A Matter of Character - Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder’s rise in the WWE has been unparalleled. Never before has someone used social media to their advantage the way Zack Ryder did in 2011 with his web series Z! True Long Island Story. Zack got himself over with the fans despite not appearing on weekly WWE Television, and had them filling arenas with chants of “We Want Ryder” on cards that he wasn’t even a part of. His method has been copied, but his success online has yet to be matched by any other superstar, making him the Undisputed Internet Champion and Social Media Darling.
Now anyone who has read my columns knows that I am not a fan of leaving things unfinished or unresolved, and that I hate leaving any questions unanswered in a narrative. I truly believe it is lazy storytelling to leave loose ends. So naturally I have a huge problem with the way that Zack Ryder has been booked this year. Not only have all the narratives that his character participated in been left unresolved, but the way Zack’s story has been presented makes him look like timid simpleton, unable to stand up for himself. Zack deserves more than that, but more importantly we the fans deserve more than the unfinished story they have provided us.
This week’s edition of A Matter of Character will analyze the character of Long Island Iced Z, Zack Ryder. I will highlight his strengths, and point out any weaknesses I perceive in his character. Following my analysis, I will suggest any ways to improve or help the character progress in future narratives. Let’s Do This!
While not possessing one of the WWE’s most impressive physique’s, at 6’2, 214 lbs, Zack Ryder is in great physical shape. Aesthetically, Long Island Iced Z has a pretty unique look that sets him apart from the other superstars on the roster. His spiked blonde hair, coupled with his brightly colored ring gear and trademark headband is part of what helps him makes a lasting impression on the WWE Universe.
Zack’s prowess in between the ropes is slightly above average. He can hold his own in the ring with just about anyone, but the quality of his matches usually depends on the quality of his opponent’s ability within the squared circle. Against a talented performer like Dolph Ziggler, Zack can put on a great show, but against weaker superstars, the match will leave a lot to be desired. Zack doesn’t need to be a masterful in ring technician as he is naturally very charismatic. His focus should be on telling a story during his matches, despite the opponent. Zack could go a long way by selling us with his expressions, pacing, and choices, during his bouts. On a side note, I absolutely detest his Rough Rider finisher. I don’t mind it as a maneuver in his repertoire, but it shouldn’t be his finisher.
For all intents and purposes, Zack Ryder is a nerd, a dweeb, a dork, or any other adjective you can think of that means incredibly geeky. Everything he says or does makes him come across like a wrestling fanboy. That being said, the total sincerity of dorkiness, his unwavering confidence, and the fact that he seems to be totally aware of how nerdy he is being during his YouTube show, is endearing. Unfortunately, he also happens to be a moron, unwilling or incapable of standing up for himself on WWE Television, which blatantly undermines any endearment the self-aware fanboy attitude he displays online would bring him.
He is the manifestation of the WWE’s “Be A Star Campaign” within their weekly TV and should be utilized as such. He is a guy that is so easy to pick on and make fun of, but he knows who he is, he likes who he is, and isn’t going to change for anyone. He should stand up for himself more often, rather than constantly being beaten or used and then tossed aside.
Words and Actions
Zack can be wildly charismatic and funny on his web show “Z! True Long Island Story” but as I stated above, Zack Ryder’s words and actions on WWE Television are those of a spineless moron. Am I supposed to feel sympathy for a character that has fallen for Eve twice this year, only to be screwed over both times (Guess he’s never heard “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”)? Am I supposed to root for a guy that let Kane get away with trying to maim him on more than one occasion? These are the actions of an imbecile, and I honestly refuse on principle to cheer someone who is portrayed to be this half-witted and submissive.
I understand that his character is supposed to be a fun loving goofball, but right now he’s more like a timid dumbass. He should be feuding with Kane right now after what Kane did to him, as any other character would. He should want some kind of retribution against Eve after how she embarrassed him at Wrestlemania. He should want to regain the U.S. Championship that he lost when he was forced to compete injured. The fact that he is not in passionate pursuit of one, if not all of these things illustrates that Zack Ryder as currently constituted is simply not a character, but a prop that has been used to further the character’s of others.
They used him as a prop in the Kane/Cena feud, they used him as a prop to turn Eve heel, and he continues to appear on WWE television, seemingly unaffected by any of these events he took part in. The fact that none of these ordeals have caused him to take action or speak out against those that targeted him only prove that Zack Ryder has no character, and is simply a ineffectual gimmick or prop. Zack needs to be more confident and assertive in his dealings on WWE Television. He needs to have thoughts and feelings that cause him to take action and speak up when he feels he must. Basically Zack Ryder should start acting like a REAL F***ING PERSON!
If you watch WWE Television, it would seem as though Zack Ryder lacks any goals and is devoid of purpose. He simply meanders through Raw and Smackdown each week without motivation, which is extremely frustrating because he should have at least three immediate goals based on his recent interactions: get revenge against Kane, recapture the U.S. Championship, and even the score with Eve. Choose one WWE! It really is that simple.
As far as his overall motivation goes, Zack always having been that nerdy wrestling fan growing up, wants to prove that he can make it in the WWE without compromising who he is, which a fun, dorky, goofball. He loves the business, and has had to fight and claw his way to being noticed, because he isn’t conventional. Other wrestlers don’t take him seriously and a lot of them don’t believe he can make it or that he belongs in the WWE, and he needs to prove that despite his nerdy demeanor, he is a formidable wrestler and deserves to be living his dream as much as anyone else in the WWE. Zack wants to be able to do what he loves to do, but stay true to himself in the process, which is easier said than done.
Aside from all the feuds he could be in based on his activity leading up to Wrestlemania XXVIII, conflict for Zack comes from trying to remain true to himself, and not compromising who he is to match anyone else’s conventions, or idea of what he should be. There will be times where if he simply gave in, things would be easy for him. He’d struggle, as any human would, with what to do when those predicaments arise. He’d experience moments of self-doubt and insecurity, and we would tune in each week to see if he can continue to be himself in the WWE, or if he’ll eventually need to adapt to survive.
I almost changed this section to looking back for Zack Ryder. Zack should have face Kane at Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules instead of Randy Orton, but I digress. If I were working for the WWE, and I had creative control of Zack Ryder, a superstar with a lot of charisma and fan support, my main objective over the next few months would be to get him his balls back from Eve, because in my opinion, that storyline more than any other has castrated Zack, and made him look foolish and weak. Fortunately, having her in a position of power as part of John Laurinaitis’ regime is perfect.
With Eve as Executive Administrator, Zack taking her on is an act of rebellion against authority, which the WWE Universe will eat up. She can use her new position to screw with Zack, and Zack can get his balls back by insulting, one-upping, and from time to time embarrassing her. In a way, this could become a 2012 version of Jericho vs. Stephanie McMahon (but obviously with a less talented protagonist because let’s face it, Jericho is much better than Ryder).
There are so many developments their distain for one another could create over a long period of time. Have Eve pit him against Kane, thinking that will get rid of Ryder for good, and finally resolve Kane and Ryder’s issues from earlier this year, with Ryder getting his redemption against the Big Red Monster. You could have Ryder start dating a new diva, which would annoy Eve and makes her jealous, at which point she’d try to win Ryder back, and break him and his new girlfriend up, just because she’s a colossal bitch. Have Ryder pretend to go along with it, and then embarrass her in front of the WWE Universe somehow.
Eventually have it culminate in Eve pitting Ryder, The champion of the Internet and Social Media, against the Enlightened Damien Sandow. These two men couldn’t have more opposing ideologies to begin with; Sandow hates everything that Zack stands for as Internet Champion, and Zack hates Sandow’s elitist, smug attitude. That along with Zack’s established history with Eve would make this one of the most heated mid-card rivalries in years.
There you have it, but what do you think? Is Zack Ryder currently a spineless, moronic prop used by the WWE to further other superstars’ development? Would you like to see a Zack Ryder that actually stands up for himself? Would Long Island Iced Z vs. Executive Administrator Eve be the new Y2J vs. Stephanie “The Filthy, Dirty, Disgusting, Brutal, Bottom Feeding Trashbag Hoe” McMahon?
Until next time folks, I’m Matty J. Douglas saying start the summer off right and go see Marvel’s Avengers! Like right now! Have a great week everybody!