Zack Ryder is an underutilized commodity.
OK, now that we have established a long-known fact, we can discuss the issue.
Ryder is a hot commodity, no matter how you look at it. The crowd loves him, and when he is not featured on a show, there are often blog posts, tweets and otherwise negative reactions to it.
After originally rising to prominence along with Curt Hawkins as one of the Edgeheads—lackeys of WWE superstar Edge—Ryder found himself relegated to jobber status each week.
Realizing that he would really need to help himself, he cashed in on his Long Island roots, and became “Long Island Iced Z,” a take-off on characters on The Jersey Shore—and likely anyone that you would meet in a club in the Tri-State area.
And if we’re being honest, it could certainly be said that I have a soft spot for Ryder on a personal level. We’re both Long Island guys and live in neighboring towns. I have even run into him at a local deli on more than one occasion.
Far from his somewhat annoying character, Ryder is engaging and friendly in person. He worked as a personal trainer at my gym years ago, an establishment that his father (who is in tremendous condition by the way) still frequents.
I was in attendance for more than a few matches that he and Hawkins competed in around 2005-06 with the New York Wrestling Connection promotion.
And as we all know, the Internet wrestling community is fiercely loyal to the guys that they have watched from the beginning. I feel that type of loyalty to Ryder.
And no matter the support he gets, or the merchandise he sells, Ryder has never seemed to get a fair shake with the company.
No matter how many YouTube hits his videos get, or how many signs feature his name or likeness in the crowd, he rarely gets a shot at a belt. Ryder had one brief run with the United States title a little bit over a year ago before being thrown onto the low midcard of an event.
And that was if he was lucky.
So often it seems as if the crowd is wondering where exactly Ryder is.
At a relatively recent event held on Long Island, Ryder did not even compete. Not even a dark match.
The WWE Universe needs to understand that there is a huge overflow of talent in the company right now. But why does the company continue to bring in unproven or incredibly green talent rather than pursue better storylines for its already established talent?
Ryder is better than most in the ring and always elicits a huge reaction from the crowd. His matches with other solid in-ring performers like Damien Sandow and Antonio Cesaro are always very entertaining and energetic.
And though Ryder generally comes out on the losing end of such contests, the crowd is generally very hopeful that their Broski will come away with a “W.”
When CM Punk spoke on Raw this past week about guys like Tyson Kidd and Brodus Clay languishing around the low midcard, or their having to stoop to silly tactics in order to get recognized, he might as well have been talking about Ryder as well.
It really begs the question as to what exactly Ryder needs to do in order to reach the next level in the wrestling business.
Most people would answer that he should simply leave the company and go to the rival TNA. However, that company is also flush with talent, most of it aging and broken down. But they are big names that demand respect, and that would be a huge obstacle standing in Ryder’s way.
The answer might be that he should simply wait out his time and make the best of what he is given, however small the opportunity is.
At age 27, he likely has many more decent years ahead of him. But who knows when, or even if, WWE will finally give him his due and give him the opportunity at the top of the company that he has deserved for a long time now.
Ryder is already a self-professed “Internet sensation.”
But how much longer can he afford to wait to become something more?