Matt Riddle (@superkingofbros) is a professional wrestler and mixed martial artist. He is known for his time in WWE and UFC. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet at Knucklehead in Hollywood, CA to talk about being released from WWE, his appearance in NJPW, whether or not he will fight again in UFC, being a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter Season 7, why he wrestled barefoot, meeting RVD on WWE television, how “Bro” became his catchphrase, the original plan for him to win the Money In The Bank briefcase, being told he was going to win the 2022 Royal Rumble, his personal issues with Goldberg, the very personal comments that Seth Rollins made about him during their feud, becoming friends with Randy Orton and forming RKBro and much more!
Quote I’m thinking about:”All growth starts at the end of your comfort zone.” – Tony Robbins
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On life after WWE:
“You know what I’m not as busy. I’m probably doing less matches and less shows. Before I was probably working four days a week, I did Smackdown, Live Events and Raw. If it was an easy week it was probably live events and Raw. And then of course we got shows like The Bump and other things that they schedule around your already existing schedule. So when you work for WWE, all my credit goes out to the guys that are still there, the ladies that are still there, it is one of the toughest jobs, hardest jobs, and just to travel nonstop and not really be able to organise anything. But for me, it’s a lot. So it’s nice because I’m busier than ever, but I’m busy at my level. I kind of create my pace, all my shows, I get to pick my spots. And it’s nice to have some kind of control again.”
On fear of injury from wrestling barefoot:
“I get this question a lot. And for me, I don’t fear that. If anything, I make more mistakes when I wear shoes or boots or anything because I’m not as careful. Even if I wear knee pads I’m more likely to just jump or land on my knees wrong or do something crazy because I feel like I had that added protection. A lot of people ask me why do you wrestle barefoot. I do it for a couple of reasons. One it’s different. Most people don’t do it. Two I’m used to it because I fought in the UFC, and did a lot of jiu-jitsu, I still do. And then three, when I would wrestle with shoes, like I said I’d make mistakes. So I wrestled barefoot, I had to do everything perfectly. If I don’t wear knee pads, I had to do everything perfectly or I’m gonna get hurt. So it allows me to do things the proper way, and I feel like other legends that have seen me do that and they know what I can do and what I’m capable of and not getting hurt in doing it. They’re like, that’s a talent in itself.”
On transferring his persona from UFC to WWE:
“I don’t know if I’m like The Miz. The Miz persona started out in The Real World and then transferred to the WWE. I feel like for me, I’ve always been this version of me of course, but I feel like I wouldn’t even say WWE, Pro Wrestling, but like even in the UFC, I was entertaining, but I wasn’t as entertaining as I could be. And once I started pro wrestling, that’s when I really started to connect with people, talk to people, really try to captivate an audience or make them feel everything I’m doing. And there are hints of that in my UFC career. Like I fought John McGuire, and I’ve rocked him and hyped the crowd before I go into finish them and things like that. But oh, I’ve done Randy’s taunt even before me and Randy tag. I’ve done Randy’s taunt when I got a submission to the night and when I TKO’d Demarcus Johnson, San Diego. So it’s like, I’ve always had that in me. But pro wrestling really gave me the platform to really deliver it.”
On his relationship with Dana White:
“I mean, I could communicate with anybody. I’ll talk to anybody. I don’t mind. I don’t think he would take my call. But I don’t blame him. I mean, he’s got a lot going on. And he’s not really into it. If I fought 10 times, or maybe five times, I knocked out five people in a row right now. And I’m like, I’m the best in the world. I think I might get a call. But if I’m not fighting top talent and beating top talent, he runs the UFC, runs the best fight organisation in the world. And he’s not in it for like, per se money fights. There had been in the past, but I don’t think that’s his objective. I think his objective is to have the top-ranked fighters and see who the best in the world is. And by default, you’re probably going to get entertainment out of that.”
On leaving UFC:
“Especially if you fast forward to now because you know the rules and everything. And even when I was with the UFC I got fired for failing a drug test for marijuana two times and I had a medical licence and everything. And now you fast forward and it’s off the banned substance list. And funny enough, back then TRT was allowed and now TRT is on the banned substances list, that’s all I was saying. Then I go hey, you’re allowing fighters to use steroids and painkillers prescribed by doctors, but you’re not allowing like me to use medical marijuana because it’s a performance-enhancing drug and I’m super dangerous, you know? So that was why even then and even the athletic, I think it was Mark Ratner, he whispers and he’s like, you’re 100% right. But it took, what 10 years? But that’s that’s just kind of how it is. So it’s stupid. But at the same time I feel like being a victim of prohibition also skyrocketed my stardom in a way. Because even when I was in the UFC I wasn’t a household name or that well known. But then when I got fired for smoking weed, and Dana White put me on blast and called me a loser and this dad go, go make six figures somewhere else smoking weed this that. Well, now all these fighters are doing that right. And now I’m doing that easily. And I’ve been doing it for like, a decade now.”
