In February 2011, Zack Ryder started "Z! True Long Island Story" on YouTube as a way to get himself over while not being utilized much on WWE television.
The series blew up with Ryder instantly becoming a favorite among fans who maybe didn't know much about him due to his lack of television time. Ryder was featured more throughout 2011, a year highlighted by his United States Title victory at TLC.
But in 2012, things came crashing down thanks to an ill-fated storyline with Eve and Kane that left Ryder out in the cold.
Asked if he thought he was punished for finding success on YouTube, Ryder told Busted Open Radio, "I was at a point in my career where I wasn't satisfied with what I was doing. Long story short, I started a YouTube show, it took over, and I got over. I don't think the WWE expected it. I didn't expect it to happen as fast as it did or as organically as it did. But there's no denying that it worked. I wanted to get noticed or get fired because I wanted that buzz. Luckily, I didn't get fired. I got noticed and used on television more. The term 'punished,' -- I was getting pushed off stage in a wheelchair and chokeslamed -- I could have went to Vince McMahon and said 'What's going on here?' At the time, I was so young and naive that I thought it was part of the plan. 'Oh, I'll just wrestle Kane at Backlash.' I wasn't aware or mature enough to knock on the boss's door and say, 'Hey, I'm one of the top [merchandise] sellers. I've been busting my ass. Why is this happening?' I blame nobody but myself for what went down there. I don't know what was said behind the doors. If I had presented myself and asked, maybe I would know."
I reached out to Ryder to clarify his comments, asking if he blamed himself for not being more assertive or if he wasn't mature or aware enough.
He responded, "To answer, it’s all three. I blame myself for not being assertive enough, aware enough, and confident enough. Without the question being asked, this is taken so out of context. I was asked if I thought I was getting punished or something like that. That’s why I respond using that word...punished. Assertive is definitely number one answer. But that’s because I wasn’t mature enough or aware enough."
Ryder would remain a staple on television until he was released on April 15, mainly occupying a spot in the lower mid to midcard. He did have a couple of WrestleMania moments, winning the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania 32 and Raw Tag Team Titles alongside Curt Hawkins at WrestleMania 35.
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