Zack Ryder should have been a success story in WWE. He turned his fortunes around from jobber to title holder through the use of social media and his YouTube show, Z! True Long Island Story. That extra work got him over with the fans so much that WWE had no choice to push him. Ryder won the United States Championship and had storylines with John Cena, Kane, and Eve Torres.
Sounds good, right? The problem was that Ryder was made to look the schmuck as he was unknowingly aboard a train down to Buried Town. Ryder’s title win was in December 2011, and he was back to the jobber squad after Wrestlemania XXVIII in April 2012.
On the Keepin’ It 100 podcast with Disco Inferno and Konnan, Ryder discussed the idea of Vince McMahon choosing to bury him out of spite for getting over on his own. Looking back on it, Ryder is taking the high road and blaming himself.
Ryder: Do I think Vince resented it? Listen, did it go the way I wanted it to go, absolutely not, but here’s the thing. I could have easily knocked on his door and said, “Hey, Vince. What’s going on here? Why am I getting pushed off the stage in a wheelchair? Why am I getting chokeslammed through a stage?” But, I at the time was a couple of things: I was naive, I wasn’t mature enough, I wasn’t man enough to just knock on his door and ask. So, we’ll never know. So, it would be unfair to me to say he resented it or I was buried, because, you know what? If anyone buried anybody, it was me, because I could have asked. I could have at least asked and inquired.
The Long-Island Iced-Z continued about his naivety about thinking the angle would carry on.
Ryder: I was also too naive where I thought, “Okay, well you know, for instance, Kane is chokeslamming me off a stage or pushing me off a stage in a wheel chair. I’ll just wrestle him at Backlash.” I didn’t realize what was going on until it was almost too late.
In a different clip from the same interview, Ryder explained how he didn’t realize he was being buried while it was happening.
Ryder: So, I started the show in 2011, like I said, doing nothing on TV. By the end of 2011, that’s when I finally get on television and end up winning the US title. I think the crowd, the people, I have to thank them. They were just chanting my name at shows I wasn’t even at. It got to the point where I feel like they said, “Okay, we got to do something with this kid, because they wouldn’t shut up.” And then right after that, I win the title in December.
In January of the next year 2012 is where, and at the time, I’m involved with Cena. Cena is the top guy, right? So now, I’m doing stuff with John Cena. I’m like, “Holy shit, I’m doing stuff with John Cena. This is great.” But then I get chokeslammed by Kane off a stage, I’m in this neck brace, and I’m in a wheelchair, I get pushed off. So that’s early 2012, and I’m like, “What’s going on here?” And then Wrestlemania that year, I get kicked in the balls by Eve Torres.
At the time, I’m like, “Okay, so I’m working with Cena, I’m working with Kane, I’m in this Wrestlemania match.” I don’t really realize that it’s over until that Wrestlemania ends and then pretty much I’m done. I don’t continue on with Kane. Nothing with Eve. Nothing with Cena. And I see everything that I worked so hard for disappear.
Konnan wondered why Vince McMahon wasn’t jumping on Ryder’s momentum and pushing it. Ryder shouldered the blame again.
Ryder: I keep going back to that is when I should have said, “Hey, Vince what is going on here? The people here are into me. I busted my ass. I’m one of the top merch sellers. Why are we doing this?” But I didn’t.
Konnan: Let that be a lesson, because a lot of indie workers listen to this. When you ain’t got no juice, bro, you can’t go and talk and ask or demand for shit. The only time you can do it is when you have some power or some juice.
Ryder: To piggyback off that, by the time I realized what was going on, I had not ground to stand on. What was I going say? I had nothing. At the time, hot YouTube show, top merch seller.
All of that discussion led into an interesting idea from Disco Inferno about Vince McMahon’s mysterious idea of grabbing the brass ring. Disco wondered if being buried was a test to see if you will stand up for yourself, and not taking shit from Vince is the real way to grab the brass ring. Disco uses the examples of Shawn Michaels and others that wouldn’t take shit and they got the push. The newer generation is more happy to be there and too afraid to rock the boat and risk their paycheck.
I think Disco is on to something with that theory. In Vince’s unique mind, it seems like he views it as a badge of honor to prove your manliness. There are all kinds of stories over the years of Vince challenging wrestlers to engage in physicality, such as wrestling on an airplane or taking finishers in a strip club. Contrast that to talent eating crappy stories with a smile on their face, and I can see how Vince would sour on them from his perspective.
Do you agree that Zack Ryder is most to blame for being buried at the height of his popularity? What’s your take on Disco Inferno’s brass ring theory?