By Liz Carlie, Editor-In-Chief
He’s been a regular sight in MPW for quite some time – and yet since September of 2021, he has been missing in action at the same time. We are talking, of course, about the Playmaker, J2 Mattioli, thrall of Auntie Hydie and the Void until this past Friday when he was finally freed. Though the Rebel Storm lost the match, his actions at long last liberated Mattioli from the Void’s control.
Time alone, however, can heal the wounds left behind by such a violation. As such, while J2 was billed to take on Artorius this week, he was ultimately not cleared to do so, needing extra time to recuperate. Thankfully, he was feeling well enough to talk to us about his experiences, his relationship with the Rebel Storm, and his thoughts on the match between Storm and Artorius at MPW’s Don’t Look Under The Bed on February 11th. The conversation, conducted via private messaging, was a brief one, but quite illuminating.
Editor’s note: the following interview has been transcribed, and corrected solely for punctuation and capitalization. The rest remains unedited and uncensored to ensure the accuracy of each quote.
X-PRESS: First, J2, I just want to thank you for taking time to talk to us about your ordeal. Also, on behalf of the entire MPW fan base: welcome back, sir. You have been deeply missed.
J2 MATTIOLI: Thank you! For some reason it doesn’t feel like I was gone that long…
XP: I can only imagine what it must be like from your perspective — and we won’t push you too hard today, given that you’re still recovering, hence your removal from the match against Artorius. I guess that’s the first question I have for you: what’s the last clear thing you remember? Or have you had any awareness of the last few months at all?
J2: I only remember Hydie taking me to some dark room with Artorias and making me drink some black liquid. After that everything just kinda went black. I honestly don’t remember anything except that I felt like I was sleeping and I kept hearing someone calling my name. It would start faintly but then get louder and louder.
XP: Wow! That sounds quite eerie, to be honest. I know you can never get that lost time back, but maybe you can find some measure of comfort in knowing that during your time asleep, as you put it, you WERE MPW National Champion for quite some time.
J2: Yes, Rebel told me everything. While I’m happy to have won it, I also am not proud of what I did to get it. I hurt a couple people that I would consider close friends.
XP: I can assure you that no one, not a soul, can ever blame you for what happened when you were in the Void’s thrall — and as you no doubt know now, the Rebel Storm was your champion from the word ‘go.’
J2: Yes, I’m very thankful for him. It’s easy for people to just give up. But not for the Rebel Storm. I definitely will always trust him
XP: That’s good to know. You two are an incredible team, and your friendship is a heartening thing to see. Speaking of Storm as your champion, are you worried about him taking your place in this upcoming match against Artorius while you recover?
J2: Not at all! Rebel is one of Level Up’s top rookies. I wish I was there to give Artorias and Hydie a little payback. But I know Rebel will do just fine now that Hydie doesn’t have control of me anymore. I could sense that her power was getting weaker after I broke away.
XP: An act which took immeasurable strength, to be sure — Rebel clearly had reason to worry about using that strange totem to break her hold, its destruction obviously didn’t come without a cost. I won’t take up too much more of your time, J2, but I have one more crucial question: now that you’re free, recovering, and have a voice of your own again, is there anything you’d like to say to the members of the Void about what happened, or what’s to come?
J2: Hydie…. This isn’t over. But just know that you will have to answer for your crimes.
By this point, J2’s messages had slowed, fatigue clearly setting in. I cut the interview short at this point, and after my discussion with J2, I decided it might be prudent to speak with the Rebel Storm regarding his upcoming match, and his feelings about having his best friend back.
If you’ve been on social media, you are aware of the video recently posted by Storm.
Prior to its appearance on line by many hours, the following is a transcript of the interview in full. Please note that aside from identifying information in the form of user information, this has not been edited in any way, shape, or form – not even for punctuation or capitalization…or rather, an excess of capitalization. All time stamps are accurate.
2/9/22, 11:28 AM
MPW X-PRESS: Thank you for giving me some of your valuable time, Rebel — I know you have a big challenge ahead of you, preparing to fight Artorius in J2’s stead on such short notice.
2/9/22, 11:51 AM
THE REBEL STORM: YES IT’S MY PLEASURE. I FIND THE INTERVIEWS ARE ALMOST THERAPEUTIC
2/9/22, 11:53 AM
MPW X-PRESS: Really? I mean, I can understand why, but as enthusiastic as you are about…well, everything, it’s hard to envision you in a state of ease or relaxation. Regardless, I’m glad to help in that department. I can only imagine the pressure you’ve been under since you began this crusade to save J2 from the clutches of the Void.
No further messages from the Rebel Storm followed.
Understanding the busy nature of a wrestler’s schedule, I chose not to impose for fear of disrupting his preparations for the coming battle…until the video that followed this attempted interview later that same night.
It can be foolish and often dangerous to speculate, friends, but as a journalist I am quite familiar with the Rebel Storm. He’s enthusiastic, eager, and one of the finest interviews I have ever conducted. He’s prompt, he’s loquacious, and he does truly enjoy the process of dealing with the media.
We all saw the same video. We saw Storm in a darkened home, subdued – and coughing up that terrible dark stuff that Hydie has been producing for a while now. If you saw the video, or were present for, MPW’s I Need A Hero, you’re aware that Storm spit out the water of the Void that was forced into his mouth…but could he possibly have ingested some? What effect could it be having on him?
Come Friday, will we see the hero we embraced at I Need A Hero? Or is there something inside of the Rebel Storm that will give us pause before we look under our beds?
Only time will tell…and until then, all we can do is follow the noble example set by the Thunder Wonder: have faith in heroes.