Zack Ryder

Matthew Brett Cardona (born May 14, 1985) is an American professional wrestler. He is currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the Raw brand under the ring name Zack Ryder.

Zack Ryder
Ryder in April 2014
Birth nameMatthew Brett Cardona
Born (1985-05-14) May 14, 1985
Merrick, New York, United States[1]
ResidenceOrlando, Florida, United States
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Brett Major[2]
Brett Majors
Brett Matthews[2][3]
Zack Ryder[2]
Billed height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[4]
Billed weight224 lb (102 kg)[4]
Billed fromLong Island, New York[4]
Trained byMikey Whipwreck[5]

After joining WWE in 2005, he has since become a one-time Intercontinental Champion, a one-time United States Champion and a two-time WWE (Raw) Tag Team Champion.

Cardona began working in the professional wrestling industry in 2004, mainly as a tag team with Curt Hawkins on the independent circuit and then eventually in WWE, where they won the WWE's tag team championship. After the team split in 2009, Cardona made appearances on ECW. After ECW ended, he was featured sparingly on WWE television. In 2011, he started publishing a YouTube web series called Z! True Long Island Story where he proclaimed himself WWE's "Internet Champion", though this championship was not sanctioned by WWE.[6] This and his use of social networking websites helped him in establishing a fan following and a bigger television role with WWE as a result.

Early life

Cardona was born on May 14, 1985 in Merrick, New York. He trained under Mikey Whipwreck.

Professional wrestling career

New York Wrestling Connection (2004–2006)

Cardona debuted with New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC) in 2004, using the name Brett Matthews. He began regularly teaming with Brian 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.[7] On the next event on June 4, they won a rematch decisively to become the NYWC Tag Team Champions.[8] 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 on August 27.[8] On September 23, they were entered into a three-way match with then champions, but Team Tremendous (Dan Barry and Ken Scampi) ended up with the championship.[7] 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 championship until they faced the B.S. Xpress (Tony Burma and Mike Spinelli), who defeated them for the titles on March 26.[8]

World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE

Developmental territories (2005–2007)

Cardona's first WWE appearance was on April 21, 2005 on SmackDown!, where he took on Matt Morgan.[9] On February 24, 2006, Cardona signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).[1] In Deep South Wrestling (DSW), he was renamed Brett Major while Myers was renamed Brian Major. On October 12, they won the DSW Tag Team Championship from The Untouchables (Deuce Shade and Dice Domino) 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 Sonny Siaki and Afa Jr (The Samoan Swat Team) and The Blue Bloods (William Regal and Dave Taylor).[10] 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.[11]

In March 2015, Devon Nicholson described an incident from 2006 that Bill DeMott was involved with while he was head trainer for the WWE's DSW developmental territory. Nicholson described an incident where Drew Hankinson was completely naked in the ring for a long period of time and gave naked stink faces to Ryder and Melissa Coates while DeMott held jelly donuts over their faces. The wrestlers agreed to do this (with the other talent encouraging them) to get out of regular training for that day.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18] DeMott refuted the notion that it was his idea, stating that the other trainees came up with because they wanted to skip the session.[19][20]

La Familia (2007–2009)

The team was moved to the main roster in May 2007. They worked on WWE's ECW brand, winning only their first match[21][22][23] until they were drafted to SmackDown! in June.[24] On November 9 they won a battle royal to receive a WWE Tag Team Championship match, but didn't win.[25]

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.[26] 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.[27] Occasionally referred to 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. Ryder and Hawkins interfered in Edge's match at WrestleMania XXIV against The Undertaker, but Undertaker eventually won the match.

