NXT will feature Matt Riddle defending the tag team titles this week alongside Timothy Thatcher – but before that, we took part in a sesh with “The Original Bro” … a Q&A session that is.
In a business where larger-than-life personalities are key, Matt Riddle’s stallion-esque persona makes him a perfect fit. However, it’s the 34-year-old former UFC fighter turned pro wrestler’s confidence in his abilities that make him one to watch as a potential future main eventer in WWE.
And now with the “Brand to Brand Invitation” apparently on the table, the NXT tag champion tells us he’s interested in taking advantage of the opportunity by hitting Raw or SmackDown sooner, rather than later … as he’d love to catapult himself to the top.
Read our full interview with Matt below for more on his thoughts on whether he believes he could be a top guy in WWE, how he reacted to learning he was getting a new tag team partner, having a good relationship with the locker room, which brand he’d eventually like to end up on and more!
PRO WRESTLING SHEET: Tomorrow night on NXT there will be a Tag Team title match pitting you and Timothy Thatcher against Imperium. What do you think about all three of those guys? Both Thatcher as your teammate, as well as Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel as opponents.
MATT RIDDLE: You already know what I think of Timothy. The guy’s a stallion. Even though me and Tim haven’t tagged in the past, we’ve had a history. I think it was a good fit.
Fabian and Marcel, I’m not going to lie, they’re tough, they’re athletic, they’re foreign. They speak multiple languages. They’re pretty impressive individuals, you know? I think me and Stallion Tim got this one. Pete [Dunne] knew what he was doing when he picked him. I think me and Tim, you saw it on the Newly-Bros Show. We get it, we know each other. I think it’s another title defense in the books.
I know Adam Cole is the longest-running NXT world champion, but I think we could be the longest-running NXT tag team champions. We’ll see.
PWS: As someone who watched you wrestle in PWG many times and saw you wrestle in a tag match against Timothy Thatcher, it’s fun for me to see you guys teaming together now. What was your reaction when the idea was brought up to replace Pete with Thatcher for now?
RIDDLE: I was a little sad because Pete was gone.
I didn’t know what was going to happen. I saw what was happening to Jordan Devlin, having the tournament to see who’s going to face him. You just don’t know what’s going to happen with titles, you know. I didn’t want to vacate it because my partner was out of the country.
When they told me that Tim was going to be my partner, I was stoked just because of that. Me and Tim, even though we’ve wrestled a lot in the past, we’ve also traveled the world a lot. Me and Tim know each other pretty well. The guy loves peanut butter and carrots. Like I said, we’ve had a history, but usually we’re on opposite sides. It’s nice to be on the same side finally.
PWS: I’m sure it’s nice for him to have a familiar face to start with.
RIDDLE: And to think, he started off a champion!
PWS: Yeah! I think there’s only one other person in WWE history to do that.
RIDDLE: Hey, start your career off, here’s a tag team championship. It took me like a year or so to get there.
He’s on a faster track than I am. He’s doing it right.
PWS: In a situation like this where you have to make a new pairing work as quickly as possible, is it difficult for you to find chemistry with a new teammate right away? I feel like over the years you’ve been in a lot of randomly thrown together teams that end up working really well.
RIDDLE: In the locker room, I have a really good relationship with a lot of the guys. We might not call each other every day, but when we see each other at work and stuff we’re pretty friendly. I feel like I have a pretty good relationship with everybody.
The fact that I’m me all the time, even if it’s a different version of me, it’s always me. I feel like that also helps me play off everybody because I know who they are, I know what they do, I know their mannerisms, I hear them talk and I can kind of work off that. Even if you’re not on a team, you still ride buses together, you fly together, you travel together.
Even if you don’t like each other, you’re still going to learn each other’s mannerisms.
PWS: What’s your training been like at home? I noticed you doing some MMA in what appears to be your living room in the videos you’ve posted on social media.
RIDDLE: I was fighting the kids at first, but they gave up.
Then I bought a bag and started fighting the bag. I got weights. My wife does Olympic lifting, so she has a rack for squats and everything else. We have like 400 pounds in weight. I’m pretty good, you know. I’ve been staying pretty tight. I’ve been skateboarding. I ride a little wind bike in the backyard. Get some sun while I’m riding the bike, you know?
PWS: Do you get nervous about skating? What if you fall or hurt yourself?
RIDDLE: I don’t get too nervous. I don’t go crazy anymore. I’m not hitting jumps or doing anything like that. I mean, sometimes I’ll hit the skate park and hit the quarter pipe or half pipe and ride around, but I’m not going to go around off a launch ramp and try to hit a 360 flip or something.
