WWE's decision to cut costs by releasing more than 30 active wrestlers in mid-April has given the pro wrestling free agency market a sudden new wave a talent. And while most of the wrestlers won't be able to compete after their 90-day no compete clause is over (let alone when the coronavirus pandemic will calm down enough for smaller promotions to reopen), some fans are already wondering which former WWE names will wind up in All Elite Wrestling. The young promotion has its fair share of ex-WWE stars — most notably Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes, Jon Moxley, Pac, Billy Gunn, Brodie Lee, Matt Hardy, Jake Hager and Awesome Kong — though most of those wrestlers willingly chose to leave the WWE rather than get fired outright.
During a recent fan Q&A session, Cody Rhodes was asked about two specific Superstars who were recently fired — Matt Cardona (Zack Ryder) and Heath Slater — and how he felt about them coming to AEW.
"That guy's the best," Rhodes said regarding Cardona. "And he's got over two million followers on Twitter and a million followers on Instagram, so a very broad influence, incredibly famous, more famous than a great deal of guys. The biggest hurdle Zack will face is his friendship with me. He's one of my only close friends in wrestling, maybe my only friend in wrestling. I have my brother here, my beautiful wife, due to work. So it can't be All Friends Wrestling, you gotta handle it the best way."
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I’d like to take a moment to say how proud I am to be a friend of @zryder85 - In a world of weekend warriors and “play wrestlers”, this dude exudes passion and drive for pro-wrestling like no other. Through 14 years to see him CONSISTENTLY try to better himself(whether that be his in-ring work, or watching him physically mold himself and his body into such a specimen DRUG FREE with hard work and will). I have a little rule, and that’s that if you’ve ever “gotten over” in wrestling...you can always do so again. That rule being fully applicable to Matt now. At 34 years young, his best wrestling days are ahead of him. Cheers to a great start and 14 years of unrelenting blood, sweat, and tears. Future endeavors are limitless when you actually endeavor. I chose this picture because it was one of my last days at WWE, watching 80,000+ people applaud as Matt won gold was an eruption not only live in the arena but in the locker room as well. Hearing Dolph coordinate for his father to come over the rails(meanwhile I was ass deep into a broken ladder and stuck but had the best seat in the house) and seeing father/son embrace, I thought I’d be jealous or bitter, but I was truly happy and proud for one of my peers. Congratulations my friend, and good luck!
His response for Slater was much shorter.
"Nope! No on Heath Slater," he wrote.
This week's AEW Dynamite saw Rhodes and Lance Archer advance to the final round of the AEW TNT Championship tournament. The pair will face each other at the Double or Nothing pay-per-view on May 23.