With Zack Ryder’s status in WWE continuing to plummet, many of his loyal fans are, without a doubt, wondering if the Long Island native is ever going to be able to turn things around.
Sadly, the answer seems to be no.
Bad booking, creative team indifference and one or two very public spats with the company seem to have done permanent damage to his career.
Of course, the situation is not entirely hopeless, but at the moment, things looks rather bleak.
Looking back, it was probably the Eve romance angle at the beginning of the year that did the real damage to his credibility. Notably, a regretful Ryder even acknowledged this fact, telling one interviewer from site Xfinity earlier this year that the storyline “basically killed my career.”
At first, the angle—which saw the former United States champion attempt to woo the former Diva Search winner—came off as quite sweet, if not corny, with shades of a high school teen romance (could the geeky Ryder win over the gorgeous girl?).
Sadly, after Kane and John Cena became embroiled in it, the whole angle quickly degenerated into a farce of a storyline which only seemed to exist to see Ryder take a vicious, one-sided beating every week.
Indeed, Zack emerged from this angle looking like a loser and a gullible fool. Per the storyline, the still-smitten star insisted on giving Eve chance after chance despite it being incredibly obvious to everyone that she was up to no good. (Sure enough, the duplicitous Diva turned on her man at WrestleMania at the end of the 10-man match, costing him and Team Teddy the victory).
Following this, Zack went back to wrestling on C-shows like Superstars as well as doing some dark matches and making on sporadic appearances on Raw and SmackDown. He was also stuck in a stable and a going-nowhere tag team with the equally marginalized Santino.
At present, his career is in roughly the same dire position that it in was before he ever started producing the cult hit YouTube show Z! True Long Island Story. Poor Zack must be wondering why he bothered in the first place.
Ryder has also taken to unprofessionally lashing out on Twitter at the company over the past year. He has complained openly about WWE heavily editing—or pulling—episodes of his show and even hinted that he’s on his way out of the company.
While Ryder’s frustrations with his employer may be valid, it seems doubtful that complaining will help matters; if anything, it will just turn off Vince McMahon and company and ensure that he never gets another shot.
Of course, we have to remember that, for all of his shoddy and awful treatment at the hands of the booking team, he remains popular and over with the fans. This alone may guarantee him some sort of push in the future. After all, there aren't that many mid-card faces who sell a decent amount of merchandise and are over with the crowd.
Ryder’s kid-friendly character also appears to have helped him get matches on WWE's new CW Saturday morning programme, Saturday Morning Slam, a show on which he regularly appears.
So his current situation is not totally hopeless.
But, ultimately, being a big name on a B-show like Saturday Morning Slam isn’t exactly the career kick-start that Zack desperately needs right now. Sure, it may keep him employed, but he's just treading water and little else.
What he needs is a meaningful, high-profile program on Raw or SmackDown that will help get him back on the radar and reanimate his floundering career.
Of course, whether or not the YouTube star ever receives that is entirely up to McMahon and company. And going by their recent treatment of him, the chances of this look to be rather dismal.