Zack Ryder went from being a virtual overnight sensation in WWE to being the apparent odd man out. Some consider his 15 minutes of fame to have expired, as he does seem to once again be struggling to get on TV these days.
The frustration for Zack’s fans is surely at an all-time high and for me, the situation is disappointing because it did not have to be this way.
Ryder is talented, has charisma, and is a good worker. He has taken every opportunity given to him and made the best of it. On the surface, he seems to have everything it takes to succeed in the world’s largest pro wrestling company.
So why is he not being utilized?
Before we go any further, I have to say that Zack Ryder likely does not want pity from anyone. He has a dream job working for WWE, and has a spot that so many on the outside would love to have.
For those men and women who are trying to get into Vince McMahon’s company, any place they could get, including Zack’s, is one they would certainly not turn down.
And to be honest, it’s not as if Ryder has not had his chances.
He got the rub from John Cena in 2011, appeared on TV several times over the course of the year, and won the United States Championship. The buzz surrounding his YouTube show, "Z! True Long Island Story," helped Ryder reach true relevancy in the company and he was surely having a blast in his new role.
Finally, Zack Ryder had hit the big time.
But since then, Zack has not been the same Superstar. Call it timing, call it bad booking, but the man who WWE crowds had gravitated toward, often chanting his name when he was nowhere near the ring, has now managed to slide right back down the ladder in WWE.
And fans are not the only ones frustrated by this turn of events, as Ryder himself has recently made noise on his Twitter account.
No reason for me to watch the ball drop tonight…I lived through the ball being dropped with me all year.— Zack Ryder (@ZackRyder) January 1, 2013
Let’s be honest here. Zack is a pro wrestler, and a pro wrestler’s job is to work the fans. Perhaps his statement, like others in the past, was made to get attention and gain support online. Ryder has always been viewed as a sympathetic underdog, a hard worker who does not get his due, maybe his complaints are done to help further that character.
Maybe the groundwork is being laid for a possible heel turn somewhere down the road?
On the flip side of that argument, however is the fact that Zack Ryder is only human, and because of that his frustrations about his career do naturally come out. Getting his feelings out on social media, while it may be too public of a forum, is, again, a real attention-getter. Whether it’s the attention of the fans or WWE that Zack is trying to elicit, is anyone’s guess.
The question is, where does Zack Ryder go from here?
Wade Barrett recently became the new Intercontinental Champion; perhaps Ryder could be put into a program with him. Barrett is a very good heel and needs an equally good babyface to work against. Ryder could be that face and would certainly put on some good matches against Wade.
United States Champion Antonio Cesaro is also another option. While Cesaro is a good heel, he doesn’t quite have the charisma that Barrett does, so working with Zack in a much lengthier feud, would definitely up his entertainment value.
I can imagine the comedy that could follow in various spots between the two, with Cesaro possibly even turning face at the end of the rivalry. The two men have worked together before, but not with any real effort at allowing Zack to regain some of his past credibility. This could be rectified now.
We also cannot forget that WWE did pair Zack with Santino Marella in the tag team division, so some effort was obviously made at getting Ryder back under the bright lights.
Though they did provide some funny spots for fans, their run appears to have been only temporary, which is a shame. In a division that features the mismatched duo of Kane and Daniel Bryan, there should have been no reason that Ryder and Marella could not have had a nice little run, even winning tag team gold at some point down the line.
It’s not too late for that option to be realized however, especially if Team Rhodes Scholars eventually beat Team Hell No for the belts. Zack and Santino could be the perfect team to challenge them for the championships.
But for me, that just doesn’t feel like enough. I’m not suggesting that Zack Ryder suddenly be thrust into main-event status, right away competing for the WWE Championship. The title picture for both the WWE and World Championships are fairly crowded as it is.
However, I am saying that at some point, Zack’s value as a technically sound Superstar who can connect with the crowd, should be utilized once again. WWE has spent time on him in the past, with storylines and merchandise, and he needs to be taken to a higher level than what he currently has.
The question is, will it ever happen?