During the latest episode of Chris Jericho’s Saturday Night Special podcast, he revealed that he told Matt Cardona — formerly Zack Ryder — to leave WWE years ago.
As quoted by Sportskeeda, Jericho said that the former superstar’s talent was being wasted in his old company. However, he also said that he has what it takes to become a big star in AEW.
“There comes a point in time when you can’t just be a punching bag anymore and he’s far too good for that. He looks like a million bucks, he knows how to work, he’s very solid in the ring. He’s very creative. He just needs some confidence. He just needs a chance and I’m really excited that Cody [Rhodes] and Tony [Khan] decided to give him a shot and I know I would love to work with him.”
Cardona — who was released from his WWE deal back in April — made his debut on the latest episode of Dynamite. He showed up to defend Cody Rhodes following his TNT Championship match, and the pair look set to be allies moving forward.
He could also feature in the title picture soon. As The Inquisitr previously reported, Rhodes has teased that he could take part in an open challenge match in the coming weeks. Fans can also expect to see more free agents appear on television, according to the executive vice president.
Jericho also said that Cardona will be a much different character in his new promotion. He compared the situation to Jake Hager — who went by the name Jack Swagger in the past — as he is no longer the same gimmick he used to be. The “We, the people” chant that got Swagger over followed him into AEW, only for Jericho to shut it down on live television.
Jericho told fans to forget about Ryder’s “Long Island Iced Z” persona that saw him become a huge fan favorite and viral sensation on social media some years ago. The legendary performer said that Cardona is “an a**-kicker” and the old version of him is “dead and buried.”
Wrestlers are known to have more creative freedom over their characters in AEW, and Jericho hopes that Cardona will be able to showcase some of his own ideas moving forward.
Many fans are of the opinion that he was held back in Vince McMahon’s promotion, but now that he’ll have more input, he could show his former employers what they’re missing.