matt cardona zack ryder

Matt Cardona Looks Back On The Evolution Of Zack Ryder, Creating His ‘Long Island Douchebag’ Look

Matt Cardona revisited his days as the “Long Island Loudmouth” on the debut episode of MC! True Long Island Story and talked about how Zack Ryder’s look evolved over the years in WWE.

After his run on SmackDown as one-half of The Edgeheads, “Zack Ryder” was brought to WWE television and soon found fame on the company’s ECW revival. Cardona has talked about the inspiration for his character in the past (it was a play on Long Island clubbers and pre-dated Jersey Shore) and explained to co-host Mark Sterling his motivation for trying to rebrand and stand out on his own.

“With this, I knew that if they don’t know my name, they’re going to know that I’m either the one-legged tights guy or the ‘Woo Woo Woo’ guy. And that was fine,” Cardona said, “At least they knew something about who I was.”

Cardona said he got permission to cut his hair and change his look, but there was some initial hesitation about wearing his one-legged tights. 

“I remember they wanted me to wear jeans and a button-down shirt, popped collar like I’m going to the club. But then when I take the shirt off, I’m just wearing jeans, like, what am I, Jimmy Wang Yang? What’s the difference? So I really wanted to do this one-legged tights thing and they said go talk to Vince about it. I went up to Vince while he was busy and doing rehearsals,” Cardona explained, “I showed Vince and he’s like—I don’t know what he said, but basically he didn’t say, ‘Wow, this is great! I love it!’ He said whatever, but I basically spun it like ‘Oh, Vince loves it!’ So I did ask him technically or I said ‘Vince I’m going to wear this…’ and he didn’t say no, but he didn’t say [he] loved it, you know?”

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Cardona said that looking back (and he does it without regrets), he does wish he was a little bit bigger, or his wrestling skills were a little bit sharper. He added that while a lot of people “grew up in bingo halls and on the indies” he was growing on live TV and wouldn’t change that experience for the world. 

“I was having great matches with guys like Christian, William Regal, Tommy Dreamer—the learning experience I was getting was invaluable. I was gaining confidence because I was getting promo time, I was able to work on the character. Even Zack Ryder, the one-legged tights, ‘Woo Woo Woo’ guy, even he evolves in the ECW days. In the beginning, I’m just playing the ‘Long Island douchebag’ and by the end, it’s me with some Long Island douchebag in it, you know? I incorporated more of me, as opposed to playing the [character].”

Later in the show, Cardona spoke about ECW ending and being sent to RAW, as well as his short-lived team with Primo Colon, DZP (Down with Zack and Primo). During this exchange, Cardona said it was Chris Jericho that gave him some good advice, and told him that the one-legged tights got him to this point, but it was time to ditch them and take things to a new (and more serious) level.

“I remember Jericho pulled me aside and said, ‘You’ve got to get out of the one-legged tights thing. It worked, it was a gimmick and it got you noticed, but now you’ve got to be taken more serious.’ And he was completely right and I switched to the trunks.”

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Check out the full episode below: