While fans are accustomed to fist-pumps, “Yo, Adrians,” and “I’m going to Disney World” celebrations by new champions, Vancouver wrestler Nicole Matthews was happy but subdued after capturing the Femmes Fatales Championship at a multi-promotional Toronto event in late June. “I’m not much of a title person, honestly,” she freely admits, but not in a way that painted her as unappreciative of the trust placed in her by Femmes Fatales to be their champion. “It’s always a good feeling.”

Matthews found herself wrestling twice on the card in Toronto, coming away with one win and one loss, but the bigger picture of 2023 sees her returning to wrestling in the United States after a five year ban from working in the country.

In late 2018, just as she was working in front of WWE Network eyeballs as part of the Mae Young Classic tournament, Matthews was deemed to have crossed from British Columbia into Washington on a travel visa, not a work visa, and was therefore taking match bookings illegally.

Right now, however, Matthews is living in the moment and is thrilled to talk about the wrestling she has been doing. “It’s mostly been West Coast, at this point, and a lot of DEFY,” she begins, noting one of the promotions in Toronto on that day. “I just did two to three weeks going up and down the coast with my husband Artemis Spencer (also on the card in Toronto).  It’s been really nice for people to be excited for me to be back in the States.”

“Wrestling moves so quickly,” she continues. “You’re always like, ‘They’ll forget about me, they won’t care that I’m back.’ It’s been great.”

After listing off a number of West Coast wrestlers that she’s excited to help showcase — Spencer, Travis Williams, Judas Icarus, Evan Rivers — it’s brought to her attention that she deflects some questions about her towards fellow wrestlers, giving her a moment to think about whether that’s purposeful.

“At this point, I think I’m still having okay matches,” she says with a laugh. “I’m obviously not 25 anymore, so at this point my goal is to get more eyes on the scene. I would be happy getting signed to an AEW or whatever, but it’s a weird Canadian thing: ‘Oh no, not me, I don’t want to be in the spotlight.'”

“But the younger wrestlers, they should want to get their own names out there,” she continues. “They should be a little bit self-centered. Spencer is also 37, so we’re both like, ‘All right kids, get out there,’ like we’re pushing them a little bit.”

Nicole Matthews clobbers Liiza Hall, during a Smash Wrestling show in London, Ontario, on Saturday, June 24, 2023. Photo by Steve Argintaru, Twitter: @stevetsn Instagram: @stevetsn

Nicole Matthews clobbers Liiza Hall, during a Smash Wrestling show in London, Ontario, on Saturday, June 24, 2023. Photo by Steve Argintaru, Twitter: @stevetsn Instagram: @stevetsn

Matthews brings some of the reasons behind this attitude back to her visa issues in 2018, highlighting the positives she was forced to take from the situation. “I think a lot of people in that position would maybe quit wrestling,” she begins. “But I focused all of my energy on training and running a school (Lion’s Gate Dojo in Vancouver) and getting other people ready, and that didn’t change when I was able to go back to the States.”

Matthews’ passion for passing the baton extends to keeping an eye on rising talent from anywhere, be it from her own school or otherwise, and urges fans to see both big and small shows to see that talent develop.

“Everyone thinks they know who the next upcoming talent is, but you don’t,” she explains. “You should come to shows to discover it. I love being pleasantly surprised. I get pissed when I’m later in the card. I literally ask every promoter: don’t put me in the main event, because I want to watch the show.”

While her on-the-spot nickname of “Not Main Event Nicole” may not catch on, the sentiment is clear that Matthews has a lot to give in and out of the ring, and seems in a happy place where she can do just that.

TOP IMAGE: Nicole Matthews with the Femmes Fatales title after beating Alexia Nicole at Femmes Fatales Girls Next Door, in Toronto, Ontario, on Sunday, June 25, 2023. Photo by Steve Argintaru, Twitter: @stevetsn Instagram: @stevetsn