RECAP AND REVIEW: The Steve Austin Show with “Sick” Nick Mondo on competing in death matches, why he agreed to do them, getting thrown off a roof, how his body currently feels, his dream of wrestling in ECW

The Steve Austin Show: Matthew T. Burns AKA ‘Sick’ Nick Mondo

Release Date: 12/18/18

Running time: 1:37

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo



We are back at 316 Gimmick Street in the mean streets of Los Angeles. Coming up on today’s show is Matthew T. Burns, aka ‘Sick’ Nick Mondo talking about his film called ‘The Trade’. They’ll also be talking about his career, the death match wrestling scene, some of his matches and what he was thinking while doing these things.

Matthew T. Burns – ‘Sick’ Nick Mondo

  • Steve welcomes Matthew to the show. His new film ‘The Trade’ is available on blu ray.
  • Matthew watched wrestling as a kid but didn’t get into it until he saw ECW. He went to one of their shows when he was 15 and got hooked.
  • ‘The Trade’ is a docu-drama, half scripted, half documentary and it’s the story about how Matthew got into ultra death match wrestling, what it did to him and how he got out.

  • Matthew’s dream was to wrestle for ECW, which he felt was the perfect mix of athleticism with more risk and violence.
  • When he got into wrestling, he wrestled for Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). The guy running the company at the time wanted to top the violence of ECW.
  • When Steve wrestled his last match in ECW (triple threat with Sandman and Mikey Whipwreck), Matthew was there as a fan.
  • Matt trained at Al Snow’s Bodyslammers Gym.  
  • Matt had a chance to wrestle Sandman and wanted him to do cane spots but Sandman didn’t want to hurt anyone and wanted to put Matthew over.
  • CZW calls their style ultraviolent but Matthew calls it death match wrestling which is what he was known for.
  • Matt would train 6 days a week for 6 hours at wrestling school. It was an intensive course. They would start with 50 back bumps, 50 bodyslams and 50 flip bumps. He would struggle with headaches during training due to the number of bumps they had to do.
  • The majority of matches Matthew has done were regular wrestling matches but it’s the death matches that got the most attention.
  • Matthew’s career lasted just under 5 years. His initial goal was to wrestle for one year to two years as a break from highschool before going to art school and moving on with life.
  • His plan was to write a letter to Paul Heyman to work in ECW, wrestle guys like Sabu and RVD then quit. But he got caught up in it.

Death Match Wrestling

  • A lot of people were concerned about Matthew while he was wrestling. His sister would be so concerned she would stay up all night and pray for him. He feels like he was protected through a lot of what he was doing but realized he needed to make wiser decision.
  • Matthew feels like he shouldn’t be as healthy as he feels and is currently doing stunt training. If he hadn’t gotten out of wrestling when he did, he’s certain something bad would have happened to him.
  • Sabu and Hayabusa were some of Matthew’s influences along with Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho. As for getting through death match spots, you have to be relaxed. You don’t want to do these types of spots afraid and tensed up which can hurt more.
  • In the match, Matthew would have a checklist of things and would feel relieved when he got through the spots. Eventually he came to the realization he was rolling the dice with his life.
  • One thing Matthew won’t do is charishots to the head.
  • Matthew says it’s completely irrational what he was doing. Some of the deathmatch wrestlers may not have skills to make it as a pro wrestler, some of it is insecurity about how you’re going to get over but some of it is that it’s fun and a rush when going through a dangerous spot, have the crowd go crazy but not getting hurt.

  • Matthew came to realize that if you’re willing to get into deathmatch wrestling there’s some sort of dysfunction and there’s something not healthy in your thinking. Many don’t want to think about that but Matthew did want to find out what was wrong with his thinking. In talking to some of the guys, he found they had some past issues. You have to have a certain low self worth to do this kind of match. Even if you’re the top guy, you have to have low self worth to put yourself through this kind of punishment.
  • Prior to a violent match with a wrestler named Wife Beater, he asked why he was willing to do this. Wife Beater said it was due to bad childhood. Matthew was doing this because of guilt issues.
  • Matthew remembers sitting through a session in church that graphically described the crucifixion at the age of 15. Afterwards, he felt guilty that someone took that kind of a beating for him. From that point on, he was obsessed with the notion of self harm. He even signed up for the Marine Corps just to go through the training regiment which was very punishing.
  • When he got into wrestling and started doing hardcore stuff it was fun. But when he started getting reactions from deathmatches, promoters started booking him into that over and over.
  • Nick doesn’t enjoy pain but he has a higher tolerance for it. A lot of the stuff he did didn’t hurt as much as people thought it might so it’s a real rush when fans think you just died but you haven’t.

