Matt Riddle has discussed feeling disrespected in MMA as well as witnessing two of pro wrestling’s defining moments helped him decide to make the jump from octagon to the wrestling ring.
Riddle is currently involved on-screen with Randy Orton in RK-Bro after having a spell as WWE United States Champion. However, these accomplishments are a long way from the MMA career Riddle set out on in 2008. Appearing on The Ultimate Fighter, Matt Riddle earned a UFC contract and competed in fights there for five years. ‘The Original Bro’ was let go from his UFC contract after repeatedly failing drug tests for marijuana in 2013.
Speaking to WWE Deutschland on IGTV, Riddle discussed how he fell out of love with MMA:
“So when I got fired from the UFC, I went to Bellator, and was trying to make that work, and that didn’t work out. I can’t get into it. But then, I went to Titan FC. I remember I was fighting the UFC for $25,000 to show up, $25,000 to win. When I fought in Titan, my last fight in MMA, I fought for $5,000, flat. After that fight, I was thinking, I signed another fight, to fight Ben Saunders, and I was just like, ‘This isn’t what I want to do,’ and I felt like I put enough hard work and time into it, where I just felt extremely disrespected and when I would watch professional wrestling, because I always did growing up and even at this point, I saw the amount of respect the fans had for the athletes, but in turn, the company had to respect the athlete, and I felt like that was missing from MMA.”
For Riddle, it was now time to look again at his first love of professional wrestling to see if could make a career in that:
“I felt like I didn’t want anything to do with it in that world and that light, and I always, ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a professional wrestler. I just didn’t see the time, the opportunity. This was my time. This was my opportunity. I was trying to fight back into a sport that wasn’t happening to me anymore. I was like, ‘You know what? This is it. It’s time to change. It’s time to try something new. It’s time to like, get that passion back. Sometimes MMA is great because if you get tired of doing jiu-jitsu, I’m going to start kickboxing. Then, when you get tired of kickboxing, you go to some wrestling or Judo, you know, there’s always something to stay fresh.
“So for me, and for me, it felt like I was coming full circle. When I was a kid, we didn’t watch sports in my family, but I found pro wrestling, and then I did amateur wrestling, jiu-jitsu, UFC, and I felt going back to pro wrestling, my life was going full circle, and that was it.”
There were two moments that stood out to Riddle that helped rekindle his love of pro wrestling, and they both happened on one night in 2014 that changed the face of wrestling forever.
“Also, I’ll be honest, I saw Brock Lesnar beat the streak of The Undertaker. I was like, ‘I should probably get into WWE.’ That same night, Daniel Bryan became a double champion, I believe against Triple H and Batista. It was a big night for me. That was when all the MMA stuff was happening with me. I was happy with the WWE and I also saw a resurgence in pro wrestling. I think if you talk to any top guy that was on the indies, or even in WWE, [they’ll say that] the WWE Network brought wrestling back. Wrestling wasn’t dead, but it wasn’t at its peak. The WWE Network brought it back to its peak, you know, and it was like, wrestling was big. I remember when I was on the indies. When I first started, there weren’t that many wrestlers [or[ that many wrestling shows. By the time I left the indies, there were thousands of indie wrestlers not just in America, but in Germany, Japan…”
Although Bryan did defeat Triple H in the opening match of WrestleMania XXX, it was Riddle’s current partner Randy Orton that Daniel Bryan defeated alongside Batista as ‘The Miracle On Bourbon Street’ occurred.