In 2016, the WWE was looking at signing former UFC star Matt Riddle to a contract, but everything fell through. While Riddle has since moved on and enjoyed a successful career in Evolve Wrestling, he still has hopes to make it to the WWE someday. Matt appeared on the X-Pac 1-2 360 podcast and explained why the WWE chose not to sign him.
Matt Riddle said that he got the call before WrestleMania in 2016, and learned why the WWE wasn’t planning to sign him.
“They hit me up probably a couple months beforehand and they were like, hey Matt, sorry it took so long, but we’re going to take a pass on you. They said, not forever, of course, maybe down the road. But they said, because of your past…we don’t want to take a chance.”
The past problems stems from two failed drug tests that cost him his job in the UFC. Both failed drug tests were for marijuana, but the WWE still has their strict wellness policy so it was troubling to see a young man make the same mistake twice when given the huge opportunity that Matt Riddle had in the UFC.
— WrestleZone.com (@WRESTLEZONEcom) February 19, 2017
MMA Junkie reported back in 2013 that the second failed drug test came after UFC on FUEL TV7 when Matt Riddle won a split decision over Che Mills. Interestingly, both of the failed drug tests came after Matt Riddle wins, and both wins were stripped from him.
It also didn’t help Matt Riddle that UFC President Dana White completely buried him after the company let him go. In an interview with MMA Junkie, White made it clear that the release was more than just about failing a marijuana drug test.
“We’re not cutting wrestlers. And everyone’s going to have an excuse for why they were cut. Matt Riddle did an interview before that fight where he said, ‘I smoke weed so I don’t beat my children.’ Then he tests positive for it. He’s a f—ing moron. That’s why he’s not in the UFC. He’s a moron.”
Matt Riddle did an interview after the UFC cut him where he said that he wouldn’t go back to the UFC if they asked him. Dana White said he would make it easy because they won’t ask him back regardless.
With all that controversy in the past, it was clear why the WWE seemed hesitant about signing Matt Riddle to a contract. Could they even trust him to play it straight if he joined them?
— Larry T. Csonka (@LarryCsonka411) February 9, 2017
Matt Riddle moved on to professional wrestling anyway and signed a deal with WWN to work for Evolve. This was a huge move for him because Evolve has an open agreement with the WWE. Triple H and William Regal have both appeared at Evolve shows and scout talent there. It is where names like Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa came from.
In 2016 alone, Matt Riddle has had high-quality matches against names like Fred Yehi, Lio Rush, Zack Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, Trevor Lee, Chris Hero, Timothy Thatcher, Roderick Strong, Cedric Alexander, Tommy End, and TJ Perkins. If he wasn’t ready for the WWE last year, he has tried to prove himself by now.
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411mania reported that Matt Riddle said he met Triple H around the time of the 2016 Royal Rumble and that Triple H said that he liked what Matt Riddle was doing. As long as Matt Riddle can remain humble and keep out of trouble, there might be a chance for him in the WWE one day. If not, he’s always good for a soundbite.