Matt Cardona, also popularly known as Zack Ryder in WWE, has made a career for himself with two completely different personas. Matt Cardona entered WWE as the "Long Island Loud Mouth," spouting his signature catchphrase of "Woo Woo Woo, You Know It" under the name Zack Ryder. He was revolutionary in using the internet to develop his character outside of the realm of TV in a time when that was unheard of. Zack Ryder found success in WWE, but some would argue that he was not used to his full potential.

Cardona was released from WWE in 2020 and a new character was born. After his release, Cardona took on a more serious character and competed in many different wrestling companies. Matt Cardona found himself in Impact Wrestling, GCW, NWA, and a quick run in AEW, among others. As an internet trailblazer, Matt Cardona has shared a lot about his professional and personal life. Throughout his two major wrestling characters, there is a lot to unpack about the career of Matt Cardona both inside and outside the ring.

He battled cancer during his high school years

Matt Cardona has fought many tough battles inside of a wrestling ring, but none can be as tough as the battle he fought with cancer as a teenager in high school. When Cardona was in high school, a lump on his foot was discovered. That lump turned out to be cancerous and spread past his foot and into his lungs. Cardona had to go through chemotherapy in an attempt to eradicate the cancer from his body. All the treatments caused him to miss a year of his high school career.

Matt Cardona’s perseverance paid off because he was able to overcome the cancer. Although he is open about this time in life, he does not mention it often because he "does not want it to define him." Cardona said his love and desire to become a professional wrestler was what helped him get through the many treatments at such a young age. In a 2016 interview with WWE.com, Cardona talked about how his passion for wrestling fueled him during this time: "It sucked, it did … but the thing that kept me going was that I knew I had to beat it to get here because this was my destiny. I don’t know why. I wasn’t born into this business, but for some reason, my whole life has been to get here."

He started his career under the name Brett Matthews

Before Matt Cardona joined the mainstream wrestling scene of WWE under the name, Zack Ryder, he was on the independents using the name Brett Matthews. According to the 2008 September/October issue of WWE Magazine, Cardona was trained by Mikey Whipwreck of ECW fame. In 2004, Cardona made his wrestling debut as Brett Matthews with New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC). Right away he teamed with Brian Meyers, and the two would later become the Major Brothers on WWE television.

They wrestled in the tag team division of NYWC and ended up winning the tag team championships in the company. The duo ended up losing the tag team titles months later to another NYWC team by the name of B.S. Express. Cardona and Meyers continued to wrestle around the independent scene and eventually their names were changed to Brett Major and Brian Major, setting the stage for their 2005 WWE debut as the Major Brothers.

He created the Internet Championship, but was not allowed to wear it

Matt Cardona is most widely known for using the leverage of internet to help get his "Zack Ryder" character over on an outlet outside of WWE television. In 2011, Cardona started a YouTube show called "Z! True Long Island Story" where the Zack Ryder character would cut promos and appear in vignettes, all with the purpose of evolving his wrestling persona. As the character evolved, Cardona purchased an "Internet Championship" from Wildcat Belts. On his YouTube show, Cardona called himself the Internet Champion, but this belt was not allowed to be featured on any WWE programming.

The only mention of the championship while Cardona was under WWE contract was its appearance in the "WWE ’13" video game. Fast forward to 2021 and the Internet Championship was featured in the "others" category of a WWE book that chronicles all the championships in the company. Upon hearing the news of the championship being featured in a WWE book, Cardona did what "won" him the championship in the first place: he went to the internet. In a tweet, Cardona took a picture of the page and said, "I wasn’t allowed to use the Internet Championship I created on @WWE TV. But it’s featured in the new WWE Championship book. LOL."

Regrets letting WWE take over his YouTube show

Matt Cardona’s grassroots show "Z! True Long Island Story" was a revolutionary idea to use YouTube to promote a wrestling character. The show lasted for 50 episodes on his personal YouTube channel until WWE began to notice how hot it was getting. WWE approached Cardona about moving his YouTube show to their channel instead of his personal account. Cardona wishes at this moment in time he had told WWE "no." However, he agreed to the deal, making the 51st episode of "Z! True Long Island Story" appear on WWE’s official YouTube page.

Cardona mentions that the fans assumed he had "sold out" and began to turn on him and the show. In addition, WWE began to edit things out of the show, despite them saying that they wouldn’t touch the content. On an episode of "Busted Open Radio" (h/t Pro Wrestling Torch), Cardona talked about how his once popular YouTube show began to go downhill when it moved to WWE’s YouTube page: "… it just became a job and not fun. For the most part the last 50 were horrible, but the first 50 changed the business." Matt Cardona believes that "Z! True Long Island Story" changed how WWE thought about using social media. He points out that since he created that show, WWE’s programming has been all about promoting different social media platforms.

