WWE: 3 Potential Storylines for Zack Ryder’s Return


Zack Ryder has been out of the WWE since he injured his knee on Smackdown Live. Let’s explore what could be in store for the Long Island Iced-Z.

On December 13, 2016, The Hype Bros., Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley, were involved in a Tag Team battle royal against The Ascension, American Alpha, Breezango, and Heath Slater & Rhyno. The winner of the battle royal would go on to face The Wyatt Family for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships.

Many would say that the Hype Bros. were the favorites to win it. Since the brand split, they had been gaining momentum by scoring victories over nearly every other team in the division. In fact, they had made it all the way to the semifinal round at Backlash to crown the inaugural SmackDown Tag Team Champions.

In the battle royal, Ryder squared up Konnor for “The Hype Ryder.” However, Connor overpowered Ryder, and attempted to powerbomb him out of the ring. Ryder was mindful enough to hang onto the ropes and throw Connor out of the ring.

As Ryder clung to the ropes, he held up his finger, to let the crowd know that The Hype Bros. had just won the No. 1 contendership. But you could see it in Ryder’s grimacing face and the way that he was favoring his leg on the apron that something hadn’t gone as planned.

Mojo Rawley, in typical fashion, came sprinting down the ramp to celebrate with his partner. Ryder waved him off and winced as Rawley tried to hype him up. This was definitely not a win to be celebrated.

Ryder had legitimately injured his knee, and it would later be discovered he needed 4-9 months to recover. The Hype Bros. lost the No. 1 contendership and Rawley was left without his mentor and friend.

It’s been nearly 6 months to the day of that injury. With Ryder returning to SmackDown Live this week, what can we expect from him going forward? Here are 3 potential storylines for Ryder.

Feud with Rusev

Before the brand split, Ryder challenged the United States Champion, Rusev, for the title. Ryder was no match for the Bulgarian Brute, who initiated a brutal post-match beat down. Rawley rushed to the aid of his former tag-team partner, thus re-forming The Hype Bros.

Could we see The Hype Bros. end the same way? With Rusev off TV, it’s possible that WWE could go back to that watering hole in order to re-insert both superstars on SmackDown Live. And with Rawley by his side, could Ryder overcome Rusev to assert himself near the top of the roster?

This would be a great way to intermingle the divisions, and let Ryder once again shine as a singles competitor. However, It seems doubtful. Rusev’s ceiling, despite his booking before his injury, is much higher than Ryder’s. If the two superstars do get in the ring again, at this point, it wouldn’t help either one.

Likelihood: Next to none

Reform The Hype Bros.

The Hype Bros. impressive run came to a screeching halt with Ryder’s injury. Now that Ryder has returned, it’s entirely possible that The Hype Bros. could reform. Leveraging their No. 1 contender they could leapfrog New Day, Breezango, and American Alpha and challenge the tag champions for the titles. However, what would this accomplish for the team?

The tag team division has drastically changed over the last 6 months, due in part to the Superstar Shakeup. And with the division settling in post-Shakeup, I don’t think creative would be able to find a place for The Hype Bros.

Another reason we may never see The Hype Bros. again is that Rawley has moved on to be somewhat successful in the singles division. Though he’s been relatively quiet since WrestleMania, Rawley won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal and had a shot at the Money in the Bank Ladder match.

Likelihood: Very Likely, But…

Heel Turn

A heel turn for the sake of a heel turn, I believe, is lazy writing. In order for the turn to be exciting, fun, and make sense there needs to be some meat on the bone. Why would Ryder turn heel? The Hype Bros. had been on a winning streak and their stock was clearly on the rise. It wasn’t until Curt Hawkins sent Ryder the following tweet did I pause about the implication of the injury.

After Rawley’s early elimination in the match, Ryder became the lone survivor fending off both Tyler Breeze and Connor. He single-handedly willed his way to victory, but at a cost. Could Ryder harbor ill will against his tag team partner upon his return?

I think we will see The Hype Bros. back in action together. They earned their opportunity at the SmackDown Tag Team Title, and I believe Shane McMahon will honor that. But I believe we’ll see a similar drama play out in their championship match. Rawley will be incapacitated early, and Ryder will be forced to carry the team. If they fail to win, then I expect a Ryder heel turn.

This would be an interesting feud. Since WrestleMania, Rawley hasn’t done anything of note on SmackDown Live and Ryder would be an excellent foil. Ryder, the angry, fallen-from-grace superstar bent on revenge. And Rawley, the apologetic hero who refuses to fight his best friend. I would expect them to put together some great storytelling in the ring and in promos because they both understand their styles, strengths, and weaknesses.

Likelihood: Very Likely

Bonus: Reform the Edgeheads 

This one involves a little creative thinking, and I only put this here because WWE has a penchant for doing the unexpected. With John Cena recently (and unexpectedly) being announced as a Free Agent, it may be possible that Ryder could be moved over as well.

I could envision a storyline where Curt Hawkins approaches Ryder to get the Edgeheads back together. In an attempt to recapture the glory days that Hawkins alluded to in his tweet, the Edgeheads make a futile attempt at the Raw Tag Team Championships.

The reformation of the Edgeheads could act as a pretty hilarious satire of the “nostalgia act” and the Hardy Boyz return to the WWE. In fact, the Edgeheads being reunited was hinted at during the 900th episode of SmackDown Live.

Unfortunately, this is now impossible. On the June 13, episode of SmackDown Live Ryder returned to the blue brand.

More wwe: WWE: Does Mojo Rawley’s Loss Open Door for a Rusev Title Run?

Likelihood: No Chance in Hell