It was the feel-good story of 2011. In a last-ditch effort to save his job, Zack Ryder, the long-forgotten, fist-pumping bro from Long Island had turned his tiny YouTube show into an Internet sensation. He rode that wave of popularity to a thunderous ovation at the Survivor Series and a United States Title victory over Dolph Ziggler at TLC.
Then he was destroyed by Kane and dumped by Eve Torres.
Wave hits wall…feel-good story turns bad.
But things are looking up for the self-professed “Long Island Iced Z.” At the Great American Bash a few weeks ago he made Eve look foolish and ousted Kane to win a battle royal.
I recently had a chance to sit down with the Internet’s favorite Broski at San Diego Comic Con to find out what he plans to do next, the fate of his Internet Championship, and more…
Gordon Holmes: At the Great American Bash you were finally able to get revenge on both Eve and Kane. Was it nice to finally get some closure on those issues?
Zack Ryder: I needed that redemption big time. I was on such a roll at the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 and the whole Kane and Eve thing killed my momentum. Basically killed my career. So, to turn that around and get revenge on them was something I needed. Hopefully it’ll get the Ryder Revolution back on track.
Holmes: What’s next for you now that that’s behind you?
Ryder: The United States Title, I had that for a hot minute. I’d love to get that back. In 2011 I think I proved to people that I’m not a joke, I can be taken seriously in the ring. And hopefully by the end of this year I’ll have a major championship.
Holmes: A lot of guys when they make the step to the next level, they feel the need to shed some of the…I don’t want to say goofy…but some of the more fan-pleasing parts of their personas. I’m thinking of The Hurricane dropping his superhero ways and Rikishi dropping the dancing…
Holmes: Is that a concern for you? Is that a direction you’ll head into?
Ryder: I think maybe in time, I can’t be the same old guy forever. But that doesn’t mean I’ll have to drop all of the parts of my character to get to the top. I think eventually I’ll evolve. If you’ve followed my career I was a Major Brother, then an Edge Head, now I’m Zack Ryder, I’m sure in three years I’ll be completely different.
Holmes: In coming up with these questions I thought of a merchandise idea for you.
Ryder: Sweet, let’s hear it.
Holmes: Remember the foam Steve Austin “What” voice bubbles?
Holmes: We need some “Woo Woo Woo” bubbles.
Ryder: That’d be sweet! I’d take it.
Holmes: Your story is kind of amazing. You weren’t getting any attention, so you took matters into your own hands and figured out how to make social media work for you. Do they ever come to you for advice on how to make social media work for other guys?
Ryder: No. It’s funny though, now they have meetings about how to use hash tags or whatever. And I’m like, “Are you serious, bro?” All this stuff that I’ve been doing for years, not saying that I originated it, but I’ve been doing it best. It’s cool though, I’m glad WWE is finally embracing social media.
Holmes: You’re obviously a huge fan of toys and pop culture, what with all the references you make on your YouTube show, so what was it like the first time you saw a Mattel Zack Ryder action figure?
Ryder: It was great. I’ve been a wrestling fan all my life and I’ve collected wrestling figures my whole life. So, of course a dream of mine was to be in the WWE and to have my own figure. When I got my first Mattel action figure I was ecstatic. I’d always check on the Internet and try to see the new lineups. When I saw the prototype image, it was one of the best moments of my life.
Holmes: I had intended to ask you if they were ever going to make an Internet Championship for your figure, but they just announced one is on its way.
Holmes: You created that. That came out of your brain.
Ryder: What’s crazy is the Internet Championship is something I created for my YouTube show and I’m not allowed to bring it out on WWE TV. Yet, it’s on this WWE t-shirt I’m wearing here. And now it’s on the action figure. So, someone’s telling you no, but you still get to do it. It’s ridiculous. I love it.
Holmes: What is the reasoning behind not allowing you to wear the title on television?
Ryder: I don’t know. As soon as I got it made I showed it to some people and they were like, “Absolutely not.” I’m not going to put up a fight about it, if they don’t want to use it, they don’t have to use it.
Holmes: Cause I’m an old-school fan, and I know for a fact that Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Title was never a sanctioned WWE championship and it was on TV all the time.
Ryder: That was my argument! It’s just like the Million Dollar Title, it’s a gimmick. Obviously I wouldn’t be defending it. Unless of course Wrestlemania 29, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Zack Ryder against Dolph Ziggler for the Internet Title.
Holmes: The next big thing from Mattel is their Brawlin’ Buddies plush dolls. Now, when I was a kid there were Wrestling Buddies…
Ryder: Yes, Wrestling Buddies, I had those too.
Holmes: Is that the next step? A Zack Ryder Brawlin’ Buddy?
Ryder: I don’t know if this is a spoiler…
Holmes: Oh, you’re going to get us in trouble.
Ryder: (Laughs) I recorded sayings for the Buddies so I’m hoping I’m in the next lineup. You know, the “Argh!” and “Errr!”
Holmes: Are you going to get a chance to see any of the sights here at San Diego Comic Con?
Ryder: Yeah, I definitely want to get out and see the Star Wars stuff and the Ghostbusters stuff. I’ve always wanted to come here as a kid.
Holmes: Edge had some heartfelt words for you and your former partner Curt Hawkins during his Hall of Fame speech. What did it mean for him to take the time to address you during his big moment?
Ryder: Edge, whether he knows it or not, saved my career, saved Curt Hawkins career. We were the Major Brothers at the time, doing nothing on Smackdown. And we’d pitched this idea to be Edge’s cronies. He didn’t have to say yes. But he put the green light on it and along the way we learned so much from him. And for him to retire and to talk about us and give us words of encouragement, it was very humbling. It was great.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes