DVD Review: WWE: Superstar Collection – Zack Ryder

The WWE Superstar Collection is a new set that highlights particular wrestlers with a handful of matches from that person’s career. With Ryder’s newfound fame in the WWE, the Long Island native has become one of the first superstars added to this collection. Released alongside Ryder’s disc is one for his one-time “broski” John Cena. Arriving in July are single discs spotlighting Daniel Bryan and Sheamus.

So how does Ryder hold up in his first WWE DVD? Not bad, as the man does have talent; however, there are a few things that could have been done to make this a real highlight package of Ryder’s young career. The main focus of this DVD is Ryder’s quest to capture the WWE United States Championship from Dolph Ziggler, though there are no promos to be found, or any real build-up with the feud aside from what the commentators talk about during the matches shown.

I do touch on what could be improved throughout the review, so check out below to see the match highlights, as well as the thoughts on the match selection and the overall product itself.

The DVD kicks off with a quick montage of highlights from Ryder’s YouTube show as a brief introduction to the zany character that is “Long Island Iced Z” Zack Ryder.

Singles Match (ECW – July 28, 2009)
Christian Vs. Zack Ryder

It actually begins with Christian coming out after winning the ECW championship from Tommy Dreamer a couple of nights prior (The ECW title actually looked really awesome. Here’s hoping the new WWE title can have some of that look in it.) Christian and Tommy Dreamer go back and forth about their title match, and only to be quickly interrupted by Ryder, who gets almost zero reaction from the crowd (remember, this is back in 2009 before his whole Internet show’s explosion in popularity.) I do love Ryder’s tights, which are half trunks, half pants though!

The commentary is horrible, with Striker and Josh Matthews just not adding any intensity to the match at all. Matthews calls a few moves, but then goes “Oh!” and “Oooh!” any time a big move is made instead of really calling it. Add onto that the fact that he gets all hyped up on close calls only to cut himself off instead of following through with commentary, for example: “Is Ryder going to beat ECW Cham—“ and then Christian kicks out, and Matthews just stops talking instead of saying, “No! He kicks out,” or anything like that.

If you ignore the commentary, this is actually a really strong match. So much so, in fact, that it makes me wish that Christian was a heel so that these guys could have some amazing Intercontinental title matches. Here’s hoping that changes in the near future, because as much as I enjoy Christian being a face, he’s that much stronger as a heel, and a feud with Ryder could help elevate them both in the eyes of the crowd.

Woo Woo Hugh!

Singles Match (RAW – September 19, 2011)
Zack Ryder w/ Hugh Jackman Vs. Dolph Ziggler w/ Vickie Guerrero

The last match fades out and we fade right into this one, with Ziggler already in the ring and Ryder’s music hitting as he and Jackman walk out. It would’ve been nice if they’d just added the Ziggler/Jackman confrontation from earlier that night that made this match happen in the first place (like they did with the Christian interview in the first match on the disc) but I guess I have to remember these aren’t major productions by the WWE, and are more collections for the fans of the Superstar being highlighted.

Still, the match is only a few minutes long, and there’s no real reason why they couldn’t have included the few minutes of footage building to this match to give it a little backstory and help the section feel complete.

Tag Team Match (RAW Nov. 7th, 2011)
Zack Ryder & John Cena Vs. The Miz & R-Truth

Hearing Cole talking about how The Miz and R-Truth are going to go up against The Rock and John Cena at Survivor Series 2011, and how that they’re finally being seen as threats and main eventers is quite sad, considering The Miz barely gets any TV time just under a year later, and R-Truth is one half of the tag team champions, though without any real character anymore.

The match itself is a pretty straight forward tag match, with more of the commentary focusing on the Survivor Series Rock/Cena Vs. R-Truth and The Miz instead of Ryder. Still, it’s something in itself that Ryder has a DVD with match highlights from his career thus far, so fans will have to take what they can get as Ryder continues to climb the WWE ladder.

It is nice to see Cena do his best to help elevate Ryder’s position and get him some solid match moments, with the two both doing Ryder’s signature fist drop against Awesome Truth in the center of the ring. It’s also worth watching this match just to hear Cole say, “Cena knows that he just got got!” after R-Truth and The Miz cheat to beat him.

Special Social Experiment (RAW – Dec. 5th, 2011)
John Cena Vs Zack Ryder

We then fade almost a month after their tag team match as Ryder and Cena compete in a one on one match where if Ryder wins he gets a shot at Ziggler and the United States title, and if Cena wins he gets a shot at the WWE title. So all in all, this is an important match for both of these men who are friends in the WWE Universe.

