By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
The journey of Matt Makowski seems to have been destined to lead him to The Crucible.
The mean, grizzled member of Ophidian’s specially-chosen and trained strike-force in CHIKARA made a strong impression during “Aniversario: Scotch Mist.” Makowski and his teammates, E.M. DeMorest and Tunku Amir, flattened one of the company’s most storied trios, The Colony.
But it was Makowski who set the tone in the opening moments of the contest, mauling Green Ant with a brutal opening salvo and eventually knocking out “The Resilient Rookie” to win the match for his brothers in combat.
Many of the Crucible members had been cloaked in mystery, and that seems to be by the design of their Herald, Ophidian. So it’s very possible that The Colony had no idea that Makowski had been training to fight since he was free from high school.
“I’ve been training [in MMA] since 2004 – 15 years this fall,” Makowski told The Gorilla Position in an exclusive interview. “My friends who were into martial arts in high school introduced me to the UFC in the early 2000s. It was always a big deal getting together and checking out those events in my buddy’s basement.”
The purity of combat – the necessity of needing to be in peak condition at all times – is what drew Makowski in.
“I’ve always been a super-competitive and very physical person,” Makowski said. “I thought it was the ultimate sport in the world. There are so many factors and you have to be good at so many different things. It’s the ultimate athletic contest.”
Having done some amateur wrestling at a young age and playing 10 years of football throughout childhood until the end of high school, Makowski’s goal was simple once he had found what he felt at the time was his calling.
“I essentially knew it was something I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to go to college but simultaneously looking to see if there were any MMA gyms nearby. It was always the plan for me. I went to college at Temple in Philadelphia, and my first week there, I found an MMA gym nearby.”
While Makowski had become entrenched in training for MMA, it was another combat sport that captured his heart. In particular, a different world than what was on cable television that – while he didn’t know it at the time – he would ultimately become a big part of.
“I was a fan [of pro wrestling] as a youth but I fell off a little bit,” Makowski said. “Fast-forward to 2009 and I found CHIKARA and that re-ignited a love for pro wrestling. My first event was King of Trios 2009 and apparently I hit the jackpot with that. Stuff was just blowing me away and I just thought it was so awesome. I was still fighting pro MMA at the time and was just happy to be a fan. I was going to CHIKARA shows and got into more of the stuff on TV. I was still just being a fan.”
Makowski’s reignited love of pro wrestling led him to begin his training in pro wrestling in early 2016. Having to spend some time out with an abdominal injury, Makowski resumed his training in 2018.
“I had not fought in MMA in a long time and I felt like I was floundering and going through the motions,” he recalled. “Not really progressing in a direction I wanted or maybe had in mind. Whenever you learn something new, it triggers something in your brain. I hadn’t learned something new in a long time so it was very exciting for me. Plus a lot of the training was very similar to what I had been doing for over a decade. I picked it up pretty quickly and that probably made it more enjoyable for me as well. I was doing things I had been doing for over a decade but now in a different context.”
Makowski immediately began to see the similarities – and differences – between pro wrestling and MMA.
“[MMA is] very much like pro wrestling,” Makowski said. “It crosses over very well of all the different elements. It’s hard to build the ultimate athlete because people tend to favor one thing over another. You have the fast guys, the strong guys, guys that are really good at grappling, guys that are really good at striking. To really be the best I feel like you need to be as good as possible in all of those scenarios.”
While training for pro wrestling, Makowski came across something that would combine both passions. He discovered the recruitment website that several others had about wanting to fight in The Crucible. While Makowski’s answers to the form questions are unknown, it has to be believed that they were sufficient enough to be recruited by Ophidian as part of his anti-invasion strike force.
A little more than a year after discovering CHIKARA as a fan, Makowski would be in the front row for one of the most significant moments in the company’s history. That moment would also be very significant for him as it would be a driving motivation behind being a part of The Crucible.
“I was actually sitting front row the day the Bruderschaft des Kreuzes appeared,” Makowski revealed. “I have footage of me witnessing that.”
The chaotic arrival of the BDK was the first of many invasions that CHIKARA would have to bear the brunt of. We now know that Mike Quackenbush specifically commissioned Ophidian to build a strike force to head off any further incursions. While Quackenbush may disagree with the methods chosen by Ophidian to assemble his contingency plan, Makowski is firmly on the side of Ophidian because of what he had witnessed with his own eyes.
“I fully believe in what Ophidian is doing as far as contingency plans failing in the past and this plan being the right course of action,” Makowski affirmed.
Having recently made his singles debut at Harrisburg, PA, Makowski represents the Crucible as one of its most devastating competitors. While a relative newcomer to pro wrestling, the fire has revealed that his experience in MMA, his competitive drive and witnessing first hand his chosen company being under siege before will all serve to propel him forward in the sport for years to come.