In 2014, Matt Riddle began training for a career in professional wrestling, and made his debut in February 2015. In 2016, readers of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter recognized him as the wrestling Rookie of the Year and the Most Improved wrestler of the year.
Between 2015 and 2018 Riddle worked on the independent circuit, wrestling for promotions such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in California, World Wrestling Network, Evolve on a regular basis and individual matches for a large number of other smaller promotions.
During an interview with RondaRousey.com, Riddle talked about his NXT match with Drew Gulak: “Oh, I was stoked. It was great, and then when we wrestled, of course, the producers were trying to be like, ‘Hey, what are you going to do?’ And me and Drew were like, ‘Well, this is probably going to be the finish, and I’m probably going to hit this and this’ and they were like, ‘Well, when?’ And we were like, ‘We don’t know.’… We’ll be like, ‘It’s in this order,’ but we were not sure how we were going to get there.
We might just do some strikes, we might do a sequence of grappling. It might be maybe a running spot, we don’t know, and we went out there, and honestly, that’s still one of my favorite matches since I’ve been to NXT”.