To say Zack Ryder’s career has seen better days is a major understatement.
Alas, over the past few months Ryder has went from being United States Champion—back when the United States Championship still meant something—to being a lowly jobber who only occasionally makes the main show.
Indeed, Z! True Long Island Story, a popular YouTube show started by Ryder as a way to heighten his profile and get on TV is, 70 odd episodes later, still…mainly about Ryder trying to heighten his profile and get on TV. Oh, dear.
Consigned to the margins of the company, ignored by the booking team (when they’re not flat-out burying him that is) and having taken to Twitter and YouTube to voice his (fully justified) frustrations and bash a rigid WWE system that seemingly punishes people for getting over on their own, things don’t look too good for Zack right now.
However, as bleak as the situation is, the Long Island native still remains relevant in the WWE in a multitude of ways. All is not lost, folks, as there are a few reasons we think Ryder’s future with the company is assured.
While many may feel this concept is tired and has run its course, Ryder’s show Z! True Long Story continues to go from strength to strength creatively, even if a large part of the show is the host making frequent and snide comments about the dire state of his plummeting career.
The fact is, over the course of the last year and a half, Ryder has simply gotten a lot better and more ambitious as a director/writer/producer. No longer content to do simply make a funny feel-good show about the adventures of a jobbing wrestler and his wacky friends, his work over the last twenty episodes has been more daring, dark and intriguing, with his current “Where’s Trent?” storyline featuring some truly inventive—and slightly frightening—visual imagery. Ryder, possibly feeding off of his real-life frustrations and anger, is storming out of his comfort zone and trying bold, new things—and it’s a joy to watch.
When Ryder is done with his wrestling career, WWE should consider giving him a job in production—he really is a rising talent in the film/TV world.
Ryder, who amassed popularity mainly through things like Twitter and Youtube, remains strongly relevant in social media. Impressively, he’s become a big name on fledgling video network service Tout—a fact he recently bragged about in a Tweet.
As WWE continues to expand into all forms of social media (they own a large share in Tout, and no episode of Raw or SmackDown can pass without a plug for Twitter, Tout or YouTube), this makes Ryder a potentially huge asset to the company—something even they should be able to figure out eventually.
Let’s face it: WWE isn’t exactly bursting with talent right now, with developmental territory FCW struggling greatly to create charismatic and well-rounded wrestlers. A few wrestlers, like Mason Ryan, Antonio Cesaro and Damien Sandow have been called up, but few have managed to truly catch on with the masses and become stars.
Talented, popular guys like Ryder don’t exactly grow on trees, making him more of an asset to WWE than even they might realize.
On paper, Ryder is one of the best all-around talents the company’s mid-card has. He’s over with the fans, charismatic, has a great look and is a decent wrestler to boot. At a point when most of the WWE mid-carders seem to have one flaw or another (Sin Cara lacks a true connection with the fans, Cody Rhodes’ character has grown stale, Damien Sandow struggles in the ring, Tensai isn’t over at all, etc.) this makes him very important to WWE.
Oh, sure, he lacks any meaningful TV time, but he’s not plummeted to the level of no-name jobber just yet. Indeed, Ryder—and the state of his career—remains a hot topic among fans and journalists, as everyone wonders what his next move will be: Will WWE fire him over his critical comments of them on Twitter? Will he get fed up and leave?
He still garners respect from his fellow wrestlers too: The Miz, on commentary, heavily put him over during his match with Heath Slater on this week’s Raw, despite Miz being a smarmy heel and Ryder being a beloved face.
Despite his shoddy treatment at the hands of the booking team in recent times, the fans have remained steadily behind Ryder, giving their hero a warm, appreciative reaction for his (usually brief) appearances on TV and pay-per-view. As one of the few over babyfaces in WWE, Ryder therefore retains some status in the company. After all, WWE can’t ignore the loud pops forever, can they? And at some point the good crowd reactions should convince Vince and company to do something meaningful with him.
Hey, there is still plenty left for Ryder to do in WWE's mid-card. He can fight Antonio Cesaro for his United States title. Get revenge against Kane for his tormenting of him in the past. Or even feud against some mid-card heels like Cody Rhodes, The Miz or Damien Sandow.