WWE Elite – Series 9
7 Inch Scale
If I was to ask you who the most popular superstar in the WWE at this very moment is, I’d likely get a lot of different answers… John Cena, Randy Orton, The Rock, but none of those would be correct. The current most popular guy in the WWE universe is none other than Zack Ryder. One need only to look at this past month’s Survivor Series pay-per-view to see Ryder receiving chants OVER the Rock, during the Rock’s big comeback (his first time in a wrestling match in 7 years) as a clear indication that right now the momentum is with Ryder.
Of course if you’re a casual fan, you’re probably wondering who the hell Ryder even is. He appeared on the scene this past year for the most part, although he has been around for a while. Ryder was originally part of a unknown jobber tag team called the Major Brothers, who then became the Edgeheads (who to WWE only severed a purpose because they bared a passing resemblance to Edge), once again mostly serving as fodder.
After that, both men were given different gimmicks and were relegated to B and C shows, presumably to finish out their tenure and be forgotten like so many others. Ryder was lucky in that his gimmick was a more colorful one where he sort of parodied the Jersey Shore attitude, but not in the usual ham fisted way that WWE operates. It’s clear that from the beginning the WWE brass had no interest in doing anything with Ryder or his character, but he worked hard to get noticed. Whether it was his mannerisms or his over the top outfits (including this one with ohalf long/half short trunks a la “The Sweet Music Man” Billy Joe Travis) or what little promo time he received.
Still it seemed that the deck was stacked against Ryder, until he started to use social media to his advantage through a series of hilarious YouTube videos, labeled the Z True Long Island Story. The WWE could care less, so Ryder began to basically parody his own WWE career and along the way played with Mattel WWE and Ghostbuster action figures, all the while plugging his little merchandise. His plan worked, not only did he become an internet darling, but his merchandise became a top seller.
Slowly but surely, WWE began to give him more TV time, although it certainly seemed at first that they were doing so only to exploit but not truly embrace his newfound overness. As of this writing at least, Ryder is starting to receive a real push and as mentioned at the top he’s arguably the most over man in the locker room. Of course only time will tell how long this will sustain as Ryder grew to popularity on his own merit and he is for the most part a “comedy” character. We’ve seen similar acts such as Eugene, who was also briefly the most over man in the locker room at a point, be crushed and de-pushed to ensure they don’t become a household name.
It also remains to be seen how long the fans will stay behind him. It was just a few years ago that John Cena was an edgy character that fans chose to cheer, despite the fact that WWE wanted little to do with him. By the time the WWE embraced Cena, fans were quick to turn on him. In this day and age, something is only cool for as long as it’s not mainstream and then once it is, everyone hates it. Ryder could become a victim of his own popularity, especially now that the WWE does seem to be behind him, but only time will tell.
The packaging is the standard Elite style with a double sided window box. Mattel is changing this in the Elite Series 12, but this is how the first 11 series looked. It’s a nice package, if not a bit on the overly large side. It seems like there should be a LOT in this package, but it’s mostly air.
The back of the package has the usual rest of the figures in the series and tells a bit about Ryder. It mostly just talks about his ability to look like Edge, which uh, sort of shows that this figure was planned before Ryder really had much going for him.
Ryder was just starting to become a “star” when this figure hit, making it one of the absolute hardest to find at retail. Unlike John Cena or Randy Orton, who seem to be packed 8 to a case, Ryder was only 1 per case. The head sculpt is the same as his Basic figure.
Yes I realize I just went through a long spiel about how Ryder worked his way to the top and now I’m telling you that he’s already had two figures. That’s largely irrelevant, as Mattel has made lots of wrestlers who weren’t popular or in demand. Kozlov had three figures!
What really makes this figure stand out is the outfit and the work Mattel put into the tights. Ryder at the time was wearing his one legged tights and there were a ton of bright, colorful details on it. You need only look at his outfit to see just how hard he was trying to stand out. The best part is that Mattel has replicated it here quite nicely.
This also means that Zack Ryder stands out nicely on your toy shelf. I can appreciate that. Mattel did a really nice figure here, but I’m not a huge fan of the “leg sleeve” knee pads here… Even though Ryder did wear ones similar. The attention to detail here is quite nice.
“Staining on my shoulder… Are you serious bro?!”
Unfortunately it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as Mattel once again packaged this figure with his shirt on. That means you’re playing the staining game and just like with my Rick Martel and countless others… He has stains that can not be removed. Fortunately for Ryder, the way his shirt is, the stain almost just looks like one of those barbwire tattoos. My Ryder has ink, dawg!
Other than that, there isn’t much to complain about here. It’s a really nice figure and I’m glad that Mattel put it out. Ryder has since started wearing normal tights and I’m quite glad we got this version before the change.
The Elites pack in extra articulation, particularly in the chest joint and the legs/thighs, so it’s awesome to have figures that can actually MOVE in the wrestling toy lines.
Ryder isn’t a super high flyer or anything, but he is a pretty mobile guy and his finisher the Rough Ryder is a unique move. Thankfully the Elite hips and thighs allow you to perform the move with the action figure. When it comes to wrestling figures, being able to do the finisher is very important, IMO.
You should be able to put Ryder in any reasonable position without too much effort. The Mattel Elites can be a bit tricky at times as some seem to move better than others, but Ryder fares pretty well in that category.
One of the big selling points of the Elite figures is not only their improved articulation, but also the accessories. They used to come with stands, but Mattel removed them to save costs and because they were largely pointless.
Ryder comes with two real accessories, his mesh coat and a pair of sunglasses. Mattel has made a half dozen or so different molds for sunglasses in the WWE line. It’s kind of strange, really.
The coat is really cool and similar to the ones that Zack Ryder has really worn. It’s a shame that he had to be packed wearing it and receive the stain.
These dudes are expensive at around $16 in most stores. You’ll pay even more than that sometimes and in the case of Ryder, you’re likely forced to go to the secondary market where he may be 2X as expensive. I’d guess another Ryder will be coming down the pike in the next year or so, assuming he maintains his popularity, but this figure is so unique that it might be worth tracking down.
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 8
Paint – 9
Articulation – 8
Accessories – Mesh Coat, Sunglasses
Value – 8
Overall – 8.5 out of 10
“Dancing with Akeem! WOO WOO WOO! YOU KNOW IT!”
Even if you’re not a wrestling fan, you’d probably enjoy Zack Ryder Z True Long Island Story videos. He’s an action figure collector at heart and a true fan who’s living out his lifelong dream. Mattel has done him and all of us a great service in making such a unique, eye catching, colorful figure. Who knows if anyone will remember Zack Ryder in 5 years, but for now, it’s your time Zack! Pump that fist broski!
And remember to take care and spike your hair.