Former WWE superstars Zack Ryder and Cameron — who now go by their respective real names of Matt Cardona and Ariane Andrew — made their debuts for All Elite Wrestling on Wednesday night’s episode of Dynamite.
As recapped by Forbes, Cardona made his first appearance for AEW during a segment where he saved his real-life friend Cody Rhodes and Warhorse after they were attacked by the Dark Order stable. His debut came more than three months after he and dozens of other wrestlers were released by WWE due to coronavirus-related budget cuts.
A veteran performer who spent well over a decade with his former employer, Cardona had spent most of his time in the company in the lower- and mid-card scene. He did, however, become a huge hit with fans in 2011, thanks to the launch of his Z! True Long Island Story series on YouTube. He also won multiple titles, including the United States and Intercontinental Championships, before he was let go in April, per Sporting News.
Cardona’s move to AEW also came shortly after Rhodes spoke to ESPN and said he was interested in signing him and Miro (formerly Rusev) to a contract. Rhodes explained that the two ex-superstars have “literally drawn money” in the wrestling business and are experienced performers who both make “good free agents.” He had also spoken very highly of Cardona immediately following his release, taking to Instagram and sharing a photo of his friend winning the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32 in 2016.
“At 34 years young, his best wrestling days are ahead of him,” Rhodes wrote in his caption. “Cheers to a great start and 14 years of unrelenting blood, sweat, and tears. Future endeavors are limitless when you actually endeavor.”
While Cardona had been a constant presence on WWE programming for most of his stint with the promotion, Andrew had mostly stayed away from the business since her release in 2016. According to WrestlingNews.co, she was introduced during a segment with Nyla Rose and Vickie Guerrero and was later confirmed to be Rose’s partner in the upcoming tournament for AEW’s Women’s World Tag Team Championships.
During her stint with her former employer, Andrew was primarily known to fans for teaming with Naomi as The Funkadactyls, who accompanied Brodus Clay to the ring and danced to his entrance theme before and after his matches. She then went on to wrestle as a singles performer and later focused mainly on her acting career after her release. She did, however, take to social media earlier this year to tease her return to the squared circle.