Thursday afternoon, Fightful.com Podcast co-host Matt Riddle elaborated on his falling out with Absolute Intense Wrestling, a prominent indy promotion based in Ohio. Riddle made claims that he was booked without confirming dates, among other reasons. After the Podcast aired, Fightful reached out to AIW's John Thorne for his side of the story.
"Honestly, this all came out of left field. He never made any indication that he was unhappy with anything. He was always a super polite guy, really laid back and chilled out. He was very like, I don’t want to say soft-spoken, but he never questioned anything or said anything. I had booked him for a ton of dates back in August. This is kind of how this whole ordeal started this week. We announced his match for 12/30 and then I get a text from him saying, ‘Hey, I never confirmed that date,’ and I took an actual screenshot confirming the date. I sent it to him and said, ‘Hey, you confirmed the date back in August.’ Those little iPhone bubbles started going up like he was responding and he never responded and then yesterday morning, I woke up and I had, what I considered, a pretty rude text message of him complaining of how he was booked and how he has been misused in AIW and he does not want to come back and I need to remove the advertisement right now. I was honestly really shocked, because he never indicated he was unhappy or he had a problem doing anything. He was a guy we wanted to book. I sent him our entire 2017 schedule and I wanted to book him full-time. So it kind of caught me off-guard," said Thorne.
According to Thorne, despite Riddle saying he hadn't committed to Absolute Intense Wrestling for their 12/30 show, he intentionally books talent electronically to avoid hiccups like that. AIW did send Fightful the screenshot that showed Riddle had confirmed for December 30, saying "awesome man, can't wait!" He noted that Riddle was actually booked for an AIW show in late November, but had to cancel for a trip to Las Vegas.
“Really, our only interaction was via text message because that’s how I book everybody, either through text message or email, because I want just to have a paper trail so I can say, ‘Hey, this is what you agreed to or this is what we agreed to,’ just so it can be pretty cut and dried so things aren’t left out to, ‘Oh, we had this conversation in person,’ and things like that. I try to put everything in writing, either everything in text or in email. He had never once even mentioned anything about EVOLVE or anything about clearing dates. He just said, ‘Should I mark all these dates down for AIW?’ and I said, ‘Yeah man. Let’s do it,’ and he said, ‘Awesome, looking forward to it.’ Then he was booked on November 25th and he just said, ‘Hey, I apologize, but I forgot I booked a vacation to Las Vegas. I can’t do that one.’ I said, ‘Okay man. Cool, no problem.’ That was literally our only interaction before this," Thorne explained.
Riddle mentioned on the Fightful.com Podcast that he was 'booked to lose to a pirate' at AIW. This is something the official AIW account took exception to.
For the record Louis Lyndon is The Captain Of The Fucking Ship! pic.twitter.com/pQ9il0INrA— aiwrestling .com (@aiwrestling) December 8, 2016
"He is the captain of the ship!," Thorne exclaimed. "You know that is one thing. I have not watched the whole video and people have been texting me throughout the day. I’ve been working all day, but people have been texting me cliff notes of highlights of what he said. From what I could understand, he seemed a little upset that he had to put Louis over. I mean, Louis is a very experienced independent wrestler. He had been wrestling for about 10 years now and he’s a locker room leader. We didn’t know that much about Matt Riddle. He’s fairly new and obviously, you want to put him with a guy that can come back and say, ‘Hey, this dude is pretty awesome. He is good to go,’ and Louis said he was great to work with. We were looking forward to booking him on a full-time basis. I think the things that he said, if he doesn’t like me, I don’t know why he doesn’t like me. We haven’t even interacted enough, I don’t think, for him to make any sort of judgment on me either way. But to bury the AIW locker room and just the workers, I thought was an uncalled for thing for him to do.”
