Ever heard of the seven-year rule? Jim Cornette says that a wrestling promotion can run the same angle after seven years because by then, memories will have faded and there will be enough new viewers who won’t even noticed the re-hashed story lines.
Jim Cornette hasn’t written for WWE in a long time, which you probably figured out when, just two years after he terrorized Zack Ryder and Eve, Kane was back in the saddle (and the mask)(and the wig) to chase Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella around like a bad slasher flick. Let’s just hope that this stint in storyline hell works out better for Bryan than it did for Zack Ryder.
|You remember Zack Ryder, right? The guy who, when the company had zero interest in pushing him, took the initiative to get over on his own damn own, using his self-produced Youtube show, “Z: True Long Island Story” to popularize his gaudy fashion sense and objectively stupid catch-phrases? For his growing, unexpected popularity, he was rewarded…|
|…with a Brogue Kick by Sheamus and an embarrassing seconds-long title bout. If the parallels with Daniel Bryan still weren’t enough for you…|
|…consider that the Zack Pack continued their support through snub after snub, such as when chants of “We want Ryder” echoed throughout Madison Square Garden on a card where Long Island Iced Z wasn’t even booked, while John Morrison, a gifted athlete whose notoriously bad scripted promos fell flat on a nightly basis, received the coveted U.S. title shot.|
|For months, when they even bothered to acknowledge Ryder, naysayers like Michael Cole scoffed at the idea that a nobody like him could actually become popular independently of WWE’s marketing machine and creative team. For months, Cole derided Ryder’s fan base as internet geeks (much like Daniel Bryan’s fans) whose opinions shouldn’t matter.|
|For months, Cole mocked Ryder’s “Internet Championship,” despite the fact that the massive imaginary 64-man tournament he won it in gave it a more legitimate origin than the WWE and Intercontinental Titles combined.|
|And for months, Cole insisted (rather validly, to be honest) that being popular on Twitter doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished anything of note.|
|All of this would have been well and good if:
|As Henry Ford (sort of) said about his famous Model T, “You can have any color as long as it’s black.”|
|In the end, those fans who had issued the ultimatum, “Ryder or riot” were vindicated when Ryder got his title shot and upset Dolph Ziggler.|
And so Zack had at last achieved his dream of holding singles gold (Internet championship notwithstanding), and he had but one man to thank:
|— no, sorry, it was John Cena. John Cena was the answer.|
|See, Cena was Ryder’s very best friend, and had been for several weeks, so he selflessly forfeited a chance for a fourth WWE title that year to give his best bud a shot at the U.S. title.|
|But then all hell broke loose when the loathsome, demonic beast with fake hair returned to WWE.|
|No, not Alicia Fox.|
|I mean Kane, who, after returning under his mask to terrorize John Cena and drive him to “embrace the hate,” targeted the closest thing John had to an on-screen love interest: Zack Ryder.|
|That time recently when Kane tried to pull Brie Bella under the ring through a trap door?|
|Zack played the part of Brie two years earlier, being cast as a damsel in distress just two weeks after the biggest moment of his career.|
|That’s not to say that Zack Ryder was completely emasculated by the story line that relegated him to the status of Princess Peach to John Cena’s Mario and Kane’s Bowser.|
|(Or, if you will, Pauline to Cena’s Jumpman and Kane’s Donkey Kong)|
|No, Zack too had a love interest in Eve Torres and, after weeks of pitching woo-woo-woo, was finally manning up to ask her out on a date.|
|Unfortunately, this was the same night that Kane decided to stalk our favorite Broski.|
|All night, Bathroom Kane was watching Zack mastur—|
|— uh, brush his teeth.|
|Taking several pages from a bad horror script, WWE’s writers had Zack flee the crazed monster with Eve in tow, only to find that his car had a flat tire!|
|Again, what happened to the seven-year rule?
