Matt Cardona spent 15 years competing as Zack Ryder in WWE, and in a recent interview, he opened up about his exit from the sports entertainment giant.
Speaking to Good Journeys with Second Mountain, Cardona shed light on the circumstances that led to his release from the company in 2020 amidst budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He revealed that he’d declined to sign a new five-year contract prior to his exit as he wasn’t sure what direction he wanted to go with his future in wrestling.
“Well, I did not see it coming leading up to that. But that morning, at the time worked for WWE, all the talent got a video message from Vince McMahon basically saying that there would be some cuts. And once we got that message I knew, ‘okay, I’m probably gonna be one of the guys on that list.’ I didn’t know for sure. A year prior, WWE had offered I’d say pretty much everybody a new five-year contract with significantly more money. But I did not sign that contract because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay or go.”
“Ultimately The Decision Was Made For Me” – Matt Cardona On His WWE Exit
Continuing, Cardona said that his contract was set to expire in a matter of months when he got the call that he was no longer employed by WWE.
“At that time I wasn’t sure like, ‘do I wanna stick around here? Do I wanna stay here for another five years?’ I wasn’t sure. And for an entire year I’d be back and forth negotiating the anxiety was weighing on me. Do I stay? Do I go? What do I do? Ultimately the decision was made for me. If I wasn’t released in April, my contract would’ve been up in August.
“So, that morning when Brian Myers gets the call, guys like Heath [Slater], Gallows, Anderson, I still had not gotten the call yet, and I was thinking to myself, ‘oh my God! Are they just gonna let me rot until August?’ At that point I was like, ‘please, call me and fire me. Please, so at least I can get my life started.’ So, the call eventually came and I needed it. The weight was lifted off my shoulder.”
Cardona is a former WWE Intercontinental Champion, having won the prestigious title in a ladder match at WrestleMania 32. His reign was short-lived, however, as he lost the title to The Miz the following night on Raw.