Posted April 18, 2019 by Emjay Lapus in Entertainment

Major Redemption: The Resurgence of Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder

This is the story of Brian Myers and Matt Cardona, two men from Long Island with a dream.

In the early 2000s, Myers and Cardona (under the ring name Brett Matthews) were hot young upstarts under the tutelage of Mikey Whipwreck and eager to make a name for themselves as a tag team in the New York wrestling scene, appearing primarily at the ECW legend’s NYWC promotion. It wasn’t long before WWE came knocking and offered them contracts.

Major Brothers

When they entered the WWE, they were re-branded as the Major Brothers. While they made waves in the developmental league, they were barely on anyone’s radar once they jumped to the main roster in mid-2007. That is until that year’s edition of Armageddon when they aligned themselves with an Ultimate Opportunist, whom they fondly call “Uncle Adam” to this day. Joining La Familia allowed them to carve out individual personalities—Brian became the cool and cocky Curt Hawkins, while Brett became the wild and crazy Zack Ryder.

Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder GAB 2008

Their association with Edge gave them a bit of a rub as it allowed them to become the youngest WWE Tag Team Champions in history, winning the titles in front of their hometown crowd at the 2008 Great American Bash. Unfortunately, when Edge took time off to deal with nagging injuries and burnout, Hawkins and Ryder were left to fend for themselves at a time when tag team wrestling was the least of the company’s priorities. It didn’t help when they lost the titles to Carlito and Primo Colon in their first-ever televised title defense. This time in limbo lasted until Ryder was drafted by ECW. And this is where our story takes an interesting turn.


Curt Hawkins

After going back down to FCW at his request, Hawkins returned to the main roster primarily as a tag team specialist in shows such as Superstars and NXT. Though he was still able to make the most of what he’s given and put on some decent matches (as well as introduce his trusty cane), Hawkins was never able to go beyond lower midcard status. Despite a two-year break from WWE where he racked up championships and started his own wrestling school alongside Pat Buck, his return to the WWE in 2016 would be best known for his losing streak, the longest of its kind in the modern era. While Hawkins may seemingly have an underwhelming career in WWE, Ryder’s WWE run is the perfect example of an emotional rollercoaster.


Zack Ryder

Most people believed Ryder’s best days were already left in 2011. After breaking the glass ceiling and becoming a rising star in the WWE through his own efforts, Ryder seemed to have lost everything in one fell swoop–his United States Championship, his push, and even the creative control behind his web series Z! True Long Island Story. Even when he came close to a renewed push, it was quickly taken away from him. His WrestleMania moment, gone within 24 hours. His shot at the SmackDown Tag Team Championship as one-half of the Hype Bros, put on hold after injuring his knee. But even after everything had seemingly been taken away from him, Ryder never walked away from the WWE. Despite the frustration he accumulated since that his fall from grace in 2012, Ryder kept grinding for the company while waiting for another opportunity to present itself, which happened at the start of 2019. But now, he knew he couldn’t do it alone this time. He needed someone he was very familiar with. He needed someone who was like a brother to him–a major brother perhaps.


Hawkins and Ryder Reunite

Though both men spent nearly a decade making a name for themselves as their own man, there was never any dissent that forced Hawkins and Ryder to split. As a matter of fact, they have their own projects such as the WWE-produced web series Figure It Out (not related to the Nickelodeon game show) and The Major Wrestling Figure Podcast. Given all of those, an official in-ring reunion at any given time wasn’t too far off. Plus, it seemed like the right time for them to join forces once again because unlike before, the WWE’s tag team division was in a much better place thanks to the success of teams such as The New Day, The Usos, and The Revival. And interestingly enough, it was The Revival who would ultimately be the reason behind the reunion between the former Edgeheads.

After losing a match against then-Raw Tag Team Champions Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson took out their frustration on special guest referee Hawkins. Before The Revival could do further damage, Zack Ryder ran in to make the save. While they were unable to score victories in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania, Hawkins and Ryder remained undeterred. This was no longer just about regaining momentum. This was also about ending Hawkins’ streak of 269 losses. This was about no longer settling for scraps. This was about changing their fate in the WWE. And what better way to exact revenge on The Revival than by taking the Raw Tag Team Titles from them at the Grandest Stage of Them All, which happened to be right on their home turf.

After a grueling battle at the WrestleMania kickoff show, Hawkins and Ryder shocked the world. The losing streak ended, revenge was exacted, and the duo was once again among the WWE’s top tag teams. But the celebration didn’t end there. The following night on Raw, Hawkins and Ryder successfully defended the titles in a rematch with The Revival, which helped Ryder fully regain his confidence as a defending champion.

Hawkins and Ryder WrestleMania 35

And this is where our story ends for now. While Hawkins and Ryder may have hit rough patches during their first run and bigger hurdles during their respective singles careers, it’s pretty safe to say that these two best friends from Long Island are living their dream as Tag Team Champions. No one knows for certain how long their reign will last but, as their old theme song goes, they’re in the middle of it now.

Emjay Lapus

Emjay wears multiple hats -- communications specialist, aspiring Power Ranger, wrestling fan, sneakerhead, comic book reader, member of the Grizz Nation, part-time musician/full-time music lover, Grove Street OG, occasional photo/video editor (mostly memes), and protector of Earthrealm.