Matt Riddle may just be one of the most enigmatic Superstars on WWE television right now - which is a stark contrast to the man in person.
From rumoured backstage heat to winning the NXT Tag Team Championships, The Original Bro is never far away from the headlines - for better or for worse - but the enigma is surprising, given Riddle is one of the most open, honest people you could ever speak with.
Following up on our chat from right before NXT went live on the USA Network last September, I had the chance to catch up with the King of Bros again just days ago, to chat all about his run in NXT thus far, the Broserweights, the Newly-Bros show, and of course those rumours of backstage heat.
You can watch the entire interview below, or read on for a transcript.
Hey, Matt! It's been a while. How's it going today?
Pretty good, bro. How you doing, Gary?
I'm not too bad. It's 3am here, but I couldn't be better as I'm chatting to Matt Riddle.
You're too kind. Too kind, bro.
Last time we spoke, NXT was just about to air on the USA Network - so there's only one place I can start, The Newly-Bros Show! Man, that may end of being one of my all-time favourite segments. Yourself, Timothy Thatcher and Byron Saxton were incredible! Can I just ask, who came up with that, and how much creative input did you have?
Well, I think the good thing, the writing team at NXT at this point, because they've worked with me for about a year or so since I got there - I've been there about two years now - and you know, at first, when they'd write something for me, it wasn't really my words because they didn't really know who I was.
Now that they've met me, they know me, we've been doing business together for about two years now, I feel like they can really write well for me and they know how I'd react or how I could react in certain situations. So, you know, a lot of it was written but, at the same time, you know, they do let me be me. And they know who they're writing for, and I think that's one of NXT's strengths - they look at the wrestlers' strengths and then they use it.
Next: Matt Riddle opens up about The Broserweights!
Of course, you've been working with Timothy Thatcher and Pete Dunne recently. When Pete returns, might we see a new stable of Stallions in WWE?
Well, I would hope it would be a trio, you know. The connection between me and Pete, you know, was marvellous and, you know, I thought our chemistry was good and we work in the ring extremely well. You know, originally, we weren't picked to win the tournament and we definitely weren't supposed to win the titles, but by the time situations came to be, we were the ones with the belts, we were the ones with the cup.
And then with Tim, I think you saw on the Newly-Bros Show, we are pretty compatible! And we've known each other... You know, on the Indies we met and we wrestled, we worked together, so me and Tim have a lot of chemistry too, and I know Tim's character, he knows my character, and just like me and Pete, we can play off each other extremely well. Hopefully we get to keep it going, you know what I'm saying? But you never know, you know. It's in the universe now, it's in destiny's hands.
If so, the new Four Horsemen could be the Four Stallions. Who else would you like to add?
Oh, I mean, I mean, that's a tough one. That's a real tough one because there's a lot of people that, you know, are pretty stallion in WWE, in NXT, but they all kind of have their own thing going on, so...
You know, Keith Lee's a stallion but Keith is kind of an individual Superstar, I don't know if he wants to be tied to a stable, you know. I don't know. I don't know who the fourth member of the Stallion Battalion would be! I guess... Yeah, I was going to say I'd maybe take Walter from Imperium, he has his own thing.
Now, you and Pete are the Broserweights. How did that team end up together? Who pitched it, and what was your reaction when you found out you'd be teaming with Pete?
Well, I was supposed to be in the WarGames match and Johnny [Gargano] got hurt, kind of filled in for him to wrestle Finn [Balor], and Pete [Dunne] had the Triple Threat, the title match with Cole but then lost, so me and Pete were kind of left in limbo. We didn't know what to do and we are two of the more, in my opinion, we are extremely talented and I think NXT wants the use us as much as possible because we connect well with the audience.
I think I saw the two of us and were like, "Hey, let's put a random team together for the Dusty Cup", which they did, and see what happens. We did it, we won. And unlike other teams in the past, we won and then we won the titles. So, you know, it came to be randomly, and I liked the idea, Pete was down.
Like I said, we both respect each other's work, even though we are extremely different individuals! Honestly, it's been gold. I feel like since Pete's been stuck overseas and then Tim Thatcher took his place for the time being, maybe, like you said, a faction. I think it's a perfect fit.
Next: Matt Riddle opens up about his Royal Rumble appearance
I'd saw some other names mentioned, namely Feet Dunne and Joint Manipulation. How did that name come about, and were there any other contenders?
Joint Manipulation was a close second. A very close second. Me and Pete both have a pretty good submission game. Of course, he works the hands and does a little bit more. But the combo was... It was just a money name.
And then Feet Dunne, that was Johnny Gargano! That guy just wanted to say something funny, and it was pretty funny, but never a serious contender for a name. Broserweights just seemed easy enough and it did something that wasn't too different from what we were originally, so he's the Bruiserweight, I'm the Bro - Broserweights. Neither one of us lost anything and we kept original to ourselves, while also being a new team, you know?
Now, you appeared in the Royal Rumble this year, which I thought was amazing! I'd actually spoken to Triple H before it who said you were the one NXT name that was the obvious choice to be there. How was that experience for you?
The Royal Rumble was great, you know? All those big events are extremely huge and there's so much commotion. It's hard enough when you have a singles match or a tag match, but imagine you're in there with 30 other people, or 29 other people.
A lot of things happen on the fly and things change last minute. It's crazy because people always talk about pro wrestling and say, "It's predetermined". I mean... Sometimes it's not! Sometimes you don't know what's going to happen, and you're on the fly and you've got to go, you know?
For me, it was fun, it was an amazing experience. I got to go with Keith Lee, who is one of my best friends in the wrestling business. I wouldn't trade that experience for the world. I wish I could have gone in the Royal Rumble a little earlier, I think everybody thought that. I think only maybe ONE or TWO people might not agree with that, I won't mention names.
