THE SAD STORY OF ZACK RYDER
*author's note - I originally wrote this story as "The Tragedy of Zack Ryder", but, after watching the evening news filled with real tragedies, downgraded it to a "sad story"
The story of Zack Ryder is a sad one.
It's a sad story because I've seen so much great, hard-working talent recently on the independent scene, and know how difficult it is for them to even get a shot at the big time, let alone get over...really over. Zack Ryder was over...and now he's not.
It's a sad story because he found a new and unique way to make himself a valuable commodity in WWE - and now his value is gone.
It's a sad story because in November of 2011, after a heavily promoted "once in a lifetime" teaming up of John Cena - WWE Universe and Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Madison Square Garden, the most famous arena in the world erupted in "We want Ryder" chants - and now those chants are gone.
It's a sad story because I refereed several of his main event matches in Europe in that fall of 2011, and saw the joy with which he was received by the fans in that main event role - a role he is unlikely to ever know again.
It's a sad story because fans bought his merchandise, they watched his show on You Tube, they liked him on Facebook (almost 1.5 million) they followed him on Twitter (over 1.5 million) and he made people smile - and now those smiles are gone.
It's a sad story because eventually people get tired of finding out that the WWE Superstars they have supported with their cheers, their purchases, their signs, their follows and their likes aren't real Superstars - and little by little, those fans lose interest in WWE, find other interests, and become former WWE fans.
It's a sad story because the next time WWE talent is given the speech about reaching for the brass ring, at the very least, in the back of their minds, they should be thinking about the guy who reached out and grabbed that brass ring - and was asked to return it.
Maybe his surprise victory on #RAW will be the start of something new. Maybe.
I remember standing in the ring with Zack and #CMPunk at Nassau Coliseum and gladly handing over my claim to being Long Island's most popular wrestler to Zack, Take a good look at that photo. Really look at it. Look at me, still important enough in the company's eyes to be part of an in-ring celecration. Look at Punk, breaking character, and willingly looking foolish, because it was a fun thing to do, and Zack Ryder's character made having fun, and wearing a ridiculous wig seem like the right thing to do. Look at the joy on Zack's face. That type of joy was infectuous. It's the type of joy we're not likely to see again. That photo is less than three years old...but it seems like such a long, long time ago.
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