On connecting with wrestling fans:
“It was way different. So I did some small shows. But then when I started to branch off and I did my first Evolve show, Evolve and WWE had that relationship. And that’s how I actually started our relationship because I did the tryout. Then I went back and they said maybe, maybe, maybe, hey, we got to take a pass on you for now. But you know, and I was probably gonna go to ROH and they’re like, Have you ever thought about Evolve? Evolve was a smaller system but I knew there was that connection to WWE. So I went to Evolve in the first week, I usually get cheered, but the first week I went out to Evolve and they booed me said I sucked. They said I couldn’t wrestle. They chanted baby Lesnar to me because I was like a small UFC guy, I guess I’m baby Lesnar. And that’s valid like that’s how my indie kind of run started. And then every time I’d come out and wrestle, I’m getting better and better. I’m getting more in time and time because I’m getting more trust from the promoter and everything like that. And eventually, before you know it, everybody’s chanting, bro. I’m selling tonnes of merch. Everybody wants to book me on their show.”
On the origin of Bro:
“When I started pro wrestling, I watched a lot of it. I see the greats, I was thinking, every great has some people would say a catchphrase or catchline, right? For me, especially in modern times, people’s focus, attention spans are quicker than ever I feel, mine included. So I can’t be like Smell What The Rock is cooking is great. It was great for the time. I don’t know that would work [today]. But if you notice right now Daniel Bryan Yes, you got LA Knight Yeah, you got Bro. You got Samoa Joe, Joe. There are certain things, and it sounds simple but bro, one I say bro all the time. Two, I’m a Super Bro, King of Bros. And then three, it’s just like, I could easily get this in a match, I get this in promos and I know people will feel it. And also I’m terrible at remembering names. So for me, it checked a lot of boxes. And it checked the box like Daniel Bryan, easy to change, easy to say easy to connect with an audience. And also when I think of an audience, and when I think that simple, I’m not just thinking simple because I think my audience is simple. I’m thinking simple because my audience is so vast, I’m not thinking about just the Americans. I’m not talking about just the Canadians or people from Mexico, or people from South America or people from England, or people from Germany. I’m thinking everybody from Japan to Italy to everywhere. I want everybody, I don’t care if you speak my language. You know one word that you can say to me when you see me in Tijuana, it doesn’t matter if I’m in Germany, bro you know, everybody knows how to say bro, it’s a three-letter word if that’s the sound bro. So everybody gets said, and I can connect with a huge vast audience because it’s that easy. Just like everybody knows.”
On the WWE 4:20 shirt:
“It took a lot of convincing. But I’ll tell you this, they’re not mad about it. They made quite a pretty penny on it. So did I and so did Randy I would imagine. But yeah, we were trying for months and months and then 4:20 came up. And now if you know Randy, he doesn’t like to advertise anything Randy does his job. That’s his job. Unless he wants to do something he’s not gonna do it. Which is why Randy so cool. So we want this 4:20 shirt, WWE hit us up on 4/19. They go Randy, Riddle, you’re gonna do an RK Bro 4:20 shirt. We’re only going to do a limited release one day only. Alright, they get told us any other shirt whateve, I probably would have shared it, Randy wouldn’t have shared it. Me and Randy text each other separately from that and we go, we’re sharing the hell out of this shirt. We’re getting this over, we need this to sell. We wanted it, we did it. We finally got what we wanted. We need to make this happen. We got to let them know how much money there is. And literally not even 16 hours into 4:20 we got a call. They’re like oh, we’re gonna keep the shirt going. We’re just gonna keep it going. And even after Randy left because of his injury. They had the Bro 4:20 shirt, which sold like hotcakes and the Bro 4:20 hats and everything else.”
It feels like it is walking a line.
“It is walking a line. But I look at it like this 4:20 is just a number baby. It only means what you think it means. And at the same time, I think the reason why me and Randy’s relationship worked so well and not just so well for everyone, especially so well. WWE is very family-oriented. There’s a lot of dads and a lot of kids, there’s a lot of moms and a lot of kids and I think when you got me and Randy together. One, I’m a 4:20 guy, I’m more of the childish side of riding the scooter around that you would with your parent and everything like that. So I feel like it almost felt normal to do that. If anything. It was almost like Randy’s my dad and I’m like doing goofy stuff and he’s like stop that. Or like when I was like spelling calibration I’m like, of like how I would weigh stuff on my scale at home and he’s like shhh. Then I still calibration perfectly. He was of course I know how to spell calibration. I have a scale that way grammes and ounces on.”
