Matt Cardona (formerly known as Zack Ryder) made his surprise debut on AEW Dynamite this week by saving Cody Rhodes from Alex Reynolds and John Silver of The Dark Order. He then took to social media to celebrate that a) he was finally taking the next step in his wrestling career and b) had his first shirt with AEW available online. Neither AEW nor Tony Khan officially confirmed that Cardona had signed, but getting his own merchandise and getting booked for next week's show is a pretty good indication.
Thank you... #AEWDynamite— Matt Cardona (@TheMattCardona) July 30, 2020
The former United States and Intercontinental Champion was released by the WWE back on April 15, ending his 14-year run with the company. In the months since then, Cardona has talked about being motivated to prove himself in another company.
"It's crazy. People think since I got released, I have all this time on my hands," Cardona said in an interview with ComicBook in May. "I actually have less time because I'm setting myself up for everything. I say always ready. It's more than just a hashtag. I've been talking to companies about Major Wrestling Figure Podcast products. I've been designing new gear, working on new music. I've been reorganizing my collection. So there's not enough time in the day. I'm not just sitting and getting fat. I'm working out in the backyard. I'm ready to go."
In the same interview, he talked about his interest in AEW.
"I love AEW. Cody and Brandi, two of my closest friends," he said. "Would I love to wrestle with Cody in AEW? Absolutely. Guys who were in WWE, like Brodie Lee, I'd love to wrestle. Guys like (Jon) Moxley. I've had kick ass matches with them both. I'd love to do that. But there's also so many guys like Trent (Beretta). A guy like Trent, who I grew up with, who I started in wrestling school with. I'd love to wrestle Trent. I watch the show every week. You have to. I'm a huge AEW fan. So I would love to wrestle... Honestly, there's so many guys like SCU, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian never got in the ring with those guys. There's so many guys. It's not like who do I want to wrestle. It's who I don't want to wrestle and the answer, I want to wrestle everybody. There's nobody on that roster who I don't want to wrestle. That's the answer to the question really."