Zack Ryder has been turned into WWE's resident doormat, as evidence by the nearly two-year drought he suffered between wins on Raw.
Thanks to the company choosing to focus on other Superstars and viewing him as fodder, he didn't win a singles match on Raw from the end of 2012 to July 21, 2014. That's when he finally defeated Fandango, snapping a streak of 15 consecutive Raw losses, per The Internet Wrestling Database.
Before that, Ryder's last win on WWE's marquee show came on Dec. 24, 2012 when Ryder shut David Otunga up with the Rough Ryder.
That's a mighty long time for a wrestler to go winless. At the time of Ryder's last Raw victory, The Shield was just 1-0 and The Undertaker was 20-0 at WrestleMania.
Cesaro was still Antonio Cesaro, Bad News Barrett was still Wade Barrett and Jason Albert was still Tensai. Team Co-Bro, Team Hell No, The Prime Time Players, The Shield, 3MB, The Funkadactyls, Team Rhodes Scholars, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara had all yet to disband.
WWE has produced 19 pay-per-views and 80 editions of Raw in between Ryder's singles wins on that show.
When he did get a call to step into the ring, it was always to highlight someone else. When an emerging wrestler needed to improve his resume, WWE called on Ryder. When a wrestler needed a win following a loss, the company turned to Ryder.
That's what Big Show was after back in January of last year.
Jan. 21, 2013
An angry giant awaited Ryder in San Jose, California. Big Show had just lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Alberto Del Rio.
Ryder served as his stress ball.
Big Show smashed Ryder with forearms before knocking him out with a right hand. With his knee on his foe's throat, Big Show pinned him for a three-count.
Feb. 11, 2013
Less than a month later, Jack Swagger needed a way to gain momentum as well. He was headed for a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship via the upcoming Elimination Chamber match.
His then-new manager, Zeb Colter, cheered Swagger on as he steamrolled over Ryder.
A powerbomb into the corner had the announcers exclaiming. Swagger finished the bout with an ankle lock.
A bloody-mouthed Ryder tapped out before Colter and Swagger took center stage and spouted their patriotic rhetoric.
March 4, 2013
On Old School Raw, Mark Henry clobbered Ryder.
The focus of the bout was on Henry's strength and anger. The big man needed someone to destroy en route to his WrestleMania 29 clash with Ryback.
Ryder played that role, writhing on the mat while Henry barked at him. A World's Strongest Slam put Long Island Iced Z down.
April 1, 2013
Barrett wanted The Miz, who sat at the announce table, to see how dominant he could be. They were set to meet for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 29.
Ryder took advantage of an unfocused Barrett, though.
He hit the Broski Boot and was in mid-flurry when Barrett responded with an elbow to the jaw. Ryder's moments of glory have routinely faded out quickly.
With Ryder flat on his back, the cameras pointed at The Miz and Barrett's staredown.
April 22, 2013
After WrestleMania, it was Big E's turn to use Ryder to gain momentum. Back then, he still had Langston at the end of his name.
He needed a means to show off his power, and it was Ryder who provided it.
Ryder offered little resistance to the powerhouse. Big E prowled behind him, crashing into him again and again. Michael Cole noted that Big E hadn't broken a sweat by the time he hit his finisher The Big Ending.
After getting a three-count, Big E lingered atop Ryder. He had spent much of his time at NXT demanding a five-count instead and made sure to show fans that he could have pinned Ryder for at least that long.
April 29, 2013
Ryder mocked Colter for losing to Ricardo Rodriguez. That only infuriated Swagger, inspiring him to charge at his opponent.
For a brief moment, it looked as though Ryder would be able to break his streak on Raw and to join Rodriguez in a victory celebration. He hurled Swagger out of the ring and jumped through the ropes to drop kick Swagger.
The Oklahoma native ended Ryder fans' hopes soon after, though. A gutwrench powerbomb and a wrench of the ankle ended the match and gave Ryder another loss.
May 6, 2013
Cesaro (in his yodeling phase at the time) soon worsened Ryder's record.
A few weeks after losing the United States Championship, the Swiss powerhouse earned a dominant win against a struggling opponent. Cesaro glared at Ryder as he pummeled him.
He shook off a dropkick and then lifted his foe into the air. An uppercut to the chin was waiting for Ryder on the way down.
A Neutralizer finished Ryder off. Cesaro then grabbed a mic, pointed at a fallen Ryder and said, "Is that all the competition you've got for me?"
WWE couldn't have labeled Ryder a bottom feeder any clearer if it asked him to wear "Just lose, baby" on his trunks.
