During a recent Instagram Live discussion, Matt Cardona dropped a huge hint that he will be bringing back one of the most important aspects of his ‘Long Island Iced Z’ persona that made him arguably the first WWE star to make themselves a star outside of the companies main programming.
Back in 2011, as Zack Ryder, Cardona made huge waves as the host of Z! Long Island Story on YouTube and subsequently saw his star rise on the back of the unique, self-produced weekly streaming service to the point where at a certain point in time he was jostling with John Cena as wrestling’s top merchandise seller. It seems remarkable nearly a decade later but Ryder was truly over on the level of any main event star in the company at the time.
As history tells us, WWE failed completely to capitalise on Ryder’s phenomenal efforts. Whether that failure was deliberate or not, we will let others decide but the fact is, Ryder’s popularity was one of the most enormous missed opportunities in modern wrestling.
During this run, Ryder proclaimed himself the Internet Champion to the great acclaim of fans, even going so far as to have a belt custom made to match this proclamation. As we know, WWE never featured this belt on TV, much to the chagrin of fans and Ryder himself. In reality, the usage of the copyright logos of companies like YouTube and Twitter made this a non-starter. The closest the belt got to official recognition was a modified (copyright friendly) version being featured on a t-shirt and as an accessory with an action figure.
Now following Cardona’s WWE release last month, will this beloved belt be making a comeback? It seems so! It was recently reported by Ringside News that Cardona recently applied for the trademark for ‘Internet Champion’. Coupled with his discussion on how WWE considered him ‘A mark for himself’ on IG Live over the championship, it seems a safe and exciting bet that when Cardona re-appears, so will the belt.
Speculation, fuelled by recent comments from Cody Rhodes, suggest that Cardona’s likely landing spot will be AEW in the not too distant future. A prospect that makes a significant amount of sense. Given that AEW is a promotion that has it’s roots in the same online, guerilla style marketing as Z! Long Island Story, one would image Cardona would fit in perfectly both in front of and behind the camera. After all, what is Being The Elite if not Ryder’s initial concept taken to the next level?
With Cardona’s non-compete clause due to expire in July, we should not have to wait long to find out.