Didn't invoke his rematch clause for the US title after returning from his injury.
Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Just watch Zack's dad for a few minutes. It's all done intentionally and Played for Laughs, but it's still there. His dad also recently got Twitter; Zack's standard operating procedure is to retweet whatever he just said with an "UGH" attached.
Ascended Fanboy: Let's see, big WWE fan growing up in Long Island, and he and Curt Hawkins were huge Edge fans. Not only do they make it to the WWE and become Tag Team champions, but they were in a Power Stable with their favorite WWE Superstar.
Arch-Enemy: Evan Bourne, 2009-2011, until face turn. Yoshi Tatsu. They have had dozens of matches from ECW to RAW to Superstars, even down to being the last two left in the dark match battle royal at Wrestlemania 26.
They have began referring to each other as "Japanese Broski" and "American Broski" since Ryder's face turn. Curt Hawkins, who pretty much trolls the ground Yoshi Tatsu walks on on Twitter, has stated their newfound bromance makes him sick.
Brass Balls: It took a pretty big set for Ryder to slap Cena in the condition he was in.
It's actually even more daring when you consider that Cena was slowly being corrupted by hate due to Kane's psychological warfare on him. If John didn't hold any restraint, Ryder would've be beaten within an inch of his life.
Break the Cutie: Oh, dear god. Kane went through great lengths with this in his feud with Cena. From trying to drag him into Hell, stalking him everywhere he went and even confinedhim to a wheelchair, the poor kid couldn't catch a break during all of this.
And pushing said wheelchair off the Raw stage.
Breakup Breakout: With his former tag partner, Curt Hawkins. Ryder's gone from jobber to Ensemble Dark Horse to US Champion and top fan favorite in less than a year, while Curt Hawkins hasn't been seen on either of the two flagship shows since his angle with Edge ended.
Except for being (figuratively and literally) squashed by Brodus Clay in the latter's return match.
Butt Monkey: 2012 hasn't exactly been Zack Ryder's best year.
Throw the Dog a Bone: He won the July 3rd, 2012 Smackdown Battle Royal to be GM for next week—by eliminating Kane of all people!
2013 isn't shaping up to be much better, being on the wrong end of squash matches and getting annihilated by Ryback as an example of what John Cena could expect in their Ambulance Match.
Call Back: In a September of 2011 photoshoot with his customized Internet Championship, Ryder is facing the camera, head tilted slightly down while he's pulled down his glasses to look directly at the camera. A pose that is very similar to another promotional image taken during the early part of his run in WWE.
Continuity Nod: Cena called him "The Tenth Wonder of the World". This is a reference to André the Giant and Chyna, who were called "The Eighth and Ninth Wonders of the World" respectively in the WWE.
Also pretty much the month of July 2012. During a backstage segment at a party, he ended up throwing a bowl of punch on Eve Torres. The following week, Zack won the job of "Smackdown GM for a day" in July 2012 by winning a Battle Royal with that as the prize. His last elimination was that of Kane. Anyone who's watched Raw and Smackdown for most of 2012 is aware that Eve and Kane have been the ones primarily responsible for his 2012 not going nearly as well as he'd hoped.
Demoted to Extra: During the last 12 months of the ECW brand, Zack Ryder was a perennial contender to the ECW title, having several standout matches with then ECW champ Christian. He also was given the honor of retiring the last ECW original Tommy Dreamer. He even interfered in the final ECW championship match. Upon arriving to RAW, he has not displayed any of that in-ring competence at all.
Lampshaded by CM Punk during his invasion of WWE Comic-Con
Has sadly happened again. After a successful year in 2011, where he won the US title, he's hardly on TV anymore, and only show up on Superstars. Something that he complains about on Z! True Long Island Story.
Distressed Dude: Unfortunately ended up in the middle of Kane's quest to make John Cena give in to the hate. He was nearly dragged to hell, chokeslammed on to a pallet outside the arena, chokeslammed through the stage as well as given a Tombstone Piledriver...all in the matter of about a month.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Zack Ryder went from being a leading candidate in the "future endeavors" club to United States Champion all in the course of a year, and he did it all on his own, by making himself relevant through social media to the point that WWE had no choice but to take notice.
Executive Meddling: He encouraged his fans to make signs that said things such as "Broski of the Week" and "Zack Ryder=Ratings" and bring them to events. It worked, but the signs were confiscated by WWE at an event in London.
He offered an explanation to the "Ratings" sign's confiscation on the Z!TLIS following the incident; he can't equal ratings, because he's never on TV.
An in-universe example: A week after being choke-slammed onto a pallet by Kane and suffering damage to his midsection, Zack's advertised US Title defense against Jack Swagger depended on a doctor's note saying whether he could compete or not. Laurinaitis did receive the note, and the match went on as scheduled, so we assume Zack was cleared. However, he ended up on the wrong end of a squash and lost the US Championship to Swagger. It's only just after this that we find out Laurinaitis never actually read the note until after the match, which said Zack in fact had not been cleared by doctors. "My bad".
