The Original Bro Matt Riddle has taken NXT by storm since signing with the yellow brand in 2018.
Recently, he made his much anticipated and, in the eyes of many, long overdue main roster debut last week on Smackdown.
However, the former MMA fighter’s rise through WWE has not been without incident. Backstage tete-a-tete’s with Goldberg and crossed words with Brock Lesnar have opened up interesting opportunities for WWE bookers to capitalise and stage potentially career-defining bouts for all men involved. But how might Matt Riddle’s path to fellow UFC alumni Brock Lesnar play out?
OK, so a bit of fantasy, misty-eyed nostalgia here but how good would it be to see the King of Strong Style versus the Pro Wrestling Stallion?
Both have styles that would complement each other. Nakamura is a former MMA fighter himself, even fighting MMA legend the Gracie Hunter Kazushi Sakuraba in his New Japan days.
Nakamura was criminally underutilised for a long time until his Intercontinental Championship run, and a match between Riddle and Nak would surely elevate the status of the two if done right. And, I suppose, there’s the rub.
WWE have a fantastic array of talent but lousy booking and ridiculous finishes can often mar a perfectly good match.
With Nakamura having lost the Intercontinental Championship back in January, perhaps there is room for using the Championship as a stepping-stone to the blue brand’s Universal Championship.
Riddle and Nakamura could easily work a programme vying for number one contendership with Riddle winning out in the end.
Thinking of the Intercontinental Championship at present would lead Riddle into the path of two men, the first of which is the Phenomenal One AJ Styles.
Riddle’s athleticism would certainly play off well against AJ Styles’ raw ability in the ring. As someone who can make a convert of fans to the more cinematic variety of wrestling that we have had to become accustomed to during these times of crowdless shows, AJ could easily work with Riddle to produce some phenomenal matches.
With AJ Styles returning to Smackdown bereft of his OC stablemates Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, the odds would be even between the two. This would prevent what can, at times, be the frustrating use of run-ins between two wrestlers whose in-ring prowess would serve up some barn-burners.
In this idealised scenario whereby the Intercontinental Championship is a gateway for Matt Riddle to the Universal title and, potentially, Brock Lesnar, if Daniel Bryan is the IC Champ then fans would be in for a technical treat between the two. There could even be a cheeky way of squeezing in a match with Bryan’s frenemy Drew Gulak, another strong in-ring technician.
While it’s unlikely to happen, it’s easy to imagine Riddle and Bryan working matches with more ‘shoot-style’ rule sets in a similar vein to Riddle’s lauded cage fight with Timothy Thatcher.
Riddle could win out against Bryan, earning the respect of the ever-popular leader of the Yes! Movement, thus getting Riddle over (as if he wouldn’t already be).
With Braun Strowman currently top of the heap on the blue brand as the reigning Universal Champion and, given Strowman’s beast-like persona, a run with the Universal title could certainly be enough to draw out the indomitable Brock Lesnar.
It would be interesting to see Riddle establish himself as a master technical wrestler on the main roster against all of the above, only to run up against an almost literal brick wall in Strowman. Perhaps Riddle’s run with the Intercontinental Title could end with him dropping the title, or maybe Riddle will seek to hold both the IC and Universal titles at the same time.
Plus, ‘the Inter-Universal Stallion’ has a bit of a ring to it.
Forcing Matt Riddle to test his mettle against Strowman would draw out the best in both men, and capturing the Universal title would cement Riddle’s future as the face of the company. Obviously, the match would need to prove enough of a challenge for Riddle so that a post-victory run-in from the Beast, or perhaps from Paul Heyman, would serve to put the Stallion on notice.
The build to this could be sensational, considering the real-life backstage heat between Brock and Riddle where the Bro has expressed his desire to retire Lesnar.
Perhaps, even a title versus career stipulation or a cage fight style match between the two would help to make this into the one-of-a-kind event that it deserves to be. WrestleMania would be an obvious end point for the feud – two legitimate MMA bad-asses going at it at the Showcase of the Immortals.
The only potential hitch here is that in reality Lesnar would be unlikely to lose to Riddle, such is the nature of the Beast in terms of WWE.
And that’s quite understandable given that Brock has been booked as one of the most dominant wrestlers in WWE history.
However, it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Riddle to win, and it would certainly help to build another main event level superstar in the form of the Original Bro. Also, it’s worth considering that a win over Brock could even pave a way to Riddle versus Goldberg…
Fantasy match booking aside, whatever the path of the Original Bro from here on, it’s been clear from his arrival at WWE that Matt Riddle is the total package.
His easy-going persona, lethal in-ring ability and the fact that he is naturally entertaining all bode well for him. The fact that he also enjoys courting controversy is a bonus as he’s got exactly what it takes to back it up in the ring.
The only hope is that WWE don’t mess it up.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @goodmanstephenj. Thanks for reading!