We use polarization-dependent angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) to study the high-energy anomaly (HEA) in the dispersion of Nd2-xCexCuO4, x=0.123. We find that at particular photon energies the anomalous, waterfall-like dispersion gives way to a broad, continuous band. This suggests that the HEA is a matrix element effect: it arises due to a suppression of the intensity of the broadened quasiparticle band in a narrow momentum range. We confirm this interpretation experimentally, by showing that the HEA appears when the matrix element is suppressed deliberately by changing the light polarization. Calculations of the matrix element using atomic wave functions and simulation of the ARPES intensity with one-step model calculations provide further evidence for this scenario. The possibility to detect the full quasiparticle dispersion further allows us to extract the high-energy self-energy function near the center and at the edge of the Brillouin zone.