The story of Zack Ryder's rise to fame in 2011 is seen as both inspiring and as a cautionary tale for WWE fans. Despite barely getting booked on television, Ryder was able to build up a passionate fan base through his YouTube series Z! True Long Island Story, to the point where WWE officials couldn't ignore the "We Want Ryder!" any longer. Ryder was eventually elevated high enough to where he beat Dolph Ziggler for the United States Championship at the TLC pay-per-view that December, much to the delight of fans who had been following him for the past year.
But within months it all came crashing down. Ryder wound up in a storyline involving John Cena, Eve Torres and Kane that same him get emasculated and humiliated on Raw week after week, infamously culminating in Kane pushing him off the entrance stage while he was in a wheelchair. Many fans saw this as WWE punishing Ryder for getting over on his own, rather than as a product of their creation.
Ryder, now going by his real name Matt Cardona, was released from WWE on April 15 after 14 years with the company. In a new interview with Busted Open Radio he talked about those infamous months in 2011-12, and surprisingly took the blame for what happened.
"I was at a point in my career where I wasn't satisfied with what I was doing. And I'm not going to give you the whole story, but long story short I started a YouTube show, it took off and I got over. I don't think WWE expected it, I knew that was my plan, I didn't think it was going to happen as fast as it did, and as organically as it did. But there's no denying that it worked," Cardona said. "When I started that YouTube show, I wanted to either get noticed or get fired. Because I wanted that buzz, the buzz with WWE or the buzz to get fired and have the buzz elsewhere. Luckily, I didn't get fired, I got noticed and I got used on television more.
"At the time when everything was going on, I got pushed off the stage in wheelchair and chokeslammed off the stage, I could have, in retrospect, gone to Vince McMahon and said, 'Hey, what's going on here?' At the time I was so young, so naive, I said, 'Oh, this is part of the plan. I'll just wrestle Kane at Backlash next month,' or something," he said. "I wasn't aware enough or mature enough to knock on the boss' door and say, 'Hey, I'm one of the top merch sellers. I've been busting my ass, why is this happening?' So I blame nobody but myself for what went down there."
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