Matt Cardona: I've Made More Money In 2022 Than Any Year In My WWE Run

Ex-WWE star and former Zack Ryder outs himself as wrestling's real Big Money Matt.

Matt Cardona money
IMPACT Wrestling/Pixabay

WWE might be the biggest wrestling promotion in the world - but it wasn't the most lucrative for Matt Cardona.

The former Zack Ryder has revealed that he has earned more money through wrestling in 2022 than he did during any year of his WWE career. This claim came during an appearance on Notsam Wrestling, with Cardona discussing his wrestling future, a potential WWE return, and more.

Part of the conversation saw host Sam Roberts ask that if Cardona was to return to WWE, would he do so as Ryder or under his real name. While Matt would be open to such a conversation, acknowledging that Ryder's familiarity would probably bring a bigger night-one pop, he would have to come back as Cardona (h/t

"I would have a conversation. I'm not saying we haven't already. Who's to say who's to say? 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'? 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 I say like, you know, Razor Ramon came back as Scott Hall. 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."

From there, Cardona revealed that through his various, diverse revenue streams, 2022 has been a more financially rewarding time for his career than any of his 15 years in WWE. He has done this as an unsigned freelancer:-

"I'm not saying I'm getting rich off these foam fingers or getting rich off these always ready dog tags. You make a little here. You make a little there. At the end of the year, holy sh*t. 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.”

Cardona, 37, was amongst WWE's first batch of pandemic-era releases in 2020, when the promotion began citing "budget cuts" as the reason behind its swooping wrestler releases. The former WWE United States Champion has since blazed an independent trail for such companies as Game Changer Wrestling and IMPACT Wrestling, even appearing for AEW in 2020.


14 November will bring Cardona's appearance on The Last Match: A Pro Wrestling Rock Musical. His last wrestling contract (with IMPACT) expired in January, though he still works dates for the promotion.

Senior Reporter
Senior Reporter

Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.