Anthony Nese (August 6, 1985) is an American professional wrestler currently signed with All Elite Wrestling (AEW). He was previously signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) on the 205 Live cruiserweight roster where he is a former WWE Cruiserweight Champion.
Professional wrestling career
Independent circuit (2001–2011)
Anthony Nese was born in New York and trained there under the instruction of Mikey Whipwreck. He wrestled for various independent promotions across the Northeast, mostly between New York and New Jersey, winning several championships across the independent circuits including singles and tag team titles.
Two years later, Nese returned to the ring on October 18, 2003 in an event for Michigan Marquee Wrestling Association. As Matt Maverick, he teamed with Jimmy Shalwin and Frankie the Face to defeat Tommy Starr, Jim Duggan and Johnny Swinger.
Since 2003, Nese went on to wrestle every year, leading towards his eventual decision to sign with TNA in 2011. He wrestled his last independent match on December 10, 2011 for New York Wrestling Connection's NYWC Miracle on 112, defeating Danny E.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2011–2013)
In December 2011, Nese signed on to join TNA. He was assigned to the X-Division and made a few appearances before vanishing from television in-ring competition for months. Wisely, Nese was released from TNA on May 17, 2012. The release was a result of Nese being scheduled for a tag team match for Pro Wrestling Syndicate iPPV on June 1, 2012 in Rahway, New Jersey. The match would include Nese teaming with Sami Callihan against wrestlers The Great Muta and Kai. Since Nese had been on TNA's X-Division roster for months without seeing any significant in-ring time, he asked permission to work the match for Pro Wrestling Syndicate. This request was denied due to the fact Nese was still under contract to TNA. Instead he was offered a release from TNA which Nese accepted.
Return to Independent circuit (2012–2016)
After departing from TNA, Nese returned to the independent wrestling circuit continuing to appear for the New York Wrestling Connection promotion also competing in several independent wrestling promotions including Pro Wrestling Syndicate. He started using his real name, Anthony Nese. Nese became the first PWS Tri-State champion and was undefeated. He shortly feuded with Matt Hardy, defeating him in a match for the Tri-State title before eventually losing the title to Star Man on November 9, 2012 in a triple threat match. On October 12, 2013, Nese defeated the FWE Tri Borough Champion Paul London in a non-title match. In early 2013, Nese began working for Dragon Gate USA and Evolve. On November 3, Nese began his first tour of Dragon Gate USA's Japanese parent promotion, Dragon Gate, unsuccessfully challenging Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!! for the Open the Brave Gate Championship. On November 9, 2013, at House of Hardcore 3, Nese defeated Alex Reynolds and Petey Williams. On December 8, 2013, Nese won the Family Wrestling Entertainment's Openweight Grand Prix.
On September 14, 2014, at EVOLVE 35, Nese and Caleb Konley won the Open the United Gate Championship from The Bravado Brothers (Harlem and Lancelot) in a three-way match, also involving AR Fox and Rich Swann. At FWE ReFueled Day 1, Nese and Jigsaw defeated Adrenaline Express to win the FWE Tag Team Championship. The following day, they lost the title to The Young Bucks. On July 18, 2015 at House of Hardcore 9, Nese faced John Hennigan in a losing effort. On August 15 at EVOLVE 47, Nese teamed with Caleb Konley in a winning tag team match, defeating Rey Horus and Trent Barreta. The day after on August 16 at EVOLVE 48, Nese defeated Ethan Page. On August 20 at FBW Boiling Point, Nese defeated Chris Dickinson. On August 27 at NYWC Hotter than Hell, Nese and Papadon challenged NYWC Fusion Champion Joe Gacy in a triple threat title match in which Gacy successfully retained the championship.
On December 12 at CZW Cage of Death XVII, Nese wrestled a match won by Greg Excellent. On December 18 at Five Borough Wrestling's FBW Season's Last Wish Nese wrestled a match losing to Kenny Omega. Nese finished 2015 on December 19 at NYWC Tour de Circus, where he defeated MASADA.
