Where Did They Go Wrong? A Look Upon WWE’s Flops #2: Zack Ryder

220px-Internet_ChampionZack_RyderWWE is known for making questionable decisions involving their talents, especially on the creative side. This series analyzes where WWE or, in some cases, the talents themselves dropped the ball and failed in the eyes of us fans.  And while I have personally enjoyed this week’s worker in question, there is no denying the flop that is Zack Ryder.

Zack Ryder debuted in WWE as Brett Major, teaming with his long-time partner from the Indys and Developmental Curt Hawkins, aka Brian Major.  They would win their first televised match on WWECW against Marcus Cor Von and Matt Striker in May of 2007.  This would be the team’s only win in ECW, as they would soon be drafted to Smackdown in June.  WWE would hype their debut for the brand in some video packages, and on July 6th, they would beat a local team.  On the following week, they would beat Chavo Guerrero and Jamie Noble.  However, they would fail to get over with the fans, and quickly had their plugs pulled.

During this time, Vince would take a look over the roster and notice the Major Brothers.  Not recognizing them, he asked the creative team if they were truly brothers.  When he was told no, he would reply back, “Then why are packaging them as such”, leading them to be repackaged as Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins.  They would then be infamously placed as the Edge-heads and work in tandem with Vickie Guerrero and Edge as part of the La Famila stable that dominated Smackdown for the first half of 2008.  Hawkins and Ryder would win the WWE Tag Team Titles from The Miz and John Morrison at The Great American Bash on July 20th, 2008, in a Fatal 4-Way match.  They would hold the Titles until the September 26th Smackdown, when Carlito and Primo would beat them.  Hawkins and Ryder then floundered for the rest of the year, working as jobbers again until they were split up by the draft

Ryder would then appear on WWECW in May of 2009 with a new gimmick, one of a Long Island party boy.  After losing his first match to Fit Finley, Ryder would squash local talents until he would lose to Evan Bourne on Superstars.  He would then enter a mini-feud with a debuting Tyler Reks.  Ryder would then feud with Shelton Benjamin, in which Shelton would go over Ryder frequently.  Ryder would then have a feud with then ECW Champion Christian, but he would be unsuccessful in capturing the title.  Ryder would then be involved in a love angle with Rosa Mendez for the rest of the year, which would also lead to Ryder “retiring” Tommy Dreamer.

2010 would see the demise of WWECW, and would see Zack Ryder’s career start a huge downturn.  He would be placed onto the Raw roster and would proceed to job on an almost weekly basis.  Ryder would then be a pro for Titus O’Neil in the second season of NXT, who would be the first person eliminated.  After NXT, he would continue to work as a jobber for the rest of 2010, with sporadic wins over people like Tyson Kidd and Darren Young.  He would begin to team with Primo and win a few matches, but would also start something that would get the fan base behind him like never before, his internet show Z True Long Island Story.  While it would take WWE a few weeks to notice the impact it was making in the fans, one Superstar would notice it and help him get better screen time, John Cena.  Ryder would then be appointed Assistant to General Manager Teddy Long on Smackdown.  This would also mark a big swing in his stock, as he would begin a great winning streak and get a lot of prime TV time.  Ryder would then enter a feud with Dolph Ziggler in September, starting with the Hugh Jackman punching angle.  Ryder would eventually win the United States Championship from Ziggler at the TLC PPV.  Unfortunately, his success would be short lived, as he would end up in the middle of the Kane/Cena angle and the Eve Torres love angle, which would end up causing him to drop the Title to Jack Swagger on the January 16th, 2012 Raw.  He would also be the victim of the WWE corporate machine, as WWE would pressure him to take over Z True Long Island Story.  This would cause the fans to turn on him, as they would think he sold out to the WWE machine.  Zach would then become a jobber yet again, with the lone exception being him winning a battle royal on the June 3rd edition of Smackdown, which let him be in charge of the next week’s show that he would dub Zackdown.  Since then, he has been extremely open in his frustration with WWE, but the question here is, where did he go wrong?

