When Matt Cardona debuted in AEW all the way back in 2020, it was as a friend of Cody Rhodes.

Now granted, it wasn't quite that simple; after securing a win over Warhorse during his TNT Championship open challenge, Rhodes was attacked by members of The Dark Order, only for his friend from ‘Strong Island' to come in for the save and team up with the Nightmare Factory posse, Dustin Rhodes, QT Marshall, and Scorpio Sky, for a match against Colt Cabana, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, and Brodie Lee for a match at All Out 2020.

Since that fateful match, Cardona has firmly defined himself as one of the top performers in indie wrestling, with his “King of the Deathmatch” moniker slowly transforming from a tongue-in-cheek gag into a legitimate truth. Still, that doesn't mean Cardona wouldn't return to WWE if afforded the right opportunity, as he spent over a decade with the promotion and clearly has some unfinished business within their ring.

But what, you may ask, would that opportunity look like? Well, in the opinion of Cardona, he'd like to pick up where he left off in AEW in a program with “The American Nightmare.

“Ever since I was released from WWE. My goal was never to get back there,” Cardona said. “It wasn't like, ‘Oh, what can I do to get WWE to notice me?' I'd be lying if I said I never wanted to have a WrestleMania moment again or wrestle in Madison Square Garden. Those are all things that come with being in WWE. I don't know off the top of my head what my first program would be back, but there's a lot of guys that I'd like to get in the ring with. Cody Rhodes is one of them. There's a story that is more than just a wrestling story. A true life story, and I think that's what makes wrestling the most special, is when there's that element of realism behind it, like, ‘Is this real? Is this not?' When you have the question, I think that's when wrestling is at its best. Also, he's at the top, right? So go right for the top dog.

“I'm not going to come back just to be on the show. I would never go back just to be back. I've been on the roster. I was there. I'm very fortunate for my time there. I spent over a decade there, but I did the whole just a guy on the roster thing. I have no desire to do that again. If I'm going to be there, I want to matter, and I think I approved over the past three years that I'm more than capable of holding my own, and if I ever get the opportunity again, I think I'll prove that to the world.”

Would WWE give Cardona another chance on the Red or Blue Brand? His wife, Chelsea Green, works for the company, so there's clearly an open line of communication between the two, but for that to happen, he'd need a better opportunity than the end of his last run, where Zack Ryder lost to Bobby Lashley in 1:20 on RAW.

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Cody Rhodes explains why he wasn't in WWE 2K22.

Discussing his second run in WWE in an interview with Comicbook Nation, Rhodes was asked why he didn't appear in WWE 2K22 and explained the reasoning behind it.

“I'm very hands-on,” Rhodes said via Wrestling Inc. “I'd even go as far as saying I won't put the heat on 2K for me not being in the game initially, and then waiting until the modern iteration for it to happen. The reason is that I'm very particular about ‘The American Nightmare,' the whole concept of it, something I built while I was away.”

“And you know people are going to fully immerse themselves in it, they're familiar with it, they respect it, and they only want to, kind of further give it the signal boost that somebody like 2K can do. It just takes time, and I was one of the reasons it took so much time. So if anybody had any problems, it was more me than it was 2K, in the sense that I want to make sure it's done correctly.”

Fortunately for fans of professional wrestling games, Rhodes will be in 2K23, as should be evident by his heavy features in the promotional material for the game. So if you want to play as the would-be WWE World Heavyweight Champion, you now have the perfect opportunity to do just that.