I sat behind my computer this past Monday, eagerly awaiting the results from the WWE Superstars Tapings before RAW. It was the night after WrestleMania and the first day of the wrestling calendar. I was hoping that Zack Ryder wouldn't be on Superstars this week, that would then increase the likelihood of him making an appearance on RAW later that night.
However, before I could even get to the Superstars results, I came across the dark match results. Zack Ryder battled Mark Henry before any of the cameras were turned on. In a generic match just to wake up the fans in attendance, probably the same finish as their previous dark matches.
I don't understand. I remember when Zack debuted as a singles wrestler on ECW two years ago, I used to think if a new guy was sent to ECW it was a push, where as the older guys it would be a bit of a step down. Guys like The Miz, Jack Swagger, Sheamus all started out wrestling on the Tuesday night brand, and when Zack showed up in his new persona, I expected great things.
However, while Christian was in a feud with Tommy Dreamer that spanned I think, three pay-per-view matches for an unknown reason, I don't mean to insult Tommy, but he's only over with fans because he's an ECW legend, well, this isn't 1996 and more importantly, it wasn't (the real/old) ECW. Most of the fans cheering were too young to have been part of the ECW era and yet cheered him anyway.
But, back to the main point, it was during this time that Zack Ryder battled Christian in TV matches, one of which was for the ECW Championship in a match that by a lot of fans would be regarded as the best match of the WWECW lifetime. Going up against a veteran like Christian could only do Ryder wonders for his single career, and these matches showed that.
But Ryder wasn't shy of rubbing with the top talent on TV. He made his debut (as Ryder) following a run as one half of the Major Brothers at Armageddon in 2007. Interfering in the main event between Edge, Batista and the Undertaker. Ryder along with other Major Brother, Curt Hawkins posed as Edge in a successful attempt to distract the Undertaker long enough for Edge to capture the World Heavyweight Championship.
Ryder would spend the next nine months as part of the faction La Familia living life in the main event as Edge would battle with the likes of Rey Mysterio, Batista and the Undertaker and Ryder along with Hawkins was right in the middle of it. A cameo appearance in the main event of WrestleMania XXIV just four months into his current run was a fantastic achievement, and Zack must of been dreaming high.
The run with La Familia didn't go unnoticed, I was lucky enough to travel from Ireland and sit ringside in Long Island for the Great American Bash as Hawkins & Ryder would overcome Jesse & Festus, Finlay & Hornswoggle and the defending champions John Morrison & The Miz to become the WWE Tag Team Champions.
A month later, Edge would lose to the Undertaker at SummerSlam and leave on a temporary hiatus, with Bam Neely given his future endeavors and Chavo Guerrero left in limbo, La Familia quietly disbanded, and Hawkins and Ryder would lose their titles to the Colon Brothers in their first televised title debut.
This would be the last we would see of the team before the WWE draft in April the following year when they were separated due to Ryder's move to ECW, Hawkins found himself back in Florida Championship Wrestling.
So Ryder debuted on ECW, sporting a new shorter haircut, half trunks half tights ring attire and a new catch phrase…"Woo Woo Woo…You Know it!". The character was so arrogant and full of himself that it was bound to get over, and it did. But instead of using this to put a force behind Ryder, who can back it up in the ring to rid any lingering thoughts that he was a joke gimmick, unfortunately had to settle for the latter.
He moved to RAW in 2010 and became the No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship, only to be fed to new champion Sheamus and beaten with one swift kick to the head, many of his TV matches have turned out like this and even lately so have his house show matches.
Ryder recently has been coming out and complaining about being left off the card at WrestleMania XXVII, and although it's just to set up the appearance of Giant Khali who then disposes of Ryder quicker than he can stand up, you've got to believe that Ryder means those words. Having ditched the gimmicked ring gear in an attempt (I assume) to be taken a bit more seriously, Ryder has been the company man and settled for these non-matches for long enough.
The man has an art in knowing how to wrestle and how to wrestle well at that, that's what he was hired to do, and I know these matches are loved by the fans, seeing the likes of Khali who can't wrestle more than a few minutes due to his continuous knee problems, hit his finish and wave to the fans.
But why does Ryder have to be the lamb to slaughter?
Nearly two months ago, in what I imagine was an attempt to get noticed or understandable boredom, the man with the tan set up his very own YouTube account delivering weekly episodes of what's known as Z! True Long Island Story. Clips on Twitter of Ryder singing various songs was such a hit with the fans they definitely wanted more.
Just check out one of the videos if you haven't already, it shows Ryder as a likable, humorous and most importantly extremely charismatic individual, and if you don't take my word for it, then just look at top WWE Superstars such as John Cena, The Miz, John Morrison to name a few, all endorsing the show each week on Twitter.
So as this caught on, I believed we would get more of Ryder on TV, that WWE would see something in him and use him, however, all we've gotten since the launch of the video was a brief and forgettable backstage segment with Jersey Shore star Snooki and the singing slot in the WrestleMania pre-taped segment.
The decision not to use Ryder in the Snooki program was such a wasted opportunity. Ryder's a character, often interpreted as a Jersey Shore rip off (despite the character debuting before Jersey Shore) was the perfect match for the program. If need be, an enjoyable end would have been Ryder being fed to Snooki for the pinfall. It wouldn't have been worse than the Great Khali, and given Ryder's on screen persona, it would hve sent the fans home happy.
Fans of Long Island Iced Z have had to settle to seeing Zack wrestle occasionally on WWE Superstars, more recently alongside Primo. However, tonight is the final episode of Superstars on WGN America, and even though the show will probably become a WWE.com exclusive and still remain on TV in Europe, one can only assume the WWE's already bleak interest in the show will continue to fade.
This loss of TV revenue and airtime will push the office's hand a little harder when considering post-WrestleMania cuts this year. An annual occurrence at this stage is the release of many unused or unwanted WWE stars to make cuts in expenditure is bound to happen, and those who feature regularly on the Thursday night show must be worried.
Stars like Ryder & Primo may be let go because "the office had nothing for them," but the same can be said about the likes of Ryder's former partner Curt Hawkins, who despite having arguably one of the best looks in wrestling today and coming off of stellar matches encounters with Trent Barreta must be worried. It's a sad day when you see your favorite stars released having never been used to a fraction of their potential, and I'd hate to see it to these guys.
It must be hard sitting back and waiting your turn as guys like Alberto Del Rio, Sin Cara, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Wade Barrett all pass by and become prominent members of their brands when others are made wait. I'm not discrediting these guys, it's just what did they do differently, if anything?
So again, I ask the question, what does Zack Ryder have to do to get on television? Following the actions on YouTube of Matt Hardy who used the platform to encourage the WWE to agree to his release, is having a YouTube account taboo? Does the office "just have nothing for him," because I can't see the reason myself, and as you'll see in last week's edition of True Long Island Story, the top WWE stars are curious too.
The new episode of Z! True Long Island Story is released today, having been filmed over the WrestleMania weekend and features a guest appearance from non other than John Cena. Make it a point to check it out and let's hope the ZackPack won't have to rely on YouTube to see their hero, and he'll be used at last.
He can do it… and even you know it.
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