WWE has met great success by co-opting UpUpDownDown and jumping into the gaming world, after Xavier Woods made it a runaway hit. They didn't seem as interested to do the same for wrestling figures, though.
Matt Cardona, formerly Zack Ryder, is one half of the Major Wrestling Figure Podcast. The show has a Youtube channel that has blown up in popularity, leading many to wonder why WWE didn't make the effort to get it under their umbrella, too. The answer was pretty simple, as Cardona tells us -- he didn't want it to. After multiple efforts to do projects with WWE before his release, he'd picked up some valuable experience.
"Long story short, I learned my lesson from Z Hollywood: True Long Island Story. If it is Zack Ryder, whether you do it on your own or not, if you use WWE IP it is instantly theirs. So, everything I did under Z Hollywood: True Long Island Story became theirs and that’s fine. That’s fine. But, I knew with this—and [Curt] Hawkins and I, we pitched this to WWE. Let’s do, whatever it’s going to be called, the Ryder & Hawkins Wrestling Figure podcast, we were turned down. They said no. They didn’t see anything in it. We pitched something for the Network. They said, No. They didn’t see anything in it. Which is fine, and you know what? It’s a blessing in disguise because one day we said, 'You know what? We’re just gonna do it anyway. But, we’re gonna be Matt and Brian.' Thank God we did," Cardona said, speaking of his former tag team partner and friend, Curt Hawkins, real name Brian Myers.
Just a few years ago, you didn't see WWE Superstars doing many outside projects. Times have changed and Bruce Prichard, Eric Bischoff, New Day, Shane Helms, and coutless others have had successful podcasts while collecting a WWE paycheck. Cardona took notice.
"That’s the thing, I started realizing, 'Well, so and so’s doing this and so and so’s doing that. Why don’t we just try it?' What are they gonna do? Tell us no? If they do, great. But, so, we did it and luckily no one ever told us no. We didn’t hide it. We promoted the hell out of it. Certainly didn’t hide it and thank God WWE turned us down because it would be gone right now. It’d be over. The podcast is so much fun, especially in that last year or so in WWE. It was my way of being creative. It was my creative outlet and it was just so much fun. Whatever ridiculous idea I could think of or merch item I wanted, we could make it happen. It was so much fun and that’s why I loved being a free agent now. We can do whatever we want. If it fails? Great. I love failing. Then I learn. That’s life," Cardona told Fightful.
Today, the Major Wrestling Figure Podcast is by far the largest of its kind in the space. Just three weeks after releasing Cardona and Myers, A&E announced that they'd be launching a WWE merchandise show, titled "The Quest For Lost WWE Treasures."
You can see Fightful's full interview with Matt Cardona at the top of the page. Also make sure to check out Major Wrestling Figure Podcast to find their show, Youtube channel and Patreon.