For the past two weeks, I have renewed and returned my WWE Pushed to Punished series to Bleacher Report that will be a weekly fixture over the course of December.
For those unfamiliar, Pushed to Punished analyzes both past and present WWE Superstars that were once featured prominently in the limelight, but were inevitably sent packing either down the card or out of the company.
One floundering Superstar who fits that bill to perfection is someone you may not even know is still employed by WWE, and that person is, of course, Ezekiel Jackson.
Simply known as Ezekiel, the Guyanese Goliath made his initial WWE appearance on the July 18, 2008 edition of Friday Night SmackDown as The Brian Kendrick's bodyguard, who also debuted on the blue brand that night. He was later given the surname of Jackson, sported white garb and stood in Kendrick's corner during his matches.
Following Kendrick's various victories, Jackson would enter the ring and decimate his opponent with a backbreaker, which he'd also bring back as a finishing move three years later. Jackson hardly ever wrestled, but when he did, it usually ended with his hand being raised.
After failing to win the WWE Tag Team Championships alongside Kendrick in early 2009, the duo was sparingly utilized on television. Jackson suffered his first defeat in singles action at the hands of R-Truth in mid-February and later lost to Jeff Hardy on the final edition of SmackDown before WrestleMania 25.
At the event, Jackson made his WrestleMania debut as a lumberjack in the show's tag team title dark match, which would also be his final on-screen appearance as Kendrick's enforcer. A few days later, it was revealed that Jackson was being switched over to the ECW brand via the 2009 WWE Supplemental Draft, ending his partnership with Kendrick in the process.
While it may have seemed like a random move at the time, it ended up being one of the best things to happen to his career. No longer would he be subjected to a managerial role, but rather be able to showcase his true talent inside the squared circle.
Jackson disappeared from television for three months before resurfacing on the July 9 edition of ECW, where he defeated a local athlete. This would become a common trend in subsequent weeks, but he was also met with his first challenge in the form of Vladimir Kozlov.
After each of Jackson's squash victories, Kozlov would emerge from the back and attempt to better the Guyanese Goliath by ambushing his opponent. Fans believed that their numerous confrontations were setting the stage for an eventual showdown, but it'd result in being something much more than just that.
On the final ECW episode prior to SummerSlam, Jackson seemingly turned face as he partnered with then-ECW Champion Christian to battle William Regal and Vladimir Kozlov in tag team action. However, Jackson refused to be tagged in by Christian before planting him with an explosive Book of Ezekiel while Regal picked up the scraps.
And thus, the Ruthless Roundtable was born.
This treacherous trio joined forces for one reason and only reason only: to claim ECW as their own. Their premiere target was Christian, who they attacked relentlessly in order to take his ECW Championship from him.
Despite their dominance, Regal continuously came up short of capturing the gold each time he was presented an opportunity. By November, Regal took his frustrations out on Jackson and Kozlov by verbally abusing them, but unlike Kozlov, Jackson would have nothing of it.
He turned his back on his stablemates for two straight weeks, but his face turn was short-lived. He realigned himself with Regal in mid-December after the evil Englishman aided him during his match against Kozlov to quality for the ECW Homecoming battle royal.
In January 2010, Jackson emerged victorious in the ECW Homecoming battle royal by lastly eliminating Kane, meaning he'd contend for the ECW Championship at the Royal Rumble. This victory solidified him as a breakout star and signaled that 2010 would be the year of Ezekiel.
At the event, Jackson came up short of defeating Captain Charisma, but was successful during their rematch on the final episode of ECW a few weeks later. With this victory, Jackson was documented the last official ECW Champion in WWE history.
Due to the brand's closure, each Superstar in the Land of Extreme was deemed a free agent. Jackson was announced as the newest member of the SmackDown brand shortly thereafter.
On the March 5 edition of SmackDown, Jackson made his official return to Friday nights, defeating Jimmy Wang Yang. However, this would be his only appearance on SmackDown, as he suffered an arm injury that April and was drafted to Raw as part of the 2010 WWE Supplemental Draft.
