Matt Riddle talks record-breaking SummerSlam, the evolution of RK-Bro and his journey from UFC to WWE

Matt Riddle’s journey to WWE famous person has all the time felt unbelievable, transitioning from an unpleasant finish to his UFC profession after a number of failed drug checks for marijuana to a breakout run as an unbiased wrestler and at last to WWE. That journey hit one other milestone at SummerSlam with Riddle profitable the Uncooked tag workforce championship alongside his RK-Bro associate, Randy Orton.

The championship is Riddle’s second on the WWE important roster, following a run as United States champion that ended at WrestleMania. The truth that his newest victory got here on the most profitable SummerSlam in historical past — an occasion that set income, viewership and attendance data — was all of the sweeter.

Regardless of Riddle’s earlier title run, teaming with Orton is what has helped Riddle break by to a brand new stage of stardom, serving as somebody whose storylines can anchor a significant a part of WWE programming.

“I am feeling fairly good, you recognize,” Riddle instructed CBS Sports activities. “I am feeling even higher that it occurred at SummerSlam in entrance of 51,000 folks, breaking data on merch and all the pieces else. Not solely did I turn out to be a Uncooked tag workforce champion, however I did it with my greatest bro, my greatest bud, my stallion compadre, Randy Orton. For me, it has been a wonderful, superb trip. SummerSlam, with all of the folks and the merch and seeing RK-Bro shirts in every single place. It was insane, bro. It was superior. It was sick. It was cool.”

Riddle and Orton comply with in an extended custom of “odd couple” tag groups in WWE, pairings with two very completely different personalities who in some way make for an ideal workforce. Riddle’s relentless optimism pairs with Orton’s tough edges and aggression in ways in which name again to traditional tag groups like The Rock and Mankind.

The thought for the workforce stemmed from an off-handed joke from Riddle that blossomed when each males had been freed from some other storyline obligations.

“A few weeks earlier than WrestleMania, I made a joke and stated, ‘How superior wouldn’t it be if me and Randy teamed up and known as ourselves RK-Bro,'” Riddle stated. “The writers and all people laughed at me. Generally you simply should plant that seed and ultimately, it occurs. I misplaced the US championship at WrestleMania and Randy beat The Fiend, so we had been already finished with our explicit tales and sort of discovered one another. I believe it was initially not speculated to be what it’s right this moment, however we had been each pushing for it. We each wished to work collectively and on the finish of the day when two persons are enthusiastic about one thing, it is actually exhausting to inform them no.

“With the odd couple dynamic, I take a look at it like this, in actual life, that is how relationships are. They’re normally not two folks which can be similar. Most tag groups are, ‘Oh, we’re two guys and we’re precisely the identical and we do the identical stuff and we are the workforce.’ Effectively, in my actuality, most groups, {couples} or teams fill within the gaps for one another. I believe me and Randy are so completely different however so comparable and we are able to fill in one another’s gaps. No matter I am missing, he fills in and no matter he is missing, I fill. Collectively, it makes an ideal unit.”

Riddle’s UFC profession got here to an finish in 2013. He had gained 4 consecutive fights, although two had been overturned to no contests after Riddle’s failed drug checks. Riddle was legally prescribed medical marijuana on the time, however the drug was nonetheless banned by athletic commissions. On the time of Riddle’s launch, UFC president Dana White stated Riddle was launched as a result of he was “a moron” for his continued marijuana use.

As soon as Riddle transitioned to skilled wrestling, rapidly changing into a star on a then-booming unbiased wrestling scene, many followers believed his life-style would stop him from a run with WWE, with worries that Riddle would run afoul of the corporate’s “wellness coverage.” As a substitute, Riddle has thrived, each in WWE’s NXT model and as a member of the Uncooked roster.

“For me, it is a type of issues the place it felt for therefore lengthy like folks wished me to vary who I used to be and alter who I’m and be a sure manner and act a sure manner and costume a sure manner,” Riddle stated. “I may have finished that and I did conform right here and there. However on the finish of the day, I used to be both going to be joyful and be myself or be depressing attempting to make all people else joyful. Actually, the day I finished caring about what different folks wished from me and targeted on myself and my happiness is the day I turned tremendous profitable and acquired the place I wished to be.

“For me, it was exhausting as a result of I acquired fired from the UFC for my life-style and acquired punished. I had lots of people that stopped speaking to me, like, ‘Oh, you are a loser. You bought fired.’ It was brutal however for me, it was like a filter. I are likely to take care of sure issues and filter out sure folks. There have been folks I assumed we had been cool and that is occurred with the UFC and with my life-style and all the pieces. Now, to be at SummerSlam in entrance of 51,000 folks and to see the merchandise flying off the cabinets — after I acquired to the merchandise desk and I can not even get my very own shirt or hat, as a result of they’re already offered out? Bro. To know it is my exhausting work that did that and that I did not hand over on myself and believed that I would not let folks inform me what to do. Folks had been saying, ‘You are incorrect. You are incorrect.’ No, I am not incorrect. I am proper and also you’re incorrect attempting to inform me find out how to dwell my life.

“Now, I dwell my life the best way I need to and stored dwelling my life the best way I wished to. Now, I am on high of this recreation. Simply be your self and it’ll all are available in time. For me, that was it. It was a grind and a journey and there have been instances the place I assumed I ought to change who I used to be, however I’d have been depressing. The extra I am myself, the extra folks like me and might relate to me. It feels superb staying true to myself even when it acquired me fired from the UFC or if I did not get jobs earlier in my profession. The juice was well worth the squeeze and I proved I used to be proper.” | Matt Riddle talks record-breaking SummerSlam, the evolution of RK-Bro and his journey from UFC to WWE


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