Matt Cardona Answers Open Challenge On AEW Collision, Reportedly Still A Free Agent

After winning the TNT Championship on last week's "AEW Dynamite," Adam Copeland vowed to bring back the series of open challenges known as the Cope Open. On this week's "AEW Collision," Copeland was true to his word, and the challenge proved to be truly open when it was answered by indie superstar Matt Cardona, who isn't currently under contract with AEW.

Shortly after Cardona's shocking entrance, Fightful Select reported that the self-proclaimed "Death Match King" is still a free agent and has not signed an AEW deal. According to Fightful, the match with Copeland just came together this week, and actually had an impact on another promotion's booking. Cardona was scheduled to defend his Squared Circle Expo Championship against Ultimo Dragon on Saturday, but instead ended up dropping the title to his fellow former WWE star Nick Nemeth on Friday before traveling to Canada for "Collision" and the match with Copeland, who ultimately defeated him after a back-and-forth match in which Cardona gave as good as he got.

Cardona wasn't just a random opponent for Copeland — the two have history in wrestling dating back to 2007, when they worked for WWE under the names Zack Ryder and Edge. Cardona and his longtime tag team partner Curt Hawkins (now TNA Wrestling's Brian Myers) were actually repackaged and given their original push as part of Copeland's "La Familia" stable, where they frequently helped him retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Cardona and Myers would go on to win tag team gold twice in WWE, and Cardona would enjoy reigns with the Intercontinental and United States Championships before he was released in 2020. Since then, Cardona has been a force of nature on the independent scene, working for basically every promotion imaginable, including (briefly) AEW — a company whose existence he's taken credit for.