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 many other smaller promotions.
Riddle was one-half of the World Tag Team Champions with partner Jeff Cobb (as The Chozen Bros) as well as a former Evolve champion, WWN Champion, and two-time Progress Atlas Champion. Speaking on Lilian Garcia’s Chasing Glory podcast, the NXT superstar explained why he didn’t fight UFC release: “I had an option to fight it at the time, because the UFC fired me because of it and all that.
But I didn’t. I wanted to eventually go back to the UFC, finish my career there, so I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. I’m actually a pretty nice guy. I may talk a little trash here and there, but I’m a nice guy, and I really wanted to like, maybe go somewhere, fight a couple fights.
Get a couple wins, because I was already on a four or five win streak in the UFC. I don’t think other people were gonna beat me up. And I would come back, finish my career, whatever … and after they fired me, and Dana White went on FS1.
And …he just bashed me, called me a loser. One of the statements was, ‘Where would this loser make six figures a year? Where else will this loser make six figures a year. So now, I’m here. Funny you said that!”