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.[28][29] Their victory meant that they were the youngest team to hold the championships.[30] By SummerSlam in August,[31] La Familia had begun to fracture and Ryder, with Hawkins, went back to appearing on their own.[32][33] On the September 26 airing of SmackDown, Hawkins and Ryder lost the titles to The Colóns (Carlito and Primo) in their first televised title defense.[34] On April 15, 2009 Ryder was drafted back to the ECW brand as part of the 2009 supplemental draft, separating the team.[35]

Long Island Loudmouth (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.[36][37] He lost to Finlay in his first singles match, on the May 7 Superstars.[38] His first win was on the May 19 ECW on Sci Fi over a jobber,[37] in what is now known as the "exploding trunks" match due to the jobber suffering a wardrobe malfunction during the match.[39] On September 15, Ryder won a 10-man battle royal to earn contendership to the ECW Championship[40] but lost to the champion, Christian, the following week.[41] On the November 3 episode of ECW, Ryder entered a love angle with Rosa Mendes who became his valet.[42] He also feuded with Tommy Dreamer, culminating in a match on December 29 where Ryder won to force Dreamer to leave the company.[43]

"It was way before The Jersey Shore. I was with Curt Hawkins as the Edge Heads—a long haired blonde kid. And I needed a change. I needed something different. So I just took my real personality, turned the volume way up, cut the hair, went to all the clubs on Long Island, like GLO, and fist pumped with all my broskies until I finally found who I really was, and portrayed it to the world, throwing up the 'LI' hand signal".

Ryder on his new character after he stopped teaming with Hawkins.[44]

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 episode 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.[45] He participated in an untelevised 26-man battle royal at WrestleMania XXVI, being the last person eliminated by the winner Yoshi Tatsu. Mendes was drafted to SmackDown as part of the 2010 Supplemental Draft without Ryder,[46] 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 episode of Raw, Fox attempted to interfere on Ryder's behalf but was stopped by Kim, leading to Bourne winning the match.[47] The two new pairings faced off in a mixed tag team match on the May 17 episode of Raw, which Ryder and Fox lost.[48] Ryder had a return win over Bourne on May 27's Superstars.[49] 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.[50] During the June 7 Viewer's Choice episode of Raw, Ryder was voted to team with the Miz, defeating John Morrison and R-Truth.[51] The next week, Ryder had a title shot in a fatal four-way match for the United States Championship, but lost.[52] 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.[53]

During this time, Ryder became a mentor on the second season of NXT to Titus O'Neil. They debuted in a losing effort against John Morrison and Eli Cottonwood;[54] O'Neil was the first rookie eliminated from the second season, on June 29.[55] 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.[56] 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.[57]

Rise of the Ryder Revolution (2011–2012)

As a result of being underutilised on television, Ryder became dissatisfied with his place in WWE and he started a YouTube web series[58] called Z! True Long Island Story in February 2011[59] to promote his character.[60] The web series soon earned Ryder a dedicated fan following: his T-shirts sold out despite not appearing on TV[60] and by June, "We Want Ryder" chants were started by the audiences of Raw and the Capitol Punishment pay-per-view without Ryder appearing on the show.[61][62]

The web show's popularity led to Ryder having a rise in status, making more appearances on television. Between April and June, Ryder appeared during Raw more often, often in backstage segments with John Cena.[63][64] On June 6 Ryder had his first match on Raw in 2011, losing to Kofi Kingston.[65] On the June 16 episode of Superstars in front of his hometown of Long Island his status as a face wrestler was confirmed when he defeated his former tag team partner Primo.[66] On the July 29 episode 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.[67]

On the September 19 episode of Raw, Ryder won a non-title match against United States Champion Dolph Ziggler with the help of guest star Hugh Jackman who punched Ziggler mid-match.[68] Following his victory over Ziggler, Ryder received a match for the United States Championship the following week and again at Vengeance but both unsuccessful due to interference from Jack Swagger.[69][70] 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.[71] At Survivor Series later in November, with Ryder not wrestling on the card, there were multiple "We Want Ryder" chants, including during the U.S. title match and during The Rock's show-closing speech.[72]

