In 2011, Zack Ryder proved what until then had been considered an unlikely feat—it was possible to get over with fans without getting a push from the WWE.
Rather than accepting his position on the WWE's roster, Ryder—a lower-card talent—took to the Internet and began his YouTube show, Z! True Long Island Story. The show made him immensely popular among pro wrestling fans, but unfortunately for Ryder, the WWE was less than happy with the Long Island Iced Z's source of popularity—at least that's the way things seemed.
Despite the fact that fans cheered for Zack Ryder during live events and house shows, the Long Island native was habitually featured less and less on WWE television.
Zack Ryder's self-proclaimed "Ryder Revolution" was over before it had even begun.
Fast-forward to 2012. Now a year removed from his peak in popularity, Zack Ryder is in the same position he was in the beginning of 2011.
Though several opportunities have been awarded to Ryder, the WWE has unfortunately dropped the ball on every single one of these occasions.
First, Ryder was given the United States Championship only to lose it to Jack Swagger a few weeks later.
Next, we saw Ryder involved in a promising angle involving Kane, John Cena and his then love-interest Eve, but again the WWE screwed Ryder over, using his popularity to push what ended up being a horrible storyline.
The bait-and-switch for Zack Ryder fans would continue on the July 3rd edition of SmackDown, when the Internet Champion won the Great American Bash 20-Man Battle Royal, a feat which allowed him to become the general manager of SmackDown next week.
Labelled as "ZackDown!" the following week, Ryder was briefly shown as the general manager of SmackDown, and while this could have been the opportunity to finally give Ryder his much-needed push, once more Zack's popularity was used to push other more unpopular WWE angles.
But could a year of bad luck (and bad booking) finally be over for Zack Ryder?
During last night's edition of Raw, fans saw Ryder win his first match on the WWE's premier television show in months, and while Kane popped up to ruin his victory celebration, a win (even one over David Otunga) is still a win.
Many have suggested that now that Tyler Reks has left the WWE, Ryder should reunite with his former tag team partner Curt Hawkins. The two men have some previous history as the Major Brothers, and while this would be a creative solution to push both men, it would also be a rehashing of a former WWE tag team that could in the end result in even worse news for both men.
Instead, now that Zack Ryder seems to be re-entering a storyline with Kane, imagine the hilarity that would ensue if new Raw general manager A.J. Lee made these two superstars tag team partners.
Kane's unpredictability combined with Zack Ryder's goofiness could finally be what the WWE needs to revitalize the tag team division and the career of both of these men.