Zack Ryder, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz: Left Out and Speaking Out
There is only so much room at the top and only so much TV time to go around. It's no surprise that when our favorite wrestlers get lost in the shuffle in favor of other, less-deserving talent, we tend to get a little vocal.
What's a bit more of a surprise is that some of these sidelined warriors are mad as hell, and they aren't going to take it anymore.
Well, that's not really a surprise. The surprise is the WWE is letting them speak out.
Well, you can argue whether that's a surprise, too.
But the point is that right now, several guys are in holding patterns. Three of them are getting to vent about it, and that might mean better things in the near future.
Zack Ryder is the poster boy for getting yourself out of neutral in the WWE.
Early last year, Zack was banished to Superstars and used his Christmas-present flip cam (thanks, Mr. & Mrs. Ryder!) to start filming his own cheaply made and poorly edited, goofy and random YouTube show.
By the end of that year, he was the United States Champion, a regular on Raw and had seen his popularity skyrocket.
Then he was the dog Kane kicked when he misplaced his rage(?) for Cena, and he dropped his U.S. title to Jack Swagger when not cleared to compete—thanks to John Laurinaitis—and still hasn't had his rematch. He has been off RAW for weeks and gets TV time only as a tag partner to the man holding his U.S. title.
Oh yeah, and he got his WrestleMania moment when he got junked and pinned to lose for Team Teddy.
This despite his Z! True Long Island Story being one of the cornerstones of WWE's YouTube fan channel.
Despite WWE now having control of his show, he gets to complain about how he's been left off RAW week after week.
The question is: Does it matter? Is this building to anything?
What he wants: To be a regular fixture of RAW and his U.S. title.
What he deserves: A U.S. title rematch, to be a low-/mid-card performer on three out of four RAWs and a decent tag team partner.
What he will get: To be a WWE employee and keep his YouTube show for at least another couple years.
Dolph Ziggler has been a solid mid-card performer for a while, well-known for his ability to sell (or to some, oversell) any move, make his opponents look great and come really close to winning before losing.
He's been under Vickie Guerrero's wing for years, going through that uncomfortable "boyfriend" phase before graduating to her merely being his manager.
For a long time, this has been to his benefit, as his mic skills were not his strength.
Or so it seemed.
A year ago, while Dolph was on a run as U.S. Champion, he actually gained while losing to Zack Ryder. Their TV feud, stop-and-start as it was, gave him a little spotlight, but more importantly, his "hacks" of Zack's YouTube show allowed him free rein to create his own scathing, hilarious promos.
The #Heel Ziggler was far more entertaining than his current "Showoff" gimmick and whatever his gimmick was before.
Now, much like Ryder, he's doing his best (practically his only) work on the mic on his own YouTube show, WWE Download.
He's sharing Vickie Guerrero with Jack Swagger, and he doesn't even need her anymore. He certainly doesn't need to be in an on-again, off-again tag team with Swagger, or so he thinks, anyway.
Last week on Raw, after losing to the tag champs Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (is that right?), Ziggler shouted, "I'm better than this!" and later told Guerrero that he needed out of the "tag team" with Swagger and that he should be out there on his own, like Randy Orton.
What he wants: To be a major singles competitor like Randy Orton and freedom from Swagger.
What he deserves: To be a major mid-card singles competitor like Christian and freedom from Guerrero.
What he will get: A brief run at a mid-card title followed by more obscurity and freedom from Guerrero.
The Miz has always had a bit of an uphill battle in the WWE.
As a product of reality TV in the Real World and Tough Enough, he wasn't taken seriously by many and supposedly still doesn't get enough credit from parts of the locker room.
That said, a couple of years ago he was main-eventing WrestleMania and a WWE champion—on the ride of his life.
The past year has not been so kind to Miz.
He'd been on a major losing streak heading into WrestleMania, and it looked like neither Team Johnny nor Team Teddy wanted him.
He squeaked his way into the last spot on Team Johnny and managed to win the final pinfall (thanks to Eve).
Things should have been looking up for the Miz.
Instead, he went right back to jobbing, mostly losing contests with the Funkasaurus Brodus Clay, which never makes you look good.
And all this while he is used, when Cena is unavailable, as the face of WWE for media outside the WWE's cameras. (With some assistance from Sheamus and CM Punk.)
Last week, after losing a non-title match to Christian, who had returned from injury and in the same night become Intercontinental Champion, Miz took command of the ring and made a series of demands and asked some harsh questions about his status. He wanted a title match, a new contract or a bonus—some kind of recognition.
What he got was an RKO and an otherwise quiet exit from the show.
