Zack Ryder, along with Curt Hawkins worked on WWE's ECW brand, using the names Brett and Brian Major, winning only their first match until they were drafted to SmackDown! in June. On November 9 they won a battle royal to receive a WWE Tag Team Championship match, but didn't win.
At Armageddon, the duo dressed up like Edge and interfered in the World Heavyweight Championship match, replacing Edge at several points along the match to help him win the title and thus turning heel for the first time in their WWE career. On December 21, the Major Brothers were revealed as an acquaintance to Edge and his lover, SmackDown General Manager Vickie Guerrero. The Major Brothers were repackaged and renamed, with "Brett Major" being renamed Zack Ryder. Occasionally referred to as the Rated-R Entourage by commentators Michael Cole and John "Bradshaw" Layfield, the group allied with Guerrero's nephew, Chavo Guerrero and his enforcer Bam Neely as the group La Familia, which dominated SmackDown's storyline through 2008. Ryder and Hawkins interfered in Edge's match at WrestleMania XXIV against The Undertaker, but Undertaker eventually won the match.
At The Great American Bash on July 20 Curt Hawkins (the former Brian Major) and Ryder won the WWE Tag Team Championship from John Morrison and The Miz in a fatal four-way match which also featured Jesse and Festus and Finlay and Hornswoggle after Hawkins pinned Jesse. Their victory meant that they were the youngest team to hold the championships. By SummerSlam, La Familia had begun to fracture and Ryder, with Hawkins, went back to appearing on their own. On the September 26 airing of SmackDown, Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder lost the titles to The Colóns (Carlito and Primo Colón) in their first televised title defense. On April 15, 2009 Ryder was drafted back to the ECW brand as part of the 2009 Supplemental Draft, separating the team.
Ryder made his return to ECW on May 5, 2009 in a backstage segment with General Manager Tiffany. He now sported short hair, tanned skin, sunglasses, a headband, half-trunks/half-tights, displaying something of an arrogant Long Island guido character and more frequent uses of catchphrases "woo woo woo" and "you know it", that he had used sparingly in the tag team. He lost to Finlay on his first singles match, on May 7's Superstars and would not gain victory until the May 19 episode of ECW on Sci Fi over a local competitor. On September 15, Ryder won a 10-man battle royal to earn contendership to the ECW Championship but lost to the champion, Christian, the following week. On the November 3 episode of ECW, Ryder entered a love angle with Rosa Mendes who became his valet. He also feuded with Tommy Dreamer, culminating in a match on December 29 where Ryder won to force Dreamer to leave the company.
When the ECW brand came to an end in February 2010, Ryder and Mendes moved to the Raw brand, making his debut on the February 25 episode of Superstars, defeating Primo. Ryder made his Raw debut on March 1, losing to Montel Vontavious Porter in a Money in the Bank qualifying match. He participated in an untelevised 26-man battle royal at WrestleMania XXVI, being the last person eliminated by the winning Yoshi Tatsu. Mendes was drafted to SmackDown as part of the 2010 Supplemental Draft without Ryder, so Ryder sought a new valet, trying to impress Alicia Fox and Gail Kim while they watched his matches at ringside. During a match with Evan Bourne on the May 10 episode of Raw, Fox attempted to interfere on Ryder's behalf but was stopped by Kim, leading to Bourne winning the match. The two new pairings faced off in a mixed tag team match on the May 17 episode of Raw, which Ryder and Fox lost. Ryder had a return win over Bourne on May 27's Superstars. The next week on Raw, Fox attacked Ryder with an axe kick after Raw guest host Ashton Kutcher put a bounty on Ryder's head. During the June 7 Viewer's Choice episode of Raw, Ryder was voted to team with the Miz, defeating John Morrison and R-Truth. The next week, Ryder had a title shot in a Fatal Four Way match for the WWE United States Championship but lost. Months later, in August, he was given a WWE Championship match against Sheamus that lasted 11 seconds, which was the second-shortest WWE Championship match in WWE history, in an attempt by Sheamus to circumvent the company's 30 day championship defence policy.
