Matt Cardona on his WWE release: “Thank God. I needed it.”

"When that GCW death match got presented to me I said, “No f**king way, I'm not wrestling this f**king guy."

Photo Courtesy: National Wrestling Alliance

Matt Cardona has gone into detail about his release from WWE and his journey into the indie scene.

Speaking on Friday’s episode of ‘The Extreme Life of Matt Hardy’, Cardona admitted he took several months to find his path after being let go.

Noting the difficulties of working during the Covid pandemic, he said:

I grew up there as a man and as a performer and then when I was let go from WWE, I knew it was time to go. My contract was going to be up in a couple of months. Everyone got the big deals a year before and I didn’t re-sign because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay or if I wanted to go, and that anxiety was eating at me for a full year and then ultimately they made the decision for me.

They fired me which, you know, thank God. I needed it. I know that I needed it and that day before I got fired, I already set up my Pro Wrestling Tees store because I knew it was coming. Then, once they fired me, I put it up.

I’m like, “Let’s f**king go,” but I didn’t know what I was gonna do because it was a weird time not just in wrestling but in the world. The world was shut down with a global pandemic. There were no Indies to go f**king work so luckily I had the podcast to keep afloat money-wise but okay, now what do I do?

My whole wrestling life I’ve been Zack Ryder. Now I want to get away from that but how do I do that? That was tricky and it took me a couple of months to figure that out because you can’t just turn heel on the indies when there’s no indies going on. You have to figure something out, and that’s when that GCW opportunity came around and that just changed everything for me.

When asked about his persona on the indie circuit, the 37-year-old admitted he was not sure what he was doing at first. He also said his initial reaction to the idea of wrestling a death match with Nick Gage was a flat “No”:

I wish I could say this was all calculated but it wasn’t. I was just f**king trying anything, taking any booking I could and when that GCW death match got presented to me I said, “No f**king way, I’m not wrestling this f**king guy, this f**king criminal, this guy who’s on Dark Side of the Ring. There’s no f**king way I’m doing this backyard shit.” Then I took a step back and said, “Well, it’ll definitely create some buzz, you know, people are going to want to see Zack Ryder get carved up by Nick Gage.”

I didn’t anticipate how much buzz it would create and it changed everything for me —changed my career, my life. It really just changed. That’s what I needed. That was the step that I needed to change from what people thought as Zack Ryder to the new Matt Cardona.

On the subject of a potential return to WWE, Cardona said:

I’m not doing anything that I’ve been doing for the past two and a half years to get back to WWE. I’m doing this for me to create my own path. But I would be lying if I said I never wanted to wrestle at Madison Square Garden or have a WrestleMania moment or be in a WWE video game or have a Mattel figure. I’m always ready. I would have a conversation 100 percent because listen WWE is number one — there is no denying that. My wife is there now, and I’m so proud of her, but right now like I feel like I’m doing work that I needed to do. I needed to leave WWE to find myself, and I have.

 My goal right now is to prove that you don’t necessarily need a quote-unquote major wrestling company to be a pro wrestling star, and I think I I’ve done that. But they know my number and I’ll pick up, you know what I’m saying.

About Neal Flanagan 832 Articles
Based in Northern Ireland, Neal Flanagan is a former newspaper journalist and copy editor. In addition to reporting for POST Wrestling, he co-hosts The Wellness Policy podcast with Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman.