Matt Riddle: What is NXT for WWE’s Newest Signee?

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Photo: WWE

It was a clear black night at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn 4, with WWE’s tradition now for big Takeover events to showcase a new signee in the crowd in effect, and on Saturday it was Matt Riddle. In just three years time, “The King Of Bros” could easily be considered the best independent pro wrestler in not just America but the world, transitioning from UFC. Riddle implements his mixed martial arts background into every match from being barefoot and wearing no knee pads like an MMA fighter to using vicious kicks and submissions to throw his opponents off their game. The thirty-two year old started out on UFC’s Ultimate Fighter 7 before debuting in pro wrestling in February of 2015 after being trained at the famous Monster FactoryEVOLVE Wrestling has been the home of Matt Riddle from his days in the Catch Point faction that 205 Live star Drew Gulak formed to the very top of the promotion as the inaugural WWN Live champion and EVOLVE World champion. The affiliation between EVOLVE Wrestling and WWE is growing now that Keith Lee and Matt Riddle have both been signed within a couple months of each other to the NXT brand.

NXT commentator Mauro Ranallo is going to have to change his catchphrase from NXT UK star Wolfgang to Matt Riddle: “like Nate Dogg and Warren G, the bro came to regulate” due to Riddle’s past excellent theme song. The cool and relatable personality is what has helped Riddle Garner so much popularity and buzz aside from his spectacular matches where a jumping Tombstone is just as likely as a knockout knee strike. People around the world have supported Matt Riddle during the three short years where Riddle went undefeated for the first six months of his career. The SPLX sponsored athlete was a freelance independent wrestler besides his EVOLVE Wrestling contract, Riddle however competed for Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW), AAW Pro, MLW, Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), BEYOND Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG) in just the United States alone since his transition from MMA. The NXT newcomer became a PWG tag team champion last year with Jeff Cobb in the tag team, The Chosen Bros, and Riddle competed for the inaugural MLW championship in a losing effort against Shane Strickland this year.

You could list some of the best wresters in the world today and Matt Riddle has defeated them from Timothy Thatcher to WALTER to Drew McIntyre. Riddle has even tested himself against the best in the United Kingdom and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) like Katsuyori Shibata and Tomohiro Ishii. This signing is on the heels of news that Matt Riddle’s wife, Lisa Riddle, posted on Twitter that Riddle had an opportunity with NJPW but a thirty minute phone call with Triple H changed all of that. It’s an incredibly interesting situation because it was Matt Riddle’s dream to wrestle in Japan but he turned it down to see what WWE has to offer with it’s massive roster that only expands with each year. Eyes were surely on Matt Riddle this April when Matt Riddle competed in a total of six matches during WrestleMania weekend in New Orleans. The former undefeated UFC fighter defeated Will Ospreay and Zack Sabre Jr in particular. The list of promotions Riddle has wrestled for is extensive, including traveling to the United Kingdom for PROGRESS Wrestling (where Riddle became the PROGRESS Wrestling Atlas champion), Ireland for Over The Top Wrestling (OTT), The Crash in Mexico and Rev Pro and Germany for wXw. Let’s take a look at what the immediate future may hold for this fast rising athlete, the fast track to big matches will be the goal for Matt Riddle because in the short time Riddle has been in the business he has performed just as good if not better than anybody else in America.

Aleister Black

Matt Riddle vs. Tommy End (Aleister Black), EVOLVE 67 (Photo: EVOLVE)

Footage was recently released of Aleister Black in the Full Sail University parking lot at NXT tapings where Black was injured by an unknown assailant. The footage showed many NXT stars such as Velveteen Dream and The Undisputed Era were in the vicinity but this could all be to set up a certain debuting “King Of Bros.” This would be the most interesting scenario outcome considering the matches would be stellar and full of strikes plus Matt Riddle has plenty of reasons for targeting the former NXT champion. Matt Riddle has not been a heel in his entire career aside from bus Catch Point affiliation, this would definitely bring out a whole new side of the laid back technician from Las Vegas, originally Pennsylvania. If you want to really make a name for yourself in WWE, you have to go after the most popular WWE superstars and this would certainly be Riddle’s way of saying I’m taking this spot and you can go to the main roster or just leave. Many have to work their way to the top no matter how long they have been in the business from Marcel Barthel to Donovan Dijakovic. This would be Matt Riddle jumping to the front of the pack and not looking back. Would Black Mass take down even a proficient striker like Riddle or would Black be sent packing?

Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa

Matt Riddle vs. Tomasso Ciampa, Beyond Wrestling (Photo: Beyond Wrestling)

“Johnny Wrestling” and “The Sicilian Psychopath” have waged war in NXT Takeover main events all year long, if Matt Riddle were to insert himself to this feud it would result in spectacular main events and the realization that we are living in a whole new era in WWE. The cream rises to the top in NXT, it took Gargano and Ciampa a lot longer to make it to the big time than Matt Riddle but that doesn’t mean the styles of these athletes are all that different. Matt Riddle employs one of the most dangerous knee strikes in pro wrestling but so does Tommaso Ciampa, knee brace and all. The Bro-Mission is the finishing submission hold used by Matt Riddle, a version of the Twister, Gargano could combat that with the Gargano Escape. There are many dream matches for the former PROGRESS Wrestling Atlas champion, a triple threat match with Ciampa and Gargano would be at the top of that list. Johnny Gargano left EVOLVE Wrestling in 2016 for the bright lights of WWE and Gargano proclaimed in the ring with Riddle that Matt Riddle was the future of EVOLVE Wrestling. It would be full circle for Riddle and Gargano to see who really is the best.

Adam Cole

Matt Riddle vs. Adam Page, PWG

“The Panama City Playboy” will be looking for a new big name Target after losing the NXT North American Championship to Ricochet and who better than a man that was the top of a rival company when Adam Cole was the Ring Of Honor Wrestling (ROH) World champion. EVOLVE Wrestling and ROH are competitors yet Cole went to EVOLVE years later defeating WALTER as a member of the NXT roster. Cole lost to Riddle at PWG Game Over Man! last year, this would have that big rematch feel considering both tend to go above and beyond to have an excellent match. The Undisputed Era would love to use the numbers advantage at any chance they can to remain at the top of NXT so Matt Riddle could use some backup. Keith Lee and Donovan Dijakovic (who already has an affiliation with Brennan Williams in the Towers Of Power tag team) and old rivals and would love to stand up to Undisputed Era. With War Games coming up this Fall, it’s something to consider with the stacked roster of NXT.

Pete Dunne

Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle faced off at IPW:UK Extreme Measures 2017 (Photo: IPW)

A collision course at an NXT Takeover event between “The Bruiserweight” and NXT’s newest signee would tear the house down in any city in the world. Oddly, these two men have never feuded dispute working for the same companies. This match only took place once, for Fight Club Pro in the UK. Dunne has not so much become less vicious then before but he hasn’t been up to his rulebreaker ways like when he debuted in the WWE NXT UK division. This would be perfect for Dunne to amp that back up and bend back Riddle’s wrist and fingers like the limb technician he is. Dunne has rested on his laurels a little bit with rare title defenses, Matt Riddle doesn’t have to be European to challenge Dunne to war with the gold on the line. If we were to ever see the match we can expect counter after counter and submissions to make the viewer cringe. Whatever the future holds for Matt Riddle, the matches are going to be very exciting to watch with Riddle’s unique style and the experience is just going to grow.

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