On the December 5 episode of Raw, Ryder lost a match to Cena and a chance for a WWE Championship shot, but Cena surrendered his WWE Championship match so Ryder could have a second chance, but for the U.S. title. This second chance was a no disqualification match against then World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry, which Ryder won with interference from Cena,[73] thus earning him a United States Championship match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs, which Ryder won over Dolph Ziggler to capture his first ever singles title.[74] Shortly after, Ryder left his position as assistant to the SmackDown General Manager due to his championship commitments.[75]

Return to lower-tier status (2012–2015)

2012 turned out to be less of a success for Ryder than 2011. The Baltimore Sun wrote, "The 2011 calendar year was a dream for Ryder... But 2012 was a nightmare..." Seemingly all the glory of his YouTube hit fizzled... After WrestleMania, he was rarely seen on WWE TV".[76] By March 2012, John Cena noted that Ryder had "fallen off the face of the earth" despite 2011's success.[77] Ryder was eventually ranked by Pro Wrestling Torch writer Benjamin Tucker as No. 1 in the "Top 10 Crashing Stars of 2012". Tucker noted that Ryder was once again a jobber despite getting himself over in 2011.[78]

Going into 2012, Ryder started trying to romance Eve as part of a romantic storyline.[79] As Cena's friend, Ryder also became a target of Kane, who was feuding with Cena at the time and attacked Ryder on several occasions. On the January 16 episode of Raw, Ryder lost his United States Championship to Jack Swagger due to a kayfabe rib injury he suffered at the hands of Kane;[80] Ryder never received an automatic title rematch despite being the former champion.[81] Ryder's injuries mounted after he was chokeslammed through the Raw stage[82] and Tombstoned at the Royal Rumble.[83] On the February 13 episode of Raw, a wheelchair-bound Ryder saw Eve kiss Cena, after Cena saved her from a kidnapping by Kane. After a confrontation with Cena, Kane wheeled Ryder off the stage, injuring him even further.[84] While Ryder was out injured, Eve sparked a heel turn for her character when she revealed that she had never liked Ryder and had disingenuously used him for fame and publicity.[85] Ryder returned on the March 5 episode of Raw, confronting Eve on her recent actions, but she managed to seduce him.[86] Ryder then joined Theodore Long's team for a match to determine the General Manager of Raw and SmackDown at WrestleMania XXVIII. During the match, Eve distracted Ryder, costing him and Team Teddy the match, and she added further insult to injury by giving Ryder a low blow after the match.[87] After wrestling sporadically, Ryder failed to gain revenge on Kane for Kane's attacks on him earlier in 2012 when Kane easily defeated Ryder in the pre-show match of Over the Limit.[88] He won the 20-man battle royal on the special "Great American Bash" July 3 episode of SmackDown to become the acting SmackDown (or "ZackDown", as he called it) GM the next week.[89][90]

At the Night of Champions pre-show on September 16, Ryder won a 16-man battle royal to become number one contender for the United States Championship. However, later on in the pay-per-view, he failed to capture the title from defending champion Antonio Cesaro.[91]

During the debut episode of Main Event on October 3, Ryder and Santino Marella were entered into a tournament to decide the number one contender to the tag team titles, where they defeated Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd to advance to the semi-finals.[92] The following week on Raw, the duo (eventually known as Team Co-Bro) was eliminated from the tournament after losing to Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow).[93][94] As 2012 drew to a close, Ryder commented that the year had "sucked".[95]

"... it really kind of broke the spirit of the locker room. For years, we were told... that there's a brass ring... and it's there for the taking if you work hard enough and get yourself over. And [Ryder]... defied the odds and actually does it, and all the boys are rooting for him... He got over without the [WWE] office, without TV time... And then they did just crush it and take it all away from him... It's like, you're not going to get pushed unless they pick you to get pushed, and that's kind of it".

