Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Matt Riddle Withdraws From BOLA: Let the NXT Rumors Begin

The Matt Riddle rumors of finally heading to WWE – and most likely NXT – are gaining nuclear levels of heat in the past few days and this latest piece of the mystery may be the icing on the cake. Late this evening, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) took to Twitter to announce that Matt Riddle has withdrawn from this year’s PWG Battle of Los Angeles tournament, held in early September, and replaced by Impact Wrestling‘s Trevor Lee.

If this had been one tweet or implication, one would dismiss this as perhaps a double booking or family matter that caused the withdrawal. But it comes hot on the heels of an announcement last week by Ireland’s Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling, who announced that Riddle had to withdraw from his two night booking for WrestleRama 2, replaced by New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) wunderkid Juice Robinson.

So what, again you might say. They said it was just a “scheduling conflict”. Well guess what happens to be taking place on those same two nights back in the United States. NXT Takeover: Brooklyn IV and WWE Summerslam. NXT sure loves to make big indie signing splashes in the front row at their Takeovers, and NXT Takeover: Brooklyn on SummerSlam weekend is the second biggest Takeover of the year behind WrestleMania weekends. If you’re going to reveal the former UFC star to the WWE Universe, this is the best time this year to do it.

But don’t worry, he’s still got one indie booking intact. It just so happens to be facing PCO at Joey Janela’s Lost in New York event for Game Changer Wrestling (GCW) on Friday August 17. The night before NXT Takeover: Brooklyn IV. Which according to Google Maps, is just 25 minutes apart.

Screenshot: Google Maps

Oddly enough, just as PWG made the announcement, Gabe Sapolsky – the booker and co-owner for EVOLVE and consultant with NXT – tweeted out just Riddle’s schedule for the upcoming EVOLVE tour, ending with the last one prior to SummerSlam weekend, seemingly like a “farewell tour”. Could we see Matt Riddle drop his EVOLVE Championship in Livonia, Michigan?

https://twitter.com/BookItGabe/status/1021591352138711042

Although if the WWE wants to do Riddle’s big reveal at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn IV, it will be second “cameo” at a big WWE Live Event. He photobombed his way onto WWE TV last year at NXT Takeover: San Antonio, when they were showing then WWE UK Champion Tyler Bate on camera to the crowd. Riddle was in the same town that weekend performing for EVOLVE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJrdNEBBHl8

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE WEED, BRO?

Well it appears that the WWE has softened their stance on the marijuana use that had kept Riddle from being used for any of the EVOLVE showcases at Axxess on WrestleMania weekend this year. With it gaining more legality in more and more States, it’s not as public a point of disinterest as it was, even a year ago. Smoking weed hasn’t been a Wellness Policy Violation in years now (which is why a few dozen of Randy Orton‘s infractions never counted towards his WPVs), it’s just a fine. Brian Kendrick famously admitted to just taking the fines all the time, because they wouldn’t fire or suspend him. Unfortunately, it was still taboo enough back in the mid-2000s, halting Rob Van Dam‘s WWE World Championship run in 2006 (although to be fair, his was an arrest). And while NJPW is a possible option, Japan has far stricter drug laws than the US – Impact Wrestling’s Matt Sydal has a lifetime ban for having marijuana on him. Although to be fair, Riddle has been quoted as saying he’d quit the lifestyle if the right offer came along. In a February interview with VICE Magazine, Riddle stated that “if the money was right with [WWE] and they said you have to quit smoking, I’d quit smoking. If New Japan was down, I wouldn’t bring weed to Japan—I’m not an idiot. I know [the Japanese] drink, so I’d still enjoy myself.”

Dave Meltzer weighed his opinion on it this week on Wrestling Observer Radio and said “the rumor I heard was that New Japan and WWE had interest in (Riddle). New Japan, I’m gonna guess as far as their interest in him would probably only be for the US market. So that’s very limited dates. I can’t imagine that (Riddle will) take New Japan, unfortunately, it’s just a matter of how Japan is. I can check on that.” Melzter then doubled down, suggesting Riddle was “probably WWE bound and it’s time. I don’t wanna say he was languishing but unless he was gonna do Ring Of Honor which he wasn’t going to do or New Japan, he might as well be in WWE. It’s his time to be a Superstar.”

But one thing is for sure. Whomever signed him must have paid him well. After all, in that same VICE Sports interview, he followed up with that “right now I make six figures. I make my own merch. I’m the main or co-main event of every show I’m on. I get to be me and I get to wrestle like I want to. Can they promise me that? If not, why would I go to WWE to probably make less money and be gone more? By the time they do pick me up, if they decide to, I’ll be worth so much more.”

Whomever wins the Riddle sweepstakes, the ultimate winner is still going to be Matthew Riddle.

FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR, SOME LEGAL SAMPLE FULL MATCHES:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQjl4zSpE6A

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