On July 29, Matt Cardona, fka Zack Ryder in WWE, landed on our TV screens in an All Elite Wrestling ring.
Coming in to save the day for his long time best friend Cody against The Dark Order, he established himself on the roster. This encounter has set up a tag match between Cody, Matt and The Dark Order for this weeks episode of AEW Dynamite.
Having Matt within AEW sets up an amalgamation of possible matches, feuds and programmes that he can enter himself into. So, with that being said, within this piece, I shall be listing off what we, the viewer, want to see from Matt Cardona in AEW.
As of now, Matt Cardona is only in AEW on a short-term deal. However, Matt himself has openly expressed his interest in seeking a longer deal within the company.
With all due respect, Matt never had the chance to blossom within WWE so it is particularly hard to pinpoint his upsides bar his size. This is why I believe his choice of opponents within AEW is key. It will give him the chance to establish himself again and show he can take on people of various shapes and sizes.
The first, and the most obvious answer is Matt Cardona vs Cody.
It would be a simple but effective story that writes itself. Cody, as of recently, has shown heel like tendencies within his in-ring attitude and repertoire so by bringing his best friend, Matt Cardona, into AEW it gives Cody the perfect opportunity to execute a heel turn. It would make Matt a clear babyface and Cody a clear heel.
This could lead to a TNT Championship feud and it could furthermore lead to Cody joining a Four Horseman-esque stable alongside FTR and maybe Shawn Spears or Hangman Adam Page, something that has been teased as of late. Also, Cody is a fantastic wrestler and would be a perfect opening opponent for Matt Cardona. Cody’s in-ring selling and storytelling would help accentuate the skills and character of Matt Cardona. He wouldn’t need to win this feud but it would give Matt Cardona the platform to prove what he can do in the ring and prove that he is more than just a lower card jobber.
If this feud were to take place, it would be great to witness some promos from Cardona. We know, from Z! True Long Island Story, that he is charismatic and capable on the mic, however, we have never really seen an intense, serious side to Cardona and I believe this would be a great time to prove to everyone that he not only can go in the ring but on the mic too.
The next match I would love to see Matt have within AEW would be himself up against the daredevil Darby Allin.
The reasoning for this would be proving himself against a newer generation of wrestlers. Darby Allin is a fantastic, fast-paced wrestler with an unhealthy addiction to risky spots and placing Matt up against him would tell a simple “David vs Goliath” story.
The Matt Cardona we are used to is more of a standard big guy with quite a hard-hitting in-ring moveset. This matchup would have him demonstrate that he is more than meets the eye and not only can he do his usual shtick but can adapt to all comers.
This aspect is key, as nowadays within wrestling it is key for characters to have layers and having Matt show he can partake in a more fast-paced athletic match, it would give him those character layers that fans desire. Moreover, Matt himself as stated that he would love to face Darby Allin within AEW and that he could:
“…definitely have some kick-ass matches with him. I’d love to have some good storytelling matches in there because this guy could do some stuff.’
My last pitch for possible Matt Cardona matches is more out of left field. It would see him face off against “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels.
Similarly to Darby Allin, Matt has gone on the record to say he would also love to face off against the SCU member. My reasoning for this is very much similar to my previous point. It is because Daniels is a superb technical wrestler, his strategic offence paired with his aerial attacks and submissions see him be recognised as one of the greatest of his generation. What better way for Matt to prove himself than up against one of the best?
Even at the age of 50, Daniels is still putting over new stars, recently being Brodie Lee and I believe he could do the same to Cardona. It would allow the Strong Islander to display more of a technical side to his repertoire and give him legitimate credibility by defeating Daniels.
These matches, if they happened, would show Matt Cardona as an all-rounder. Someone that can take on all types of wrestlers in various manners. It would legitimise him as a threat within AEW and wipe off any prejudged assumptions from fans. There are so many more matches that can also happen within AEW and it is only a matter of time until we get to see more and more of Cardona and let him prove that the sky is the limit.
The possibilities are truly endless for Matt Cardona. Now that he is in AEW we are going to be able to witness a more serious, focused version of the former Internet Champion. He has the chance to cut promos and show he can be fervent, that he can tell stories and have fans hang off his every word.
He is going to able to challenge for titles such as the TNT and AEW World Championship, main card titles he has been restricted of in the past. Most importantly, we are going to be able to see him wrestle and have him show us why he deserves to be within AEW alongside such a crop of young up-and-comers.
Though 35 years old, the future is bright for Matt Cardona in AEW.