Former WWE Superstar Matt Cardona, f.k.a. Zack Ryder, joined Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman recently on The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast. During his appearance Cardona talked about his WWE release as well as his appearances for AEW. Cardona was released back in April as part of the mass cost-cutting releases made during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he said on the podcast that he had been expecting his release.
"Not really to be honest," Cardona admitted. "When we found out the cuts will be coming that day, like I said, I'm always ready. It's not just a cute hashtag. I already set up my Pro Wrestling Tees store. I'm like, I'm ready. Let's go. Let's go baby. It sounds crazy to say, but I wasn't calling anyone begging for it, but inside I was begging for it please. Please let this happen because for over a year, I hadn't signed a new contract. I was debating, do I stay [or] do I go because like you said, I felt like a lifer there.
"I spent my whole adult life, my real professional career there, so I wasn't sure what to do, and when the decision was made for me, it was like thank God. It was this instant sigh of relief, and I was so excited to go do the things I always wanted to do. And I already had the Pro Wrestling Tees store ready to go, and I just had to call up Ryan at Pro Wrestling Tees. I said make it live, so I was pumped which it sounds crazy. Even me saying it right now, seems ridiculous. It seems untrue, but that's the truth right there. I was so happy and so excited for the future."
It was recently reported that many top WWE stars have contacted AEW and inquired about joining the company. While Cardona could not confirm nor deny whether that was true, he said he could not blame anyone for wanting to be in AEW because of the buzz and success they have right now.
"I can't say yes or no, but who can blame them?," Cardona said. "I mean, AEW, it's the place to be right now, and for how many years did you hear, 'oh, there's something new coming. There's something new coming,' and then it never does. Then AEW with All In and starts a weekly show with Dynamite on TNT, and it's awesome and it's doing great. They have their own action figures with Jazwares, and they're really taking off. This is no 'what if'. It's here. It's now."
Cardona is one of the creators of The Major Wrestling Figures podcast alongside Brian Myers, f.k.a. Curt Hawkins. He talked about the possibility of him having an action figure in WWE and AEW while also talking about the figures he has in line for his brand.
"I wouldn't have complain if there was a Jazwares Matt Cardona let's just say that," Cardona admitted. "We are in the works with The Major Wrestling Figures podcast. Luckily, we've built a couple of things out on our own with some other companies like Super 7 and Ringside Collectibles and even Pro Wrestling Tees with their Micro Brawlers. So there are Matt Cardona figures already in the works. If you follow the podcast, we've posted the pictures, and they're all coming soon. So I'm super pumped about that.
"That's the outside stuff that I can really focus on now with all this free time is building this podcast to just a brand. We have a spin-off show, and I love it. I wake up every day instead of like stressing about life, I'm dealing with wrestling figures, but that is my life. That is my job for now. So it's super fun, and then I have AEW also. So right now, I mean, this is the happiest I've been in a long long time."
Cardona described his AEW experience as being the "new kid at school". He talked about how weird it was for him to introduce himself since he had already felt like he knew many of the wrestlers at AEW.
"I was with WWE for 14 years. I spent my whole adult life there," Cardona noted. "So going to Dynamite was definitely like being the new kid at school, the first day of school meeting all these new friends. knew everybody. I know who everyone was, but I haven't met everybody. Whether I watched their matches in other places or watch them on Dynamite or just knew about from social media, I knew everybody. It was kind of weird because now I introduce myself to these people who I felt like I already knew, but everyone was super cool, and they treated me like I've been there the whole time, which I appreciate that a lot."
Wrestling Inc. exclusively reported that Cardona was on a short-term deal with AEW having been contracted for five appearances. Cardona has expressed his desire to stay with AEW long term, and he discussed on the podcast about his growth as a wrestler so far and his potential growth in the future.
"I mean, I've only had one match so far. I'm definitely someone who wants to evolve, and I think if you followed my career from Brett Major, one of the Major Brothers all the way to now, I've definitely evolved look, ring, attitude [and] character, but definitely, that's what I love about AEW, a fresh coat of paint. I get it. It's 2020. Everyone knows who Matt Cardona is.
"I can't come out as like, 'The Ultimate Long Island Monster Man.' Like they know who I am. So that's the best part. I get to be real, authentic, transparent and be me and have fun. So I busted out the Pearl River Plunge. Like why not, right? It's just fun. day. I'm having so much fun so far. One match was great. I can't wait to have more."
Matt Cardona can be seen Wednesday night's on TNT as part of AEW Dynamite. You can follow him on Twitter @TheMattCardona. Cardona's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.