Zack Ryder – The Next Hulk Hogan?

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Zack Ryder – The Next Hulk Hogan?

By 1983 Vince McMahon Jr. had purchased his father’s company the WWWF and re-named it the WWF.  However, he was still looking for his next big star.  Bruno Sammartino, while still a fan favorite was “too old” and Bob Backlund, while the top star for the last six years was “too boring”.  Vince wanted to get away from the typical “wrestlers”.  He wanted someone different from the norm, someone larger than life.  He would find that person in a young man from Tampa, FL named Terry Bollea a.k.a Hulk Hogan.

Hogan was far from conventional.  He wore bright yellow trunks, bright red knee pads, and a headband that read “Hulkamania” and ended most of his sentences with the word “brother”.  Hogan while having endless amounts of charisma was far from the mat technicians of Vince Sr.’s day, but that’s what Vince Jr. wanted.  To the surprise of many wrestling purists, it worked.   As we all know, Hogan became the biggest thing in wrestling and is one of the top money makers the business has ever seen.

Fast forward to 2011 and Vince is looking for another star to break out.  John “Super” Cena has become super stale, The Viper Randy Orton has lost his bite, and CM Punk while enjoyable now is slowly having his gimmick over exposed.  However, there may be a star in the waiting right now.  It just so happens that Vince currently employs another young man who wears bright colors (purple and orange), head bands, has odd but memorable catch phrases and also has gained some fame outside of the ring (as Hogan had done with Rocky III), Instead of” brother” he says “bro”(or Broski) and instead of “what cha gonna do”, he says “woo woo woo”.  That’s right, I’m talking about Long Island Iced Z, Zack Ryder.

Despite what his critics may think Zack may have tapped into the future of wrestling.   By using a platform like youtube to develop and market a character, he’s been able to elevate himself without the aid of bookers, writers, or marketing personnel.  The fact that Zack can market himself may be his greatest asset because despite WWE being a corporate juggernaut it doesn’t have the time or the resources to develop merchandise for every single wrestler.  When Hogan came back in 1983, he already had the bandana and the red and yellow shirt that he ripped off his body.  Now despite what we thought as kids, he didn’t do this because he liked wearing that stuff, he did it to market himself to the audience.  Before you knew it, everyone was wearing red and yellow in arenas across the nation.  Another example would be Stone Cold Steve Austin who knew that he had to just put on his black trunks and black boots, go out and just be himself (something Eric Bischoff said would never work).  Once his character became popular he came up with dozens of t-shirt and merchandise ideas to help market the Stone Cold character.  Austin just happens to be the biggest money maker in WWE history.  Ryder in a matter of two months has gone from having one generic t-shirt to having the Broski t-shirt, the Broski headband, and the Broski sunglasses.  He even had a custom made Internet Championship belt made for a cool $1,500.  That’s dedication.  To quote the great Macho Man Randy Savage, “if you want to make it in this business, you have to invest in your gimmick”.  $1,500 is a hell of an investment, but one that’s going to pay off big time in the end.

You can dismiss Ryder’s show as goofy, a fad, or a waste of time, but since he’s the first to do it, he’s at the very least an innovator.   That alone puts him ahead of the curve and ahead of the do nothing crop of “superstars” who sit there wondering why nobody’s pushing them.  If there’s anything I’ve learned in life it’s that if you want someone to give you an opportunity, you need to stand out and be noticed.  Zack has done that and not just by wearing one legged pants, but by being who he is and putting it out there for the World and most importantly for his bosses to see.  It’s worked before.  Sometimes for guys who would never even be considered stars when they started.

I know, you think I’m crazy.  How can a goofball like Zack Ryder reach Hulk Hogan type levels?  To be honest I don’t know.  What I do know is that it takes more than having things in common with a legend to become one, but I just tend to think that when people tell you your crazy, you might actually be onto something. Ryder is probably thinking the same exact thing.  He has the charisma, the wrestling skills, and the look to get it done.  It’s going to be fun watching him try to reach the level of the greats.  It might take time, it will take a lot of effort, but maybe just maybe Zack Ryder will someday be mentioned in the same breath as Hogan, Rock, and Austin.  Woo woo woo, you know it!

Even Wolverine is a BroskiEven Wolverine is a Broski

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