WWE's Zack Ryder on his career slump, missing WrestleMania, changing characters and more

(WWE photo by Craig Melvin )
March 04, 2013|By Arda Ocal

Zack Ryder has had the most up-and-down two years a WWE superstar can have.

The 2011 calendar year was a dream for Ryder, whose YouTube hit Z! True Long Island Story made him the fifth-most followed WWE superstar on Twitter with more than a million fans. He was the United States champion, and was regularly showcased on TV and pay-per-view.

But 2012 was a nightmare for Ryder. Seemingly all the glory of his YouTube hit fizzled (but the hard work of editing remained). After Wrestlemania, he was rarely seen on WWE TV.

So far, 2013 is par for the course. He is still a WWE superstar, he is still recognizable. But he is nowhere near the level he enjoyed just over 15 months ago.

So what does a WWE superstar do when he goes from lows to highs and back again? Zack Ryder joined me for a phone interview. We discussed his career puzzle and much more, including not being on the WrestleMania card, the void that Z! True Long Island Story has left, whether or not a character change is coming, how Twitter has helped his game at the bars, and much more.

Arda Ocal: Where would you say you are in your career right now in WWE? 

Zack Ryder: I’m at a low point. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because there’s only one place to go and that’s up. The Z True Long Island Story paved my career, it re-invented Zack Ryder, but that time has come and gone. Last year, 2011, I ended it as the United States Champion. I had my first WrestleMania match at WrestleMania 28. Now this year at WrestleMania 29, not on the show, not really doing much. That’s why I really need this low point to really fuel me to come up with something new. Maybe it won’t be as big or as phenomenal as Z True Long Island Story, but there will be something that just works and clicks to the audience, something that gets me to that next level. So I don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad thing that I’m at a low point; I just think it’s a little break before I get even higher. 

When you were at a low point before, you created a whole new phenomenon and you became the most talked about superstar in WWE for a while. So, what’s going through your mind now? Is it a search to find that next sort of way to re-invent yourself? 

Yeah, I mean it’s hard to say. You Tube, Twitter and Facebook changed my career, but it didn’t really reinvent me -- it just made me realize who I was. You look at Zack Ryder a week before I started Z True Long Island Story and it’s still the same Zack Ryder, just people actually knew who he was. So now it’s getting to the point where I have to reinvent because everybody knows the 'woo, woo, woo,' everyone knows 'the broski, take care, spike your hair,' and the 'Long Island Iced Z.' Now is the time to change things up a little bit, tweak things here and there. I’m going to have to sit down and map things out because Z True Long Island Story took off as an accident. I wanted it to be successful; I didn’t know how successful it would get. So I have to sit down and figure out what is the next step, how to change and how to truly reinvent Zack Ryder. 

How far would you be willing to go, to reinvent, to get back to the prominence you were at? 

I would do whatever it takes. Do a complete 180, but only if it’s still me deep down inside. I’m not going to go out there and pretend to be someone I’m not. The thing that got me here [is], I like to party, pick up chicks, listen to pop music and sing pop music, but there is also a darker side to Zack Ryder, a more serious side to Zack Ryder. Maybe I’ll have to peel some layers to Zack Ryder and go out there and do something different. 

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