Top WWE NXT star Matt Riddle is coming to Friday on SmackDown.
The announcement was made by WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, who refereed a very entertaining, if not unorthodox, Cage Fight between Riddle and Timothy Thatcher Wednesday night in what proved to be Riddle’s sendoff.
Matt Riddle has all the talent, charisma, physique and star power to become a top star on the main roster in short order, but all the once-critical above-mentioned traits are meaningless in WWE and its exceedingly inept ability to create news stars.
Since the departure of John Cena, WWE has reverted back to its lean years of the ‘90s as it fruitlessly tried to replace Hulk Hogan while losing the Monday Night Wars to WCW. With NXT now losing the Wednesday Night Wars to AEW, WWE’s current struggles are the product of the promotion fumbling one promising developmental talent after another. This, despite the talent proving it can connect with a WWE audience in NXT.
Names like Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bayley and Neville—who eventually quit out of frustration—shined in WWE NXT before regressing to the mean under a different administration on the main roster. If history is any indication, Matt Riddle’s somewhat iconoclastic approach to pro wrestling could accelerate an already broken formula of WWE politics sabotaging up-and-coming NXT stars.
Without the shield of noted supporter Paul Heyman, the Raw Executive Director who was able to successfully guide CM Punk through WWE minefields en route to him becoming a star, Riddle could be the next in a long line of former top NXT stars who flamed out on the main roster.
Riddle’s first match on the main roster came during Survivor Series, where he shockingly defeated Randy Orton before being unceremoniously pinned in the Raw-SmackDown-NXT elimination match by Baron Corbin.
His follow-up was hardly better as Riddle was once again quickly eliminated by Baron Corbin after a brief flurry of offense. Reports of Vince McMahon possibly being a detractor of Matt Riddle have already preceded the Original Bro, with Brock Lesnar reportedly being such a detractor it’s what kept Riddle off of Raw and, possibly more importantly, away from Heyman. In addition to his issues with Lesnar, Riddle was also famously involved in a backstage scuffle with Goldberg, the footage of which was recently revisited by panelists during Riddle’s appearance on The Bump.
Riddle is unique enough that he has the ability to transcend any main roster sabotage and rally fans around him a la Daniel Bryan. But whether he’s able to develop enough credibility before regressing on the main roster remains to be seen.