Zack Ryder has just about everything you look for in a WWE Superstar.
Although he’s not awesome at any particular thing, he’s a very well-rounded performer who is above average in essentially any and all categories. He’s got a good look, is decent on the mic, performs well in comedic skits and, most importantly, shows a lot of skill in the ring.
When you combine all those traits with his tremendous popularity, you would think that would result in a substantial push that has Ryder locked in as an upper-midcard performer.
While Ryder did get a very big push in late 2011 and early 2012, that push fizzled out relatively quickly and—outside of winning a couple of battle royals—he hasn’t done very much of note since then.
Yet, through all the ups and downs, Ryder has somehow managed to remain over, which is evidenced by the crowd’s reaction whenever he actually appears on TV.
There is no doubt that Ryder has a large fanbase and will likely continue to remain one of the WWE’s more popular stars for the foreseeable future. The main uncertainty, however, is whether or not that will lead to Ryder ever getting a renewed push.
Then, the issue becomes this: What can the WWE do to make that happen?
Truth be told, I don’t think it would take much for Ryder to be taken seriously again as one of the WWE’s top midcard performers. Though the booking of his character has been borderline atrocious for most of 2012, he’s still more over than most of the guys who have received considerably bigger pushes than he has.
All the WWE has to do is plug Ryder into a storyline with a midcard heel and actually give him some victories rather than using him to help get that heel over.
The creative team had a chance to do this when Ryder challenged Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship at Night of Champions, but much to the surprise of no one, Ryder was basically just there to make Cesaro look good.
I think Ryder did just that in what was a pretty good match in which he actually didn’t get squashed like I thought he would. It was a pretty evenly-matched bout, with both guys getting a considerable amount of offense in.
But because Ryder lost that match clean, it appears that his “feud” with Cesaro was really only a one-night thing, as was evidenced by Ryder randomly teaming up with Santino Marella this week on Raw.
Although the Ryder/Santino pairing lost, I’m glad Ryder wasn’t involved in the finish because that loss didn’t hurt him too badly. Now, he can move on to something that he deserves: An actual angle and feud.
I often find it hard to believe that the WWE can’t find something for Ryder, especially when there are a number of midcard heels who are often out of the storyline loop.
What about Ryder feuding with The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship? How about Ryder getting a little rivalry with Cody Rhodes going?
It’s not that hard. There are countless ways that you can have Ryder kick off a rivalry with some upper-midcard heel.
Will Zack Ryder get a substantial upper-midcard push anytime soon?
The Miz could face Ryder in a non-title match on Raw or SmackDown, Ryder could slip a pin on him and then The Miz could attack him after the match. Just like that, you kick off a rivalry between two of the WWE’s better midcard performers.
It’s a shame to see the WWE consistently find ways to get a guy like David Otunga on TV, but be unable to plug Ryder into some sort of angle or feud.
It will not take any masterful or drawn-out plan to get Ryder over like it might for other superstars. He’s already got a huge following, and he’s been around long enough that even the most casual fan knows who he is.
The WWE simply needs to look at its roster every now and then and say it to itself: “OK, this heel doesn’t have anything to do at the moment. Why not let him feud with Ryder?”
From Rhodes to Cesaro to Curt Hawkins to The Miz, there is no shortage of heels who find themselves without a storyline from time to time but are a big enough part of the WWE’s future that they should always have some sort of ongoing angle.
Ryder can feud with just about any of those guys because he’s popular enough that his recent losing ways will be forgotten about the moment that he starts climbing back up the card.
If the creative team wants to create more babyface stars, which it desperately needs to do, look no further than Ryder, who simply needs a couple of big victories and actual storylines to bring back his push that took him to Raw’s main event not all that long ago.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!