On early issues with Randy Orton:
“The first time I was on the main roster and we were sharing a locker room for real Randy met me. Yeah, Randy didn’t like me [Why not?] I look at it like this. I don’t like bothering people. So if you’re in a room and I see you talking to a bunch of people jibber jabber and laugh and unless I like know you, well, probably just gonna keep my distance because I don’t want to interrupt your little powwow and your fun, you know. So when I first met Randy. That’s kind of how it was his COVID. So we’re all like in a locker room spaced out this and that. So I guess I had a chance to say hi, and I didn’t take it or what have you. I think Randy took that as disrespect. Like I didn’t think he was cool enough or something. Randy is like, how do I get this asshole fired? And I was like, Oh man. But he didn’t say that to me. He told me that later when we were friends.”
Did he actually try to get you fired?
“I don’t think so. I mean, I feel like I would have had to do something else to really grind his gears. Plus, I feel like a lot of people when they first meet me they hear things about me or this and that. Then when they meet me and work with me and hang out with me, they’re like, oh, ok. Even Seth when I talked to him finally because we didn’t like each other for a minute. And I always liked him. But when we finally talked, he was like, well, you’re like a really cool guy. I was like, Thanks, man. He’s like, I hear all this crap about you. And I’m just like, yeah. [Why didn’t Seth like you?] Well, my ex-wife said some stuff about Becky and Mandy. Like kind of body shaming them and Seth assumed I was like, on that boat as well, which I was not I would never body shame anybody. So then I went up to say that I apologise for my wife’s comments, and I don’t feel that way. And wished the best of luck with Becky and his new baby that was on the way.”
“Goldberg, I’ll say this. Me and Goldberg have talked, I’m not gonna say we’ve hashed everything out. Because I’m me, he’s him, and I’m not a huge fan of his work. I’m not a huge fan of his wrestling style, per se. That’s all I’m gonna say. I think he’s great at drawing money. I think he’s great at sports entertaining. I think he’s an awesome action star, playing Santa Claus in a horror movie. I told him all this, I like a bunch of stuff. I’m just not a fan of his work. And that’s that. Now I think, if we wrestled, I would want to do a couple things differently. And I think it could be better. But that’s a whole different can of worms. But at the end of the day, me and Goldberg don’t get along, because I talked some trash about his wrestling. He didn’t like it, he took it as disrespect. And I said it’s not disrespectful, because it’s true. And then he didn’t like that told me how successful he’s been. And I know you’ll be more successful than I’ll probably ever be in my life. But nobody’s ever gonna tune back in to watch a classic Goldberg match. You might watch the spear compilation. These are tight, jackhammer compolation, cool. Maybe one or two matches, but you’re not going back. You’re not going back like you go back to watch Shawn Michaels versus Bret Hart and the Iron Man match. Or Razor Shawn in the first-ever ladder [match. I could keep continuing you’re not gonna go back like that, because he doesn’t have any of those in his arsenal. But he’s still one of the best of all time. And I’m not going to argue that I’d say that to his face.”
On the Seth Rollins rivalry:
“Well, part of it’s real because you know, my ex-wife did divorce me. And when you’re travelling as much as I am and everything it’s done, I really don’t have a leg to stand as though like I’ll be home to raise the kids. I’m gone all the time. My schedule is not consistent during the week. So you know, I didn’t really get full custody of the kids. I get to see them, I see them like every week. I pay child support, I pay for everything. But yeah, but at the same time I figured there was already some rumours, this that and the other thing, you might as well. When we started this, he had Cody and Randy got hurt. So my stuff ended with Randy because we were gonna go into something and then Seth’s ended with Cody because Cody got hurt. So they paired us up together, but we didn’t want to be just two good wrestlers just wrestling we want to make this good. And set doesn’t want anything to just be short lived. I set those how talented I was as well. So that’s what we’re trying to do. And we were talking about talking trash. I was like, Well honestly what you should say to me, because I know everybody will draw you should just call me a deadbeat dad. That’s why your wife left you took your kid I suggested it.”
On a possible WWE return:
“I’ll say this. And this isn’t a knock to anybody. Good luck to everybody. If CM Punk can come back, there’s definitely a possibility.
I’ll say this. I have no ill will. I really don’t. I’m thankful they gave me the opportunities they gave me. I’m super stoked on it. Super happy about it. And yeah, just even with the UFC. Not bitter. I’m grateful. I got to fight in the biggest fight organisation in the world. And even when Dana slammed me, it built my stardom for being like the 4:20 athlete of the year. So it’s like can’t knock it, WWE gave you a platform multiple WrestleManias multiple Royal Rumbles multiple Survivor Series, multiple everything. Sweet. Thank you no harm. Thank you for all the money in the championships and how people and kids look at me because they got to see me on their screens.”
What is Matt Riddle Grateful for?
“My friends, my girlfriend and for me.”