WWE superstar Zack Ryder gained popularity through his YouTube series Z! True Long Island Story in 2011. Ryder, who was rarely featured on WWE television at the time, successfully used the series as an outlet to get himself noticed by the WWE Universe.
Six years later, the injured superstar has launched a new series entitled Z! True Comeback Story, which will chronicle his journey back to the squared circle. Ryder shared a teaser video for the web series on Saturday.
Ryder has been out of action since December, recovering from a knee injury. After undergoing surgery, the former Intercontinental Champion revealed he was expected to miss anywhere from four-to-nine months recovering.
But the new YouTube series should help Ryder stay relevant while he goes through rehabilitation. After all, his original web series not only helped him get more television time, but also likely extended his WWE career.
In 2011, Ryder was limited to scarce television time and lost squash matches as a comedy heel act. He admitted that he was a likely candidate for WWE’s annual “Black Friday” releases, so he created Z! True Long Island Story as a way to grab the attention of both fans and management.
“I had nothing to lose; I was on a path to get released,” Ryder told the Carroll County Times in December, 2011. “What were they going to do? Fire me? Not put me on TV? I wasn’t on TV anyway. My life was going to change one way or the other.
“I knew I was either going to get fired or get noticed. I got noticed.”
As the show continued, Ryder quickly became one of WWE’s most popular superstars. His lone T-shirt was so in-demand that the company was forced to release more merchandise for him.
Ryder began to get more television time and began working an angle with then-United States Champion Dolph Ziggler. He defeated Ziggler at the TLC pay-per-view to win the United States Championship, his first title as a WWE superstar.
But then his push took a sudden halt after he was booked poorly in an angle with John Cena, Kane, and Eve Torres. Over the next three years, Ryder toiled through lower-tier status until being relegated to NXT to align with up-and-comer Mojo Rawley as part of “The Hype Bros.”
While doing double-duty on NXT and the main roster, Ryder worked his way into the Intercontinental Championship ladder match at WrestleMania 32. Surprisingly, he won and then dropped the title to The Miz one night later.
Eventually, Rowley was promoted to the SmackDown Live roster during the WWE Draft last summer. The Hype Bros began to gain steam in the tag-team division before Ryder’s injury, which occurred in a battle royal match on Dec. 13.
“We think he injured his kneecap or his patella,” Dr. Chris Robinson told WWE.com after Ryder suffered the injury. “We think it popped out and then popped back in, so we’re just going to do an MRI to make sure that there is not cartilage damage or some tendon tearing, stuff like that. Hopefully there’s not and it’ll be a shorter rehab period. If there is, there’s a different road we might have to go down that may take longer to get him to recover.”
The SmackDown tag-team division itself is in desperate need of a revival. It hasn’t received much air time and hasn’t included a major storyline in months.
If Ryder’s show is a success, he could possibly re-gain the popularity he had in 2011. That would do wonders for The Hype Bros, and the ailing division, which lacks star power and booking.
Ryder’s Z! True Comeback Story could do wonders for his career and should provide an entertaining outlet during his time out away from the ring.
[Featured Image by WWE]