As noted, former UFC fighter and Ultimate Fighter cast member Matthew Riddle is trying out for WWE in May, and former WWE Superstars who have trained with him claim he has a good shot of making the cut.
“Put it this way, he has the potential to be Kurt Angle caliber,” said Sean Waltman, the former WWE Superstar known as ‘X-Pac.’ “He’s a way bigger fan than Angle was for starters. His technique is razor sharp. His mind hasn’t caught up with his physical attributes and aptitude for pro wrestling yet, but when it does, this guy’s going to be a big time player.
“I like [Phil] Baroni (who is currently training as a pro wrestler in Las Vegas), but he doesn’t have the tools Riddle does. Riddle is 6-1 1/2 and a superbly conditioned 230 pounds. His promos (interviews) are where he’s insecure. But that’s because he’s still new and hasn’t figured out how to just be himself. He will, though. He’ll ace the tryout. He’ll leave most guys in the dust conditioning wise.”
“When he first came in, he wanted to do big moves and have holy sh*t moments,” said Danny Cage, owner of the Monster Factory wrestling training academy. “It took a bit for him to realize you can tell a good story and get a better reaction. His attitude is great. The only problem he’s had really is that he has to realize that sometimes the best lessons learned in wrestling aren’t always learned in the ring. He’s used to MMA, so he always wants to go go go (in the ring and in training). But promos and psychology are part of pro wrestling. So is learning locker room etiquette and pitfalls that may happen along the way. He’s coming around more now. Before he couldn’t understand why we weren’t sweating or bumping or doing drills or matches. He couldn’t understand why he drove two hours to talk. Well, that’s the way the business is.”
Another one of the familiar faces helping Riddle make the transition from MMA to pro wrestling is Brian Heffron, best known to Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) fans as “The Blue Meanie.”
“When it comes to me, I’ve tried to be a producer of sorts with him,” said Heffron. “Especially with how he should approach his style of making his MMA expertise work in a pro wrestling world, the psychology of his style and critiquing his matches at training and at our shows.
“His attitude has been good. He’s doing everything alongside his fellow students, from training, to ring crew, to cleaning the facility which is required of everyone, which he’s done with no push back whatsoever. Now with his tryout on the horizon, it’s important to prepare him mentally to what they expect of him in and out of the ring.”