May 13, 2013
Less than a week before Extreme Rules, Ryback prepared for his Last Man Standing match against John Cena by overpowering Ryder.
A short match saw the announcers wonder if Ryder would be on his feet long enough for a referee to count to 10. Shell Shocked gave Ryback the win.
The camera briefly showed Ryder slapping the mat in frustration. As the losses piled up and the memories of his U.S. title run became more distant, that feeling must have been easier and easier to portray.
May 20, 2013
Ryder mounted a bit of offense against Cody Rhodes, but the mustached Superstar was in control for the most part.
The crowd chanted "Cody's mustache" as Rhodes kneed Ryder in the gut and tossed him around the ring. The mustache had become Rhodes' trademark, an unlikely means to gain him momentum.
Ryder didn't have anything like that at the time.
Fans still pulled for him, though. When he readied himself to hit his Broski Boot, the audience cheered him on. His kick wasn't good enough for a pinfall, but Rhodes' was.
Sept. 30, 2013
Ryder got a crack at the world champ, Alberto Del Rio.
Del Rio used Ryder as a warm-up before his big match against Rob Van Dam at the first-ever Battleground. A Broski Boot had it look, though, like Ryder might pull of the upset.
Del Rio kicked out. That kick being unable to put Ryder's foes away was an increasingly familiar sight, as was his opponent following it up with their own signature move and a win.
This time it was a cross armbreaker that forced Ryder to tap out.
Oct. 7, 2013
Before Fandango lost Summer Rae, before he aligned himself with Layla, he withstood everything Fandango threw at him.
Ryder was on the offense more than the ballroom dancer. He had Fandango off-balance with various kicks.
Fandango delivered a kick of his own that shifted the story. Soon it was Fandango who was the predator and Ryder played the prey. A leg drop from the top rope ended the match.
It would be nine months until Ryder would get his revenge.
Feb. 3, 2014
After months away from Raw, Ryder found himself the means in which WWE showcased Titus O'Neil's new aggressiveness.
O'Neil had just broken away from Darren Young and went on a brief rampage.
One of O'Neil's only victims during that span was Ryder. The former US champ gave the big man a good fight, but the match's final moments saw his face meet the mat several times over.
O'Neil flung around his foe before pinning him.
April 7, 2014
Two months later, it was Rusev's turn to be the furious beast in the center of the spotlight.
Ryder was one of his first opponents. He didn't last long against The Bulgarian Bruiser.
A kick to the mush and knees to the spine softened Ryder up. Then came The Accolade and the familiar sight of Ryder tapping out.
May 26, 2014
Ryder fared worse in his second go-round with Rusev. The bruiser pounded on the back of Ryder's head, stepped on his back and soon locked The Accolade in.
WWE wanted to build Rusev up as unstoppable, a human wrecking ball. That meant that someone had to play the building he would demolish.
Ryder did that several times.
June 9, 2014
By this time, WWE had turned up the focus on Rusev's Russian roots. No longer was he just a Bulgarian monster, but a hero to the Russian people.
On this edition of Raw, the match with Ryder wasn't highlighted as much as Lana dogging Barack Obama and praising Vladimir Putin.
The actual in-ring action featured a nasty kick that sent Ryder crashing backward. It's hard to tell how hard it landed with all the theatrics involved here, but it sure appeared to be a solid blow that likely required Ryder to press an icepack to his chin afterward.
The Accolade soon followed.
Rusev was charging toward bigger opponents. Ryder seemed to be running in place.
July 21, 2014
By the time Ryder scored his first win on Raw, he had fans expecting him to lose and to lose quickly, no matter the opponent. It felt like if WWE trotted Pat Patterson out to the ring that he would pin Ryder.
Fandango, though, was heading downward, likely in line for a Ryder-type run of losses himself.
He hasn't been portrayed as a threat lately. After Summer and Layla abandoned him, he was forced to watch them hang out and flirt with them.
It was Ryder's turn to do that this night.
Ryder hit the Rough Ryder, but Fandango's foot was on the bottom rope. The three-count wouldn't have counted had Layla not pushed his boot off. Even so, Ryder celebrated the victory like he had just won the WWE title.
You can't blame him. Losses come with the territory in pro wrestling, but being the bug everybody squashes has to eat at one's confidence. For one edition of Raw, he held the flyswatter.
Ryder isn't likely to follow this up with much. WWE has made it clear that it doesn't view Ryder as an asset other than to elevate others.
The countdown to his next win on Raw begins. Will it happen before 2016?
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