Matt Riddle is about to be part of the WWE’s main roster, but the former UFC fighter didn’t always know he would make it to the big show.
In fact, Riddle had an altercation with former UFC heavyweight champion and current WWE superstar Brock Lesnar at WWE’s Royal Rumble earlier this year that made him feel “heartbroken” and unsure of where he would fit in with the biggest pro wrestling organization in the world.
Until now, fans didn’t know exactly what happened between Riddle and Lesnar backstage at one of WWE’s biggest events of the year. It may not be the “heated exchange” that many had envisioned, but it still put things in perspective for the “Super King of Bros.”
Here is what Riddle had to say about his exchange of words with Lesnar this past January (via talkSPORT):
“I’ll tell you this: for weeks leading up to the Royal Rumble, they were like ‘Oh, you might be in it, you might be in it,’ but nothing guaranteed. Nobody was guaranteed anything. So after the TakeOver [Worlds Collide] they were like ‘OK, you’re going to the Rumble.’
“They didn’t say you’re going to be in the Rumble yet. So even now, am I just here? Am I doing anything? Because they brought other people too backstage that weren’t doing anything.
“Eventually, I find out I’m going to be in the Rumble. Now I’m stoked! I’m like ‘what if I get my chance!’ [with Brock Lesnar]. I don’t even know if I should say his name [laughs].
“But what if I get my chance? And now I’m starting to play the scenarios in my head and, of course, ‘what if I do this’ but then also, this isn’t just about me, there’s 29 other people. So I was just like if I can get anything, I’ll be extremely happy.
“Then, of course, [Paul] Heyman and his security guard – I won’t mention his name [laughs] – him and his security guard come up to me and basically told me I had no chance in hell – it was very Vince McMahon like [laughs] – no chance in hell that I was going to get that match with him and I’d have better luck doing something else.
“And I’ll be honest, at first, I was just like awww [disappointed], I got this far and you’re literally holding me like this [tightly]. Like, he’s holding me like we’re friends but we’re not. And then he [Lesnar] tells me “it’s never going to happen.”
“So, I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t sad, I was more just heartbroken. But it’s like when a girl turns you down on a date; hey, it doesn’t mean give up completely. It’s like OK, let’s go back to the drawing board, maybe I came on a little too strong this time. Maybe I’ll try something different to convince him, ya know? So that’s how that scenario played out.
“Then I got to the Rumble, got to play with Edge, kick Corbin, kicked now, reigning heavyweight champion, Drew McIntyre. The pop was pretty beautiful too, but the pop if I had of gotten in the ring slightly earlier [when Brock was in] – ahhhh! I’m pretty sure the crowd would have been like ‘oh my god! He’s going to get his chance!’ But hey, still a pretty good pop.”
Riddle has already been labeled one of WWE’s most promising young stars so maybe he’ll get his chance to meet Lesnar in the center of the ring in due time.
Riddle, 34, originally made a name for himself as part of the UFC’s welterweight division. From 2008-2013, Riddle produced a 7-3 (2 NC) record inside of the Octagon while testing positive twice for cannabis. His biggest wins came against MMA veterans Dan Cramer, DaMarques Johnson, and John Maguire.