Exclusive: Matt Riddle Discusses His Falling Out With AIW: "The Juice Was Not Worth The Squeeze"

During his weekly appearance on the Fightful.com podcast, Matt Riddle discussed the falling out with Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW), an independent wrestling promotion based in Cleveland, Ohio.

AIW Tweeted this message out yesterday.

Rikishi: Jey Uso Not Winning Money In The Bank Hit A Nerve With Me, The Numbers Don't Lie With Yeet

Riddle Tweeted this in repsonse:

Fightful podcast host and managing editor Sean Ross Sapp gave Riddle a chance to address the controversy.

"The main thing was it was a miscommunication, they asked me what dates I was free, and asked me back in August and they asked me about this date (December 30), and I said it's free at the moment, but I still have to talk to EVOLVE and other promotions before I can agree to anything. And I guess they took me saying "I'm free at the moment" as me saying "Yes, I'm going to work for you." And we really didn't get to talk after the last time I worked for AIW, and I wrestled a couple teams then and there, and I'll be honest, my first match there I wrestled Louis Lyndon, who isn't a bad wrestler, but y'know, he plays a pirate, he's a pirate, y'know? And they had me put over a pirate, because I got kicked in the nuts and had to put over a pirate, and then they had me put over two Luchadors that didn't know how to f*ckin' wrestle, and so after that, I honestly didn't want to work for them, and I told them that then, and they still kept sending me dates, and then they just advertised me on their card, and they were selling tickets using my name, so I texted them and said 'I didn't give you permission to do that, so if you could, take me down,' and you know, that's about it, 'I didn't agree to wrestle for you so don't promote me as such. It's not fair to me and it's not fair to the fans,' and I guess, you know, he didn't respond back to me, and the next thing I knew he Tweeted something out. And it seemed like if anything, it got more whiplash back on them, because they were extremely unprofessional about the situation."

Sapp then asked, "Is this a bridge you all can fix in the future?"

"I don't think it's a bridge I want to fix in the future. The second that news was released, I got multiple booking offers at multiple different places, and I'll be wrestling at AAW December 30th in Chicago. It wasn't a matter of availability or anything like that, it was probably the way I was treated when I was in Cleveland, Ohio, and it was just the way they run their promotion. I wasn't the biggest fan. And I don't want to put anybody down, it just wasn't for me. I didn't like the locker room environment, and I didn't like a lot of other things about how they ran things, and I made that pretty clear, but like I said, they still advertised me even though I didn't agree to certain dates. Trust me, I was as nice as I could be about it, and even if you look at what I Tweeted about it, I was extremely professional and I kept it friendly, and even now I'm keeping it pretty friendly, I'm just telling you the truth."

Sapp asked Riddle his opinion of how AIW handled the situation on Social Media.

"I think they handled it like a fifteen-year-old. They went right to Twitter, then didn't really talk to me about the situation, they just went right to Twitter and said I didn't like the way I was booked, which isn't the case, it's not the way I was booked, it's just the big thing was I didn't see a future with the company in the sense like "You weren't having me work decent people, you weren't having me work any storylines, you just had me come in and do random matches, and on top of that, I was doing singles matches, I was doing tag matches ... like I said, they usually have like twenty matches per card and you're for like four to six hours ... it's just not the atmosphere I like, or environment, like when I wrestle for EVOLVE or like other big shows, there's usually like five to ten matches max, we stay to our cues, we stay at our times, the locker room's professional, we talk to one another and we make sure the card is ran smoothly and perfectly. We're competitive with one another in the locker room, but in a friendly manner. That just isn't the case (at AIW)."

"Do you see how they could see you as being upset with your booking?", asked Sapp, playing Devil's advocate.

"Trust me, that was part of the reason, I didn't like the was I was booked, for sure, that was definitely part of it, but there was a lot more than just "Well, I just don't like the way I'm being booked." It was the lack of storyline, and they depend on me to drive multiple wrestlers for them, and I would have to drive about eight hours to get to Cleveland Ohio, and they weren't really compensating me for that. But I'd rather not bring that up, I don't want to rake them through the mud. It's not worth my time or my energy."

Riddle also talked about how he was booked to wrestle for Beyond in Boston on December 29th and then he'd have to drive to Cleveland for the AIW show on the 30th, a 14 hour drive, and as he put it, with the way he was being treated at AIW, "The juice was not worth the squeeze."

Sapp pointed out that AIW is a pretty solid indie promotion and Riddle seemed to have no problem with that relationship souring.

"Not at all. The best part about independent professional wrestling is that I'm not locked down to one place. ... And if I could go into detail about what other promoters/wrestlers/fans had to say to me about the situation, they didn't really have anything nice to say about AIW either. ... It's probably because John Thorne (AIW's head promoter) is the big problem in that equation. ... They were extremely unprofessional, even the last time I wrestled for them in the tag tournament, they were extremely unprofessional and it wasn't fun, and that's the biggest thing for me, I wrestle because I have fun. If I'm not having fun, I don't want to be there."

Sapp then asked Riddle to elaborate on the backstage environment at AIW.

"I'd rather not, just because I don't want to rub people the wrong way, but I think they know who they are. I'll mention one name, Steve Pain, he had a contract with Lucha Underground, he was wrestling AIW, he was released from Lucha Underground because he was extremely hard to work with, he's hard to call matches with, extremely stubborn, and very bad at calling matches ... and when I wrestled with him and his tag team partner, who was green as hell, it was the same way, they wanted to call all these big spots, pop-up this, pop-up that, they didn't want to tell a story, they didn't want to have any back and forth, and it was extremely, extremely difficult. To the point where I personally didn't want to call a goddamn thing in the match, I just wanted to go out there and see what happened. And of course, they didn't want to do that. They were afraid. Because I was gonna go out there and f*ck 'em up. ... Most of the people I work with are educated people who know how the business is done and when I worked with Steve Pain and even John Thorne, those were the two big red flags the last time I was there for Double Dare (a tag team tournament), and those were the two main reasons I didn't want to be a part of the AIW family."

You can listen to Riddle's full discussion of the AIW situation at the top of the page. 

The Matt Riddle podcast tapes every Thursday and is exclusive to Fightful members only. Register for FREE at Fightful.com to get early access to shows from Matt Riddle, Shane Helms, and others in the Fightful Pro Series.

Get exclusive pro wrestling content on Fightful Select, our premium news service! Click here to learn more.