It wasn't until late October that Jackson finally made his return to television as a fan favorite, being named the final participant of Team Raw at Bragging Rights. Although he was among the final remaining participants of his squad, they were unsuccessful in defeating Team SmackDown.
From that point forward, Jackson was hardly used on the flagship show aside from a few minor appearances at the Old School Raw and King of the Ring specials. Following a few squash victories on WWE Superstars, Jackson once again embarked on an absence from WWE television.
During his inactivity, it was revealed that Jackson was moving back to the SmackDown brand, but his official return date was unclear. He surprisingly attacked Big Show and formed an alliance with Wade Barrett, Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel on the January 14 episode of SmackDown, reverting back to a heel in the process.
On the subsequent episode, the four vigilantes referred to themselves as "The Corre" and stated that they were all equals. Jackson portrayed the powerhouse of the stable and aided the other members to victory during their matches.
Their first main target was Big Show, whom Jackson locked eyes with on numerous occasions. Lifting Big Show up in the air is an impressive feat to say the least, and the former ECW Champion managed to do it quite a few times.
At WrestleMania 27, Jackson competed in his first official match on the grandest stage of them all as part of an eight-man tag team match that lasted a mere minutes. Regardless, he can still state he had the opportunity to wrestle at the show of shows.
The Corre's feud with Big Show culminated at Extreme Rules, where he and Barrett failed to win the WWE Tag Team Championships in an impromptu contest. Five days later on SmackDown, Jackson scored his biggest win to date when he single-handedly defeated Big Show, but he refused to celebrate his monumental win with the rest of Corre following the bout.
Later that night, Barrett, Gabriel and Slater attacked Jackson backstage as a result of his actions, which turned him into a face in the process. Although he came up short of defeating Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship at Over the Limit, he was able to do so the following month at Capitol Punishment.
This was the peak of his push that saw him gradually grow more with the crowd as time progressed. He still wasn't anything special in the ring, but his wrestling skills were passable to the point where he could provide an exceptional match.
As Intercontinental Champion, Jackson successfully defended his gold against the likes of Barrett and Ted DiBiase as he entered a rivalry with Cody Rhodes that July. During the course of the feud, Jackson dropped the strap to Rhodes in August and was unsuccessful in regaining it the following week.
Obviously, Big Zeke's strong push was only temporary, as his loss of the Intercontinental Championship was surely the turning point of his career. From that point forward, Jackson was no longer seen as a dominant threat, but only as a prime example of someone who WWE dropped the ball on for no apparent reason.
For the remainder, Jackson was primarily relegated to WWE Superstars, stacking up victories against the likes of Tyson Kidd, Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal. However, it wasn't long before those wins turned into losses, and Jackson was slowly sinking to the bottom of the card.
Despite various video packages attempting to repackage Jackson with a new haircut and all, nothing seemed help him get back to where he once was. Entering 2012, he jobbed out to almost everyone on Raw, SmackDown and even Superstars, which is the ultimate indicator that your career is heading downhill.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Unfortunately, the only victories Jackson garnered this year were in tag team action on NXT on two separate occasions, meaning he has yet to win a singles match this year. With only two weeks remaining in 2012, one can assume that it's too late for Big Zeke to snap that streak now.
It was reported over the summer that Jackson disappeared from television once again earlier this year due to a sustained upper-body injury. As of now, Jackson has yet to resurface on WWE TV, despite telling his Twitter followers that he'd be back "soon enough."
As a former fan of Ezekiel Jackson, it extremely disappoints me that Jackson has fallen far since his meteoric rise in 2010 and 2011. He may never be World Champion material, but his imposing and intimidating figure is enough to make him a dominant mid-carder at the very least.
Upon his return to the ring, I hope to see Jackson flourish and undergo a complete character overhaul. If given the right opponent to work with, Jackson can easily impress, but it's up to Creative to book him correctly.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on Ezekiel Jackson and his descent over the last year. Also, include any other potential topics you'd like to see me analyze on upcoming editions of WWE Pushed to Punished.
Read every archived edition of Pushed to Punished here.
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