Fighting Your Friend: This is what Johnny Ace's "social experiment" attempted to do between Ryder and John Cena, the guy who's been promoting him practically nearly from the get-go. Ace pits the two friends against each other in a match where if Ryder wins, he finally gets his US Title match against Dolph Ziggler, and if Cena wins, he's in the WWE Title match at the TLC pay-per-view. Neither man is happy about it, and it seemingly plays out when Cena pins Zack, and Ryder's absolutely despondent about losing his "one shot", but the Divided We Fall moment is averted when Cena goes backstage to Johnny Ace and is willing to forfeit his title opportunity via Johnny's Sadistic Choice to give Ryder another chance at a US Title shot. See Nice Job Fixing It, Villain below for details on what happened then.
He only told Cena to stay out of it because thanks to Laurinaitis's stipulation, Cena interfering in the Kane-Ryder match would cost Zack his one and only US Title rematch against Jack Swagger. It also makes sense, in a twisted way: Kane sending Ryder to the hospital has put him out of commission, but also out of further harm's way since Kane is now completely fixated on Cena and Eve. After seeing them "kissing", this is gonna turn real.
Finishing Move: The Zack Attack (Inverted overdrive neckbreaker) and the Rough Ryder (Jumping leg lariat). Zack's late 2011 push and increased ring time saw the Rough Ryder see more use, while the Zack Attack was dropped because it's Awesome, but Impractical.
First, a subversion: Tyler Reks and Curt Hawkins (Ryder's former tag team partner) started their own YouTube show in an effort to gain more of a fan following, but caught backstage heat from WWE and were forced to shut it down.
Santino Marella's first quarter of 2012 has transpired almost exactly like the way the second half of Ryder's 2011 went - his screen time saw a sudden spike as an Ensemble Dark Horse, then he was placed into a storyline role as Teddy Long's assistant...then he won the United States championship. Given that Santino replaced Ryder as Long's assistant right after the latter won his title, it almost looks like WWE was going for a bit of Self Plagiarism.
Zack Ryder: Earlier this year, probably January or so, I looked myself in the mirror and said this career is not where I want it to be. I had nothing to lose; I was on a path to get released. What were they going to do? Fire me? Not put me on TV? I wasn’t on TV anyway. My life was going to change one way or the other. I knew I was either going to get fired or get noticed. I gotnoticed.
Incredibly Lame Pun: Manages to get off a couple on his Youtube show, riffing on wrestling lingo; first, he promises to "shoot", then shows up dressed as Han Solo firing a toy blaster, and then he says that the reason the economy's so bad is because he's doing all the "jobs", then demonstrates how he's a wrestler, a cook, a plumber, and an underwear model.
Replies to The Big O pushing him on his show with "NOBODY PUSHES ZACK RYDER."
And as he's trying to climb a fence, someone asked him what he's doing: "Trying to get over."
Insane Troll Logic: After getting a new shirt, identical to the "Broski" t-shirt but with "Are you serious, Bro?" instead of "Take Care, Spike Your Hair." The reported reason for this is Vince McMahon didn't want anything with "spike" on merchandise, because it obviously promotes Spike TV and in turn, TNA. What?
Even more insane? Michael Cole saying that despite the thousands of signature on Ryder's public petition and the fact that he's pinned Ziggler almost every freakin' time they face each other, he says Ryder doesn't get one because "none of those matches were for the title." Are you SERIOUS, Bro?
Joisey: A major element of his gimmick since 2009 (though he's actually from Long Island, which has a similar "wiseguy" subculture).
Large Ham: Only Santino Marella can keep up with him in that department. One of the reasons he's endeared himself to the fanbase is his lack of inhibitions; how many other wrestlers would show themselves singing the tunes of Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, New Kids on the Block, and Rebecca Black with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas?
Love Makes You Dumb: He still had feelings for Eve, despite her turning heel and admitting using him to get to Cena. Hopefully he's gotten more wise about it, after she cost his team the victory and giving him a low blow.
Made of Iron/Determinator: Ever since he got roped into the Cena/Kane angle, you could make a case for this just based on how many brutal beatdowns it's taken to get him off TV.
First he got chokeslammed off a near-ten-foot drop.
Then, the following week, he came back only to lose his United States championship to Jack Swagger, who had to use his Gutwrench Powerbombthree times to get Ryder to stay down. Keep in mind, Ryder had cracked ribs (which the gutwrench specifically targets) and wasn't cleared to compete.
Then, the following week, Ryder ends up in a match with Kane, who predictably destroys him (although nowhere near as easily as one would think) and rounds it off by chokeslamming Ryder through the stage. Ryder ends up getting driven off in an ambulance.
That Sunday for the Royal Rumble, he's back again (albeit in a wheelchair), and gets a Tombstone Piledriver that finally appears to have finished him off. Let's put that in perspective. Once Kane singled out Ryder as a secondary target, it took him a full month to get rid of the guy. If that's not Made of Iron, I don't know what is.
