matthew rehwoldt afa anoai jr the last match

Matthew Rehwoldt and Afa Anoai’ Jr.: ‘The Last Match’ Is A Seamless Blend Of Theatre And Wrestling

Matthew Rehwoldt and Afa Anoa’i Jr. are ready to show you what The Last Match is about.

The pair spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard ahead of the premiere of The Last Match on tour. The first show takes place in Rochester, New York and makes its way down the east coast starting in April.

Rehwoldt is featured as “The Boss,” while Afa plays a dual role as “The Surgeon/Son of Stalin,” in addition to serving as booker and wrestling choreographer. Rehwoldt, who also works as a commentator for TNA Wrestling, shared how The Last Match aims to be a unique experience, melding the worlds of Broadway and pro wrestling. Rehwoldt has a background in theatre, but says seeing the two genres together was special.

The Last Match

Matthew Rehwoldt: “I came up a theatre kid. I studied theatre in college. My degree is in acting and everything. So I’m very familiar with that space. And then obviously made a lot of my career in wrestling. And so to see those come together at this scale is really cool. And something I tell everybody, and [Afa knows] this. I’ve worked on one or two projects that are wrestling adjacent.

“They have that… Tell a wrestling story because people are very interested in it. But they practice, ‘All right, we’re gonna do one move. A Bodyslam and a kick. And all right.’ It’s a little stage, a little ring on a stage. It’s for the show, it’s like a prop. We’re doing wrestling. He’s getting ‘em, not only the actors ready to do full-fledged matches but we’re having the guests wrestle and stuff right?” 

Afa Anoa’i Jr.: “Yeah absolutely. So the big challenge with this… Both casts, the [cast from the pilot run in Jersey City] and this cast, is teaching brand new actors how to wrestle in eight days. And being able to do it safely. That’s the key part, is that we’re about to go on tour. So we have to get these guys up to speed and being able to do this on a nightly basis.

“Whereas the first tour, it was only a couple shows and this time it’s a lot. It’s a big task for them to do. But I think we’re cruising through it. The actors are doing great. And yeah, it’s just the whole combination of the show with the theatre world and wrestling. It’s blended so seamlessly. It’s really a pleasant experience. And it’s something you would want to check out.”  

Similarities between wrestling and Broadway

Afa Anoa’i Jr. has spent decades in the wrestling business, including a run in WWE as Manu. Rehwoldt grew up a self-proclaimed “theatre kid,” but Afa said he was earning his stripes and learning as he works more with the cast.

Afa Anoa’i Jr.: “I’m getting [a background in theatre] now. [laughs] My first theatre experience was when I came on board with The Last Match. And it’s just been crazy to see the similarities between the two worlds. It’s… We’re really just separated by language. I feel like it’s a lot of similarities both in the ring and on the stage. And both in the acting and in the ring. So it’s really cool to see the worlds blend.”

Will The Last Match be streaming?

The Last Match had a trial run of shows last year at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City in 2023, and they’ve planned 18 shows on the new tour. Rehwoldt said the goal is to get people into the venues to see the show live, so he’s not sure of any streaming plans, ala Hamilton on Disney+. Either way, Rehwoldt touted the live aspect of The Last Match and said like pro wrestling, it’s the best way to experience the show.

Matthew Rehwoldt: “We’ve got a great production team. And everything they’ve been doing great with social media and stuff. So I imagine — and they did a good job last year too — you will see clips, I think. I don’t know any concrete plans. But right now the goal is definitely to try to get people into these theatres, into these venues to see it live.

“Just like with wrestling, that’s the absolute best way to see it. The hope would be after this concludes to maybe get it on the road again or somewhere else and stuff like that to go even wider with it. From there it just, it just depends man. It’s a ‘the sky is the limit’ sort of thing.” 

The Last Match opens its 2024 tour at The Temple Theatre in Rochester, New York on April 26. A full list of dates and ticket info is available here.

Check out our full interview with Matt and Afa Jr. below: