Oh, radio. Tell me everything you know.

Back when he started his YouTube show, Zack Ryder heard us – he knew what we wanted and he delivered. He wasn’t a part of any main storyline, but he entertained, and he bought himself airtime on WWE’s flagship television show, (with apologies to JBL) Raw. He truly was the Internet Champion, as he innovated new ways to connect with fans and organically the fans responded with chants of “We Want Ryder / Woo Woo Woo” on a pretty regular basis.

But those days are gone. To stay relevant in the WWE, you need to evolve and change over time. Look at a couple of the guys who have been around for ages – Kane and The Undertaker.

Kane started off as The Undertaker’s brother, a monster of a man with a troubled past. He existed to feud with ‘Taker, and nothing more. Over the past 15 years or so, he’s jumped back and forth between playing the monster and playing comedy relief, and everything in between. Notice, I didn’t even start out with his debut character, Isaac Yankem, DDS.

The Undertaker is unstoppable and untouchable. That is a position most wrestlers will never get to in their careers. But he hasn’t always just been that man with the exceptional WrestleMania streak. He’s been Paul Bearer’s puppet, he’s been a biker, he’s been a demonic cult leader… Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t – but he’s always been willing to change things up and experiment to stay fresh.

He finally got his big push!
He finally got his big push!

Zack Ryder today is the same guy he was when he started making a name for himself. That’s a problem. When he tweeted jokes about ‘not getting over’ back then – it was funny, because we were in on the joke.

When he tweets them now, it’s just getting sad, because… hey man, what are you doing to advance your career? Is he working out, and doing what he can? I’m sure he is. But is he keeping himself fresh and interesting? No. The solution is not pushing a terrible ‘hit’ single on iTunes or using the latest social network. And finally, is he talking to the right people? Probably not…

On The Nerdist Podcast, episode 325 with Mick Foley, Mick doesn’t hold back as he discusses Zack:

Zack will say, ‘Hey I’m not getting pushed’. I’ll say, ‘Zack, did you ever bring your case to Vince McMahon?’ And he said ‘No’. ‘That’s the guy! You have to come to him with your evidence, and say this is why I should be pushed. I’ve moved this much merchandise. I’ve done this, and look at the numbers, and you present it. … It’s very subjective – if one guy is saying ‘I don’t think he has it’ and he happens to be the guy who owns the company, then you’re kind of out of luck unless you can go up there and fight that battle. That’s the most important conversation you can have with your boss.

But he didn’t talk to Mr. McMahon. And then he got placed into a high profile, but horribly silly storyline. Despite all the merch sales, there was no long term viability for what he was doing. It wasn’t long before the “We Want Ryder” chants died out and we all sort of forgot about the lovable kid from LI.

Rollin’ like thunder, always drawing a crowd
Every babe’s gonna want a piece of me, yeah

I don’t know what the right solution is, but it’s a creative problem and perhaps a frame of mind problem for Zack. He has talent and he’s capable in the ring. He just needs to recognize that he can’t be the same guy to get over and stay over. Maybe it’s time for a heel turn? I don’t know. Work with the bookers and the road agents. Work with creative. Find your spot. Can you hear us, Zack?

We want Ryder!


Joshua Schlag

For most of the last 30+ years of my life, I've been watching WWE. As a kid, Monday Night Raw hooked me from the start. From Bret Hart and Razor Ramon, to Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, to CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.. I've witnessed the ups and downs and I'm proud to have enjoyed pro wrestling through the years.

Though I now watch in a much different fashion than I did when I was a kid (finding out Vince McMahon was the owner and Jack Tunney no more than a figurehead was like finding out Santa Claus did not exist), I feel like I have a much greater appreciation for the hard work pro wrestlers do and the things they sacrifice to entertain us.

It's still real to me, dammit!