Ryder's former tag partner Curt Hawkins in a 2014 interview[96]

In 2013, Ryder most commonly appeared on Superstars and lost all his singles matches on Raw and SmackDown.[97] Ryder entered the 2013 Royal Rumble match (his only PPV match for the year) and was eliminated with no eliminations after two minutes.[98] After weeks of the roster's emasculation at the hands of authority figure Triple H, Ryder and several other babyfaces finally saved Daniel Bryan from a beat-down by The Shield and Randy Orton on the September 16 Raw.[99] In response, Triple H arranged for Ryder and Justin Gabriel to face Luke Harper and Erick Rowan of the Wyatt Family on the next SmackDown, where Ryder's team lost.[100] On the next Raw, Bryan, Ryder and the other babyfaces faced the Shield in an 11-on-3 handicap elimination match; Ryder was eliminated by Roman Reigns, but his team eventually won the match.[101]

In January 2014, the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter released a ranking of WWE's roster; Ryder was ranked as a lower-tier babyface and the third lowest babyface on the roster.[102] Ryder was also unsuccessful in winning three battle royals: the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXX,[103] a battle royal for the United States Championship in May and a battle royal for the Intercontinental Championship at Battleground.[104][105] On the July 21 episode of Raw, Ryder picked up his first singles victory on Raw since December 2012,[97] but it was only after Layla interfered against Ryder's opponent, Fandango.[106] In November 2014, Ryder announced that he had torn his rotator cuff.[107] John Cena gave a storyline explanation that a comment on Twitter led to The Authority punishing Ryder.[108]

Ryder returned on January 25, 2015 at the Royal Rumble in the Rumble match at #9 and was quickly eliminated by Bray Wyatt.[109] Ryder participated in the 2nd annual André the Giant Memorial battle royal at WrestleMania 31 which was won by Big Show.[110] Ryder, being accompanied by the cast of Entourage, answered Cena's United States Championship open challenge on the May 25 episode of Raw in his hometown and in the final WWE event held in the Nassau Coliseum, but failed to win after a countered 450 Splash.[111] On the June 4 episode of SmackDown, Ryder accepted Kevin Owens' open challenge for the NXT Championship, which he lost.[112]

The Hype Bros (2015−2018)

In June 2015, Zack Ryder began appearing in WWE's developmental system NXT, where he formed a tag team with NXT's returning Mojo Rawley.[113] After a monthlong feud with the likes of The Mechanics (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) and Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, along with countless victories over the teams, The Hype Bros teamed up with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady to defeat The Mechanics, Jason Jordan and Chad Gable in an 8-man tag team match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. On the October 16 episode of NXT, The Hype Bros competed in a match for the NXT Tag Team Championship in a losing effort. On the October 22 episode of NXT, Ryder competed in a 26-man battle royal to determine the number one contender for the NXT Championship. Ryder was unsuccessful, although he was among the last few competitors in the match.

Meanwhile, on the main roster, Ryder continued wrestling on Superstars and Main Event from June 2015 to March 2016. He suffered singles losses to Bo Dallas, Rusev and The Miz, but managed to trade singles wins and losses with Adam Rose, Heath Slater, Stardust and Tyler Breeze.[114][115]

On the March 21 episode of Raw, Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens set up a match between Ryder, Stardust and Sin Cara to determine the challenger for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32, as Owens' rationale was that he wanted lower-tier wrestlers as his title contenders. During the match, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz confronted Owens at ringside as he had denied them title opportunities. Owens then interfered in the match for a no contest result, and the seven men brawled. Afterwards, Stephanie McMahon decreed that the seven men would wrestle in a ladder match for the title at WrestleMania.[116] The Independent reported that Ryder was a replacement for Neville, who had fractured his ankle.[117] On the March 24 episode of SmackDown, the seven men brawled again, with Ryder emerging as the last man standing.[117] On the March 28 episode of Raw, Ryder defeated Chris Jericho (after interference from AJ Styles), but was attacked by Jericho post-match.[117][118] At WrestleMania 32, the ladder match featured Ryder diving from on top of a ladder with an elbow drop onto the Miz. Later in the match, Ryder capitalized on Miz's premature celebrations to push him off the ladder and capture his first Intercontinental Championship. Post-match, Ryder's father joined Ryder in celebrating in the ring.[119][120] He lost the title to The Miz the following night on Raw, after a distraction from Miz's wife Maryse as she attacked Ryder's father.[121] Three days later on SmackDown, Ryder received a rematch, where Maryse helped Miz to retain.[122]

