Zack Ryder


Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder
Ring name(s) Brett Matthews[1][2]
Brett Major[2]
Zack Ryder[2]
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[3]
Billed weight 214 lb (97 kg)[4]
Born May 14, 1985 (1985-05-14) (age 26)
Merrick, New York[3]
Resides Long Island, New York
Billed from Long Island, New York[4]
Trained by Mikey Whipwreck[5]
Debut 2004

Matthew Joseph Cardona, Jr. (born May 14, 1985) better known by his ring name Zack Ryder, is an American professional wrestler. He is currently signed to WWE and works on the Raw brand as a wrestler and the SmackDown brand as an assistant to SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long. Cardona wrestled mostly with his tag team partner Brian Myers on the independent circuit and initially in WWE, under the name Curt Hawkins, where they won the WWE Tag Team Championship before the team split and Cardona became a singles wrestler. In 2011, Ryder used social media through a YouTube web series, Z! True Long Island Story and Twitter to establish a large fan following, which translated to his rise in status in WWE.

Contents

Professional wrestling career

New York Wrestling Connection (2004–2006)

Cardona debuted with New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC) in 2004, using the name Brett Matthews. By 2005 he began regularly teaming with Bryan Myers and the duo of Myers and Matthews went on to defeat the NYWC Tag Team Champions Dickie Rodz and Mason Raige by disqualification, for which titles do not change hands.[6] At the next event on June 4 they won a rematch decisively to become Tag Team Champions.[7] Later that month they were attacked by The Dead Presidents (Lo Lincoln and Boog Washington) to set up a feud where they eventually lost their titles against them in July.[6] on August 27.[7] On September 23 they were entered into a three way match with the champions but Team Tremendous (Dan Barry and Ken Scampi) ended up with the belts.[6] After continuing to win matches they re-earned a match against Team Tremendous and won the titles for the second time on January 25, 2006. They held the titles until they faced The B.S. Xpress (Tony Burma & Mike Spinelli), who defeated them for the gold on March 26.[7]

World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE

Tag team; La Familia (2006–2009)

Zack Ryder (left) and Curt Hawkins in 2009.

On February 24, 2006, Matthew Cardona signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment.[3] In Deep South Wrestling in Georgia, he was renamed Brett Majors while Myers was renamed Bryan Majors. By October they won the DSW Tag Team Championship from The Untouchables (Dice Domino and Deuce Shade) and held them until the end of November, losing them to Urban Assault (Eric Pérez and Sonny Siaki). After the titles were vacated in the following year, they became two-time champions defeating the new team of Siaki and Afa, Jr (The Samoan Swat Team) and The Blue Bloods (William Regal and Dave Taylor).[8] Later in 2007 they moved to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) and won the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship once, reigning from June 15 to 29.[9]

The team was moved from the developmental league to the main roster in May 2007, changing their last names from Majors to Major. They worked on WWE's ECW brand, winning only their first match[10][11][12] until they were drafted to SmackDown! in June.[13] On November 9 they won a battle royal to receive a WWE Tag Team Championship match, but didn't win.[14]

Ryder posing with Edge and Hawkins.

At Armageddon, the duo dressed up like Edge and interfered in the World Heavyweight Championship match, replacing Edge at several points along the match to help him win the title and thus turning heel for the first time in their WWE career.[15] On December 21, the Major Brothers were revealed as an acquaintance to Edge and his lover, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero. The Major Brothers were repackaged and renamed, with Cardona being renamed Zack Ryder.[16] Occasionally referred as The Rated-R Entourage by commentators Michael Cole and John "Bradshaw" Layfield, the group allied with Guerrero's nephew, Chavo Guerrero and his enforcer Bam Neely as the group La Familia, which dominated SmackDown's storyline through 2008.

At The Great American Bash on July 20 Curt Hawkins (the former Bryan Major) and Ryder won the WWE Tag Team Championship from John Morrison and The Miz in a fatal four-way match which also featured Jesse and Festus and Finlay and Hornswoggle after Hawkins pinned Jesse.[17][18] Their victory meant that they were the youngest team to hold the championships.[19] By SummerSlam, La Familia had begun to fracture and Ryder, with Hawkins, went back to appearing on their own. On the September 26 airing of SmackDown, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder lost the titles to The Colóns (Carlito and Primo Colón) in their first televised title defense.[20] On April 15, 2009 Ryder was drafted back to the ECW brand as part of the 2009 Supplemental Draft, separating the team.[21]

Long Island Iced-Z (2009–2011)

Ryder made his return to ECW on May 5, 2009 in a backstage segment with General Manager Tiffany. He now sported short hair, tanned skin, sunglasses, a headband, half-trunks/half-tights, displaying something of an arrogant Long Island guido character and more frequent uses of catchphrases "woo woo woo" and "you know it", that he had used sparingly in the tag team.[22][23] He lost to Finlay on his first singles match, on May 7's Superstars[24] and would not gain victory until the May 19 episode of ECW on Sci Fi over a local competitor.[23] On September 15, Ryder won a 10-man battle royal to earn contendership to the ECW Championship[25] but lost to the champion, Christian, the following week.[26] On the November 3 edition of ECW, Ryder entered a love angle with Rosa Mendes who became his valet.[27] He also feuded with Tommy Dreamer, culminating in a match on December 29 where Ryder won to force Dreamer to leave the company.[28]

