Matt Cardona on AEW & Impact debuts, marrying Chelsea Green, his bachelor party plans.

Image credit Instagram @themattcardona

Matt Cardona (aka Zack Ryder) talks with Chris Van Vliet from his home in Orlando, FL. He talks about his appearances on AEW, the contract he had there, his debut on IMPACT, his goal to win the World Heavyweight Championship, his new podcast network “The Major Pod Network”, his friendship with Brian Myers, his wedding to Chelsea Green being postponed because of COVID, the original plans for his bachelor party, his Mount Rushmore of wrestling action figures and much more!

On his new podcast network, The Major Pod Network:

“There’s 6 podcasts right now. There’s the major figure podcast, the FWF (figure wrestling federation). It’s 6 months of me and Brian Myers rebooking the attitude era with figures. Brian has his own podcast called Extreme Conversations, talking about ECW with legit guys. For example an interview with Tommy Dreamer talking about Heatwave. There’s also Off the Hop Rope, which is about beer and The Game Marks podcast. The one that everyone has been talking about the most is the newest one, The MC True Long Island Show, which is a spin off of my YouTube series. The first episode of that comes out on the 17th February, which is 10 years to the day that I did the YouTube show. Originally I was just going to drop a reunion show. But we never got that far. Our producer suggested a watch along with what was going on behind the scenes, in my career and my life. It took me 10 years to realize that I had some influence somehow.”

On starting his YouTube series:

“With the original YouTube show, I was with WWE for a couple of years at the time. I did the thing with Edge and I was a Tag Team Champion, but I always wanted something more. I knew I was going to start a YouTube show, but I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be. I knew I had to try something, because just sending emails to the writers in WWE wasn’t getting it done. I had to take it into my own hands and do something for myself. I wanted to create so much buzz that I would be either noticed or fired. I didn’t want to get fired, I wanted to do more in WWE. But if they do release me, I had buzz to go to TNA or whatever.”

On what is different now compared to being in WWE:

“Creative freedom. I can do what I want without needing approval. I’m just trying to have fun with my podcasts. With the time off, I needed the time out of the ring. I didn’t feel like it was weighing me down until it stopped. On paper, 2020 should have been an awful year. I get fired from my dream job, I test positive for COVID and I have to cancel my wedding. But I thought it was a great year. I have been using it to capitalize on this creative freedom and build this brand. It’s been so much fun.”

On his journey to Impact Wrestling:

“After April 15th (the date of the mass releases from WWE), I was in contact with so many different people and promotions. The AEW thing worked out first. that was only for a couple of dates, that was all that we had agreed on. We agreed on a couple of nights and a PPV. AEW was awesome, but I was just in a long term relationship (with WWE) and I didn’t want to jump straight into another one. I was enjoying the free time at home, building the podcast. Time just flew by, it was the end of December and I hadn’t even been in a ring since September, yet alone had a match. The Friday before Hard to Kill I got a text saying do I want to work tomorrow? I responded “Always Ready.” There was no concrete plan and it just worked out.”

“I am a free agent for now, it’s awesome for me. I like to be able to bounce around and do what I want to do now. The podcast is nearly as important as wrestling is right now. I want to be able to do everything. Wrestling is the ultimate goal, but podcasting has been so creatively fulfilling.”

On who he wants to work with at Impact:

“Ace Austin, we had a match on night one. In 5 years, he will be a name that everyone will be talking about. But I’ve never wrestled Moose, I’ve never wrestled Eddie Edwards. Rich Swann, Chris Bey, so many guys. Then there is Gallows and Anderson and Eric Young, who I have wrestled before, but never with the time or the spotlight. I don’t want to team with Brian Myers again but if he wants a fight he’s got one (laughs).”

On his relationship with Brian Myers:

“Brian and I, we are pretty much brothers. We have known each other since we were 18. We were in WWE together and on the road together for 4 days a week. Then we would go home and live together for the other 3 days. It was too much, we got sick of each other for a couple of months. He’s somebody who I am super fortunate to have grown up with. On a personal and professional level, one of my greatest moments was when we won the Tag Titles at Wrestlemania. I had the best seat in the house for that.”

On having to delay his marriage to Chelsea Green and the original bachelor party plan:

“I don’t know when it’s going to take place now. It was supposed to be on New Year’s Eve in Vegas. But when we realized all of this was going down, we knew it wasn’t going to be happening. So we cancelled it before any of the serious planning went down, so it wasn’t as heart breaking. Her family is travelling in from Canada, so that’s a problem.”

“The original bachelor party was going to be Disneyland California VIP tour. Private guide and both parks in a day. Forget Vegas and strip clubs, I want VIP Disneyland.”

On a typical day right now:

“Usually, it’s pretty good. I’ve just got back from Impact tapings. Monday morning, I’ll wake up, make some breakfast and go to the gym. I then don’t really have to do anything unless it’s packing foam titles from website orders. I do all the fulfilment on that stuff. That way it is handled and shipped the right way. We record our podcast a couple of nights a week. I live in Florida, it’s beautiful weather, I can go to theme parks or hang by the pool.”

On his Impact dream match:

“Now that he’s back, I would love to wrestle Christian Cage. I would love to test my skills against him. Now that he’s back, who knows? I had some gear designed like his, but now that he came back at the Royal Rumble, I can’t wear it. But with the crossover with both New Japan and AEW, you don’t know who is going to show up.”

On a Mount Rushmore of wrestling figures:

“That answer can change day to day to be honest. But right now, for me it would be the LJN Macho Man, Hasbro series 1 Hulk Hogan, maybe then a Jaxx Stone Cold Steve Austin and a Mattel John Cena.”

On when he will retire:

“I’m now 35, so its’ my 18th year in the business, nearly half my life. When I was at Impact, I feel like I haven’t missed a beat. Guys like Jericho and Christian keep going, this generation of wrestlers have learned to take care of themselves better. But obviously injuries are going to happen. Your body is your tool and you have to take care of it. Whether it’s proper rest, proper nutrition, proper training, you have to be smart about it. I don’t want to be the guy where people think I should be done, but I’m not there yet. When I’m in the ring, I don’t feel older or slower. I don’t feel like I should retire, I will go until my body tells me otherwise.”

On possibly becoming Impact World Champion:

“That’s one of my goals. Every day I add Impact world champion to my list of goals for the day. I’m not there to pass the torch, I’m there to light a brand new torch. I’m here to make an Impact, I would love to get a title opportunity, so lets see what happens.”

On 3 things he is grateful for:

“Chelsea Green, the opportunity at Impact and my dog.”

Full podcast audio can be found here:

Video version can be found below:

Matt Cardona can be found on Twitter here and Instagram here.

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