Matt Rehwoldt, formerly known as Aiden English, was released during WWE's mass exodus of talent in April.
Rehwoldt sat down with Kenny McIntosh on Inside The Ropes where he gave insight into his release from WWE. He said everyone in the company was feeling the effects of the changes related to the virus, noting he feels lucky to have made it as far in WWE as he did.
"In a weird way, upsetting as it was, I feel oddly lucky that I lasted this long sometimes," Rehwoldt said. "I mean, there are huge companies making giant cuts, I honest to goodness felt lucky to make it this far into this unique position. It shows you the reach of this pandemic and how much of an effect it has on everyone."
Rehwoldt said it is hard for him, and the other released talent, to hit the ground running after their releases because of the state of the wrestling business right now. He said he thinks digital content will grow in popularity and use during the pandemic.
"That's the toughest part, with everything going on it is hard to hit the ground running," he said. "There's no wrestling events, there's no events of any kind. Which has always been, obviously, between wrestling, everything I do, I released, all my skill sets between my acting, wrestling, performing all this stuff all involve large crowds generally speaking, or at least small crowds. So that's hard.
"We are in the age, obviously, of digital content, of the internet content. The one thing that I think this pandemic is going to do is going to explode this kind of digital content. I'm really focusing right now on YouTube, doing stuff with my 'Wrestling With Whiskey' project, really trying to grow that because I think that's going to, whether we like it or not, be the future of a lot of forms of entertainment."
Rehwoldt said he can't wait to get back to performing at wrestling events, it's just about waiting for the opportunity to do so.
Rehwoldt was his most popular in WWE when paired with Rusev in the Rusev Day tag team. He talked about what it was like going from The Vaudevillains tag team to the Rusev Day team, saying it was coincidental that he and Rusev were paired together.
"By pure circumstance, I end up in a match with (Randy Orton) while he's kind of starting this thing with Rusev, and so it was really coincidental and I don't think (it was) meant to become anything," he said. "I was just there since I was literally already there, caused some kind of distraction which helped Rusev, then the next week we had that big ceremony where I sung the Bulgarian national anthem for the first official 'Rusev Day.'
"As far as I know, that's literally all it was supposed to be, this kind of crazy ceremony. Randy interferes, drop, boom, him and Rusev carry on and that was it, I was back to whatever I was doing. But it got such a good response both in the arena and social and everything that they're like, 'Well, let's do something next week. Get the tux back we'll do something else.' And then it was like a backstage and then they were like, 'Okay well, let's do something else.' And all of a sudden it was like, 'Alright well, now you're going to come with him on live events.' And then it just went from there. I remember by Survivor Series, two months later, there were people in every building chanting Rusev Day, and the rest is literally history. It was so organic, man."
The team was broken up via a faux cheating storyline where Rehwoldt attempted to expose Lana as untrustworthy to Rusev and alluded to him and Lana having an affair. He explained how that story came about and how said everyone involved was disappointed they couldn't work as a team for longer.
"Lana had come back into the picture, she came back on SmackDown or whatever it was, and they were trying to look for ways to incorporate her," he said. "That's such an obvious thing creatively, 'Oh introduce someone else and it causes friction.' So it's funny, when she first came in, I think everyone was like, 'Alright, well here is where we are going to start building to (Rusev Day's breakup).' So I was kind of like, 'Alright,' I knew this would happen at some point, we were all hoping it would last longer, but then it's funny. So this was pretty much where I'm like, 'Alright, two or three weeks time, goodbye,' but then they kind of kept it and that Mixed Match Challenge stuff kind of happened and we kind of got to do things together. Even me and Lana got to do things together.
"So I was like, 'Alright, I'll bite. Maybe the three of us can make the family bigger,' so to speak. So we did that, but then eventually, sometimes they just want to go in different directions so bad. We argued and kind of pitched our point, we wanted to really kind of keep it running as long as we could, but at the end of the day the powers that be are the powers that be and they saw different things for Rusev and different things for me, so time to go in that direction. It is not the way I would have had us split, but sometimes you make you're fight, you make the argument, you make your pitch, but at the end of the day you do what you're told."
After the split of Rusev Day, Rehwoldt was hoping to get back to his drama king character he was building as a singles star in NXT and following his previous tag team split. He said there was nothing specific for him coming out of the split but he was full of ideas of what he could do.
"I was hoping, and there was not anything specific, but I came out of the gate firing with ideas," he said. "I had all sorts of ideas for getting back to this drama king, making him a little bit darker, a little bit more intriguing. More backstory for the character, especially trying to build off that, 'Hey, well now I lost my best friend,' there's tragedy involved. I was always a big fan of, like a movie character, what's the backstory, what's the motivation, I really wanted to go into that. I had some friends helping me out, and some people I knew at the PC were helping out, trying to come up with some ideas and everything like that.
"I threw them out there, sometimes you hear something, sometimes you don't. I just kept throwing out two or three major ideas, and then that was pretty much right when Tom Phillips came to me asking about the commentary idea and I ended up jumping into that, went down a rabbit hole I never expected."
With both Rusev and Rehwoldt being released from the company, the latter teased a reunion of the team on the independent circuit.
"Obviously that day we exchanged texts and stuff like that," he said. "All I can say is one of those texts did pose the question, 'Rusev Day indie world tour?' So, the opportunity is there, let us know if that is something you guys want to see."
You can see the full interview with Rehwoldt above.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.