Honestly, I think that the fault on this one is mostly on him.  Sure, I know that he got the short end of creative’s stick on a few occasions, but when it mattered the most, he couldn’t get himself over.  As part of the Major Brothers and the Edge-heads, fan reactions were very tepid for him and he did little to get the fans to care for him.  Even when he won the Tag Team Titles with Curt Hawkins, fans had no reaction for them.  Then when he moved over to WWECW, he was booked quickly into the main event picture with Shelton Benjamin and Christian, but still couldn’t get a crowd behind him.  It took him making an online show and showing his true talents just to get anywhere.  But then we saw him let the fame get to him, as he started to water his in-ring style down and tread water until he started to lose his fans, and by then it was too late for him to salvage his career.  I will say that the Cena/Kane/Eve angle did him no favors, but by then he was already on his decline.  And if I sound like I think his career with WWE is close to being over, it’s because I do.  I know that I wouldn’t want to keep who has been bluntly expressing criticism to anyone who will listen in public.  Unfortunately, I don’t really see a fix for him short of either a complete overhaul or a release, as he has become so obvious as a lower card talent that I don’t know if anyone could take him seriously as a top-tier guy now.

Thank you for reading this week’s Where Did They Go Wrong, and be sure to keep a look out, as I have a special WrestleMania edition coming to you on Friday!  As always, if you have a suggestion of someone I should take a look at, tell me in the comments below.

  • david

    Drew McIntyre
    Kofi Kingston
    Ted DiBiase

    • Jesse Sherwood

      Drew is actually going to be in 2 weeks! Kofi is a good idea, and I will look at him soon as well. But Ted DiBiase has yet to really have a major push on his own. What are your thoughts on Ryder?

  • Jon

    The use of the future tense in this article, bouncing back and forth with the past, is very confusing. "Vince would be looking over the roster and notice the Major Brothers. Not recognizing them, he asked the creative team if they were truly brothers." The "would be" implies a hypothetical future situation, rather than actual history, such as "asked."

    Here's an example of how that could be made easier to read:

    "Vince, while looking over the roster, noticed the Major Brothers; as he didn't recognize the two, he asked the Creative Team if they were truly brothers."

    • Jesse Sherwood

      Thanks for the correction Jon. I write like I talk, and it sometimes comes across as a muddled mess.

  • Dave

    I agree with your thoughts on Ryder. I have followed him on twitter and am tired of his constant whining about how he isn't getting pushed. He is more of a distraction than anything else. Yes the first 50 episodes of his you tube show were entertaining, but that's about it. I'm sure there are other developmental talents they could call up with more to offer and future endeavor Ryder after Wrestlemania.

    • Jesse Sherwood

      I was talking with Kendra about this piece and we both came to the same conclusion. Maybe WWE isn't his true calling. We both could see him having a successful acting career, as he has shown a great aptitude for it in his YouTube show and with his character in WWE.

  • Mike

    I want a heel rider!

    • Jesse Sherwood

      Ryder was a heel for the first 3 years of his career, and couldn't get himself over. I don't see how a heel turn now would help him.

  • Ryan

    Ryder sucks! So what he has a following on YouTube, he has a weak following in the wrestling world. His look is that of a low card wrestler.. his facial expressions alone throw me out of interest. He isn’t anything but what he made himself.. they gave him a chance and instead of working harder he just went with the flow and got no connection to the crowd.. they need to future endeavor him.. let him try with TNA.. woo woo wooooo FON…DON…GOOOOOO

    • Jesse Sherwood

      Ryan, his YouTube and social media following obviously bled over into the wrestling world, at least temporarily. I will disagree on his look, as he has a similar look and build as Dolph Ziggler does, but his look isn't why he flopped. As you stated, it was because he coasted when he had his big chances. I will disagree with him going to TNA, however, as they have too many people who get lost in the shuffle on their roster to begin with. If Ryder was to go over there, do you really think he would be used very well?

      • matt

        What about ring of honor? Roh has a history of making main eventers out of wwe midcarders. An example of this is haas an benjamin as well as recently domino? If he was to rebuild his career that would perhaps be a place to start

        • Jesse Sherwood

          I think ROH would work well for Ryder, as he can put on a great match if he wants too. Benjamin has done excellent in ROH, and they helped him get past some of the attitude issues he had early in his career. Maybe they could do the same for Ryder.

      • Ryan

        I am just saying send him to TNA cause I can’t stand him in the WWE. I disagree to your disagreeing of my take on his look. He is tall long and really stiff moving.. ziggler is good height good muscle build and can move like a cruiserweight.. I just don’t think he has it.. in my opinion..

        • Jesse Sherwood

          I have to assume by your statement here that you don't watch TNA. I did some research, and the differences in their height and weight are 2 inches for Ryder and no weight. I will say Ziggler is more defined, and on Ryder moving stiff, especially compared Ziggler, I will agree. I tend to attribute that to the fact that he is squashed so frequently that when he is supposed to move more around the ring it looks awkward.