for a pin or submission and don't care which one just as long as it works. Half this match is just a knot of limbs as they each do anything they can to leave this match the winner. Deppen plays desperate so well as he's already down one in this tournament, and a second loss ensures that's he's out of the running. It's a fantastic match from bell to bell, and Makowski gets a very hard earned victory.
#3: Matt Makowski vs Timmy Lou Retton
You guys know I love Timmy Lou Retton. He was on his A game in this match despite not being at 100% physically. The night before the Super 8, Retton was down in North Carolina and got his nose busted up. Retton gets in some strong offense here, and despite losing in the first round, he was the name I heard everyone talking about. Makowski was able to hold his own against some big power moves, and weather the early storm. Makowski was able to then exploit just a few small openings, and that was able to give him the advantage. Makowski shows off his MMA prowess by getting Retton into some impressive holds and submissions. What makes this match so good is that you are absolutely convinced that Retton is about to win. Retton hits what I can only describe as a Stormbreaker into a backbreaker on Retton's knee. It's a fantastic move that if it isn't already, should absolutely be Retton's finish. Within a minute of this move, however, Makowski manages to get the win. That's something that Makowski is so good at: being able to convince the crowd that their hero will win, only to rip that away from them.
#2: Matt Makowski vs Chris Dickinson 2
Now this is a rematch that people were craving. We already looked at the first Dickinson vs Makowski match, and as we said, that match was a major influence on the Greatest Rivals Round Robin. This match was the final to take place in the Round Robin, with both wrestlers currently having a 2-0 record. Whoever won this match would win the tournament, and Makowski wanted to avenge his loss while Dickinson wanted to prove he was still the best. Dickinson is a true beast in this match, and in the early stages it looks like the result will be the same as last time; and that Makowski just isn't at a point that he can beat Dickinson. He takes an absolute beating(not the biggest in this episode though that goes to Matthew Justice vs Slade cause ouch that match was brutal) but finally begins to get in some offense. The opening of this match is actually more one sided than their first match, and that seems to imply Dickinson was ready this time. Makowski ultimately gets into a kick-off with Dickinson, and these two aren't people you want to get kicked by. The thing about this feud, is I think the first match might be the better pure wrestling match, but the story here is so much stronger that you just get sucked in so much more. Makowski finally wins with an armbar, and goes undefeated in Greatest Rivals Round Robin, proving himself as a breakout star.
#1: Matt Makowski vs A Very Good Professional Wrestler
A match that everyone had pegged as the finals, but taking place here in the semifinals of 2021 Super 8. That being said, the match is still absolutely fantastic, no matter where it took place in the bracket. Similar to the Makowski vs Richard Holiday match, this is about a man skilled in wrestling fighting a man skilled in MMA. Still being early in his wrestling career, Makowski isn't great at winning these kind of match ups if the wrestling expert can keep the match in his world. If anyone wrestler is good at keeping a wrestling match in the traditional world of professional wrestling, it's a Very Good Professional Wrestler. These two put on an absolute clinic in showing emotional and building excitement within a wrestling hold. There is some good rope bouncing and moves involving running and leaping, but for the most part this is a match about holds and dominance. The story of this match was also incredible, as it was the most wrestling storyline you could tell. A Very Good Professional Wrestler wanted to be the first to win the Men's Super 8 two years in a row, while Makowski was looking to win his third tournament in 2021. Makowski was a legitimate threat to A Very Good Professional Wrestler's plan, and both men knew that. Both men just desired to be the winner, and would pull out all the stops to make that happen. The important thing here is the brilliant ending. Makowski hits a big powerbomb and decides to transition it into a submission, as that's what his MMA background told him to do. A Very Good Professional Wrestler turns it into a pinfall attempt as his wrestling background told him to do. This ultimately gives him the win, as this is wrestling not MMA, and forgetting that for just one second cost Matt Makowski the match.