Zack Ryder has clearly grown increasingly frustrated with his position in the WWE over the last several months.
When most wrestlers wouldn’t dare voice those frustrations—at least not in public—Ryder has had absolutely no problem with taking to Twitter and other forms of social media to complain about his spot in the company.
He’s recently sent out a boatload of tweets to his one million-plus Twitter followers that have slyly ripped the booking of his character.
Many fans have speculated that Ryder has been so angered by the way he’s been booked that he simply doesn’t care what he says, does or tweets. He’s already been buried over much of the last year, so the only way things could get any worse for him is if he were to be fired.
That’s almost become the expectation at this point, too. Because Ryder has been so outspoken about his role in the WWE, some fans are just waiting for the day that he gets “future endeavored.”
Zack Ryder @ZackRyder
I can’t wait to order my new gear for WrestleMania……Axxess.2013-2-13 02:32:59
But he won’t be released—at least not anytime soon.
Ryder’s venting of his frustrations is a much different situation than it would be if someone like Yoshi Tatsu, Alex Riley or Curt Hawkins did it. What Ryder has that these other lower card superstars don’t have is leverage.
Zack Ryder @ZackRyder
No reason for me to watch the ball drop tonight…I lived through the ball being dropped with me all year.2013-1-1 00:34:56
After all, Ryder may be really low on the card at the moment, but that’s not really a fair indication of his popularity or his actual stance in the company. Judging by the way he’s booked, you would think that he didn’t have a huge fanbase or any real supporters in the company.
But that’s obviously not the case with Ryder.
He’s got more than 1 million Twitter followers, which is far more than anyone who’s even anywhere close to his position on the card and is actually more than the vast majority of the roster, and he’s even received public support from guys like John Cena.
Zack Ryder @ZackRyder
So next week is @WWE Social Media Smackdown? I wonder if the Internet Champion will be involved. Maybe if it's Social Media Superstars.2013-2-23 15:48:32
You can’t just create a social media star like Ryder overnight. Ryder turned himself into a star, and it took him a long time to do so.
The WWE, on the other hand, tries all the time to turn its wrestlers into marketable global superstars, and more often than not, it fails. Look at all of the failed pushes the WWE has made over the years, and you’ll see that at the heart of every single one of those pushes was the WWE’s desire to turn a guy into a star who would make the company money.
That failed to work on so many occasions, but without really having to do much work at all, the WWE struck gold with a marketable, money-making star in Ryder.
Although Ryder is the epitome of a self-made man, he’s not the only one who benefits from all of the success he’s had in becoming one of the WWE’s most popular stars. The WWE does too.
While actual figures aren’t available, it’s safe to say that Ryder moves more merchandise than probably 90 percent of the roster. Outside of guys like John Cena, CM Punk and The Rock, there likely aren’t a ton of other superstars who sell more merchandise than Ryder does.
He’s become so popular through his use of social media that he likely sells significantly more merchandise than the dozens of upper midcarders and main eventers who are in a much higher position on the card than he is. When it comes to his fellow lower card workers, Ryder is untouchable.
All of that stems from his self-made popularity, a result of the hard work he was willing to put in on his own time when the WWE was never really willing to give him the push that should have accompanied that popularity.
And ever since Ryder started seeing his stock drop dramatically, he began complaining about it. He hasn’t been afraid to say what’s on his mind, and in most cases, that would probably get a guy fired.
But when you really think about it, there’s no reason why the WWE would get rid of Ryder anytime soon.
He’s already hardly seen these days, but he’s more of an asset to the company than a liability. His frustrated tweets—though a result of real emotions—are detrimental to himself but really do no harm to the company whatsoever.
Meanwhile, the WWE can keep Ryder off of TV or job him out like it’s done over the past six months or so, but still reap all of the benefits of keeping him under contract.
Ryder can still get the WWE some exposure through social media, and he can still make the company a ton of money through merchandise sales. All the while, the WWE can still publicly turn a blind eye to Ryder’s comments and simply continue to bury him on TV.
The end result is this: Ryder makes money, the WWE makes money and the only one who really suffers is Ryder.
In a best-case scenario, Ryder would stop publicly criticizing the WWE, the WWE would push Ryder to the level that his popularity warrants, and both sides would benefit from it. But in reality, that’s not going to happen, so the WWE will choose the next best option.
The WWE will milk Ryder for everything that he’s worth and then release him whenever it’s thought that he isn’t worth much anymore.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!