"So humorous. WWE has no story for Ryder’s title win on Sunday, then ends his title run the next night to put the belt back on a mid-card heel who hasn't done anything in a while".

Pro Wrestling Torch writer James Caldwell, after Ryder quickly lost his Intercontinental Championship to The Miz after winning it at WrestleMania 32[123]

On the May 2 episode of Raw, Ryder competed in a battle royal to determinate the #1 contender for the United States Championship, where he was one of the last two wrestlers in the ring, alongside with Rusev, who won the match.[124] On the July 4 episode of Raw, Ryder competed in the main event, where he was part of "Team USA", consisting of himself, Big Show, Kane, Apollo Crews, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger and The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) and they faced off "The Multinational Alliance", which consisted of Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara), where Ryder and Big Show were the sole survivors.[125] That same week on SmackDown, Ryder defeated Sheamus in a singles match. After the match, Ryder challenged Rusev for the United States Championship.[126]

The following week on Raw, after Ryder's loss to Sheamus, Rusev attacked him and accepted his challenge, and a match was set up at the Battleground pay-per-view,[127] where Ryder was defeated after submitting to the Accolade.[128] After the match, with Rusev continuing to beat down Ryder, Ryder's former tag team partner Mojo Rawley would make the save, thus reforming The Hype Bros tag team. On August 21 at the SummerSlam pre-show, The Hype Bros teamed with The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) and American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable) to face The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch), Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango), and The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) in a 12-man tag team match, where Ryder's team was victorious.[129]

The Hype Bros later participated in an 8-team tournament to crown the inaugural WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions, where The Hype Bros defeated The Vaudevillains in the first round, before losing to Heath Slater and Rhyno in the semi-finals, removing them from the tournament. However, after American Alpha were removed from the tournament after being attacked by The Usos after defeating them that same night, it was announced that The Hype Bros would face The Usos at the Backlash pay-per-view to determinate who would face Slater and Rhyno in the finals, but The Hype Bros would go on to lose the match. On the October 25 episode of SmackDown, The Hype Bros defeated The Ascension to qualify as part of Team SmackDown for the 10–on–10 Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination match at Survivor Series on November 20, in which Team SmackDown was defeated by Team Raw.[130] On December 4 at the TLC: Tables Ladders and Chairs pre-show, The Hype Bros teamed with American Alpha and Apollo Crews to face The Ascension, The Vaudevillains and Curt Hawkins in a ten-man tag team match, where The Hype Bros, American Alpha and Crews were victorious.

On the December 13 episode of SmackDown, The Hype Bros competed in a tag-team battle royal to determinate the #1 contenders for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship. Despite Rawley being eliminated, Ryder won the battle royal for his team and become the #1 contenders. However, during the match, Ryder injured his knee and was seen using crutches backstage.[131] After six months of inactivity, Ryder returned on the June 13, 2017 episode of SmackDown, reuniting with Rawley. On June 18, at the Money in the Bank pre-show, The Hype Bros faced The Colons in a winning effort.[132] Two days later on SmackDown, Shane McMahon announced that Ryder and Rawley would have an opportunity to become number one contenders for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship at the June 27 episode of SmackDown in a match against tag team champions The Usos, in which they lost.[133] On the September 12 edition of SmackDown, The Hype Bros lost to Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin. After the match, Rawley shaked hands with Benjamin and Gable, but Ryder simply walked away. Throughout the next few weeks on SmackDown, Ryder and Rawley would shown signs of dissention as Rawley would constantly tag himself into matches, which ultimately caused them to lose when they began arguing. After yet another loss, Ryder and Rawley agreed to become more aggressive in the ring, but still weren't able to win matches. On the October 10 episode of SmackDown, The Hype Bros faced Benjamin and Gable, Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango), and The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) in a tag team fatal 4-way match to determinate the #1 contenders for The Usos' SmackDown Tag Team Championship, in which The Hype Bros were unable to win.