Then this happened. Lets just say that for all of his grit and determination, Zack Ryder will forever remember Kane as the worst thing that ever happened to him.
Meal Ticket: Sadly turned out to be this for Eve Torres when she revealed on the 2/20/12 Raw that she was using him as a means to gain notoriety and work her way up to hooking the "big fish". What a ho-ski.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Thanks to Cena giving up his title shot at TLC, Ryder gets another chance at a US Title shot, but the opponent he ends having to try to beat is the Ax-Crazy World Champion Mark Henry. Johnny Ace even made the match No-DQ and No Countout so that there would be no easy victory by Ryder or any dispute if he lost. Cena, however, is Genre Savvy in that he knows he can come down and get involved without Zack being DQ'ed. He gives Mark an AA, and puts a dazed Ryder on top of him for the three. BROSKIS, REJOICE!
One of Us: Zack is an action figure junkie, and even adorned his Christmas Tree with a custom Zack Ryder Figure. He also seems to love Star Wars, having dressed as "Han Solbro" and "Darth Ryder" on his Youtube show, as well as a skit where he declares Princess Leia to be the only woman hot enough for him.
Red Baron: The Long Island Loudmouth, The Long Island Iced-Z. He and Curt Hawkins were sometimes called the Rated-R Entourage and recently the Major Broskis.
Redemption Promotion: Since his face turn, Ryder's been winning more matches on both RAW and Smackdown. This includes defeating US Champ Dolph Ziggler (thrice, the first with fuckingHugh Jackman managing him, no less and finally winning the US Championship) and being on the good end of a Curb-Stomp Battle against Michael Cole and other heel jobbers (funny since he used to be one).
Ship Sinking: After Zack saw Eve and Cena kissing, along with Eve dropping the "f-bomb" on him right after as part of her explanation, it's all but sunk.
Shout-Out: As the first WWE Superstar to build his fanbase almost solely from the internet, it's almost appropriate that Ryder would riff off one of WWE's many memes. He took to Twitter to discuss his injuries at the hands of Kane, alluded to getting some revenge when he came back, and rounded off his tweet with, "Kane, we coming for you Broski!!
Granted, he's still a bit of an incompetent tool. It's just that now it's presented as endearing rather than annoying.
Spiky Hair: Part of his character, along with the slogan "take care, spike your hair"... up until 2013, where it was revealed that languishing in jobberdom for several months prompted him to grow it out (again) in an attempt to change his image.
Start My Own: At one point, Ryder started referring to himself as the "champion of the Internet." A few weeks later, he actually had a WWE Internet Title belt that he defends at WWE live events.
Stuffed into the Fridge: A rare male example, as he was being injured and beaten down solely to improve John Cena and his rivalry with Kane. By the story, he might never wrestle again, which is apparently as good as death in the WWE. No better example of destroying one person's life to extend and involve another person's plot.
Recently started adding one to the "do all this social media stuff" exit message he gives on his YouTube show after moving future entries to WWE's YouTube channel instead of his own:
"But because of WWE, you can't leave a comment."
Although this one has seen been averted, since WWE now allows fans to leave comments on his show (this is something of a big deal, since WWE is so notoriously tight-fisted about things like that, the fact that he and his fans had the pull to get that changed is saying something.)
That's to say nothing of the beating he endured at the hands of Kane.
Verbal Tic: Sometimes he WOOs during his entrances... and doesn't seem to notice.
Vitriolic Best Buds: With Triple H. Subverted on Ryder's end because he's absolutely grateful Trips gave him the opportunity to prove himself on TV and gave "The Game" his vote of support despite the issue surrounding Triple H's stint as COO which were affecting all of the roster. Played straight with Triple H, who does support Zack Ryder getting more air time and making something out of himself, but cringes when saying the kid's "Woo Woo Woo" and can't resist the urge to give him a Pedigree whenever they're in the ring together.
Unrelated Brothers: Started his WWE career as one half of the "Major Brothers" with himself as Brett and Curt Hawkins as Brian.
Vocal Dissonance: Despite his California "surfer-dude" appearance when he debuted as Brett Major, Zack is actually an Italian-American (okay, Spanish-American, but close enough) from New York, and that comes through pretty well in his accent and gimmick. Many people were probably surprised when they first heard him speak.
We Used to Be Friends: In a WWE.com interview, he pretty much says he could care less about Cena after the guy kissed Eve, and hopes he and Kane destroy one another in their Ambulance Match at the "Elimination Chamber" PPV.
Although they've apparently reconciled, as they've appeared together a few times since summer 2012.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Likely the only reason Eve didn't get any comeuppance from low blowing him at WrestleMania.
Subverted on the Nov. 7, 2011 Raw when he got to tag with Cena for real, even getting to hit a stereo Broski Boot and Five-Knuckle Shuffle with the man.
And in the 2011 European tour, Ryder got the chance to team up with Cena once again. They even give him a part in the US promos for the tour (usually reserved to top talent/big names) and mentions that part. Cut to Cena flatly saying "Don't air that part. On to the next part."