During this time, Ryder became a mentor on the second season of WWE NXT to Titus O'Neil. They debuted in a losing effort against John Morrison and Eli Cottonwood; O'Neil was the first rookie eliminated from the second season, on June 29. On the July 27 episode of NXT, Ryder lost against Percy Watson, making him the first mentor of season 2 to lose to a rookie in a singles match. For the remainder of the year and well into 2011, Ryder mostly became used on the non-branded Superstars show, occasionally teaming with Primo. Ryder won a 2010 Slammy Award for Most Annoying Catchphrase in December.
As a result of being underutilised on television, Ryder became dissatisfied with his place in WWE and he started a YouTube web series called Z! True Long Island Story in February 2011 to promote his character. The web series soon earned Ryder a dedicated fan following: his T-shirts sold out despite and by June, "we want Ryder" chants were started by the audiences of Raw and the Capitol Punishment pay-per-view without Ryder appearing on the show.
The web show's popularity led to Ryder having a rise in status, making more appearances on television. Between April and June, Ryder appeared during Raw more often, often in backstage segments with John Cena. On June 6 Ryder had his first match on Raw in 2011, losing to Kofi Kingston. On the June 16 episode of Superstars in front of his hometown of Long Island his status as a babyface wrestler was confirmed when he defeated his former tag team partner Primo. On the July 29 episode of Smackdown, Ryder was appointed as the assistant to Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long, allowing him to make TV appearances on both Raw and SmackDown.
On the September 19 episode of Raw, Ryder won a non-title match against United States Champion Dolph Ziggler with the help of guest star Hugh Jackman who punched Ziggler mid-match. Following his victory over Ziggler, Ryder received a match for the United States Championship the following week and again at Vengeance but both unsuccessful due to interference from Jack Swagger. Ryder main-evented Raw for the first time on November 7, teaming with John Cena in a losing effort against The Miz and R-Truth. Ryder was then placed in a match with Cena where the victor would earn a championship opportunity; Ryder was defeated, but Cena surrendered his WWE Championship match for Ryder to have a second chance and then interfered in a No Disqualification match to help Ryder beat World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry. This won Ryder a match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs where he defeated Dolph Ziggler to win the WWE United States Championship, his first singles title in any wrestling promotion. Shortly after, Ryder left his position as assistant to the Smackdown General Manager due to his championship commitments.
Going into 2012, Ryder started trying to woo Eve as part of a romantic storyline. As Cena's friend, Ryder also became a target of Kane, who was feuding with Cena at the time and attacked Ryder on several occasions. On the January 16 episode of Raw, Ryder lost his United States Championship to Jack Swagger due to a rib injury he suffered at the hands of Kane. Ryder's injuries mounted after he was chokeslammed through the Raw stage and Tombstoned at the Royal Rumble. On the February 13 episode of Raw, a wheelchair-bound Ryder saw Eve kiss Cena, after Cena saved her from a kidnapping by Kane. After a confrontation with Cena, Kane wheeled Ryder off the stage, injuring him even further.
While Ryder was out injured, Eve sparked a villainous turn for her character when she revealed that she had never liked Ryder and had disinguously used him for fame and publicity. Ryder returned on the March 5 episode of Raw, confronting Eve on her recent actions, but she managed to seduce him. Ryder then joined Theodore Long's team for a match to determine the General Manager of Raw and SmackDown at WrestleMania XXVIII. During the match, Eve distracted Ryder, costing him and Team Teddy the match, and she added further insult to injury by giving Ryder a low blow after the match. After wrestling sporadically, Ryder returned to pay-per-views in the pre-show match of the Over the Limit, where he was defeated by Kane. It was announced that Ryder will be replacing R-Truth (who suffered a foot injury) at live events to team up with Kofi Kingston. On the special "Great American Bash" edition of SmackDown on July 3, Ryder won a 20 man battle royal last eliminating Kane to become Acting SmackDown GM for the next week, which he termed ZackDown.