If a WWE run is in his future, he wants to stay ‘Matt Cardona’

Matt Cardona is having a great time jumping around to different wrestling companies and making a name for himself outside of the WWE. However, Cardona has not completely ruled out the idea of doing another run in WWE. Shortly after his release from WWE, Cardona made headlines by tweeting that the Zack Ryder character was dead and Matt Cardona was here to stay. In an interview with Kevin Kallam of SportsKeeda, Matt Cardona elaborated on his tweet. He mentioned that the Zack Ryder character helped make him but it was time to evolve.

In the interview, Cardona did not rule out a second WWE run, saying, "… if I were to go back, I think it has to be as Matt Cardona. Zack Ryder, it was what it was. I am so grateful for that run. It has set me up for this run. Without being Zack Ryder in WWE, I wouldn’t be Matt Cardona talking to you right now. So, it set me up for everything, but the ‘Woo Woo Woo,’ the headband, but sunglasses, it’s dead." With more rumors piling up about a potential return to WWE, it raises the question: What would the Matt Cardona character look like under the WWE banner?

He wants to have a cinematic match against Zack Ryder

Matt Cardona has publicly stated that the Zack Ryder character is dead and gone, and even a return to WWE would happen under the terms that he sticks with his current "Matt Cardona" character. However, Cardona is open to the idea of resurrecting the character to have a cinematic match with, a match type that became popularized during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt Cardona admits that he does not have the editing skills to pull this off, but would open if someone who did was willing to help. He also mentions that this would probably have to take place in WWE since they own the trademarks to "Zack Ryder." Although it might be a pipedream, Cardona still talked with SportsKeeda about his excitement for doing this project: "I thought about doing something like that before. It’d be really, really fun. I have to shave my beard though." It is unclear whether this will ever come to fruition, but if it does, Matt Cardona is Alwayz Ready.

He got married to Chelsea Green in Las Vegas

Matt Cardona and Chelsea Green have traveled through the wrestling business together, being seen on promotions such as Impact Wrestling and the NWA. Despite being surrounded by the world of wrestling, the two barely talked about their work when they first started dated. Green mentions in an interview with TV Insider that her and Cardona’s relationship was built on everything except wrestling, making their relationship stronger. This ability to avoid talking shop in their relationship led them to a wedding day of December 31st, 2021.

Cardona and Green got married at a time when Matt was no longer under AEW contract and had not yet appeared on Impact Wrestling. A few days before his wedding, Cardona poked fun at the fact that he was a free agent by tweeting, "The only contract I wanted to sign in 2021… I love you Chelsea Green… I’m #AlwayzReady to be your husband!" Luckily, Chelsea Green did not revert back to the "Hot Mess Express" from her earlier Impact Wrestling days and the two had a beautiful New Years Eve wedding. Numerous AEW and WWE stars were in attendance to celebrate the newlyweds, including Britt Baker, Dolph Ziggler, and The Miz.

He Hosts the Major Wrestling Figure Podcast alongside long time friend Curt Hawkins

Outside of the ring, Matt Cardona is known from having one of the largest collections of wrestling action figures and memorabilia. Cardona has been collecting wrestling action figures since he was a kid, but his collecting craze really took off when he bought the WWF 1-2-3 Kid Hasbro figure off eBay. His love for collecting action figures has led him to appear on shows where he tours different toy stores for action figures and discusses them. His passion also brought on a podcast venture with his good friend Curt Hawkins, called the "Major Wrestling Figure Podcast."

The show started on August 23rd, 2018 and has been running weekly ever since. On the show, Cardona and Meyers talk about wrestling figure history, upcoming wrestling toy releases, and answer questions from other collectors around the world. Cardona’s wrestling action figure takes up an entire room in his house, and with all this knowledge of past, present, and future wrestling toy collecting, Matt Cardona has found an outlet to share his knowledge on the subject for anyone who loves the collecting side of wrestling.

He’s an avid Ghostbusters fan

Matt Cardona’s million dollar collection is filled with wrestling action figures from the past and present. However, his collection expands past the world of wrestling and into the "Ghostbusters" universe. Ghostbusters was a huge part of Cardona’s childhood and the passion for the 1984 science-fiction comedy film has not faded. He can be seen on his YouTube channel unboxing a complete vintage set of "Ghostbuster" action figures and collectibles.

In a 2011 interview with WWE.com, Cardona says he was drawn to "Ghostbusters" because it made chasing down ghosts look so fun. In addition, he would jam to the instrumental version of the Ghostbusters theme by Ray Parker Jr. a few times a week. Matt Cardona fell in love with the original "Ghostbusters," but feels like "Ghostbusters 2" was an underrated sequel. When asked what character he would play if he were to appear in the movie franchise, he answered like a true fan: "I think I’d be an additional Ghostbuster, because you have to go with the original four (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson). You can’t do it without them. I’ll be a rookie Ghostbuster. That’s cool with me."

