The Wrestling Opinionalist: Ryder Or Riot?

Ken Napzok

The Wrestling Opinionalist

We choose… Riot.

            No one knows the real reason Zack Ryder did not appear on the “All-Star” Monday Night Raw, the program that emanated this past week from Long Island. You know, the SAME Long Island that is featured in literally everything Zack Ryder does, says, or bleeds. Was it a Vince-ordered rib? Was it planned, but pulled? Was it John Morrison’s fault. Who knows? It’s all rumor and conjecture at this point. The only thing that matters is what remains: Zack Ryder was not on Monday Night Raw from Long Island and the fans have a choice…

            Ryder or Riot.

            We’ve all seen that phrase on signs, status updates, and Twitter hashmarks. Up until now it has been a catch phrase, something fun. Yet after this past Monday it is now a mandate. No Zack Ryder means the fans riot.

            Zack Ryder has done everything in his power to make himself viable to the WWE. He has created a fanbase and where there is a fanbase, there is a chance to make money. T-shirt sales. Head band sales. (Seriously. Sell them!) Pay-per-view buys when Zack Ryder defeats Dolph Ziggler for the United States Championship. (You know it!) The potential for dollars are there, Ryder just needs the chance on the big stage.

            Now, in truth, You Tube views do not necessarily translate into real, measurable ratings and the very style that makes Ryder’s videos so enthralling… the homemade, homespun absurdity… is deceptively simple. And deceptively simple can be dangerously multi-leveled. Sometimes a stand-up comic CAN be too smart for the room. There is great detail in some of Ryder’s finer moments: His spot on impersonation of Dennis Stamp, the trampoline bouncing, sympathy inducing “wrestling legend” featured in Beyond the Mat, in Episode 7 was brilliant, the Colt Cabana cameo was superbly smark-a-riffic, his climbing over a fence in an effort to “get over” was charmingly sly, and the on-going battle with his John Morrison-loving Father is inspired. Yet all of these things may not play well to the average wrestling fan and hitting the mark with the masses often means reaching for the safe middle. So, it is not that unreasonable for the WWE to overlook 100,000 views per episode, when all they might see is inside jokes, slapstick comedy, and a lot of hair gel.

However what Zack Ryder has established with his videos is a clear cut character and a point of view and with those two elements in place, you can take the story anywhere. In story telling you never want to plug the character into the plot points you need. You want the character to drive the story. When faced with an obstacle, what does the character do or say to overcome it on the way to reaching his goal? That’s story telling. So, Ryder has essentially established a blue print for any story that the WWE wants to center around him. As a writer, you don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen if Zack Ryder goes after the Intercontinental Title, you know because his character informs that storyline. So, with a character clearly established and story ready, Ryder has done more than enough to earn his place on the big show.


Yet he is not there. So, the choice is simple. Ryder or Riot? We choose riot.


Let the powers that be know how you feel. Let them know that you want Zack Ryder on your TV screen…on Monday nights or even Fridays. Let them know that his potential does not cap out at 100,000 views or stop at a catch phrase on a poster board. Riot until it happens. Riot until you get Ryder.


And buy the friggin’ T-shirt!

Rankings (That don’t really matter)

1.) “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Reality Show Host- While the three hour “All-Star” Raw seemed to stretch on a tad too long, it was great to see the Texas Rattlesnake having some fun. Outside of the Tough Enough episodes, this was the best Stone Cold appearance in a while. Gimme Punk-Austin, any time, any day, any event and I’m buying.

2.) Kurt Angle/ Jeff Jarrett, Old dogs still barking- When this feud started it was cringe worthy and awkward to watch, but over time the in-ring action has helped minimize the bad sketches and uncomfortable themes. These two veterans put their hearts into this, match after match, and it paid off. You have to hope the program doesn’t linger past its born on date. It should have an actual end, but, for now, take a moment to tip your cap to two guys making things interesting week in, week out.

3.) 35 bucks, bargain price- TNA is smart to charge only $35 for their pay-per-view events, even if they have no other choice to go higher. The WWE prices are just too high to routinely take a risk on paying for a sub-par event. $35 means you can order the event and still pay for chips and salsa, hot dogs, and Cookie Crisp cereal. (What? I like to start my day with a sugary milk overload.)

