At Starrcast 2023, the wrestling world comes alive with a special touch of nostalgia as wrestlers from around the globe gather to share their cherished Chicago memories.
In a city where wrestling history has been etched into the very fabric of its culture, these athletes take the stage not just to showcase their incredible talents, but to pay homage to the iconic moments that have unfolded in this wrestling industry, which took place at the Hyatt Hotel over this past weekend.
Matt Cardona, formerly known as WWE’s Zack Ryder, told us that he lost his GCW title in Chicago, calling it the “Chicago Screwjob” as he never got a rematch. Beyond this, he has a passion for wrestling figure collecting and shared some of his plans to work with talent to bring these figures to life in the upcoming months.
“I like to see Demolition and now we’re making their figures of Marty Jannetty. So now it’s my turn to make the figures. So I get to go around these conventions and meet guys I grew up watching, or even guys like Nick Gage, who I hate, but I’ll make a figure of them and I’ll make money off them. So it’s fun to collect figures and to make figures,” he said.
Cardona is no stranger to social media as he was one of the first over a decade ago to use it for his advantage to broaden his awareness beyond the wrestling bubble.
“I mean, it’s smart, it’s free advertising, Twitter, X, whatever you want to call it, YouTube, Tik Tok, Instagram. It is all free advertising. Double edged sword. It’s free for everybody. How are you going to stand out from every other wrestler? I don’t know. Some things you just gotta throw at the wall. The Indie God thing, It was supposed to be a one night spoof. Just come out dressed as Indiana Jones one night. But I saw the match on social media and I realized that I got something here. And now I’m selling phone figures, hats, micro rollers, figures, and stickers. like I’m making so much money off something else, mostly a one night spoof. So you just have to capitalize and be aware of what your audience wants,” said Cardona.
As the wrestlers take a trip down memory lane, their stories provide a poignant reminder of the deep connection between the squared circle and the city that has played host to some of the most unforgettable moments in wrestling history. Starrcast 2023 is not just an event; it’s a heartfelt tribute to the enduring legacy of wrestling in the Windy City.
AEW Superstar Will “Powerhouse” Hobbs, who had his match against Miro on AEW All Out this past weekend, told us at Starrcast that the fans are the best part of Chicago.
“Every time we come here, it’s a banger for me. just specially being in front of the Chicago crowd. I’ve said in a few interviews that the fans of Chicago let you know how they feel and they bring a different vibe,” he said, adding that one of his favorite hip hop artists is Ice Cube when asked about the 50th anniversary of the music genre.
AEW Superstar Skye Blue, who is a Chicago native, shared the same sentiment about the fans while also explaining that she has navigated the grueling 12-hour car rides and wrestled in venues practically within walking distance. Reflecting on her experiences, Skye Blue considers the worst scenario to be the unfortunate convergence of a flat tire and a traffic ticket on the very same day, a frustrating twist in the wrestling journey. Conversely, her best moments on the road are exemplified by the sheer simplicity of a quick five-minute drive to the show, where convenience reigns supreme, and she finds himself right at the heart of the action.
“I love Chicago. It’s very heartfelt to me that I get to represent Chicago for AEW. So I’m just very grateful that I get to say I’m from Chicago for AEW and I’ve done so many indies throughout Chicago,” she said.
Ricky Starks told us that he has a deep respect for the people of Chicago because they’ve treated him so nicely. Starks cited that the day before Starrcast, someone just stopped him to meet him and was so polite and kind and very encouraging.
“That’s the thing, fans are very encouraging for someone who kind of had to give himself his own encouragement when I was growing up. I had some fans come up to me and they recognized me on the street and they were very sweet people. And this was two years ago when I wasn’t on the All Out pay per view. And I vowed that the next year, I would be and I did. And now I’d vowed that I would do something bigger and better,” he said.
Also to note, WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett took the stage to talk about Chicago at Starrcast. When Jeff Jarrett took the stage at the Starrcast panel, the room buzzed with anticipation.
With a career spanning decades, Jarrett’s presence was a testament to his enduring legacy in the wrestling world. As he settled into his seat, fans and fellow wrestling enthusiasts hung on his every word. Jarrett delved into the storied chapters of his career, sharing behind-the-scenes anecdotes and memorable encounters with some of the industry’s biggest names.
His charismatic storytelling, coupled with his passion for the sport, had the audience captivated, making his Starrcast appearance a truly unforgettable moment for all in attendance. It was a rare opportunity to hear firsthand from a wrestling icon whose contributions continue to shape the industry.