Mid-card mainstay Zack Ryder’s TV time has been inconsistent to say the least, but during the last few weeks, Long Island Iced Z’s exposure has certainly increased. Losing in squash matches to Wade Barrett and The Miz may not necessarily prove a push is coming for Ryder, but his future in the company can go a number of different ways.
Another Run at the United States Championship
Zack Ryder held the U.S. title for about a month at the end of 2011 when he defeated Dolph Ziggler at the TLC pay-per-view. Prior to his win, Ryder had become very popular due to his YouTube show Z! True Long Island Story. After his U.S. Championship reign, however, Ryder's future consisted of being buried, consistently attacked by Kane and played by Eve Torres.
After winning a pre-show battle royal to determine Antonio Cesaro’s opponent at Night of Champions, Ryder proved that this feud should have continued. The crowd was completely behind Ryder and although I didn't think he would win, a man can dream, can’t he?
Both mid-card champions are heels, so WWE would benefit from Ryder becoming U.S. champ again. Young heel superstars such as Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, David Otunga and members of Encore need a face mid-card champion to feud with in order to build himself up.
A Push in the Tag-Team Division
Believe it or not, Zack Ryder entered the WWE in a tag team alongside his good friend Curt Hawkins. Originally billed as the Major Brothers, Ryder and Hawkins found limited success as members of Edge and Vickie Guerrero’s La Familia stable.
With the current push of the tag-team division, perhaps this is the best place for Zack Ryder. We are in the midst of a tag-team tournament to determine the No. 1 contenders for Team Hell No’s tag-team titles.
Zack Ryder and partner Santino Marella defeated Justin Gabriel in the first round of the tag-team tournament. Although I do not have a lot of faith in the team of “CoBro” or “Italian Iced Z” winning the entire tournament, they may still get a push in the tag-team division at some point.
With that said, since WWE is looking to push the tag-team division as a whole, keeping Ryder and Marella in a tag team could be a win-win situation. It helps WWE showcase more tag teams and gives both Ryder and Marella TV time, even if they are not winning.
Then again, Zack Ryder has done a commendable job getting himself over with the fans, so maybe he can do the same for the career of his newly formed tag team.
Jobber to the Stars
The final possibility for Zack Ryder’s future in WWE could just be to maintain status quo. After all, when WWE has new mid-card heels they need to showcase with a squash match, they need someone to be squashed.
Zack Ryder recently played this role against Wade Barrett. There are a number of superstars in NXT waiting for their call to the main roster. When Dean Ambrose, Big E Langston, Bray Wyatt and others need an opponent on Raw or SmackDown, don’t be surprised to see them against Zack Ryder. After all, if Zack Ryder has not been pushed since losing the United States Championship in January, why would WWE all of a sudden change that?
In conclusion, potentially lifelong mid-card star Zack Ryder’s TV time may have increased, but the implications may or may not benefit him. He could get another run at the United States Championship, a push in the tag-team division, or he could just continue life as a jobber to the stars. Only time will tell which direction WWE chooses to take when it comes to Zack Ryder’s future.
What do you think? Should Zack Ryder get another run as U.S. Champion? A push in the tag-team division? Or is he destined to be a jobber to the stars forever?
Seth Guttenplan is a teacher by day, writer by night. In addition to being a Bleacher Report writer, Seth is the Monday Night Raw reviewer for CamelClutchBlog.com, and host of SmackDown Rundown, ProWrestlingPowerhouse.com’s weekly radio show reviewing Friday Night SmackDown and previewing all upcoming WWE pay-per-view events. To read more from Seth, follow him on Twitter (@sethgutt) and visit http://guttwrenchpowerblog.com