When the ECW brand came to an end in February 2010, Ryder and Mendes moved to the Raw brand, making his debut on the February 25 edition of Superstars, defeating Primo. Ryder made his Raw debut on March 1, losing to Montel Vontavious Porter in a Money in the Bank qualifying match.[29] He participated in an untelevised 26-man battle royal at WrestleMania XXVI, being the last person eliminated by the winning Yoshi Tatsu. Mendes was drafted to SmackDown as part of the 2010 Supplemental Draft without Ryder,[30] so Ryder sought a new valet, trying to impress Alicia Fox and Gail Kim while they watched his matches at ringside. During a match with Evan Bourne on the May 10 edition of Raw, Fox attempted to interfere on Ryder's behalf but was stopped by Kim, leading to Bourne winning the match.[31] The two new pairings faced off in a mixed tag team match on the May 17 edition of Raw, which Ryder and Fox lost.[32] Ryder had a return win over Bourne on May 27's Superstars.[33] The next week on Raw, Fox attacked Ryder with an axe kick after Raw guest host Ashton Kutcher put a bounty on Ryder's head.[34] During the June 7 Viewer's Choice edition of Raw, Ryder was voted to team with The Miz, defeating John Morrison and R-Truth.[35] The next week, Ryder had a title shot in a Fatal Four Way match for the WWE United States Championship but lost.[36] Months later, in August, he was given a WWE Championship match against Sheamus that lasted 11 seconds, which was the second-shortest WWE Championship match in WWE history, in an attempt by Sheamus to circumvent the company's 30 day championship defence policy.[37]

During this time, Ryder became a mentor on the second season of WWE NXT to Titus O'Neil. They debuted in a losing effort against John Morrison and Eli Cottonwood;[38] O'Neil was the first rookie eliminated from the second season, on June 29.[39] On the July 27 episode of NXT, Ryder lost against Percy Watson, making him the first mentor of season 2 to lose to a rookie in a singles match.[40] For the remainder of the year and well into 2011, Ryder mostly became used on the non-branded Superstars show, occasionally teaming with Primo. Ryder won a 2010 Slammy Award for Most Annoying Catchphrase in December.[41]

The Ryder Revolution (2011)

As a result of being at the bottom of the card and facing a lack of TV time, Ryder became dissatisfied with his place in WWE and he started a YouTube web series[42] called Z! True Long Island Story in February 2011[43] with the intention of promoting his character.[44] The web series soon earned Ryder a large fan following, with Ryder signs abundant amongst audiences and Ryder's T-shirts selling out despite Ryder not being on WWE's TV programming.[44] On the web series, Ryder proclaimed himself "WWE Internet Champion" in April 2011[45], complete with a kids sized replica belt covered in stickers.[46] In July 2011, Ryder would apparently defend his Internet Championship at a non-televised house show in Australia against Primo.[47] Ryder later claimed that the match against Primo was a non-title match, and that he would never defend his Internet Championship.[48] Ryder also replaced the toy belt with a $1,500 custom-made belt by Wildcat Championship Belts in July 2011.[49]

The web show's popularity led to Ryder having a rise in status and appearing more on WWE's TV and PPV programming in 2011. Between April to June 2011, Ryder began having more backstage cameos during Raw, turning up in segments which usually included John Cena.[50][51] On the June 6 edition of Raw, Ryder had his first match on Raw in 2011, losing to Kofi Kingston.[52] On the June 13 edition of Raw and at WWE Capitol Punishment, "We Want Ryder" chants were started by the audience during matches where Ryder was not a participant when Ryder was not put on TV and PPV programming.[53][54] On the June 16 edition of Superstars in front of his hometown of Long Island he turned face when he defeated his former tag team partner Primo.[55]

On the July 29 edition of Smackdown, Ryder was appointed as the assistant to Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long, allowing him to make TV appearances on both Raw and SmackDown.[56] On the September 19 edition of Raw, Ryder beat United States Champion Dolph Ziggler in a non-title match with the help of guest star Hugh Jackman.[57] Following his victory over Ziggler, Ryder received a match for the United States Championship the following week but failed to win the title due to Jack Swagger interfering on the behalf of Ziggler.[58] Ryder received another shot at the Vengeance pay-per-view, in which he again failed to win the championship after Swagger again interfered in the match.[59] Ryder main-evented Raw for the first time on November 7, teaming with John Cena in a losing effort against the Miz and R-Truth.[60]

Other media

Ryder started a YouTube web series called Z! True Long Island Story in February 2011, which has amassed over 7 million views to date. The web series is a collection of short comments from Ryder, containing comedic allusions to wrestling and pop culture; it also features cameos from his friends and family, as well as fellow WWE colleagues.[61] See the Ryder Revolution above for the effect the web series had on Ryder's professional wrestling career.

Ryder's popularity also translated to Twitter where he has almost 300,000 followers; this led him to be featured in Sports Illustrated's list of the 100 most influential social media users in sports.[62]

In wrestling

  • Nicknames
    • "The Long Island Loudmouth"[4]
    • "Long Island Iced-Z"[4]

Championships and accomplishments

  • New York Wrestling Connection
    • NYWC Tag Team Championship (2 times)[1][7] with Bryan Myers

References

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