Like many recent performers who’ve been released from WWE, Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins appeared on Talk Is Jericho, where they talked frankly with Chris about their experiences in WWE. Hawkins and Ryder were two of the many Superstars WWE let go back in April, immediately before reporting record profits and little impact from the pandemic.
Zack Ryder has always been one of those WWE talents, like Rusev in more recent years, who fans claim WWE held down because Vince McMahon resented the fact that Ryder got over with fans on his own, rather than by following a WWE script. He was the first WWE Superstar to embrace YouTube, long before Xavier Woods came along, but his success there did not translate to success in the company. In fact it did seem to count against him in the company’s eyes.
On the podcast, Zack Ryder told the story of how he got himself over with his YouTube videos, and just when he thought Triple H was going to five him a rub for it, it went the other way.
So this is November. I start the YouTube show in February. So it’s almost a whole year of working my f–king ass off and just trying to get noticed. Trying . Trying. Trying. It literally took almost a whole year, and it was the fall time where I think eventually they said we got to shut these people up because I wasn’t even booked to these shows.
They’re chanting. They’re bringing these signs, I was incorporating that into my show. I had somebody who would literally watch RAW and Smackdown and find a Zack Ryder sign and screenshot it. Then I’d include all those signs in my YouTube show, and it would entice people to bring signs. So I was just trying to create as much momentum as possible.
Finally, I think they had to just put me on to shut everybody up, but now, the chants were getting louder and especially the match he’s talking about. It was a Ziggler vs. Morrison match. Listen, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but like I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about. Madison Square Garden, not only is it our home arena, but it’s The f–king Garden.
I go out there. The place is going nuts, and I get to the curtain. Triple H is like, “Come here,” and I’m thinking finally this is it. He’s gonna say, “Good job, kid.” This is what I’ve been waiting for like, how can you deny? This is Madison Square Garden, right? He pulls me aside, and I had just got fresh blond tips on my hair like that week.
So he asked me, “Why did you dye your hair?” I’m like, what? Madison Square Garden is chanting my name. You’re asking me why I dyed my hair. I’ve been dying my hair for months. It was just a fresh job like come on man. I thought he pull a come here like he would say, “Good job, man. Alright, we believe in you. Let’s go,” but it’s like you can’t go dying your hair like that or something like that.
Curt Hawkins added that one of the central backstage myths of WWE had to basically be abandoned because Zack proved it so wrong.
Chris can attest to this. Every year, as long as I was in WWE, after the RAW after Mania, we have this BS company everyone there at TV meeting where we say the brass ring is there. It’s yours. It’s a fresh year. Who’s gonna get it?
Ever since “Long Island Iced Z” and “Z! True Long Island Story,” they don’t even bother with that meeting anymore because they know it’s not true. It’s not true because even if you grab the brass ring, you’re going to get your hands smacked. You’re not going to have it.
Chris Jericho agreed, bringing up Daniel Bryan as another example.
If Vince doesn’t think of it, it’s not valid. It’s not real, and the same thing happened with Daniel Bryan when he first came in. I mean Vince did not like him because he was a vegan and all these other reason. He went and got over because he knows that how to get over, and they still resisted it for so long until finally they had no other choice.
I feel the same thing happened with Zack Ryder in that you got over so well. You gave yourself an internet title.
Zack then admitted that he wishes he’d spoken up for himself more directly at the time.
One of my biggest regrets is that I was too young and afraid to almost, not stand up for myself, but question like, “Hey, why is this happening?” I should have went right to Vince and said like, “Hey, I’m selling this merch. I’m doing this. I’m doing that. Why is this happening?” And I just took it.
Hopefully Zack lands somewhere that appreciates his ability to connect with fans, instead of holding it against him.