on February 17th, Zack Ryder began his YouTube series Z! True Long Island Story. The series has so far been highly entertaining, with Ryder introducing recurring characters, and the occasional cameo from a WWE star.
Before he began this series Zack was stuck on the under card, occasionally seen on Superstars, and before that, ECW. He had the same Jersey Shore-esque character he has today, except with minimal TV time to establish his character.
Many, including myself, didn't see much of Ryder, and hence had a negative opinion of him and his character.
However, throughout the run of Z!TLIS, Ryder has shown that he has creativity, a sense of humour, and immense charisma. Most importantly, Ryder built himself a fan base through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
It wasn't long after that his online popularity spilt over onto TV, as Zack began to get cheered, and numerous signs began appearing every RAW and SmackDown. Unfortunately, WWE Creative took their time capitalising on his sudden popularity.
Perhaps it was due to a lack of faith, as the WWE has never pushed any superstar based purely on popularity gained online. The WWE could have been testing Ryder to see if he could maintain his popularity and momentum.
Five months, 24 episodes of Z!TLIS, and over three million views later, Zack Ryder has finally been given a chance to shine on WWE TV. On this week's SmackDown, Ryder was promoted to Teddy Long's by COO Triple H.
In the short term, there are many positives. Firstly, it's another exciting decision implemented this week to keep up with the COO Triple H storyline.
Secondly, it freshens up the incredibly stale authority figures on SmackDown (I wrote an article two days ago expressing my frustration about this).
Long term the possibilities are endless. The most important implication to take away from this is that it finally gives Zack Ryder a chance to show how good he is.
I'm not writing this to proclaim that he will be an instant hit. Ryder has insane potential, all he has needed is a decent amount of TV time to prove he has the often talked about; It.
Does Ryder have it? From what we saw on SmackDown, the initial stages of his assistant position were pretty basic: booking matches, and being involved in backstage segments.
That's fine for now, but assuming he performs well in the position (which I believe he will), Creative will be required to use him more effectively.
Hopefully he has a match occasionally, as he definitely has something to contribute on SmackDown from an in-ring perspective (or RAW, if he isn't exclusive to SmackDown).
Whether or not Zack Ryder takes the ball and runs with it, the simple truth is that he has been given his chance. Being the GM's assistant ensure he will have consistent TV time, and that's all he has ever needed to show he worth.
I believe this is the initial stage of Ryder's eventual rise through the ranks in the WWE. Given this chance, Zack Ryder will capitalise on his ever-growing popularity.