On the November 21 episode of SmackDown Live, the Hype Bros faced The Bludgeon Brothers in a losing effort.[134] The duo challenged The Bludgeon Brothers to a rematch the following week, and were again defeated. Following the loss, Rawley assaulted Ryder and dissolving the team.[135] Two weeks later, Ryder challenged Rawley to a match at Clash of Champions, in which Rawley later accepted and won.[136][137] Ryder lost to Rawley on the January 9, 2018 episode of Smackdown Live in the first round of the United States Championship tournament.[138] On the January 30 episode of SmackDown Live, Ryder was unsuccessful in a United States Championship No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way match also involving Kofi Kingston, Jinder Mahal and Rusev.[139] At WrestleMania 34, Ryder participated in the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, where he was eliminated by Mojo Rawley.[140]

Reunion with Curt Hawkins (2018–present)

On April 16, Ryder was drafted to Raw brand as part of the Superstar Shake-up.[141] Before the April 23 episode of Raw, Ryder suffered a knee injury in a match against Mike Kanellis in a taping for that week's Main Event show. As a result, Ryder missed the Greatest Royal Rumble event. However, Ryder revealed the following day that he had only suffered MCL, ACL and calf muscle strains.[142] Ryder returned on the May 7 episode of Main Event, defeating Curt Hawkins.[143] On the October 8 episode of Main Event, Ryder reignited his feud with Mojo Rawley, who was also drafted to Raw in the Superstar Shake-up. In the match, Ryder defeated Rawley.[144] On December 31, Ryder competed in his first and only match on Raw in 2018, competing in a battle royal to determine the number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship but was eliminated by Baron Corbin.[145]

On the January 21, 2019 episode of Raw, Ryder saved his former tag team partner Curt Hawkins from an attack by The Revival, foreshadowing a reunion.[146] The following week on Raw, Ryder and Hawkins teamed up for the first time in nearly a decade, where they were defeated by The Revival.[147] On April 4, WWE announced that Hawkins and Ryder would be facing The Revival at WrestleMania 35 for the Raw Tag Team Championship.[148] At the WrestleMania pre-show, Ryder and Hawkins successfully defeated The Revival to capture the titles. The next night on Raw, Ryder and Hawkins made their first successful title defense, defeating The Revival in a rematch.[149] Following that, the team was largely absent from television mainly appearing on live events. Even though they were the champions, they only made one appearance on WWE programming during the month of May, a loss to the Viking Raiders on May 6.[150] The duo returned during the 51-Man Battle Royal at the 2019 Super Showdown, but they were both eliminated during the match.[151] On the June 10 episode of Raw, Ryder and Hawkins dropped the titles back to The Revival in a tag-team triple threat match, which also involved The Usos.[152] On November 14 at a live event in Mannheim, Germany, Ryder and Hawkins defeated The O.C. (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson), and The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) in a triple threat tag-team match to become the #1 contenders for the Raw Tag Team Championships for the November 17 episode of Raw.[153]

Other media

Matt Cardona
Ryder with his Internet Championship
YouTube information
Years active2011–present
Subscribers132.4 thousand
Total views15.6 million
100,000 subscribers 2011
Updated May 5, 2019