What he wants: A world title match or another run as a mid-card champion.
What he deserves: To be a serious threat to the mid-card titles, to be the host of WWE Download or a similar YouTube show. (Or the WWE's upcoming countdown show, perhaps?)
What he will get: To star in The Marine 3.
The Internet Championship
I've come out in favor of this before, and I'm not alone.
My feeling is that the title should be defended on the Internet only and should only be challenged for by superstars that were featured on YouTube or WWE.com that week, who trend on Twitter or what have you.
The WWE Universe could even control who gets to challenge via Internet polls.
The most important thing is that the Champion be allowed to carry the belt on TV and reference the title.
Personally, I don't want to wait until WrestleMania to see it. (Though it should be defended in the Internet pre-air bout.)
I'm of the opinion that if Zack can find a tag team partner whom he has chemistry with and whose gimmick can coexist with his, he needs to become a major tag team player.
Miz would also do well with the right partner—that partner not being The Big Show. For Miz, chemistry is not as important, as he can play the mastermind and use a mercenary partner.
Ziggler is doing nothing with Swagger. However, that doesn't mean he couldn't do well in the tag team division. Paired with the right arrogant, attractive heel and committing to more frequent tag team matches, Ziggler could have something to do between singles runs, including being the mouthpiece for a less verbally adroit partner.
Feuds and Angles
Ryder is due a rematch for the U.S. title. Actually, he deserves to have it reinstated to his control. Demanding what is rightfully his would be a good short-term angle, even if he loses the title.
Beyond that, he should have a major bone to pick with Kane, not to mention Eve. Of course, he can't really get at either one of them directly, so he could spend time trying to collect help.
Ziggler is teasing an angle right now in extricating himself from Swagger and Guerrero. Once that bridge has been burned, he needs to get involved in some title hunt, and perhaps he could run across someone who has been picked up by Vickie.
Miz needs help. Some have been predicting a face turn, but that's only possible with what he would need even if he stays heel—a winning streak. Ideally, he should be placed in ever-harder situations, perhaps by Laurinaitis (if he's still around) or a vengeful Teddy Long who is tired of listening to Miz's whining and so is giving him what he wants but with huge roadblocks in the way. Then, despite the odds against him, he manages to win.
Alternatively, in a triple threat or fatal four-way situation, someone recruits him to help them win at the expense of his own chances, but Miz wins himself, earning the ire of his erstwhile partner who seeks vengeance.
Who Needs to Speak Up?
So that's three guys who are stuck in neutral or reverse and are airing their grievances.
But who are some guys in similar situations who have yet to speak up?
Jack Swagger is a solid in-ring performer, an agile big man, a former world champion and ostensibly the client of the best manager in the game today. Though he lacks charisma, he can talk, and his speech impediment isn't as bad as I remember.
He's disappeared completely and is currently only allowed to screw things up for Ziggler. He needs to get mad and get even.
Clay was held off TV for an ever-increasing length of time. He finally returned with his unusual Funkasaurus gimmick. He crushed the entire low- to mid-card of WWE, moving slowly up the ranks in lightning quick squash matches—a great demonstration of who was considered the weakest wrestlers by WWE.
Then he ran out of fodder to crush and had to begin squashing people he'd already crushed. He was able to beat Swagger and Ziggler together (unofficially) a couple times, but that says more about where they were at the time than how high he'd climbed. He then tried to buck up to The Big Show, who had insulted him, and ended up getting crushed.
I'm pretty sure Clay has won more matches than anyone else this year and has beaten more superstars. Yet he's never had a shot at a mid-card title, never had a feud, never struggled against an opponent but succeeded anyway.
How much longer will he be happy to have quick matches and long entrances and dancing with kids afterwards?
Of all the entities in the WWE, the ones with the rawest deal are the Usos. These guys are by far the longest tenured team in the WWE. They were together when Air Boom and Awesome Truth were around. When Epico and Primo became champions, they were one of only two active teams in the company.
And they've never been champions.
Now the company seems to be trying to create a resurgence of the division, and yet the Usos don't even get to wrestle on TV, let alone win or compete for the titles.
Maybe they need to get mean and start cutting the Tag "ladder" back to only two teams if they're going to get another chance.
So much for Layla being the rescuer of the Divas division. Or Kharma. Or Beth Phoenix and Natalya. I can't remember the last Diva match I saw that didn't occur on NXT or a PPV.
Wait, I do. It was "crazy" AJ pulling Kaitlyn's hair until she folded like origami.
The writing on the wall is clear:
If you want TV time, don't become a champion.
Get out of the ring, and get a love interest, instead.