The match itself is quite good, with some solid back and forth action by both men, along with some close calls to the point of where you really don’t know who would win in the end. Sure, odds are on Cena’s side, but upsets have happened and it wouldn’t have hurt Cena too much to have it happen, though it’s completely understandable why it didn’t.

The match ends with Ryder angry at Cena for ruining his one chance at a title shot, and Cena tells him to relax and then goes backstage and we fade to black. That’s the end of this match, with another awkward ending, as they left off Cena pleading to Laurinaitis to give Ryder another shot, and then Cena giving up his title shot so that Ryder could fight again later that night (against Mark Henry) for another chance to become the #1 contender.

Personally, I’d say that since the United States title match is so much of who Ryder’s character was to this point, it would have made more sense for them to put in his match with Henry (or at least the final minute of it where Cena interferes and helps Ryder win), and build up to the emotional TLC match against Ziggler to end this collection, but instead we go from fading to black right to a tag bout on Smackdown!, completely bypassing how Ryder got the title shot altogether.

Tag-Team Match (Smackdown! Dec. 16, 2011)
Randy Orton & Zack Ryder Vs. Dolph Ziggler & Wade Barrett

Another solid televised tag team match by all competitors involved. This match does a good job of helping put some beef between Ziggler and Ryder before their PPV match, and goes through the motions quite well. Any match involving Ziggler is a great one with how well he sells things, so that helps move things along as well.

Still, for a Ryder DVD, this wasn’t the best match to put in, as it’s more a highlight of how well Orton did against Ziggler in the end, beating him cleanly while promoting Orton Vs. Barrett for the PPV more than Ziggler Vs. Ryder. I stand by my theory that adding the promos to the Cena Vs. Ryder match, and the one on one match Vs. Mark Henry would have helped tell the story being told on this DVD better than the addition of this match – as solid as it was in its own right.

United States Championship Match (TLC – Dec. 18th, 2011)
Dolph Ziggler Vs. Zack Ryder

This is the final match on the disc, and it’s pretty much the climax to the story that was being told from all the televised matches found on this DVD. It’s a really solid match with some great back and forth to start things out before Ziggler takes over at the midway point, really highlighting Ryder as the underdog.

The arrogance Ziggler shows in the ring through his actions is amazing, and it really shows that he’s ready to take it to the next level, which will hopefully happen this at this year’s Money in the Bank PPV by him winning the briefcase. He and Ryder have some solid chemistry in the ring, and Ziggler really sells like a champ to help make Ryder look that much better.

The end of this match is great, and the crowd is really into it, fist pumping along with Ryder and chanting his name when he’s laid out on his back. There are a few close calls, and it ends with a well-timed Rough Ryder for the emotional win. This is easily the match of the disc, and worth watching for.

Final Thoughts

This is one of the first of the new line of WWE Superstar Collection DVDs, and if I had a recommendation for this collection as it heads into the future it would be that they cut down on all the entrances to the matches, and add one or two promos before each match to add some build-up to what we’re about to see. Nobody needs to see Zack Ryder come down to the ring three or four times on one DVD if they could use that time to add a bit of backstory or excitement for each match beforehand.

Still, there’s no denying that for the price you pay (on Amazon.com it’s under $10) this is a worthy purchase, especially for fans of “Long Island Iced Z” Zack Ryder, who may or may not get another DVD release down the line. I do see a bigger release if his career keeps on the up and up, as this one skips the entire story of his YouTube show (aside from a few clips at the start of the DVD) and really doesn’t talk about him as a person or wrestler whatsoever.

In the end, this series is made so that fans of an individual wrestler can pick up a decently priced highlight package for that particular Superstar. With that in mind I’d definitely recommend this for fans of Zack Ryder, and those who want to see the rough cut story of how he obtained the United States Championship after many years of blood, sweat and tears.

Like usual for WWE DVD releases, the visual quality of this DVD is solid throughout, and so is the audio portions. As I’ve stated before, the WWE is almost always on the top of their game when it comes to video production, so this should be no surprise to those who collect these DVDs.

There are no special features to be found on this DVD.

WWE Home Video presents WWE: Superstar Collection – Zack Ryder. Featuring: John Cena, Zack Ryder, Christian, The Miz, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton, Wade Barrett, Hugh Jackman. Approx. Running Time: 90 minutes. Rating: TV-PG. Released: July 10, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.

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