With “Survivor Series 2014” coming up soon and the main event of Team Cena vs. Team Authority being set up already, something has been lost in the shuffle: the return of the Big Guy, Ryback. The fans responded to his return and chanted along with him on FEED ME MORE, showing that there’s still potential to the character. Let’s look at where things went wrong for Ryback’s run in WWE and how he can get back to a higher level.
To begin with, let’s consider what we have with Ryback. The answer here is short because there isn’t a lot of versatility. In Ryback we have a bald guy without great promo skills who can put large men on his shoulders and march around the ring before dropping them. In other words, he’s a powerhouse who lets his muscles do all of his talking for him.
This brings us to an important point and the first reason why Ryback’s heel run and insane character failed. To explain this, let’s flash back to “Wrestlemania XIII” and the main event. Sid was defending his WWF Title against the Undertaker with Shawn Michaels on commentary. When Sid was dominating the match, Michaels said the following (paraphrased): “Sid doesn’t deviate much from his power game because that power takes him wherever he needs to go.”
That sums up Ryback in a nutshell: he’s a power guy and doesn’t need to do anything else to be successful. After being Skip Sheffield in the Nexus for awhile, he broke his ankle and was off TV for about a year and a half. When he came back, he was now called Ryback and just ran over people with power. He won a bunch of handicap matches against jobbers but didn’t really rise up the card.
Then one night on “Monday Night Raw”, CM Punk attacked Mick Foley backstage but stopped in his tracks. The camera panned over to see Ryback standing in front of Punk and snarling to end the show. Ryback became a replacement for John Cena, who was out with an injury, and fought Punk inside Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship. He had Punk beaten but referee Brad Maddox hit Ryback low and cost him the title. Then at “Survivor Series 2012”, Ryback had the title won again when the Shield debuted and laid him out.
The losses started to pile up after that with TLC losses to both Punk and the Shield. Ryback turned heel after losing to Mark Henry at “Wrestlemania XXIX” and started a feud with Cena. After he used his usual power stuff against Cena, he turned into a Paul Heyman guy for awhile (smart move as he doesn’t have great talking ability)…and then the wheels came off.
Ryback turned into a crazy man who would go on wild rants on Twitter and then delete them before most people had a chance to read them. He would go all over the place with his talking and stopped making any sense when he had to talk by himself. In the ring, Ryback became just another mid level power guy who wrestled a pretty basic style with most of the power moves gone.
So to recap: Ryback had to talk for himself and stopped using the moves that got him over to the level that made him a star while being stuck in a bad tag team with Curtis Axel. In other words, WWE took away everything that worked for Ryback and gave him the exact opposite. Is there any confusion as to why he fell apart so quickly now?
Now we flash forward to “Monday Night Raw” nine days ago when Ryback answered the open challenge from Bo Dallas. Ryback came out, shouted FEED ME MORE, and destroyed Dallas in about a minute and a half. It was back to the old style for Ryback and the idea worked like a charm. You would have thought it was 2012 all over again and Ryback looked like a big deal.
Now we’re heading towards “Survivor Series 2014” and while Ryback isn’t going to be the top dog in the company anytime soon, he could be a very temping pickup for either of the Survivor Series teams. In other words, he’s back to doing what he did before but with a chance to actually win something instead of everyone and their mother knowing that it was going to be the Rock winning the title from Punk.
Ryback isn’t going to be a guy that takes the company to a new level but there’s always going to be a spot for someone who just beats people up and throws them all over the place. He’s at his best when he’s throwing people on his shoulders and marching them around the ring or hitting them with a big clothesline. Just let him be the menacing brute and stop trying to make him into anything more than that.
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