During Monday’s twentieth anniversary episode of WWE’s Raw program, Zack Ryder achieved his goal of reaching one million Twitter followers. It is a fairly impressive accomplishment, considering only some of World Wrestling Entertainment’s top performers have also reached that number.
Over the last month, Ryder and other WWE personalities have campaigned for “Long Island Iced Z” to become a so-called “Seven Figure Broski”, tweeting for fans to follow the man so instrumental in WWE’s recent foray, and success, into social media.
Ironically, however, Ryder was not featured on Monday’s Raw. Despite being one of the most over Superstars on the roster and one of the top ten merchandise sellers in the company, Ryder watched from the backstage area as the flagship show of World Wrestling Entertainment celebrated 20 years on cable television. Instead, he will be featured on the web-only Superstars program, a show usually reserved for the performers with which the company has nothing better to do.
Ryder’s latest social-media success comes at a time of great frustration for the former United States and Tag Team Champion. Over the last year-and-a-half, Ryder has amassed a strong fan following who have been very vocal in their calls for more of him on WWE programming.
At the 2011 Survivor Series, the crowd reaction to him overshadowed even The Rock’s post-show speech to the New York fans.
His US title win at the following month’s TLC pay-per-view was one of the legitimate feelgood stories of the year, and the following night’s Raw, which saw Ryder, new World Champion Daniel Bryan and WWE Champion CM Punk stand tall despite every attempt to hold them down, was a tremendous moment for diehard fans who were looking for the next generation of stars to be given the opportunity they had worked so hard to earn.
Unfortunately, Ryder’s title win was followed up with a hilariously bad angle that saw him as the target for the returning Kane.
In just under a month, Ryder went from triumphant underdog to damsel in distress, a pawn in John Cena’s latest superhero storyline. The program killed any momentum Zack had accrued over the year prior, thanks in large part to the fan following he gained from his web series “Z! True Long Island Story” (which just celebrated it's series finale 100th episode).
The man that had scratched and clawed his way to getting over, despite a lack of attention from the creative team and upper management, soon found himself back in the position in which he started.
There was no one Superstar who experienced a more frustrating 2012 than Zack Ryder. And as the year came to a close and 2013 reared its head, he began to voice his frustration, taking to Twitter to make his feelings known.
Ryder’s openness to his fans via Twitter and YouTube is part of what made him a legitimate success story at the close of 2011 and into the early portion of 2012. Now, one full year later and with no real upward mobility to be had, Ryder finds himself struggling to advance past the proverbial glass ceiling solidly in place in World Wrestling Entertainment.
It has long been believed that if a worker manages to get himself over with the audience, success will find him accordingly. Zack Ryder is proof of the contrary.
And for him, it is a damn shame.