Ryder started a YouTube web series called Z! True Long Island Story in February 2011. The web series was a collection of short comments from Ryder, containing comedic allusions to wrestling and pop culture; it also featured cameos from his friends, family, as well as fellow WWE colleagues.[154] The show's theme song "Just Take Care, Spike Your Hair (The Broski of the Week Song)" was written specifically about Ryder by The Luke & Duane Show. In April 2011, Ryder proclaimed himself WWE "Internet Champion"[155] complete with a children's replica belt covered in stickers, as it was unsanctioned by WWE.[156] In July 2011, Ryder defended his Internet Championship at a house show in Australia, against Primo.[157] On an episode of Z! True Long Island Story, Dolph Ziggler challenged Ryder to an Internet title match at WrestleMania 29 which Ryder accepted.[158] Ryder soon replaced the toy belt with a $1,500 custom-made belt. The title belt's center plate features an engraved illustration of Ryder's head and spiked hair while the side plates display his logo and those of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook but these social media logos were not feature in WWE Video games due to copyright issues.[159]

On episode 50 of Z! True Long Island Story, Ryder announced the show would be part of WWE's official YouTube channel.[160] Z! True Long Island Story ended on January 11, 2013, which was the show's 100th episode. The show was "ended" by Dolph Ziggler, who attacked Ryder with his Money in the Bank briefcase, setting up a dream sequence featuring cameos from people who had previously appeared on the show while Ryder climbed a staircase to "heaven". When Ryder woke up, he thought that the Ryder Revolution was all a dream until being told by his family and friends that it all happened.[161] Overall, the series ran 50 episodes on Zack Ryder's YouTube channel and 50 episodes on WWE's official YouTube channel. Ryder later said that he regretted allowing WWE to move his show to their YouTube channel and that WWE had removed content from his videos.[162] On March 10, 2014, Ryder uploaded the first episode of his new series, Zack Ryder's Last ReZort, to his own YouTube channel. In this video, Ryder (without his traditional glasses and headband) expressed his frustration regarding his dramatic plunge to the bottom of the roster, proclaiming his desire to have "lightning strike twice" and work his way back up the cards.[163] In October 2014, Ryder and Dolph Ziggler "took over" an episode of WWE's YouTube series, The JBL (Not Cole) Show for its 99th episode, making it in turn the 101st episode of Ryder's show, Z! True Long Island Story.[164]

In July 2011, Ryder was featured in Sports Illustrated's list of the 100 most influential Twitter users in sports.[165] On January 16, 2013, Ryder released a music video entitled "Hoeski".[166] The song amassed over 100,000 views in four days and was also posted on WWE's official YouTube channel.[167] "Hoeski" peaked at No. 92 on the iTunes Pop Music chart on February 5, 2013.[168]

Ryder has also appeared on Travel Channel's Toy Hunter documentary.[169]

Ryder has appeared in eight WWE video games. He made his in-game debut at WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 and appeared in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, WWE '12,[170] WWE '13, WWE 2K14, WWE 2K16,[171] WWE 2K17, WWE 2K18, WWE 2K19, and WWE 2K20.

On March 18, 2017, it was announced that Ryder would be launching a new YouTube series called Z! True Comeback Story, chronicling his return to the ring after suffering a knee injury in December.[172] In 2018, Ryder started a podcast with Curt Hawkins about wrestling figures called The Major Wrestling Figure Podcast.



Title Release Length
Peak iTunes chart position

Personal life

In an interview with WWE Magazine, Cardona revealed that he had suffered from and overcame cancer that resided in his foot and spread to his lungs while in high school. He was forced to miss a year of school battling the disease.[174] Cardona is an avid fan of the Ghostbusters series. He periodically donned Ghostbusters themed ring gear during matches[175] and was featured in the 2016 documentary Ghostheads, discussing his love of the series.[176]

On April 4, 2019, Cardona announced his engagement to fellow professional wrestler, Chelsea Green. The two had been dating since January 2017.[177]

Championships and accomplishments


  1. Championship not officially recognized by the WWE.


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