Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where's Waldo... I Mean Zack Ryder?

MIA: Zack Ryder
By Chad Smart

Monday Night Raw was live from Long Island this past Monday.  There was a lot of hope and speculation Long Island native and Internet sensation, Zack Ryder would see the fruits of his labor for his YouTube show rewarded with a match on the show. After the three-hour show was over, fans were left asking, where was Zack? This apparent snub led to several WWE wrestlers, and fans, taking to Twitter to voice their disappointment in WWE creative not giving Zack something to do on the show.  

Kevin asked yesterday on the My123Cents Facebook page if WWE should have used Zack Ryder on Raw. Several people offered up their opinion saying Zack should have been on the show. I, however don’t think Zack’s non-appearance is really that big of a deal. Hopefully after I lay out my case, you will either agree or understand I am not just going against the grain to be THAT guy.

Photo from WWE
First off lets take a look at Zack Ryder.  Here’s a guy who’s been under contract with WWE for five years. He is a former tag team champion along with Curt Hawkins back when the two were Edgeheads. After that angle played out at Wrestlemania 24, Curt and Zack were separated and neither done anything of note inside a WWE ring. Both have seen more time on Superstars then on Raw or Smackdown. Three months ago if Zack Ryder would have had a match on Raw the majority of fans would have most likely looked at each other and asked, “who’s the new guy?"
Zack, not content to accept his position on the roster and wait for his moment to come decided to try and make the moment happen. He started a YouTube show called The True Long Island Story. It was a bold move not only because there was no guarantee people would want to see a weekly Internet show with some nobody (I don’t say that in disrespect. Simply pointing out Zack’s lack of name value at the time.) but also because in the videos, Zack took shots at WWE for not using him in a meaningful way.  Word quickly spread about the videos and Zack became a hit racking up an average of 75,000 views per episode per week.

From YouTube
As the videos became popular, WWE superstars started promoting Zack on their Twitter feeds and in interviews. Top level guys like John Cena, The Miz, and Dolph Ziggler were telling fans and WWE management (I’m guessing not many interviews are done that management isn’t aware of) Zack Ryder needed to become a more integral part of Raw. Unfortunately, the leap from Superstars to Raw has yet to happen on a full time basis.

Now that we’ve covered the backstory of how Zack Ryder started a grassroots campaign to make himself a star, let me tell you why him not being on this week’s Raw isn’t the end of the world.

The theme for this week’s Raw was All-Stars. With the exception of a few divas, everyone on the show is either currently or has been within the last six months placed in a high profile storyline. Zack Ryder, at this time, does not fit into the All-Stars theme.  The show was also the last show before Sunday’s, Capital Combat pay per view. The focus of Raw was to get fans interested in the pay per view so when Sunday rolls around the fans will spend their $44.95 on a show that will not feature Zack Ryder. Sure, WWE could have put Ryder into either meaningless backstage skit, or into a match with someone who will be on the pay per view. However that would have most likely guaranteed Zack would have ended up fist pumping with his back on the mat looking up at the lights. While wins and losses are secondary to the push a wrestler receives, throwing Zack out there for something meaningless could derail his road to stardom before he leaves the gate.

From WWE
Assuming WWE wants to make Zack into a star, and that’s a pretty big assumption at this point, they need to start building him up before putting him into the ring.  WWE did a good job promoting Sin Cara and Kharma before their debuts. That type of build up has been missing from wrestling in the past few years. Now would be the time to do it with Zack. Incorporate bits from his YouTube show talking about how WWE is missing the boat, dropping the ball and getting cold feet about putting him on TV. Have Zack do promos where he says he’s going to seize the brass ring and he can’t be held back.  His time has come and no matter what his dad thinks, Zack Ryder will be the next big thing. The fans who are already Zack Ryder broskis will eat it up and have their fists in the air waiting for their guy to make an impact. The more casual fans will start to think Zack is someone worth caring about and not “just that guy who teamed with Primo.” 

While I think Zack Ryder should be on Raw because it would add some freshness to the show, I don’t see his exclusion from the Long Island episode as a major issue. What I would be more interested in knowing is if Zack or his supporters are going to creative members pitching ideas to get Zack on the show. Then is creative not capable of finding a spot for Zack, or are they then going to Vince McMahon with ideas for Zack and Vince is saying, no.  WWE universe has to accept Zack Ryder as a true Superstar. Woo woo woo, you know it.

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