"“Him complaining about driving and stuff? That was all stuff he offered to do. I don't want to put the guy on super blast, but I could just screenshot the text messages where we worked out his fee and he said 'I don't want a flight, I want to drive.' For him to complain about that is just ridiculous. It all kind of came out of nowhere, which I found kind of shocking. I didn't think it was a '15 year-old's' motive as he said, I thought it was a pretty cut-and-dry motive. It was his words, not ours. We were never under the impression he was unhappy about anything. To wake up to this text message where he says 'please remove me from the 12/30 advertisement, I didn't want to come back after Double Dare, you just don't know how to book me.' It was kind of shocking," said Thorne.
Riddle's criticism of AIW didn't stop there. He claimed that AIW put on about 'fourteen to twenty matches a night' (likely a case of hyperbole), and placed him with talents that were difficult for him to work. It's worth mentioning that two of the shows Riddle worked for AIW had ten matches, the other had 8.
“I don’t think I’ve ever run a show that has fourteen matches. I believe the three shows that he was on, one had 8 or 9 matches, the other one had 8 matches, and the second night of the Double Dare tournament may have had 10 matches, but he did not stay the entire event, he left to go to Beyond Wrestling as soon as Veda Scott was done wrestling so they could hit the road. So that’s kind of a ridiculous claim. I personally thought that by putting him in there with people that were different styles than his, was a way to help him kind of evolve as a wrestler, because he kind of wrestles the same style everywhere he wrestles—a singles match against someone with a similar style—so our thought process was, this guy’s only been wrestling for a year, let’s have him do some tag matches, do some outside-of-the-box things, and put him in there with guys that do different styles, guys that wrestle Lucha, because he’s not going to encounter something like that. … I thought I was doing him a favor in giving him some different experiences that he had not encountered yet. He never ever complained, or said ‘Hey, I don’t want to do this,” or “This sucks,” or “I don’t want to be here,” so that’s kind of what shocked me," said Thorne.
Thorne also responded to the idea that AIW reacted to the situation like 15-year olds on Twitter upon the split. You can see the tweet in question on the next page.
“When he sent me the text message, it wasn’t up for discussion, it was ‘Hey, I don’t want to work for you anymore. I don’t like how you book me. Please take the advertisement down.” So rather than say “Matthew Riddle is no longer going to be working with us,” and leave things up to people’s imaginations as to why, I thought it was fair for our fanbase to know, because they did enjoy watching him, that it was not our choice to stop booking him. This was his choice. Like I said, we did give him all those dates in August, plus I had sent him all of our confirmed 2017 dates as of now, so we were looking at using him on a very full time basis and trying to give him a little bit more to do.”
Despite the current issues with Riddle, Thorne was sure to note that he never had any problems with Riddle, even mentioning that Riddle attended post-show parties. There was also talk of Riddle working every 2017 AIW show.
"He was a real polite guy to deal with honestly," said Thorne. "For him to seem like he had such an issue is shocking. He was at the after party for Double Dare and hanging out and having a good time. I told him I planned on using him on a full-time basis and he seemed really happy about that. I don't know where this switch came in, but it's an unfortunate situation. I feel like he's just making a lot of things up at this point. If he really wanted to contest all these situations and confirming dates and not using flights, I could have put all that on Twitter and be done with it. His message to me – I found to be rude to be honest. It wasn't like he wanted to have a conversation, he was making a statement. He no longer wants to work for me. We didn't really have much interaction besides 'hey man, good job, here's your money.'"
Thorne said that any AIW wrestler or alumni could vouch for the fact that they're taken care of -- from payment to hotel accommodations. After an exhausting situation, it appears neither Riddle or Thorne see themselves working together again.
"I don't think so at this point. If he would have said 'hey, I got a better offer for 12/30,' I would have been fine with that. People do that to me all the time. I understand better offers come in all the time, and we can work around that. He came to me and was essentially very rude about it. He sent me a very bold text message that I had no idea where that came from. He's been denying the things that he said and kind of painting AIW in a bad light. We treated him with nothing but respect. I would say it's highly unlikely Matt Riddle will work for AIW again. If he didn't want to do tag matches or work Lucha guys, he could have said that. I wanted to give him a different experience. That's what AIW is known for," Thorne told us. "We try to do something unique.”