The former Zack Ryder is thriving post-WWE using his real name of Matt Cardona, but the man once known as the “Internet Champion” is willing to listen if WWE comes calling again.
As Zack Ryder, Cardona worked for WWE from his early 20s until he was released in April 2020 when the company did major budget cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. During his WWE career that lasted for 15 years, Cardona was an Intercontinental Champion (for one whole day), a United States Champion and a two-time Tag Team Champion.
After leaving WWE, Cardona has thrived working independent shows all over the world along with brief stints in AEW and Impact Wrestling. Cardona also won the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title in February 2022. Cardona was forced to give up that NWA World Title in June 2022 due to needing arm surgery, but he will get another shot to win back the title at the upcoming Hard Times 3 pay-per-view on November 12 in New Orleans.
The 37-year-old Cardona also was very successful in the GCW promotion when he beat the popular GCW Champion Nick Gage. Cardona would eventually lose the title to Jon Moxley, but he was garnering a lot of attention and heat as a heel.
A lot has changed since Cardona was in WWE since Triple H is now booking the shows following Vince McMahon’s July 2022 retirement. There have been some wrestlers brought back to the company over the last three months while many of the underused superstars are getting more TV time. Cardona even cosplayed as Vince in 2021 before a match.
When Metro.co.uk spoke to Cardona recently, he mentioned that he wasn’t trying to go back to WWE, but he would listen if they called:
“I’m not trying to get back to WWE. But I’d lying if I said I never wanted to have a WrestleMania moment again, or I never wanted to wrestle at Madison Square Garden – of course I would. If Triple H called me right now, if I had that 203 – that’s the area code for Stamford, Connecticut – of course I’d pick up. But right now, I’m focusing on being the best me possible and having the most fun possible, and making the most money possible.”
The WWE Championship is also on his mind, according to Cardona:
“[…] Right now I’m trying to prove that you don’t necessarily need to be in WWE or AEW to be a successful pro wrestler. But of course, the WWE Championship is something I think about every single day when I wake up, that is definitely always on my mind. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. I think if you’re in this business, to be a world champion is the goal you should have. And for me personally, it’s the bees – the WWE Championship.”
Cardona married fellow professional wrestler Chelsea Green last December on New Year’s Eve. Green is also in the news because there’s a report that WWE might have interest in bringing her back. It is believed that Cardona and Green are both working without contracts anywhere, so the free agent couple could be brought in together to WWE if the company wanted to do that.