Zack Ryder was on the Wrestlemania Series Podcast recently. During the interview, he discussed his IC Title win at Wrestlemania 32 being a highlight of his life. Here’s what he had to say:
On What Match Influenced Him:
As a kid, I always loved WWE. Being a WWE Superstar was the only thing I ever wanted to do, I never grew out of it. At the last minute, my father got my two brothers and I tickets to see the show at MSG. It wasn’t the best seats, but it was just incredible to be there. Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon ladder match, it’s a match that’s stuck with me forever. At the time, Razor Ramon was my favorite. He would win the IC title there, and that moment when he held up both Intercontinental titles, that’s a moment that I’ll never forget.
On Opening Wrestlemania 32:
was so stressed, so nervous, so focused. I knew my whole life was leading up to this moment. I had been on WrestleMania before. My first Mania, I did a run-in with Hawkins during Edge vs. Undertaker in the main event. I’ve been in every Kickoff Battle Royale, Andre the Giant Battle Royale, Lumberjack matches, everything. But [before that night] I never had my own entrance, I never heard my music play at WrestleMania. I knew, win, lose or draw, I was going to walk out to my music. That was it, that’s all I needed.
On Being In The Wrestlemania 32 Ladder Match:
To be in that match with Stardust, Miz, Ziggler, my genuine best friends in the business. To all be in that match together was so special. But, a few weeks prior to that match, I wasn’t even supposed to be in it. At the time, I wasn’t really doing anything on the main roster. I split my time between WWE and NXT working a tag team with Mojo Rawley. I was just doing anything I could to get noticed. By chance, I heard that there was a ladder match at WrestleMania and my name was on an internal list. Then the next week, I hear I’m out, and I think “Oh well, it was cool to be considered.”
A few weeks before, Neville broke his leg on Monday Night Raw. I knew that he was supposed to be “that guy” in the match. That day on Smackdown, I went up to Road Dogg and I pleaded my case. I don’t know what exactly I said to him, I think I told him my whole life story. One thing I did say was that I never heard my music play at WrestleMania. It’s not something I planned on saying to him, it was just an emotional reaction. Later on that day, he pulled me aside and told me I was in the match, and that the music thing got to him. That’s basically what got me into the match. The worst thing was, the day before Mania I was working Axxess doing an NXT tag match with Mojo, and I said: “I better not get hurt!”
On His Wrestlemania 32 Gear:
My gear was 100% inspired by The Macho King and WrestleMania 7. I had so little time to get that gear, but luckily my guy Rick Michaels who makes all my gear, I had the idea and he drew it up and came up with it so fast. I wore that gear one time only for WrestleMania, that’s it. Luckily, Mattel made an action figure out of it, Funko made a Pop vinyl out of it, it’s kind of lived on forever. It’s funny, WWE just asked me to donate that gear to Axxess this year, so it’ll be on display and that’s pretty damn cool.
On Dusty Rhodes:
Dusty was always one of my favorites growing up. When Hawkins and I were called up we were on ECW and Dusty was one of the writers there at the time. It was really his idea to bring us up to the roster, and he helped us with our promos. He gave me great advice throughout my career.
On His High Spot During The Ladder Match:
It is absolutely nervewracking. I knew that I wanted to do that Elbro off the ladder. Jumping off the ladder is very tricky. You can’t necessarily jump from the top rung, because if you go up there, the ladder tips and you’re going to fall. You have to be on the rung below. If you jump and that thing falls back, you’ll just fall flat on your face. I certainly didn’t want that to happen at WrestleMania. Days before, at the hotel, we set up a ladder over a crash pad, and Alexander Wolfe from NXT held it up. I just kept jumping off of it over and over again. I wanted to make sure that elbow was perfect. I don’t want to pat myself on the back, but I think if you watch the match back, it’s picture perfect. I can’t believe I didn’t kill myself or The Miz.
On The Difficulty Of Actually Grabbing The Belt:
If you remember Jack Swagger one year, he tried to get the briefcase off and he just couldn’t get it. That’s always your biggest fear! We certainly didn’t practice getting the title off before. Luckily, it swung once, I was able to grab it, thank god. I remember, the place went unglued, and I’m forever grateful to all those fans for giving me the love that night.
On His Father’s Reaction To The Ladder Match:
He had no clue I was winning the title. Luckily, for WrestleMania, there’s always a “friends and family” section. For the actual match, they’ll bring my mom and dad to sit down in the first couple rows. So, my parents were ringside, and after I won, Dolph Ziggler gave my dad a little wave in. That’s all the excuse he needed to hop the barricade and slide in. He had been going to shows so many times that security knew who he was, otherwise he might have just been tackled.
I remember going down the ladder and seeing him and thinking “What are you doing here Dad?” So, after I get down, I go to hug him and he puts that stupid WrestleMania cowboy hat on me.
On The Moment:
In wrestling, you never want to settle. Of course, I always want to accomplish more, and I have goals and aspirations. But that night, that was the culmination of my whole life, my whole career. All the ups and downs, the bs, the good times and the bad times. All the action figures my parents bought me, all the times I broke my trampoline, all the bumps I took during wrestling practice. Everything led up to that night. To win the Intercontinental title at the biggest WrestleMania of all time where my dad genuinely jumped the rail. To have that moment with him, you can’t write that and nobody did because it was a true story.
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Credit: Wrestlemania Series Podcast. H/T Wrestlezone.