At long last, the WWE US title belongs to Zack Ryder.
The rising star finally wrested control of the belt from the steely grasp of Dolph Ziggler at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, ending Ziggler's lengthy run atop the wrestling world with a Rough Ryder after several failed attempts to seal the victory via pinfall.
The two adversaries went back and forth throughout the match, much as they had during their previous meetings at WWE Raw, from most of which Ryder emerged victorious.
Ryder has laid claim to championship belts before, having first risen to prominence as half of the Tag Team-champion Edge Heads, along with Curt Hawkins.
But this time, the spotlight was all his. No Hawkins with whom to share it. No Jack Swagger to steal it.
Of course, Ryder still owes a debt of gratitude to John Cena. After all, Cena had originally been slated to compete for the title but, instead, took a calculated risk by relinquishing the opportunity to Ryder.
Owning the US title still isn't enough to vault Ryder into the top tier of the WWE. Ryder's career arch has followed closely in the mold of those enjoyed by Shawn Michaels, Edge and Bret "The Hitman" Hart, albeit with the added advantage of social media spurring his steady rise through the ranks.
If Ryder is truly intent to establish himself as an elite wrestler, then he must use his waist wear to coax bona fide superstars into the ring, with the likes of Cena and CM Punk at the top of his wish list.
Otherwise, Ryder risks letting his tremendous talent, potential and popularity go to waste after working so diligently to scale the mountain of the WWE.
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