|Surprisingly, there was no horror scene where Eve was scared of, say, venturing into the very stall where Brian Pillman had left a 18-inch bowel movement 20 years ago to the day, but Zack told her, “Come on, it’ll be fun!”, only for them both to be hacked to bits by the Big Red Machine in the men’s room. They also missed out on Zack getting threatening phone calls that turn out to be coming from inside the arena, but I guess Kevin Nash texting himself had already covered that territory.|
|With Eve screaming at him to hurry, Ryder installed the hell out of that spare tire during the commercial break…|
|…and throughout his buddy John Cena’s match. Unfortunately, the ten minutes needed to accomplish this task was enough for Kane to catch up with Zack at a very leisurely pace. If only Zack had learned to work a jack and tire iron faster… or, you know, just driven Eve’s car instead. The one with no flat tire.|
|Kane got a hold of Zack and chokeslammed him off a parking ramp onto some mats no more than a foot below.|
|(Although, by the time Cena came to save the day, Zack was lying on some broken pallets nowhere near where he clearly landed the first time)|
|The mysterious bump would take its toll on Zack, as did the total lack of chemistry he shared with Eve. Once WWE saw how bad the ratings were for the couple’s backstage moments, they pulled the plug on Ryder’s unprecedented internet-driven push, opting to put the all-important US title on a proven draw.|
|Failing that, they put the belt on Jack Swagger, who trounced an “injured” Ryder shortly thereafter on Raw.|
|And then things started going downhill. In a grudge match with Kane, the Big Red Machine utterly dominated the fan favorite, capping off the beatdown with a chokeslam through the metal stage. Ryder was carted off on a stretcher and was diagnosed with a broken back.|
|Naturally, Eve blamed this on John Cena, who had been out of the spotlight for several minutes and could really use the attention.|
|Typically, “broken back” would be injury enough to put a wrestler on the shelf for years, if not forever, so if you haven’t been following WWE closely, you’ll be forgiven for thinking the total absence of Ryder from TV every week was simply Zack selling his injury like a champ.|
|Instead, Ryder was back in arenas in no time, carting himself around in a wheel chair to set up a backstage segment seemingly directed by Ed Wood. That would be the one where Kane tried to kidnap Eve by locking her into an ambulance. Problem was, the production truck cut to the scene a few seconds too early, showing Eve willingly entering the back of the ambulance while a man with a rolled-up paper in his hand poked Kane as a cue to start shutting the doors.|
|Fortunately, John Cena was on the scene to save Eve from the seven-foot demon and his evil stagehand sidekick, and in the heat of the moment, the purveyor of Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect locked lips with his best friend’s sweetheart. And keeping with the segment’s theme of terrible timing, Zack was sitting right there to see the whole thing unfold.|
|Eve was quick to apologize to Zack and tell him she wanted him to be her… friend. Ryder was mighty upset at being friend-zoned, putting him about one notch above a rapist. Or something. I read an article on Jezebel.|
|To add insult and injury to insult to injury, he got pushed off the stage by Kane a few minutes later. Now poor John Cena felt really bad.|
|With Zack having lost his title, his girl, and his health all to further shine the spotlight on John Cena, someone in WWE apparently realized that someone involved in this angle might need a push more than Cena. Namely, Eve, who got a heel turn out of the non-stop burial of Ryder. Eve, it turned out, was just using Zack Ryder to get to John Cena, whom she would also use to further her career (which was worth the weekly risk of being murdered by Kane). We know this because she said exactly that out loud like a Bond villain revealing his evil plan just before finishing off the secret agent. Unfortunately for her, John Cena happened to hear the whole thing. So did millions of other people watching Raw live on television, come to think of it.|
|Eve always embarrasses herself when she doesn’t realize the cameras are rolling.
|Zack Ryder still wouldn’t forgive John Cena, though, walking to the ring on crutches to support his broken back (I guess) and trying to slap Cena across the face….|
|…which he couldn’t even do without getting knocked on his Broski butt again.|
|And still, John Cena refused to “embrace the hate,” despite his best friend being booked and beaten into oblivion each and every week. Then again, if I got top billing at the Elimination Chamber with a lame-duck feud meant to mark time until my Wrestlemania headliner with the Rock, I’d be feeling pretty good, too.|
So, all’s well that ends well, as John Cena’s horrific ordeal with Kane was rewarded with
consecutive pay-per-view victories a pay-per-view victory and a little momentum going into his big match at Mania. So I guess this angle wasn’t so terrible for Cena after all. Why did I even write this thing, then?
Frankly, the prospect of the Yes Movement going the way of the Ryder Revolution is way scarier than any of the schlocky horror scenes with Kane and the Danielsons.
All it may take to kill Daniel Bryan’s career dead is something as simple as a cheesy run-in with Jacob Goodnight himself.
That, and being beaten up every week, losing every match, and never getting his payback.