Matt Cardona Steph De Lander
Image Credit: Steph De Lander (@stephdelander)

Matt Cardona Took A Gamble With Steph De Lander And It Paid Off

Matt Cardona opens up about his pairing with Steph De Lander.

Cardona and De Lander started working together during the World Series Wrestling tour in March 2023, as the powerhouse became Cardona’s new heater. Since then, they have worked throughout the independent wrestling world together. For Cardona, pairing with De Lander was a risk, as he had a successful unit with real-life wife Chelsea Green before she returned to WWE.

In an interview with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard, Cardona was asked to describe what made De Lander the right person for him to partner up with. Cardona recalled how their pairing came about, as he noted that he needed someone to work with. He described how he saw De Lander and thought she would be the perfect heater for him.

“So, Chelsea goes back to WWE. Brian Myers signs a full-time deal with IMPACT,” Cardona explained. “Admittedly, [he] wants to take less bookings, wants to do less indies. My whole thing for the year prior was like Chelsea getting involved. Brian Meyers would get involved. Sometimes, maybe ‘Smart’ Mark Sterling or Hornswoggle’s under the ring. So I felt like I was missing something, and I knew I needed somebody. I didn’t know who. I wasn’t going to have a Diva Search, although maybe that would have been a great idea.

“But when I saw Steph De Lander in Australia for World Series Wrestling, I had heard of her and I think I’d seen her at IMPACT before,” Cardona noted, “but I was around for a couple of days and this girl, she just has a presence. She’s six feet tall, these blonde bangs, the piercings, looks like she could kick my ass. I’m like, ‘This would be a perfect heater for me.’ But of course, I had to ask my wife if she’d be okay with me traveling with some other woman. Luckily, she understood, she was cool with it.”

She’s As Obsessed With Wrestling As Me

Matt Cardona continued by stating that he took a gamble on De Lander, as he did not know what her personality would be. He made it clear that this move paid off. Cardona detailed how she is always coming up with ideas, and she wants to keep working, even when they’re not in the ring.

“Then I approached Steph and Steph didn’t hesitate and said yes,” Matt Cardona said. “I was taking a gamble because who knew what her personality be, what her work ethic would be. Turns out, she’s just as obsessed with wrestling as me, always coming up with ideas, wanting to do outside stuff. The job doesn’t end when you get home Monday morning. You don’t have until the next show. You have to be working, you have to be doing stuff.

“Whether it be doing stuff online or filming your own vignettes or thinking of merchandise. And Steph was on board for all of that, and we knew that we had to light a fire under this. So, we started doing weekly vignettes just so people would know what was going on. We would flood people’s timelines with videos of us, pictures of us, and it’s taken off. We’ve only been together for, man, it seems like a year or two, but it’s probably been like six or seven months, if that.”

Cardona went on to describe how he convinced the promoter to let him and De Lander join forces. Once they did, he made it clear that he wanted to keep their momentum going, so he paid for her travel and brought her on the road with him.

“In fact, so I meet her in Australia and I convinced the promoter like, ‘Hey, I want to do this, let’s do it tonight.’ Last night of the tour, it was her hometown,” Matt Cardona said. “It was perfect. It’s like, okay, well, I’m going to be doing any shows next weekend. I have to bring her along. I mean, in wrestling, momentum is a hell of a thing. But once you lose it, it’s hard to get it back.

“I knew I wanted to keep this going, but these promoters, GCW included, they had no idea who she was. They certainly weren’t going to fly her in, put her up and pay her. So, for the first couple of weeks, I did all that myself. I flew her in, I paid her, I booked her hotel. I drove her around because I knew it would work and I knew the promoters would see her like, ‘Okay, this has legs.'”

Cardona also pointed out that he and De Lander made the cover of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, so their success is apparent. He stated that he is proving that you don’t have to be in WWE or AEW to be successful. Cardona made it clear that he is happier and more successful than ever.