Last August, I sat on the couch of a good buddy of mine to watch Summerslam. During the show, as you would imagine, we discussed wrestling at great length, mainly the present and future of the business. The topic of Ryback eventually came up and my friend made what I believed to be a bold statement: at some point down the road, Ryback would be “The Man” in WWE.
I quickly scoffed at the notion of this ever happening; a big time player for a small amount of time perhaps. Even though he was still mostly squashing local jobbers, it was clear the company was setting him up for much bigger and better things, but “The Man”? Big, strong muscleheads like him are a dime-a-dozen in wrestling and so many of these guys that WWE push end up going nowhere. Please
It is now many months later and although it still remains to be seen if he will ever reach the lofty heights from that debate last summer, I have certainly been proven wrong to a large extent. Ryback has main evented pay-per-views, been in matches with many major stars, and is currently entrenched in a feud with John Cena, the guy who for the past decade has been, well, “The Man.”
As you may have guessed by this article’s title, I have an issue with Ryback in the spotlight.
Listen, this is not me being a typical member of the Internet Wrestling Community (even the thought of being lumped in with the mindless, whiny IWC makes me shudder). And hey, if you enjoy Ryback or the role he is in now, then awesome…more power to you. But there are a few reasons why something doesn’t sit right when I see him on television.
First, and let me get my big point about Ryback out of the way now. Just the sight of him makes me cringe because he is exactly what people that don’t watch wrestling make fun of. Now, as a wrestling fan, it has been a long time since I’ve truly stopped caring about what others think of it; I understand people that don’t watch also don’t get it. However, when someone walks up to me and says, “That stuff is so stupid. It is nothing but big, dumb, juiced up morons,” as if we are still stuck in the ‘80s, and I try to defend the business by claiming otherwise, it is difficult to do anything but shrug my shoulders and lower my head in defeat while Ryback comes out, fitting the giant, idiot jock stereotype perfectly, all the while snorting and senselessly repeating three words over and over like a caveman. I know: who cares what others think? While that’s true, and we are going to enjoy wrestling regardless, as much as a guy like Steve Austin can make me feel cool for watching, seeing someone like Ryback can snap me right back out of it and make me feel like a dweeb.
Having said all that, the bottom line is that he just isn’t polished enough yet. Look, I think it is great that the creative team is pushing new stars like this; that’s not my gripe. Maybe he is as good as he’s ever going to be in the ring, but I would have liked to see him have a few more lengthy singles matches before getting in there with a guy like Cena.
More importantly, he really needs some more work on the mic before taking part in such a big feud. I wish later on last year and thus far in 2013 that WWE would have let him get some promo experience rather than just months of a three word catchphrase.
Case in point was this past Monday when they had the long promo that was clearly rehearsed and done over several takes. I’ll admit, I thought that the concept was great, it had an old school feel, and was very well thought out. Basically, the play that the coaches drew up was good, but the execution was lacking. Ryback wasn’t even terrible, but his inexperience in long speeches showed. It was difficult to take him seriously half the time because he doesn’t yet know how to control his facial expressions and keep from overacting while he speaks and prevent himself from snorting randomly between sentences. (Cut to a shot here of the IWC missing the point and responding: “way to contradict yourself by saying he is inexperienced and then complaining when WWE gives him a chance!!”) Again, he should have had months of experience talking by now, but everyone was more obsessed with getting “Feed Me More!” over, when they could have done both.
Lastly, I have to say something about his recent heel turn. I will admit one hundred percent that I am a major stickler for logic and consistency… I am a logic freak. And, yes, it is practically Heel 101 that the bad guy walks away from a fight with the good guy. But that’s for a thinking man’s heel. This guy runs roughshod through the entire roster for a year while looking for a fight at all costs, then stops on an absolute dime when he turns bad and avoids confrontation with Cena when the challenge is presented to him on Raw? It certainly was not the first time we’ve seen this, but it is still just as insulting. I thought him allowing The Shield to beat the WWE Champion down was well done and a nice, logical cap to the story they presented us earlier in the night. But turning tail and walking away from a fight when all he did for a year is look for one? They might as well have taped a giant sign to him that read, “I’m a bad guy, therefore I have to be a coward.”
No, I am not a Ryback guy. If his character is allowed to evolve, he is able to have more back-and-forth encounters, and improves on the mic, I wouldn’t mind being swayed, however. Perhaps this heel turn will do the trick because at the moment, he’s just not ready for the main event.
(The friend I spoke of earlier in this article is one Denny Lugz. You can listen weekly to him and co-host M2J break down WWE over at the Doing the Job podcast by clicking the link or subscribing on iTunes.)
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