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Poor Zack Ryder: Understanding insider terms and why John Cena isn't 'burying' him

Poor Zack Ryder.

That's the sentiment ringing out in the pro wrestling world following this past week's episode of WWE Monday Night Raw, which saw "The Long Island Iced Z" get cheated on by Eve, given the "let's just be friends" speech, turned on by John Cena (in a roundabout way), and thrown off the stage in a wheelchair by Kane.

At one point "Poor Zack" was trending worldwide. We know, of course, because WWE couldn't resist the urge to tell us.

It's interesting, though, that the same fans who were clamoring for Ryder to be given a much brighter spotlight are the same folks now decrying his treatment in said spotlight. Indeed, he's fallen into the dreaded category of someone who is being "buried" and now WWE has apparently "killed all his heat."

I enjoy using insider terms like that as much as the next guy but let's try to make sure we use them responsibly. You know, like when they actually apply.

The reality here is that Ryder was a nobody and turned himself into a star by using the Internet (where any semi-literate can get over) to cultivate a group of fans who support him absolutely. This has been both a blessing and a curse. The former because it helped him get put into storylines with major players, the latter because it took away a great deal of his creativity.

But one fact remains that so many seem to take for granted because he's been involved for a long enough time now -- Ryder is a major player in a storyline with John Cena.

That's kind of a big deal.

It wasn't long ago that Ryder was jobbing out to Alberto Del Rio as a way to make ADR look better. Now he's actually been given a big part in a storyline with the single biggest star in the entire industry.

And people are complaining about this?

One could argue that he's been made to look weak and this much is true. But every storyline has its limitations. Would you buy it for even a second if Ryder just ran through Kane? Of course not. It has to be the other way around. Would you buy it that Ryder could pull a hot chick like Eve? Of course not. She had to screw him over. Would you buy it that he could hang with Cena, the biggest dog in the yard? Of course not. He had to be made to look like the underdog who is getting trampled.

But that's not a bad thing.

What's really rich in all this is most of the same folks complaining about Ryder's treatment are calling for the John Cena heel turn that will never actually happen. At least not in the manner they'll be happy with. But think about this past week's episode of Raw. Who came out of that looking the best?

It certainly wasn't Cena.

In fact, this version of Cena is one of the best yet. He's a heel who thinks he's a babyface because everything he does is in the name of good. But it all always blows up in his face and Ryder is caught in the crossfire. They're turning him without turning him and making him look like shit for what he did to his friend.

Ryder, of course, being the friend who can barely move because of injuries suffered thanks to, again, Cena. When Ryder finally worked up the courage to confront Cena, it created an atmosphere ripe with tension like we're not actually used to feeling in WWE anymore.

Even those younger fans who are such a staple at John Cena dominated merchandise stands were subconsciously hoping Ryder would actually do something about what Cena did. When Ryder slapped him, it was a glorious moment. Cena responding by acting as though he would react with force if instigated again was the cherry on top of the entire angle.

Can you imagine what would have happened had Cena given Ryder the Attitude Adjustment after all that? He would have been booed out of the building. No one could support him at that point. It works for the storyline that Kane is slowly breaking him while also teasing the heel turn that so many want but won't get while also getting Ryder even more over as a babyface underdog everyone can cheer for.

This is all not to say there haven't been myriad issues with the program. It's been campy, it's been cheesy and Ryder has, admittedly enough, failed to assert himself as anything other than an underdog. Eventually, that act won't work and he'll need to establish himself as a credible force both in and outside the ring.

But isn't this better than before? Isn't this far preferable to a program with Jack Swagger, the equivalent of the writers putting the finishing touches on the script and at the last minute being told they need to work in certain guys?

Yes, I think so.

Context is always key. Getting tossed by Kane while working a storyline injury is far different than jobbing clean in the center of the ring week after week to guys like Kofi Kingston (hi Miz!).

Maybe Ryder will become an afterthought once Cena moves on to his pending feud with The Rock. But until then Ryder is a key part of Raw, WWE's flagship show.

Poor Zack, huh?

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