4.) Trevor Murdoch, returning Redneck- Does his return cause a giant shift in the WWE landscape? No, but any time the WWE wants to give screen time… even Superstars screen time… to someone that isn’t cut from the FCW cookie cutter mold is a good thing.

5.) Austin Aries, A Double talent- Whether it’s Ring of Honor, NWA Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, or this week’s TNA comeback spot, Aries always shows a complete mastery of what it means to be a professional wrestler. Athletic, unique, and entertaining. A Double is A plus.

The “Unsolicited TNA advice” of the week:

Let Mr. Anderson take on Bobby Roode.

I’m one hundred percent behind the decision to have Mr. Anderson regain the belt. While his shtick can sometimes come off as forced, he is currently the most capable of making a TNA World Title reign an event each week. But, more importantly, TNA needs to get Bobby Roode to the main event slot… that spark is ready to ignite… and a championship chase with Mr. Anderson just drips with intriguing potential. Letting those two talkers go at it promo for promo, beer swing for gum smack, should go a long toward getting the proverbial ball into the hands of Roode. There is a star waiting to explode… no need to delay it.

Fast Count…

The way I see it… Capitol Punishment has some potential to entertain, but I’ll just be glad it’s over thanks to those unfunny President Obama ads. Haha. The President is answering “questions” at a press conference about the WWE. Wow. Amazing. I get it. Mildly amusing… for the first twenty seconds of the first one. They are about as “entertaining” as those stupid beer commercials where NFL coaches are edited to take questions from beer drinking fans. Bad comedy, a silent killer. 

I would totally love it if… AJ Lee kept growing at the WWE Diva level. There is something undeniably captivating and charming about her and her in-ring work appears, at least from the outset, to be a click above many of the other model-turned rasslers running the ropes these days. The world could use a Geek and Gamer Girl Champion.

I gotta think… Hot Rod should have received a much bigger pop than he did on Monday, but maybe that’s just my Inner Child of the ‘80’s speaking. He got the usual “Hey, a WWE legend” is returning applause, but when Hot Rod made a direct reference to one of the most important moments in wrestling history… the moment Piper slammed Mr. T and became truly beloved… the crowd went mild. Is it just that WM 2 was sssssooooo long ago that the up and coming fans just don’t know the true significance of Piper, WM 2, or anything prior to The Rock or Stone Cold? It’s called Wikipedia, young marks. Read up. And, yes, everything on there is one hundred percent true.                                   
I must confess… watching Cena/ Punk work the Raw main event was bittersweet. That feud should have been allowed to happen. One should understand the WWE’s decision to “divide the pie” and spin Cena off into a Rock-Miz feud and Punk into a program with Orton for WrestleMania, but Cena and Punk have a certain spark that still deserves to be explored on a main event stage.

Come on, admit it…  a crazed Sting face painting Hulk Hogan was oddly entertaining.

Seriously… Eric Young- TV champion is going to grow on you like it did me. On paper or in an on-line review, his “title defense” against Jason Hervey might appear like another waste of good TV time, but it was short, comically absurd, and saw Young say, “This is for Fred Savage” seconds before he downed Hervey. My new dream match: Eric Young versus Cody Rhodes on a battle of T-shirt-worthy catch phrases.

Sure… I understand the Gunner push. You have to do that, much like the Crimson push. But, I’ll say this again… his name is GUNNER. You have a promising, young talent and you’ve given him a moniker that sounds like something a bored 7th grader gave his video game character or his pet Turtle. Crimson… marketable. Gunner… weekend warrior.

Quick… how d’ya know kayfabe is truly dead? When your Diva’s champion and her twin sister appear on The Price is Right with the very Diva they are currently feuding with… and the video of this appearance is shown seconds before they all meet in the ring.

Ken Napzok is a writer, comedian, and pro wrestling manager living in Los Angeles. He really, really wants a Cody Rhodes paper bag. He can be followed online at and or contacted at


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