Zack Ryder blew up on the internet over a year ago. He helped use his newly found Internet popularity to win him the United States Championship. After his brief U.S. title run, however, Ryder seemingly fell off the WWE bandwagon.
Ryder helped bring social media to the WWE. Yet, no matter how many brass rings he reaches for, he still ends up getting buried.
His merchandise is always selling; he has more of it on wweshop.com than most other superstars do.
Then why does Ryder continue to struggle for a spot?
Several issues could be blamed for Ryder going from being the U.S. champ to being buried on a regular basis.
Ratings play a big part in the WWE. Monday night RAW ratings, in fact, can make or break a wrestler. In the case of Zack Ryder, they buried the Woo Woo Woo Kid.
It started last year, when RAW drew the worst ratings it had seen since 1997. Ryder, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan were blamed for the low ratings, and Ryder would be demoted from main eventing with the two champions to a mid-card story with Eve.
Things would get worse for the Long Island Iced Z as a segment he had with Eve on RAW drew some of the worst ratings the WWE had ever seen.
Ryder would then end up being the victim of a Kane attack, one that would bench him for a while.
It bears repeating: Ratings play a huge role in the WWE, and they were more than likely expecting Ryder's Internet popularity to translate into solid TV ratings. Was it right, though, to blame Ryder for a lack of viewers?
Ryder's popularity alone wasn’t enough to save him from the horrible segment the WWE had set up for him and Eve.
Still, poor ratings played a huge part in why Ryder lost the U.S. title, and why he was seemingly buried for months.
Maybe Ryder struggling for a spot has something to do with the lack of room at the mid-card level. Monday night, for example, instead of seeing Ryder go against Heath Slater again, Ryback was the one to step in the ring with Slater.
While Ryder did cut a small promo, there simply might not be enough room or time for him to get a match in on RAW.
With talent like Brodus Clay and Ryback, who are also mid-carders and seemingly end up on TV almost every week, it's hard to fit Ryder in there too.
Even with his popularity, Ryder gets lost in the mid-card shuffle. Until he finds a way to stand out even more, he will continue to struggle for a spot.
Ryder's Woo Woo Woo gimmick may have helped him get noticed, but at the same time, it also limits him.
It's a goofy gimmick to say the least, and while representing Long Island is great to those of us who are from New York, what does it mean to the rest of the WWE Universe?
Ryder's gimmick is goofy and fun, but it also limits Ryder to mid-card status. His Woo Woo Woo catch phrase is annoyingly catchy, and if Ryder were to make changes to some of the other aspects of his gimmick, he could stand out more as a mid-carder and possibly appeal to more people in the WWE Universe.
Ryder's poor rating draw might be partly a reflection of his gimmick. The Jersey Shore aspect might be viewed in a negative way by a lot of people, and it could be hurting Ryder more than he thinks.
At the same time though, Ryder's gimmick was still better than Santino Marella's, and Marella managed to hold onto the U.S. title longer than Ryder did.
His gimmick may not be as bad as some of the other WWE wrestlers, but it still needs work and plays a part in why Ryder is struggling for a spot.
WWE in Denial
The bottom line for Zack Ryder and his struggle for a spot might be with the WWE themselves. Ryder seems to have a big fan base; he gets a solid reaction from the crowd wherever he goes.
The constant signs in the crowd, and the amount of Ryder merchandise that sells, should be enough alone to justify just how popular Ryder is.
Yet, we have only begun to seem him on RAW in smaller doses lately, in a feud with Heath Slater. While it's good to see Ryder getting back in action on RAW, the WWE easing him in shows how they don't fully want to give Ryder a secure spot just yet.
Poor TV ratings are used to justify knocking Ryder out of the spot he once held. Ratings, though, should not be the main excuse for the WWE. Clearly, they are in denial of Ryder's popularity. Instead of putting him in a meaningful feud, or taking full advantage of his popularity in other ways, they continuously sideline him and use Ryder as an excuse for poor ratings.
In the end, Ryder continues to get lost in the mid-card shuffle. Until he finds a way to stand out even more, or until the WWE realizes just how popular Ryder is, he is going to continue to struggle for a spot.
Why do you think the Long Island Iced Z is still struggling for a spot? Comment below!