“Another day…another job.”
That seems to be the motto of the Long Island Iced Z…Zack Ryder in recent years. Zack has rarely been used on WWE television and when he has, it has been as enhancement talent to make other wrestlers look better. It wasn’t always that way. To be perfectly frank, it didn’t even have to be that way. It’s not like Zack was a malcontent in the locker room. We never heard of him failing any drug tests or getting arrested for breaking any laws. The WWE, seemingly just grew tired of his character.
A character that was given to Matt Cardona and the company did nothing with. It was Cardona who developed the Zack Ryder character into one of the more popular wrestlers on the entire roster at one time. It may be hard to believe, but Zack Ryder was over BIG at one point. Believe me, I attended several house shows in the early 2000’s in Madison Square Garden and fans would pop huge for him. His merchandise was selling and he could work a solid match. So what went wrong?
It may seem that Cardona was an overnight sensation who had a rapid rise and fall in the WWE. Not true. Cardona’s rise to relevance was a slow build…it was the fall that was rapid. Many fans will recall Matt Cardona named Brett Major teaming with his “brother” Brian (Curt Hawkins) Major as the Major brothers. They were sparingly used on TV and didn’t really have a gimmick. No vignettes to introduce the duo…no promos…just thrown out on TV.
It wasn’t until both Matt Cardona and Brian Myers approached their friend and mentor Adam “Edge” Copeland and asked for help and advice did the team get their first legitimate push. Edge talked to WWE management about an idea he had that included both Cardona and Myers. The angle went into effect at Armageddon in 2007 when both Cardona and Myers were used as doubles for Edge in his title match with Batista and The Undertaker…helping him win the world title.
They wound up joing Edge’s faction called La Familia which also included Vickie and Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neely. With the heel turn, they also received new names…Brian Myers became Curt Hawkins and Matt Cardona became Zack Ryder…collectively known as “The Edgeheads.” Together, the Edge heads won the WWE tag team titles. After La Familia disbanded….both Ryder and Hawkins were taken off TV for months.
When Zack Ryder returned, he was given the gimmick mirroring the popularity of the reality show, “The Jersey Shore.” He was arrogant and in love with himself and in his debut match…defeated Tyler Reks. He was given a pretty solid push chasing the ECW title…but always came up short. Once the WWE’s version of ECW folded…Zack was lost in the shuffle once again.
Not getting much of an opportunity by WWE creative…Zack took to the internet to make a name for himself. He created a Youtube show entitled… Z! True Long Island Story that became a huge success for him.
The Youtube series had amassed 100 episodes and Zack’s twitter account reached over 1 million followers! He was having so much success Sports Illustrated acknowledged his popularity amongst social media circles. He also crowned himself the internet champion and made himself a custom title belt. There was no denying his popularity and the WWE gave him another opportunity and for the most part…did not disappoint.
Zack was becoming increasingly popular and was rewarded for his hard work by getting a run with the United States title. CM Punk introduced him to the Philadelphia crowd on the Raw following his title victory. He was rubbing elbows with the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Hugh Jackman. The Woo Woo Woo Movement was growing and then…the wheels fell off.
In my view his decline happened in three parts…Kane…Eve Torres and John Cena. First off, what looked like Zack being friends with John Cena helping Zack get over more…to me…looked more like Zack being nothing more than Cena’s lackey. Secondly, his infatuation with Eve Torres and her not reciprocating affection…made Zack look desperate and needy. Finally, his mini feud with Kane was completely one sided. Zack was repeatedly beat up by Kane making Zack look weak and defenseless. All three combined at the same time turned the popular Ryder into a weak mush and killed his momentum.
Now I ask myself…was this bad booking or by design? From the beginning, it seemed that somebody in WWE creative was not a fan of the Zack Ryder character and methodically wrote segments to kill his character off. They succeeded because Zack never fully recovered from those events. Zack Ryder…the man who was a self made star…quickly became a jobber to the stars. If his career was sabotaged in some way…Why? Was it because, he did it on his own and there was resentment? I fully understand, Zack is still employed by the WWE and receives a pay check…but sometimes there is more than just money at stake. Zack worked his ass off to become the star that he became and perhaps out of someone’s jealousy…it was taken away. That’s just sick bro…Woo Woo Woo..You know it!