During a new interview, Alex Riley has praised former WWE Superstar Matt Cardona for “changing the landscape of professional wrestling.”
In conversation with Danial Ali From The DropKick Podcast, Riley praised Cardona for his use of social media in advancing his character while not being featured on WWE television.
Back in 2011, Cardona, then known as Zack Ryder, had seen his stock with WWE fall and he wasn’t being featured on TV. However, Ryder had a solution. The former Tag Team Champion created the ‘Z! True Long Island Story’ web series which became something of a sensation with fans. The shows put Ryder back on the map and led to fans chanting his name on WWE events, even though he wasn’t featured.
Reflecting on his former colleagues’ willingness to use social media to enhance his character, Riley said Cardona was using the likes of Twitter long before anyone else saw the value in it.
“Zack Ryder changed the landscape of professional wrestling forever in this vein. He changed the landscape of professional wrestling forever because he called himself the internet champion. WWE Is a powerful company because they’re having to interact with the media and Zack Ryder which nobody knew what Twitter was. I believe right when Twitter came out. I saw Zack Ryder tweetin’ right on his phone and I was like what in the hell is he doing… I didn’t understand it and everybody backstage didn’t understand it. I’m sitting here and telling you that I stand by this statement, that the man in front of my face changed the landscape of professional wrestling because of his character, through his influence through his vein of understanding and willingness to project his image on social media.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Riley also reserved special praise for his mentor The Miz. Riley spent the early part of his WWE career being featured alongside the former WWE Champion. Reflecting on their time together, Riley said that Miz was “one the best human beings I’ve ever met.”
After initially signing with WWE in 2007, Alex Riley moved away from active competition in 2013. However, Riley remained with WWE appearing as a colour commentator. Although he later returned to the ring, the former NXT star left WWE in 2016.