During a recent appearance on the “Inside The Ropes” podcast, Matt Cardona (Zack Ryder in WWE) commented on the differences between the WWE and AEW locker-rooms, WWE Superstars being micromanaged, and more. You can check out some highlights from the interview below:
On the influence Edge had on his career: “He was one of the first guys that made me believe that I could actually make it in the business because growing up, it’s guys like the Ultimate Warrior and Hogan and everyone’s so jacked up — it’s the ICOPRO days, right? But it wasn’t until guys like Edge and Christian and Jericho who were the ‘smaller guys,’ but now they’re not smaller guys. They’re like regular humans and Edge is a tall son of a b****, but it wasn’t until those guys started breaking through that I was like, ‘Wow, if these guys can make it then I can give this a shot.’ So I owe Edge that.”
“And then, of course, you know, like I said earlier, the Major Brothers doing nothing — like drowning on SmackDown. And we pitched — it was our idea to be the Edgeheads, but he didn’t need us. He could have said ‘No f***ing way.’ But he decided ‘I’m going to bring these guys in.’ He gave us a chance. And like everything that we learned from Edge, it’s invaluable. We were sitting front row every night while he’s main eventing against The Undertaker and Batista. And we’re sitting there ringside watching it. He was teaching us without even knowing it.”
On the atmosphere in AEW: “I mean, I was in AEW for a cup of coffee, but I could tell right away, different atmosphere. Totally different vibe, everyone was super cool, super relaxed. Tony Khan — super approachable. Not that Vince isn’t, but Vince, you know, sometimes you’re waiting outside Vince’s office all day and sometimes you might not get to talk to him. As opposed to Tony who you can go like ‘Hey Tony!’ or you text him. I think it’s all relative, right? You need to have relationships and that’s on you to make that relationship, whether it be with Tony Khan or Scott D’Amore or Vince McMahon. You need to make that relationship. They’re not going to go out of their way to make a relationship with you, you need to do that. You need to be in their ear and get to the point where you could text them or call them and stuff like that. But is the atmosphere different? Yeah, 100 percent. Because WWE, it’s this huge thing and I think almost too micromanaged where AEW is just like letting things happen. You don’t even know, like, who’s running the show, which is a good thing. There’s creative freedom in your matches as opposed to sometimes in WWE where it’s like ‘Oh, you can’t go to the floor tonight.’”
On how Superstars are micromanaged in WWE: “One time I was told — I was having a match before RAW, Main Event, or Superstars, or whatever it’s called. And my producer told me I couldn’t do a baseball slide to the floor because Ronda Rousey was doing it like two hours later on RAW. I can understand if you’re saying I can’t put Mike Kanellis through the announce table on Main Event. OK I get it. But I can’t do a baseball slide?! We’re talking about a baseball slide here! Because Ronda Rousey is doing a baseball slide? You think anybody is thinking in the arena, ‘Oh, Zack Ryder did that baseball slide two hours ago’? Like, come on!”
On the contradiction between building the card and being told to grab the brass ring: “I mean you hear that mentality like, ‘build the card!’ and I think that’s the old school way. I’m not saying I disagree with it, but at the same time you can’t have that ‘build the card’ attitude when you’re also telling guys, ‘Hey, stand out, grab the brass ring, go out there, bust your ass!’ Well, which one is it? As opposed to AEW where every match is killer and everyone’s trying to steal the show. And in WWE, sometimes you’re not allowed to.”
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