AEW wrestler Matt Cardona, who spent about a decade and a half with WWE before his release in April, recently commented on the company’s decision to let him go, revealing that he was actually looking forward to becoming a free agent.
As quoted by Ringside News from a members’ only post by Fightful Select, Cardona was interviewed by the latter publication, where he talked about how he was unsure whether he wanted to sign a new contract with WWE. The wrestler, who was previously known by the ring name Zack Ryder before switching to his real name in AEW, admitted that not receiving a paycheck “sucked” but added that he was otherwise “happy” when WWE parted ways with him due to budget concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was so excited. I knew that I needed this. I had been thinking about this for a long time. I didn’t re-sign the contract I was offered to me the year prior. We were in negotiations for a whole year. My deal would have been up this August, so probably a couple more weeks.”
Cardona went on to explain that he had his share of doubts regarding whether he should stick it out with WWE, given that he had been working for the company for about 15 years and saw his co-workers as family. However, he added that when he got cut, he was relieved of the anxiety that he didn’t realize he was dealing with, leaving him optimistic about his future prospects as a free agent.
The interview with Fightful came shortly after Cardona shared similar sentiments during an appearance on the Wrestling Inc. Daily Podcast and admitted that deep inside, he was “begging” to be one of the individuals included in WWE’s list of roster cuts in April. He also shared that he was so “pumped” upon learning of his release that he immediately called Pro Wrestling Tees owner Ryan Barkan, asking him to make his merchandise available for purchase as soon as possible.
From the time he was let go by WWE, Cardona had been the subject of various rumors linking him to a move to AEW, with his real-life friend Cody Rhodes praising him on social media right after it was reported that he was released. More recently, another top AEW star, Chris Jericho, revealed last month on his Saturday Night Special series that he had encouraged Cardona to leave WWE when he could, stressing that the 35-year-old is too good of an in-ring worker to be booked as an enhancement talent.