After another frustrating year for Zack Ryder, speculation continues to mount regarding his future with WWE.
Ryder took to twitter earlier in the week to express his frustration at being under utilized by the company stating “No reason for me to watch the ball drop tonight... I lived through the ball being dropped with me all year.”
So as 2013 rolls on, what exactly does the future hold for Ryder?
To be fair to the ‘Long Island Iced Z’ he has a lot of potential.
His physique is excellent, he has a lot of confidence on the mic and it’s clear the man is extremely hard working, continuing to put 110% into his YouTube show whilst often only making the cut for dark matches.
But if Ryder’s skill and determination are going to lead anywhere it first has to lead to him dropping the ‘Jersey Shore’ type gimmick.
Ryder has held onto this character for far too long, and although it has allowed him to gain a lot of momentum with the WWE Universe it really has grown stale and boring in recent months.
The former United States Champion started 2012 off with a bang, feuding with Kane and gaining television time through his on screen romance with Eve Torres and tension with John Cena.
However, despite this, Ryder found himself straight back in WWE’s dog house after being written off television following a choke slam from Kane off the stage.
Since then, Ryder has featured in a handful of matches on RAW, mostly jobbing.
This isn’t to say Ryder doesn’t have the potential to achieve a lot more in the company however.
It doesn’t seem like that long ago he was teaming with Curt Hawkins and Edge as part of La Familia.
It was during this six month stint that Ryder really showed he could hang in the main event scene, featuring in steel cage matches and interfering in tables, ladders and chairs matches with The Undertaker.
So why is it that almost five years on, Ryder now finds himself struggling for TV time and spending most of his time on Twitter?
It’s simple, Ryder refuses to change.
Current WWE Champion, CM Punk once said that in order to succeed in professional wrestling you need to constantly reinvent yourself, and he’s absolutely right.
In this day and age, gimmicks and feuds grow stale very quickly unless they are unique and interact with the audience on many levels.
Zack Ryder currently doesn’t do this.
Yes he is over with the fans, but his gimmick is unoriginal and it no longer connects with the audience like it first did in 2009.
In saying this, 2013 really is a make or break year for the Long Island local.
And for Ryder to really make it, it may be necessary for him to do away with his old persona and take on a darker heel role.
Let’s face it, Ryder has all the tools in the shed to gain him some real heat, just like he had the tools to gain the WWE Universe’s affection.
Ryder is a tall, athletic competitor that doesn’t need a faction by his side to make waves.
Why not have him compete at the Royal Rumble in new ring gear, with new music and even a new hair style?
From there, Ryder could go from attacking bigger, babyface Superstars to competing in longer more competitive match ups, like Dolph Ziggler did during 2009 and 2010.
There really is no reason why Ryder can’t hold the Intercontinental Title in 2013 and even a world title in 2014.
But before this, the former WWE Tag Team Champion has to be willing to accept criticism and show a willingness to start over from scratch in order to succeed at a higher level.
If not, wrestling fans may wind up seeing him appear in TNA or ROH, which may not be such a bad thing either.
As 2013 rolls on, the sky really is the limit for Zack Ryder, a man of great potential and great passion for the wrestling business.
Without a change of character however, his dreams of stardom may come crashing down sooner than you can say ‘woo, woo, woo’.
You know it.