WWE 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.