He appeared on Travel Channel show Toy Hunter

Matt Cardona is not quiet about his love for toy collecting, especially for both of wrestling and "Ghostbusters." It was only a matter of time until someone called Cardona to show off his collection on a platform bigger than YouTube. In 2014, Travel Channel invited Cardona onto their show "Toy Hunter" to show off his "Real Ghostbusters" collection. The series is hosted by toy expert Jordan Hembrough, who goes around trying to find the most valuable and unique toys and collectibles from the past. Cardona joined the list of celebrities to appear on the show which includes Gene Simmons, Stan Lee, and Hulk Hogan.

Despite Cardona having an impressive "Ghostbusters" collection, he was still trying to track down an Ecto-Charger Pack from the "Real Ghostbusters" toyline. On the show, Cardona found a mint version of the Ecto-Charger Pack still in the box for $375 dollars. It was an offer Cardona could not resist. He purchased the Ecto-Charger Pack and added a piece to his collection that had eluded him for some time.

His relationship with Vince McMahon

In April of 2020, WWE released a bunch of talent, leaving many longtime wrestlers in the company without a job at the height of COVID-19. One of those victims of the sweeping releases was Matt Cardona who had been with the company for 15 years. After his release, Cardona opened up about his relationship with Vince McMahon during his run in WWE.

Cardona told Bleacher Report that his relations with the Chairman of WWE was pretty solid. Cardona mentions that so many of his pitched ideas would get shut down, so he started going directly to Vince’s office with his ideas. He admits that the success rate of those pitches didn’t go up, but at least he heard a "no" directly from Vince McMahon himself.

Matt Cardona and Vince’s relationship grew as the years went by. Cardona said that he never had Vince’s number until the last year he was with the company. On his birthday, Matt Cardona received a "Happy Birthday" text from an unfamiliar number. Cardona described his realization of who was behind the text and his current relationship with Vince: "I wondered who the 203 number was and someone said it was Vince McMahon. I was like, ‘Oh, s**t.’ So, I text him every once in a while for the hell of it."

He blames himself for being buried at the height of his WWE career

By 2012, the writing was on the wall for Zack Ryder’s career in WWE. He held the United States Championship in 2011, but by 2012 he was quickly falling into jobber territory. Zack Ryder was working with top talent such as John Cena and Kane in 2012, but he found himself on the losing end of a storyline with Eve. In the storyline, Ryder was choke slammed off the "Raw" stage, finding himself in a neck brace and wheelchair … only to hurled off the "Raw" stage by Kane to add insult to injury. In addition, at that year’s WrestleMania, Ryder got kicked in the groin by Eve. That finished off the storyline, making Cardona look like a chump.

However, like a true professional, Cardona blames himself for being the brunt of the joke despite his popularity amongst fans. On an episode of "Keepin’ It 100" with Konan and Disco Inferno, Cardona takes the blame, saying: "I could have easily knocked on his door and said, ‘Hey, Vince. What’s going on here? Why am I getting pushed off the stage in a wheelchair? Why am I getting chokeslammed through a stage?’" Cardona admits that, at the time, he was too immature and naïve to consider knocking on the boss’s door, but this may be one of the best examples of Vince’s "brass ring" being nothing more than a mirage.

He went on a championship collection tour

In 2022, Matt Cardona took a page out of Kenny Omega’s book and followed in his footsteps by traveling to different wrestling promotions and winning their championships. In February of 2022, Cardona went back to his roots and competed for the NYWC Heavyweight Championship, the same promotion where he got his start. Matt Cardona picked up the victory and the world title for the first time in his career, much to the dislike of the live crowd. Cardona commented on his win on Twitter, "The crowd booed when I won the NYWC Championship. I don’t know if you’ll ever see me in a NYWC ring ever again after that blatant disrespect. P.S. I now have 6 f*****g titles!"

Also in his collection at this time was the self-proclaimed Internet Championship, Impact Wrestling Digital Media Championship, AIW Intense and Absolute Championship, and the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship.

By April of 2022, Cardona found himself carrying around seven title belts when he competed at ASW’s 16th Anniversary Show. Matt Cardona faced Richard Holliday to capture the ASW World Heavyweight Championship, marking his seventh title reign in 2022. Matt Cardona took to Twitter to write wrestling promoters a piece of advice for their upcoming shows: "Dear wrestling promoters, Please stop booking me against your champions. My suitcase is too heavy and is ripping. Love, Matt Cardona"