Matt Riddle Says He’s Not Interested In Going To WWE Right Now, Discusses MMA vs. Wrestling

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Matt Riddle spoke with Ring Rust Radio for a new interview. The audio and highlights are below:

On whether his level of success surprises him considering how much experience he has in professional wrestling: “Well, you know when I first started wrestling, like when I first started MMA, I got to the UFC within eight months of training with jiu-jitsu and kickboxing. So, when I started training pro wrestling, I thought I was going to get to the WWE in like six or eight months. When that didn’t happen after I tried out and I realized all that goes into pro wrestling, it didn’t matter how good you look or how good you wrestle, you have to be great at everything, you can’t just be great in the ring you also have to be great on the mic. You have to be real, and I know that sounds funny with pro wrestling but you have to connect with people and engage with people to get them involved one way or another. Whether it’s booing or cheering, that’s my job is to get the crowd up. Wrestling was just a lot harder and I didn’t realize it. I know it sounds like it took forever for me to get where I am today, but compared to MMA it did take forever. Took me a little over two years of wrestling on the Indies to get here today. I think it also comes to the matches I had in Evolve and other companies. Promoters saw the potential in me and the value in me. It was because of companies like Evolve, PWG, Progress, and Beyond Wrestling. Those are the big ones that gave me a push and made my name worth something on the Indies.”

On possibly limiting head shots after Katsuyori Shibata’s injury: “I will tell you this; you should never shoot head butt somebody. I don’t like diving head butts and don’t see the purpose. In real life, I would never jump off a building or porch and try to head butt you, that’s guaranteed brain damage. It’s just not a realistic move. Even with Shibata, I told them we can do whatever, but no head butts. I am really against brain damage. I know I fought in the UFC, but at the same time I had a good record standing at 10-3 in MMA and 9-3 in UFC regardless of no contest. Most of the times I left the fight with no scratches, but sometimes I would try to slug it out and get Fight of the Night. I only did that maybe two or three times out of my 12 fights. I know guys that every time they fight, they fight like that. Even when it comes to wrestling, I see my friends trying those reckless moves in the ring. I think to myself, ‘I know your 22 and 23, and you feel fine now, but shit adds up. By the time, you are my age and 31, you’re going to be like Rock. Then by the time you are 35 and 40, you are going to be over.’ In my opinion, if you ask anyone I ever wrestled if I hit them hard in the face—wait I take that back cause I did hit Drew Galloway hard in the face, but I kicked him in the chest and my foot slipped and got him in the face—I never kick anyone hard in the head. I never knee anyone in the head, I forearm people hard, but I do it in the safe spots so you don’t get brain damage. You may get a bloody chest or bruised shoulder, but you will never be like, ‘Wow I saw a bright light when you hit me.’ I would never do that to someone. My job is to keep people safe and entertain.”

On the biggest challenges he’s faced transitioning from MMA to wrestling: “With MMA and Jiu-jitsu, you aren’t working with people, you are working against them. Trying to set them up to catch them in a trap. You hide your strikes, submissions and takedowns. You hid your setups so no one knows what you are doing. In pro wrestling, you telegraph every strike, takedown and every throw I am about to do. Very rarely is it out of nowhere. Most of the times it’s a comeback and they know. When you are entertaining a crowd of 700 people live, there is no instant replay, so you have to make things larger than life so people can see if first hand. The other hard thing for me was selling. When you fight and you get punched in the face, you don’t show it. In pro wrestling, you barely get touched and you have to show a lot.”



On how he came up with his approach of embracing his fans and taking time to get to know them: “You know, even when I fought in the UFC, I wasn’t able to sell merch or anything like that. When I was in the UFC, I would get tickets for a fight, and then what I would do is go in the crowds and watch the rest of the fights. A lot of times I would end up taking pictures and signing people’s books. I didn’t care if I got any money or anything, I was just there enjoying my time and watching the fights. Not that I feel like I owe it to anyone, but I was just enjoying myself. If someone comes up to me and asks for an autograph or picture, who am I to say no? It’s the same thing with wrestling. When I go out to my merch table during a show, I have heard old timers don’t like that because they think it’s disrespectful. When I am sitting in the back when all my friends are wrestling and I can’t see shit because I am in the back. So, I would rather go out to my merch table, hang with the fans and watch the matches from my table. I am not in a front row seat, so I am standing in the back and have a great view of the action. I don’t think I go out of my way to hang out with the fans, but I am there with them. If someone was like, “Hey let’s go get a drink” and I am already hanging out with them, why not? I have seen other wrestlers who would say I am not hanging out with that mark. I would tell them we are all marks man, we are wrestlers. I may hate them someday, but right now I love the fans and they seem to love me. I enjoy their company and I enjoy watching wrestling. I feel like that’s why I get along with so many people on the Indies. I feel like we are all the same person. We are 16-35 years old, we love wrestling and like hard hitting wrestling. We just have a lot in common with that demographic and I feel like that’s why I get along with them. I don’t feel out of place, it feels like home.”

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