I think that's the only downside of that day, everything else was extremely cool. I got to brush shoulders with Edge and get in the ring with him, and AJ [Styles]. Everybody was so great, and the roster is just so fun to be around and work with. Honestly, the Rumble was awesome. And catering was good! Catering was good!
Next: Matt Riddle opens up about "backstage heat" rumours
One thing I think is simple to squash, but I'd like to ask you. Some sites ran a rumour that you had "backstage heat" hence not spending a long time in the ring. My point was always that you were in the Royal Rumble then won Tag Team gold shortly after! Can we clarify, did or do you "have heat" backstage in WWE?
I'll tell you this. Do I have heat with WWE or NXT, or the people that run the show? No. Do I have heat with some people who think I'm disrespectful at times because they don't understand how business works? Yes. Do people take things too seriously? Yes.
And honestly, I've had to give talks at NXT, is not like I stopped the place, but it's like, interjecting. I'm like, "Hey. I'm going to tweet or say something that offends you. Realise I'm not trying to actually offend you, I'm just trying to make people think I am. I'm putting out an image, a facade, you know?
If I talk a certain amount of trash, people are like, "Oh, man, that guy's uncontrollable, he does what he wants". You know what I'm saying? I'm doing the job, I'm in the business I'm in. I'm a tag champ, I was in the Rumble, so how does this guy have so much nuclear heat?
I was in Vince McMahon's office just three weeks ago, before this thing broke out. I was in headquarters talking to him - and, yeah, we mentioned the heat I have with certain people but, at the end of the day, he signs the cheques, he makes it happen for me and they're in control, not the talent.
If employer's happy and I can make them money and make them a profit, and I'm worth my weight and I'm pulling my weight, I don't see a problem. To answer your question, yes, some people I have heat with. But most of it's just high school, catty, "He said this", people who just can't take a joke or a work.
Last time we spoke, you mentioned the obvious name of Brock Lesnar, and the likes of Seth Rollins, Cesaro and AJ Styles as some dream opponents. If you could choose to face one guy in WWE right now, who would it be?
Right now, the biggest stallion in the WWE stable would have to be Drew McIntyre. The guy is a hoss. I wrestled him on the indies at EVOLVE and stuff like that. The guy is a professional. He looks the part, he is the part. He talks the talk, he can walk the walk. He's great. You know, so I'd like to have a match because he's the guy to beat. I don't know if it would necessarily be the Dave Meltzer's seven-star match of the year.
I think, if we want the Dave Meltzer seven-star match, give me Keith Lee in a 25-minute main event. I guarantee you, even if there's no-one in the building, we would have all the camera crew chanting, this is awesome. Me and Keith Lee. I told Shawn Michaels, get me and Walter in the ring or get me and Keith in the ring. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. The crowd will be going nuts. It's what you want. They haven't done it but I keep throwing it out.
Next: Matt Riddle discusses Goldberg
I need to ask your thoughts on the guy who's not your bro, Goldberg's recent WWE return. He came back, beat The Fiend, then lost to Braun Strowman. What were your thoughts on that?
You know, it's unfortunate. It's not that he wasn't a money-making machine in his time, and this and that, and that he's not entertaining. I get it. But, at the end of the day, this is a really hard thing to do. It's hard on your body and there's a reason why, you know, people come and go.
Then to not only bring him back but then to almost destroy... if Bray Wyatt wasn't as good as he is and so charismatic as he is and everything else, he wouldn't be able to survive. Most characters would die after that and probably be released shortly after. He was billed undefeated then just to have him Speared a couple times, barely Jackhammered, one, two, three.
The other thing, too, is you're putting other athletes that are in their prime or trying of having their run, you're putting them in jeopardy because somebody wants to come back. You know? And the landscape of professional wrestling has changed since the '90s. Not that it's better or worse, but it's a little bit more sport, it's a little more competitive, it's a little harder hitting.
Not that there wasn't hard-hitting stuff or there wasn't that style then, there was but I feel like now, overall, it's different. Getting in a World Title match and you can't deliver a good forearm, or this or that, people are going to call you out.
I don't think it was a poor move bringing him back for a match, but to bring him back to win the title, to destroy the character like The Fiend being being so unstoppable and then just have Braun Strowman beat him... You know, it doesn't really do much for Braun Strowman beating him. It's not like it was a passing of the torch or a great match. It was a couple of Spears and a Powerslam.
And I don't want to knock on Braun or anybody, I don't want to knock on people's work but at the same time, realise where you are, realise how hard people work to get where you are, realise how lucky you are and maybe you just want to put a little bit more effort into what you're doing.
As a fan, like yourself and myself, we all agree and every fan that watched that, even if they wanted Braun to win or whatever, was disappointed. Even if you wanted Goldberg to win, you probably didn't want him to win like that. It's one of those things. You know me, I think it was a bad call but I don't make those calls, I can only give my input, my insight and my opinion, and that's all I have.
One final question, did you ever get an answer to how much fish could Bobby Fish fry if Bobby Fish could fry fish?
No! [He laughs] Bobby Fish won't return my calls. He won't return my calls, especially after I beat him for the titles. He's still really bitter. In real life, he won't talk to me. It's awkward. No, I don't know. Funny enough, the night before I beat Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly and took those titles with stallion Pete, I had five catfish in Portland. "It's an omen! I have to win now!"
Catch WWE NXT Tag Team Champion Matt Riddle on BT Sport, the new home of WWE. Watch WWE NXT on BT Sport 1 every Wednesday night at 1 am or catch up on the BT Sport App.