Tournament Of Death Spots

  • John Zandig was the promoter with CWZ when Matthew was wrestling. It was a bad combination because Matthew didn’t know his limit while John always wanted to expand that limit.
  • For example, John wanted Matthew to hit his finishing move off a Ryder truck through a light tube cabin and tables in the first match of the Tournament of Death
  • Matthew says this is a type of addiction that he needs to be careful when around the environment so he feels he needs to cut it off and stay away.
  • In the next year’s tournament Matthew and Zandig went off the top of a roof. At the time they were planning to go off the roof through some burning tables. He was planning to retire after that tournament. When they went on the roof to check the spot, Matthew said it was too high but Zandig still wanted him to do it because the fans had already seen the tables. Matthew had a ton of confidence but feels he didn’t have self worth because he agreed to that spot.
  • When it came time to do the spot, they realized the tables were too close for the spot. His head clipped a log cabin made of light tubes and his body went through tables right to asphalt. He suffered a stinger concussion but was able to finish the match although he doesn’t remember the rest of that match nor the promo he cut afterwards.
  • After the match, his back was gushing blood however even though he was in bad shape, he decided to wrestle the third match. He was retiring after this match and didn’t want to come back. He wanted to be done.

Drinking, Smoking and Pain Killers

  • Matthew drinks a little bit and did try smoking. He has asthma so smoke and smoking really bothers him.
  • He tried pain pills a few times but never got into them.
  • At one time, he was offered vicodins from a pharmaceutical person who was selling stuff under the radar. He was about to buy them but stopped himself. He knew taking vicodins would be bad for him.

CZW Locker Room

  • CZW was one of the most laid back locker rooms he’s been in.
  • Drugs weren’t that bad except sometimes guys would smoke weed before matches which Matthew didn’t understand. Right before Matthew left CZW, he saw some of the guys start getting messed up on drugs.
  • In CZW, many of the guys would try to steal the show but there would be little resentment from the other guys.
  • Matthew felt bad for  some of the guys that came in because they wouldn’t get respect if they weren’t willing to hurt themselves which is not the right mindset. He felt someone with name value should be treated like royalty so they would come back.
  • John Zandig’s vision was CZW was going to be the toughest mf-ers in the business and if you weren’t part of that, get out of here. He inspired other guys to be part of it.
  • John’s shows were exciting for fans as there are legitimate life and death situations. Matthew said CZW was a fraction of what ECW used to be, mainly the violence, which is not sustainable.

Going To Japan

  • Matthew did a tour of Japan and fell in love with the country and the culture. He wanted to go back there to work as an artist and a filmmaker
  • Matthew was offered a job as a filmmaker in Japan. It was about turning a page and moving on with life.
  • He was able to pick up the language while working there but it was not easy.

Little Mondo

  • When Matthew was wrestling, there was a fan who would dress up like Mondo and would piss off fans and even some of the guys. He would debut as Little Mondo. At the time he wasn’t doing the violent stuff but eventually started.
  • This bothered Matthew because he didn’t want to see Little Mondo hurt himself physically or mentally.
  • Little Mondo wrestled five years and decided he had had enough. He told Matthew he was going to take a weed wacker to the gut. Matthew offered to come out during Little Mondo’s match at Cage Of Death if Little Mondo decided not to do the spot.
  • They did not announce Matthew was going to be at the show so when he showed up the fans were shocked to see him. They asked if Matthew wanted to wrestle the cage match and admits to being tempted as he knew a bunch of spots he could do. Ultimately he did not wrestle.
  • Matthew was trying to set an example for Little Mondo about retiring and drawing attention to himself would have been hypocritical.
  • Rory has come back to wrestling and teaming with his brother Drew (Gulak) doing normal wrestling. He did get a chance to work in WWE but he’s done with the deathmatches

Advice On Death Matches

  • It’s tough to give people who want to get into deathmatches advice because it doesn’t matter what people say to them.
  • Matthew realized that if you want to do something you’ll find a hero who is an example of what you want to do. You don’t necessarily look for someone to give you wisdom to steer you away, you find what you want to do and build yourself after that.
  • Matthew’s ‘advice’ is that some people have to walk through it but he believes everyone gets a certain warning that if you continue down this path it’s not going to end well. Being a deathmatch legend isn’t necessarily a fulfilling and realize the endgame is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
  • If it’s something short term, do it, realize how much you’re going to hurt then walk away. If you want a longer career then pay attention to people who had longer careers and worked better than Matthew did.

Show Wrap

  • Matthew and Austin talk about David Arquette’s death match with Nick Gage. Both have a bunch of respect for Arquette and love that he is willing to pay his dues even when he doesn’t have to.
  • They also discuss how some of the ideas for deathmatches are planned out.
  • The Trade is available on Blu Ray or if you have Amazon Prime you can stream it.
  • Matthew is currently working on a few projects.
  • You can find him on social media @MTBMondo on Instagram or Matthew T Burns, Nick Mondo on Facebook.

Steve thanks Matthew for being on the show and that’s a wrap.

Rating – 8/10

I did not know anything about Sick Nick Mondo prior to this podcast. Additionally, I am not a fan of the deathmatch style of wrestling so I’ll admit, when I first tried to listen to this podcast, I kind of wrote it off. However, I thought I’d give it a shot and I’m glad I did. Matthew comes across as a well spoken person and admittedly it’s weird hearing him talk calmly about some of the things he did. At times this podcast was pretty intense as well. Kudos to Austin for doing a good job with this interview. Definite recommend from me.

About Joe:

Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.


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