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Matt Cardona on a possible WWE return, how much he makes on the indies

NWA Powerrr

Triple H’s tenure as head of WWE creative has thus far featured numerous returns — including ones that have included wrestling couples like Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae on Raw, and assigning Emma to the SmackDown roster with boyfriend Madcap Moss.

So when rumors hit the company was looking to re-sign Chelsea Green, it wasn’t long before people started speculating about her husband Matt Cardona, fka Zack Ryder.

Cardona’s bet on himself since being released by WWE back at the start of the pandemic, and it’s paid off with prominent spots on GCW, Impact & NWA cards, among others. But he’s also 37 years, so maybe a steady paycheck to wrestle in the under or midcard of the biggest wrestling promotion in the world sounds nice after a few years hustling on the independent scene?

Sam Roberts asked the Long Island native about a possible return to WWE on the most recent Notsam Wrestling Podcast. Cardona played coy about if he’s had any discussion with Triple H or his team:

“I would have a conversation. I’m not saying we haven’t already. Who’s to say, who’s to say?”

The former WWE Intercontinental and United States champion can say that he wouldn’t want to return to the name Zack Ryder:

“I think Zack Ryder is dead. Would it be cool? A woo woo, would that get a bigger pop maybe for one night as opposed to ‘Alwayz Ready’ [a nickname he’s gotten over on the indies]? Maybe, because that’s more familiar with the WWE Universe and audience.

“But if I were to go back, I think it has to be as Matt Cardona... I’m so fortunate for that time as Zack Ryder. It has set me up. When I say WWE was my developmental, that’s not a shot. That’s not anti-WWE. WWE taught me everything. It taught me how to have this run in all these promotions. It taught me how to do these interviews. It taught me how to be a superstar. So I’m forever grateful to WWE for that.

“But if I ever go back, I think it has to be as me, as Matt Cardona.”

He also said that if he does return to WWE, it could very well mean taking a paycut:

“I’m not saying I’m getting rich off these foam fingers or getting rich off these ‘Alwayz Ready’ dog tags. You make a little here, a little there. At the end of the year, holy shit!

“I mean, this might be hard to believe, but I made more money in 2022 than I made in any year in my WWE career. You think about that for a second. That independent wrestler, unsigned, making more money than a WWE contract. That is the truth.”

Again, that doesn’t mean a deal from The ‘E doesn’t come with a lot of other perks. But it is food for thought for Cardona, and others who’ve achieved his status without being a Raw, SmackDown or NXT Superstar.

Check out his entire interview with Notsam Wrestling here. Thanks to for transcription.

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