PWS: I feel like I’ve seen you post videos where you’re going pretty fast down hills and stuff.
RIDDLE: Well, I have two electric skateboards and they go like 20-25 miles per hour. So I ride those. Those get pretty dangerous. I’ve hit some things riding those where I’ll take a spill. But with my NXT training at the Performance Center, I just tuck and roll.
I do a little Regal Roll at the end and I’m okay.
PWS: It’s kind of like Erik from the Viking Raiders when he got in that accident. He says the only reason he survived it was his wrestling bump knowledge since he was able to roll into it and not get too injured.
RIDDLE: I told my brother, I was playing a video game the other day and I jumped out a window, it was like three stories, and my character died. He was like “why’d you do that, you know you’re gonna die,” and I was like “dude, because I can do that in real life.”
And he was like “no, you couldn’t jump out a three-story building,” and I was like “bro, I would literally launch out the window and as I’m hitting the ground, I’d bend my knees and forward roll!” I mean, I might get damaged a little, but if I’m on the run … dude, trust me. I know what I’m doing. I was like “you’ve seen pro wrestlers, we’re like professional stuntmen.”
PWS: A lot of times you hear people in NXT say they want to stay there for the remainder of their time in WWE, but you seem to be different in that it seems as though you’d like to move into a big program on Raw or SmackDown as soon as possible. Am I reading into that correctly?
RIDDLE: I don’t want to push anybody into things or rush anything. But at the same time, I love NXT, I love the product we do, I love the intensity, I love the intimacy, especially when we do have fans at Full Sail. The Takeovers are amazing.
But yeah, I think everybody knows the main goal is to eventually get to the top, be at the main event of WrestleMania, win the Royal Rumble. Do it all and be the top guy. I fought MMA and I felt like I could have gotten a lot further and I didn’t. Now that I’m in pro wresting, if I have any opportunity, I’m going to seize it and take it. If there’s an opportunity or a spot open, I’m going to take it. I’m going to take the opportunity and run with it as hard and far as I can.
PWS: Last night on Raw they introduced some sort of Brand to Brand invitation. Since WWE is filming at the Performance Center anyway, would you like to be involved in that in some way and wrestle on Raw or SmackDown?
RIDDLE: Yeah, I would. You know what, I should have been watching the product last night. I had no idea. Yeah, that’s a great idea. I hope I get a call soon and they let me wrestle up there a little bit.
That would be fantastic.
PWS: They didn’t outline exactly how it’s going to work out, so you didn’t miss much in that regard. It seemed like you can challenge someone from a different brand for a match. So be on the lookout for that. I feel like that leaves it wide open for you to throw out some kind of challenge to someone.
RIDDLE: Definitely. Even in NXT, there’s so many matches I haven’t gotten yet. Same thing on the main roster. There’s so many match-ups with people, so many talented individuals. For me, I feel like the possibilities are endless. I just want an opportunity. I think I’m going to get it. Who knows?! I didn’t even know about this [Brand to Brand Invitational]! That’s a great idea.
PWS: As I’m talking to you right now, you’re probably Googling how all of this works.
RIDDLE: Yeah, how does this work? Do I have to tweet something?
PWS: That usually works for you, so you might as well anyway.
RIDDLE: Yeah, maybe. I don’t know. We’ll see.
PWS: If you were to get moved to Raw or SmackDown from NXT, which brand would you prefer to be on?
RIDDLE: I grew up watching Raw because Raw was the original. Then SmackDown came in and SmackDown has been a huge player since. Right now, I’ve been on USA with NXT. So I feel like I’ve hit that that market. SmackDown is on Fox, so I’d probably want to go there to see if I can get more eyes and attention on me with their fanbase, as well. That would be my mindset.
PWS: Do you believe you have the potential to be one of the top guys on Raw or SmackDown?
RIDDLE: I think I have the potential to be one of the top guys anywhere.
It’s just if people see it, you know? I feel like because of the things I’ve said, the controversies I’ve caused, I feel like some people might be hesitant on working with me or might be standoffish. But I’ll tell you, if there’s anybody who’s ever been in a locker room with me and has actually worked with me or talked to me, it’s a breeze.
Only time will tell and, hopefully, they see something and we do something.
Right now, I do work for WWE so they must see something. I’m still here, so that’s good! I think I’m in a really good spot right now and I think the sky’s the limit. I’m just going to try and take advantage of every opportunity I can get.
Watch Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher defend the NXT Tag Team Championships against Imperium tomorrow night at 8pm ET on USA Network.
*INTERVIEW SLIGHTLY EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY*