wrestling / Columns

Does Zack Ryder Belong In The WWE Hall Of Fame?

September 30, 2019 | Posted by Justin Watry
Zack Ryder

During the past few weeks on the 411 Foresight Wrestling Podcast, my co-host Steve Madsen of The Resonant Complex and I have discussed all the usual hot button topics. The NXT move to USA, AEW starting up soon on TNT, the monthly pay-per-views, Smackdown Live heading to FOX, Paul Heyman’s influence on the Raw brand – all that good stuff! However, we have also talked about one guy that is doing a whole heck of a lot of nothing right now. Seems odd on the surface…but Zack Ryder has been closing the podcast. Why you ask? Simple. It’s because I was setting up this column. Thus, without any more stalling, I say this loud and clear:

Zack Ryder is a future WWE Hall of Famer.

Now before all of you freak out on me, let’s take a look at the evidence and the reasoning behind this claim.

Current Roster – Whenever current WWE Hall of Famers are discussed, you get the same old answers, part-timers or not. Big Show, Kane, John Cena, The Undertaker, The Rock, The Miz (yep), The Usos, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Brock Lesnar, etc. We already know about them. Most of those are in the top tier of guys. If there was a ceremony to be planned, they would likely be the headliner or right next to it. However, we all know that is NOT how the process works. Each year, there is usually one or two big names inducted, a tag team, a woman and of course, some lower level wrestlers. Welcome to the party Zack.

WWE HOF Tiers – I find the WWE Hall of Fame to be prestigious. You can laugh at that comment all you want, but it is the truth. You often hear about former wrestlers rip on the entire thing, only until they get asked and then accept in record speed. Bruno Sammartino was inducted and threw glowing reviews at the company. The Ultimate Warrior was treated as a legend upon his return, despite past misgivings and comments. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Macho Man, Honky Tonk Man, all men who have bashed WWE’s HOF in one form or another are now enshrined. The fact is those guys all deserved the honor, as do men like Koko B Ware and women like Torrie Wilson. Ever year there is a big stink made about who gets in. You have to understand there is no main event with the under card. There is no villain without a hero. There is no dominant winner without somebody to defeat. It’s a show. It’s a presentation, and everybody plays a role. That is why I love the Warrior Award concept so much. Everybody who contributed should get their due. Including a certain Major Brother that held a tag title in 2008 if you can believe it. True story.

Internet Championship – Honestly, I laughed at the Internet Championship nearly a decade ago when Zack Ryder introduced it. I mocked it and in a lot of ways, I still do. It is quite silly. He was never going to win an actual championship on WWE television, so why not just create one? Sure. He was not only ahead of the curve, he was waaaay ahead of the curve. Look at where the internet is now compared to then. Look at how many followers the company has on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. That was not the case in 2011. You may not be able to entirely thank Long Island Iced Z Ryder for WWE going in the direction of social media, but it absolutely was a driving force in hindsight.

Z! True Long Island Story – A clever play on the classic E! show. Not only did he have the Internet Championship, he had a lot more than that. Zack Ryder had guts. He was doing nada on the main roster. The broski had nothing to lose. Heck, just start a YouTube series and rip the company that pays his bills. What could go wrong? The answer is a lot, but in this instance, nothing went wrong. Only right. Very right. His show picked up traction, fans started to chant for him, his merchandise actually began selling, top starts like John Cena and CM Punk (and later The Rock) publicly gave him a shout out and most importantly, WWE took notice. He got on TV, won the United States Title on PPV, was inserted in story lines featuring Kane, John Cena, Eve, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, Hugh Jackman, and was arguably one of the more cheered stars on the program. Little knock fact: I reported at the time (on another website) the company wanted to buy his YouTube series, but he turned them down. After awhile, Ryder did give in. He later confirmed this story on an episode of Table For Three.

Back To Reality – Yes, it all fell apart shortly thereafter, but it didn’t matter. Zack Ryder was officially a WWE Superstar. Nobody cared about his run with the Major Brothers or a member of the Rated R Edgeheads. Ryder was known to the wrestling audience as himself, and he could forever take pride in that. The man got a run on near the top of Raw, was a regular on Smackdown Live hanging out with WWE HOFer Teddy Long and was no longer forgotten by the fanbase. Whether you loved or hated the guy, you knew he existed and could contribute to the company. That has stuck with him for the last couple of years, including the very entertaining Fight It Out show with Curt Hawkins and similar podcast. Again, more diversity to his character despite his positioning on the card.

WrestleMania Moments – While he was back to toiling in the under card (NXT too), Zack Ryder had more than proven his worth. o much so that when WWE was in a bind going into the 2016 record breaking WrestleMania held in Texas, who did they go to? They wen to Zack Ryder. A replacement was needed for the IC Title ladder match. Not only did he fill in and do a great job, he shocked the world and won! In a world where WrestleMania Moments are far and few between, he got one and shared it with his dad. An excellent moment for long-time diehards and simply casual followers of his. Much better than getting kicked in the bro-nuts by Eve years earlier. Take care and spike your hair because he wasn’t done there. Nope. Just this past year at WM35, his buddy Curt Hawkins ended his DEFEATED streak on the grand stage, thanks to partnering up with Zack Ryder and claiming the Tag Team Titles over The Revival. We all know WrestleMania Moments mean a lot to WWE and a wrestler’s resume. Well, Mr. Ryder has not one not two but arguably three of those.

Career – Whether tag team, solo, comedy, serious (bro!), WWECW with the weird tights, NXT, Raw, Smackdown Live, live events, YouTube, great backstory growing up, WrestleMania, and everything in between, Zack Ryder has done it all. When looking at it all in totality, the argument for him making the WWE Hall of Fame is actually pretty easy. The man has been in the WWE system for over a decade, he is a former United States Champion, former IC Champion, former two time tag team champion, has been a huge influence on WWE’s current social media status, has a few memorable WrestleMania Moments on his resume and can even make Mojo Rawley semi-entertaining. That is a miracle in and of itself. All joking aside, Zack Ryder has done a lot in his career and when it’s over, he will do one more – be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Woo, woo, woo…you know it!

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