Matt Cardona Praises Surprising Match For ‘Changing His Career’

Matt Cardona

Matt Cardona’s independent run is now arguably more successful than his time in WWE.

The man previously known as Zack Ryder was shockingly released from the company in April 2020, the first of many rounds of firings due to apparent budget cuts by the organisation.

Matt Cardona Won 4 Championships As Zack Ryder In WWE

The former Tag Team Champion had spent more than a decade wrestling for WWE, with a career highlight being victorious in a ladder match at WrestleMania 32, capturing the Intercontinental Title at the event.

Following brief stints in IMPACT and AEW, Cardona would make a surprise appearance for Game Changer Wrestling, attacking then champion Nick Gage in the process. In July 2021, the Long Island native would challenge Nick Gage for the GCW World Championship under deathmatch rules.

In a result that no one would see coming, Cardona would win the match and the championship while bleeding profusely in the violent match.

Speaking with the Pro Wrestling Boom podcast, the self proclaimed deathmatch king credits this match as the turning point in his post WWE career:

“It changed my career, it changed my life. That night where I beat Nick Gage, it changed everything for me. I know it would create some buzz, that’s why I did it … I did not anticipate how much buzz it would create.”

While the result of the match shocked those at home, fans in attendance became enraged at the former United States Champion now holding the top prize in GCW. As Cardona celebrated, the audience would hurl projectiles into the ring, which ranged from plastic bottles to a pizza cutter!

Cardona spoke about the heat from fans following the victory, saying how this cemented him as a heel on the independent scene:

“When I won that GCW Title and the fans are throwing garbage into the ring, it wasn’t a couple [of] bottles, I was being showered with things. Someone even threw a pizza cutter at me — you watch the replay, you can see it — which is pretty, pretty dangerous. But I was absolutely loving it, right? Because I wanted to be a heel, a bad guy, for so long, but in WWE, I don’t write the show. You can pitch things all day, but I can’t just become a bad guy. Or even when I got released and I was on the independents, you can’t just become a bad guy. Something needs to happen.”

H/t to EWrestlingNews for the use of transcriptions.