Matt Cardona Looks Back At His 'Cup Of Coffee' In AEW

The concept of one door closing and another door opening is one with which Matt Cardona is intimately familiar — except that he initially found himself going through the wrong open door.

In an interview with Slam Wrestling, Cardona, formerly known as Zack Ryder, recalled stumbling at first after his WWE release. "It ttook me a while after WWE to kind of find myself," he said. "Because who was I? Was I Zack Ryder, just called Matt Cardona? Like what is that? And even I didn't know."


Cardona initially believed the post-WWE open door was AEW, but he only lasted two months in that organization.

"You watch that cup of coffee I had in AEW," he said of his brief 2020 stint. "And while I look great, had great matches, sold a ton of merch, what was that?"

Cardona stressed, however, that he didn't regret the AEW experience. "That's how you learn — that's how you grow, that's how you adapt ... but it all worked out for the best because I found Impact, which got my confidence back. And once I found GCW and did all that stuff with Nick Gage and had the death match, just everything turned around."

And if that's not enough, another door opened for Cardona when he was offered the part of an 1980s heel-style character named Alexander Swagger in a new film called "The Last Match: A Pro-Wrestling Rock Musical." Cardona viewed this detour into movies as the latest example of his ability to create "a career out of any opportunity big or small and making the best of it. And sometimes I fall flat on my face, but all I want is that opportunity."