At the Night of Champions pre-show in September, Ryder won a 16-man battle royal to become number one contender for the United States Championship. However, later on in the pay-per-view, he failed to capture the title from defending champion Antonio Cesaro. On the debut episode of WWE Main Event on October 3, Ryder and Santino Marella were entered into a tournament to decide the #1 contender to the tag team titles, where they defeated Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd to advance to the semi-finals. The following week on Raw, the team was eliminated from the tournament after losing to Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow). On 6th November Superstars he lost to Tensai. Ryder was defeated by The Big Show on the January 21 edition of Raw.
On the April 22, 2013 edition of Raw, Ryder lost to Big E Langston sporting a new look, with his hair parted to the side of his head. Over the next few weeks, Ryder's losing streak would continue, losing to Jack Swagger on Raw and Fandango on SmackDown. On the 20th May edition of Raw, Ryder would once again lose, this time to Cody Rhodes. After the match, Ryback would attack Ryder, using his finisher on him and later put him in the ambulance that Ryback introduced earlier in the show, using Zack as a way to send a message to John Cena. On August 19, Ryder was shown backstage sporting his old, spiked-hair look. On the 16th of September Ryder and Justin Gabriel would lose to the Wyatt family (Erick Rowan and Luke Harper). After the match Bray Wyatt would plant Ryder with a Sister Abigail. On September 27 episode of Raw Ryder would go against Bray Wyatt, only to lose the match.
On the November 7 episode of Superstars Ryder scored a win by defeating Jinder Mahal. Ryder proceeded to unsuccessfully participate in both the Andre the Giant Memorial battle royal at WrestleMania XXX and another battle royal for the United States Championship on the May 5 episode of Raw. Ryder would then go on to face Alexander Rusev in multiple matches, losing each one. Ryder unsuccessfully competed in a battle royal for the WWE Intercontinental Championship at Battleground. On the July 21 episode of RAW, Zack Ryder picked up his first singles victory on RAW in 2 years by defeating Fandango. He was accompanied by Layla and Summer Rae. After the win, they both gave him kisses all over his face. In November 2014, Ryder said that he had torn his rotator cuff and will require surgery. He returned on January 25, 2015 at the Royal Rumble during the Royal Rumble match, however he was quickly eliminated by Bray Wyatt. Ryder participated in the 2nd annual André the Giant Memorial battle royal at WrestleMania 31 which was won by Big Show. Ryder answered John Cena's US Title Open Challenge on May 25 in his hometown in the final WWE event held in the Nassau Coliseum but failed to win after a countered 450 Splash. Ryder lost to Stardust at Elimination Chamber, on the kick-off show. On June 4th edition of Smackdown Ryder accepted Kevin Owens open challenge for the NXT Championship, but however failed.
On June 10 tapings, Zack Ryder made his debut on NXT, teaming up with Mojo Rawley in a tag team match against Elias Samson and Mike Rallis, and they proceeded to win the match, with Ryder getting the pin after a combination of a spinebuster and a Rough Ryder. Afterwards, the were given the name "The Hype Bros". On August 3, Zack Ryder lost to King Barrett in a singles match on Raw. On the following SmackDown, he lost to Stardust.
On the October 16th edition of NXT, The Hype Bros competed for the NXT Tag Team Champions in a losing effort. On the October 22nd edition of NXT, Ryder competed in a 26-man battle royal to determine the no.1 contender for the NXT Championship. Ryder was unsuccessful, although he was among the last few competitors in the match. On the November 11 episode of NXT, The Hype Bros teamed up with Bayley during an intergender tag team match against Blake and Murphy and Alexa Bliss, where they emerged victorious, after Bayley attacked Murphy with a Bayley-to-Belly Suplex.