World Wrestling Entertainment (2016-2021)
Cruiserweight division (2016-2021)
Nese debuted on June 23 as part of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic tournament to determine a new Cruiserweight Championship after the title was reactivated; where he advanced in the first round after eliminatingAnthony Bennett. He was eliminated in the second round held on July 14 by Brian Kendrick. On August 25, Nese returned, in a match on WWE NXT where he teamed with Ariya Daivari in a tag match lost to TM-61 (Nick Miller & Shane Thorne). On the following night on August 26, Nese wrestled in a dark WWE Cruiserweight Classic, teaming with Drew Gulak to defeat Kenneth Johnson & Lince Dorado. Beginning on September 26, Nese made his brand debut on Monday Night RAW in a match won by TJ Perkins. On October 3, Nese made his second RAW appearance, defeating Rich Swann. On the October 17 edition of Monday Night RAW, Nese teamed with Brian Kendrick & Drew Gulak defeated TJ Perkins, Rich Swann & Cedric Alexander in a six-man tag team match. Nese made his WWE pay-per-view debut on the Hell in a Cell pre-show, teaming with Drew Gulak and Ariya Daivari in a losing effort to Cedric Alexander, Lince Dorado and Sin Cara. In early 2017, Nese would later wrestle on 205 Live and Main Event, trading victories over Gran Metalik, Lince Dorado and Mustafa Ali.
In October 2017, Nese began aligning with Enzo Amore, Drew Gulak, Ariya Daivari and Noam Dar, they dubbed themselves as "The Zo Train". On the December 12 episode of 205 Live, Nese was attacked by Amore, Daivari, and Gulak, seemingly turning face in the process. Nese returned two weeks later, unsure of his position as a member of the Zo Train, and defeated Akira Tozawa in a singles match, signaling that he was still a heel.
On January 23, 2018, Enzo Amore was fired from WWE after allegations of sexual assault were made public, thus quietly disbanding the Zo Train. On the February 13 episode of 205 Live, Nese faced former partner Drew Gulak in a first round match in the cruiserweight championship tournament but was unsuccessful. On the March 27 episode of 205 Live, Nese was defeated by Mark Andrews. On the April 10 episode of 205 Live, Nese saved Andrews from an attack of Drew Gulak, thus turning face in the process. On April 27, Nese participated in the Greatest Royal Rumble, entering at number 10, eliminating Hornswoggle, before being eliminated by Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. The following month, Nese returned for the May 8 episode of 205 Live during which he defeated indy wrestler Keith Clayball. He returned the next month for the June 12 episode of 205 Live, accompanied by NXT wrestler Buddy Murphy in his corner, losing to Mustafa Ali. Two weeks later, Nese returned during the June 26 episode of 205 Live, losing a match to Akira Tozawa. Returning for the July 10 episode of 205 Live, Nese lost to luchador Kalisto. During the month's final episode of 205 Live, Nese lost to Kalisto in a rematch.
During the August 7 episode of 205 Live, Nese returned to team with Buddy Murphy in defeating The Lucha House Party (Kalisto & Lince Dorado) in a tag match. On the August 21 episode of 205 Live, Nese and Murphy competed in a tornado tag team match lost to The Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado). The following month, Nese returned during the September 4 episode of 205 Live, losing a match to Gran Metalik. He returned during the October 10 episode of 205 Live, defeating former Cruiserweight Champion Cedric Alexander. He returned for the October 17 episode of 205 Live, competing in a Number One Contender match for the Cruiserweight Championship Fatal Five-Way match, defeating Cedric Alexander, Gran Metalik, Lio Rush and TJP. He finished the month with an appearance during the final episode of 205 Live, losing to Mustafa Ali in a Number One Contender match for the Cruiserweight Championship.
- Finishing moves
- Reverse piledriver, sometimes from the pumphandle position
- 450 splash
- Single leg Boston crab, sometimes while kneeling on the opponent's back – 2014
- Pumphandle Michinoku Driver II – 2016–present
- The Running Kneese (Running knee strike to an opponent seated in the corner) – 2017–present
- Back to belly piledriver
- Signature moves
- Cradle piledriver
- Deadlift turnbuckle powerbomb
- German suplex, sometimes into the turnbuckle
- Matrix evasion followed by multiple kicks
- Moonsault, sometimes while springboarding
- Multiple kick variations
- Ab Day (Alternating bicycles to an opponent in the tree of woe while doing ab curls)
- Drop, sometimes from the top rope or while springboarding
- Spinning heel
- Super, sometimes after a cartwheel evasion off the apron
- Pumphandle kneeling or sitout powerbomb
- Snap suplex
- "The Premier Athlete"
- Entrance Themes
- "Smart" Mark Sterling (AEW)
Championships and accomplishments
- Dragon Gate USA
- Open The United Gate Championship (1 time)
- New York Wrestling Connection
- Five Borough Wrestling
- FBW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)