Matt Cardona, aka WWE's Zack Ryder, Makes Surprise AEW Debut

Matt Cardona has landed on his feet with a new promotion. Known as Zack Ryder in WWE, Cardona made a surprise appearance on AEW Dynamite, saving Cody Rhodes from Alex Reynolds and John Silver of The Dark Order. Later in the show, AEW announced Cardona will be back next week in his first match. Cardona then went to Twitter to show his appreciation to AEW for giving him the opportunity to perform.

Cardona was one of the many wrestlers who were cut by WWE on April 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the full details of his release aren't publicly known, it's likely Cardona had a 90-day non-compete clause, meaning he couldn't sign with another promotion until July 15. Some of the other wrestlers who were cut were Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, EC3, and Heath Slater. All four have recently appeared on Impact Wrestling.

Back in May, Cardona spoke to and talked about possibly joining AEW. "Cody and Brandi [Rhodes], two of my closest friends," he said. "Would I love to wrestle with Cody in AEW? Absolutely. Guys who were in WWE, like Brodie Lee, I'd love to wrestle. Guys like (Jon) Moxley. I've had kick ass matches with them both. I'd love to do that. But there's also so many guys like Trent (Beretta)." Cardona went on to say that he's a "huge AEW fan" and then said "I want to wrestle everybody. There's nobody on that roster who I don't want to wrestle."

Cardona, 35, was with WWE for 14 years. During his career, Cardona won the WWE Intercontinental Championship, the United States Championship, and the Raw Tag Team Championship twice with Curt Hawkins. He also starred in a YouTube series called Z! True Long Island True Story back in 2011, which got him over with the fans. In June, Cardona was on The Major Wrestling Figure Podcast with Hawkins (also known as Brian Meyers) and talked about how WWE asked him to use his pool after he was let go from the company.

"I'm sitting by the pool with Chelsea (Green), and she has a weird look on her face," Ryder said. "She's checking her phone, and I'm like, 'Babe, what's up?' She's like, 'Uh, someone from WWE asked me if Otis, Mandy Rose, and a camera crew can come here to film a pool scene for SmackDown.' I was shaking in anger. Shaking in anger. You fired me, but you want to use my pool?"