On the February 10, 2016, episode of NXT, The Hype Bros defeated Corey Hollis and John Skyler in a tag team match. Ryder made his return to Raw on the February 15 episode, losing to Heath Slater after interference from The Social Outcasts. On the March 21 episode of Raw, Ryder faced Stardust and Sin Cara in a triple threat match to determine the number one contender for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, which ended in no contest, after Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens attacked Ryder. Afterwards, it was announced that Ryder would compete in a 7-man ladder match for the title at WrestleMania 32 against Owens, Stardust, Sin Cara, Sami Zayn, The Miz and Dolph Ziggler. On the March 24 SmackDown, the seven men brawled again, with Ryder emerging as the last man standing. On the March 28 Raw, Ryder defeated Chris Jericho (after interference from A.J. Styles), but was attacked by Jericho post-match. The WrestleMania 32 ladder match featured Ryder diving from on top of a ladder with an elbow drop onto the Miz. Later in the match, Ryder capitalized on Miz's premature celebrations to push him off the ladder and capture his first Intercontinental Championship. Post-match, Ryder's father joined Ryder in celebrating in the ring. He lost the title to The Miz the following night on Raw, after a distraction from Miz's wife Maryse as she attacked Ryder's father. Three days later on SmackDown, Ryder received a rematch, where Maryse helped Miz to retain. On May 2 episode of Raw, Ryder competed in a Battle Royal to determinate the No.1 Contender for the United States Championship, where he was one of the last two wrestlers in the ring, alongside with Rusev, who won the match.
On the July 4 episode of Raw, Ryder competed in the main event, where he was part of "Team USA", consisted of himself, Big Show, Kane, Apollo Crews, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger and The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley) and they faced off "Team Multinational Alliance", which consisted of Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio and The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara), where Ryder and Big Show were the sole survivors. That same week on SmackDown, Ryder defeated Sheamus in a singles match. After the match, Ryder challenged Rusev for the United States Championship. The following week on Raw, after Ryder's loss to Sheamus, Rusev attacked him and accepted his challenge, and a match was set up at the Battleground pay-per-view, where Ryder was defeated after submitting to the Accolade. After the match, with Rusev continuing to beat down Ryder, Ryder's former tag team partner Mojo Rawley would make the save thus reforming the Hype Bros tag team. On the July 26 episode of SmackDown Live, Ryder was part of a 14-man battle royal to determinate the final entrant in the six-pack challenge later that night (which would determinate the #1 contender for the WWE World Championship), where he lasted until the final three, until he was eliminated by Kane, who in turn was eliminated by the eventual winner, Apollo Crews. On August 21 at the SummerSlam pre-show, The Hype Bros teamed with The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) and American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable) to face The Vaudevillains (Aiden English and Simon Gotch), Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango), and The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) in a 12-man tag team match, where Ryder's team was victorious. The Hype Bros later participated in a 8-team tournament to crown the inaugural WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions, where The Hype Bros defeated The Vaudevillains in the first round, before losing to Heath Slater and Rhyno in the semi-finals, removing them from the tournament. However, after American Alpha were removed from the tournament after being attacked by The Usos after defeating them that same night, it was announced that The Hype Bros would face The Usos at the Backlash pay-per-view to determine who would face Slater and Rhyno in the finals, but The Hype Bros would go on to lose the match. On the following edition of SmackDown, The Hype Bros were defeated by The Usos in a rematch. On the October 25 episode of SmackDown, The Hype Bros defeated The Ascension to qualify as part of Team SmackDown for the 10–on–10 Survivor Series Tag Team Elimination match at Survivor Series on November 20, 2016, in which Team SmackDown Live were defeated by Team Raw. On December 4 at the TLC: Tables Ladders and Chairs pre-show, The Hype Bros teamed with American Alpha and Apollo Crews to face The Ascension, The Vaudevillains and Curt Hawkins in a ten-man tag team match, where The Hype Bros, American Alpha and Crews were victorious.
On the December 13 episode of SmackDown, The Hype Bros competed in a tag-team battle royal to determinate the #1 contenders for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship. Despite Rawley being eliminated, Ryder would go on to win the battle royal for his team and become the #1 contenders. However, during the match, Ryder injured his knee and was seen using crutches backstage. It was later reported that Ryder would be out of action for 4–9 months.