Will Ryback Finally Emerge As The WWE’s New Big Man?

May 28, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Has the WWE replanted the seed that will finally see the Ryback experiment come to fruition? After a stellar performance at the Payback pay-per-view on Sunday night, the “Big Guy” may have finally gotten over with the fans as a wrestler who should be taken seriously – as a contender and not an over-sized pretender.

All it took was a couple of years of seasoning and a big push from Bray Wyatt to make the Ryback experience seem like it will finally work in the WWE – a proposition that Vince McMahon hoped for a couple of years ago when CM Punk was the ruler of wrestling’s free world.

We all know Vince McMahon’s philosophy of what is bigger is better for the business. That is why Hulk Hogan stayed on top of the WWF/E food chain for so long. That is why it took some convincing that wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero and CM Punk could carry the promotion despite their size and stature.

When McMahon saw Ryback, a repackaged former member of Nexus, he saw dollar signs. Feed McMahon More!

In reality, the experiment is beginning to pay off and Sunday night, we saw the fruits of everyone’s labor in what can only be described as Ryan Reeves’ best outing yet in a pay-per-view.

Yes, Bray Wyatt had something to do with that. In this case, it is the kind of feud that Ryback needs – a prolonged program that can make him the superstar the company and fans have wanted him to be. All too often, wrestlers work a few matches, stretch a feud into a pay-per-view and are done and move on. Wyatt has been involved in many solid feuds, most notably with Undertaker and John Cena. I thought the Ryback angle was more of a demotion, but this was created in a way to show how Wyatt’s character and his ability to carry a wrestler has been best used.

This time, the WWE struck gold with Ryback – FINALLY.

There have been other big men in professional wrestling who have struck quickly and have been successful. Batista and Goldberg come to mind. Both had solid title runs in their careers. Ryback isn’t there yet. And if I can draw the comparison, the WWE did its best to push the Ryback proposition down the throats of the WWE fans much like they have done lately with Roman Reigns. Fans are adjusting to Reigns as a wrestler who has been on the grand stage and isn’t quite ready yet. The same can be said for Ryback.

But both will be there in a short amount of time.

Now that we have been teased with his fluidity in the ring, his ability to talk better on the mic and the expectation that he can hold his own in a program, the WWE better not be quick to rush Ryback into headline status. That might be harder now given that there isn’t a lot of room at the top. The mid card is exactly where he should stay for a while. Maybe challenge someone like King Barrett or take a run at Sheamus if he wins the Intercontinental Title at Elimination Chamber. But in the meantime, let him continue to work his program with Wyatt and see if the small amount of success leads to bigger things.

If everything continues to move forward and Ryback shows he can handle the bigger stage, then he can fulfill McMahon’s wish of the “bigger is better” prophesy. That means in the future, and only in the future can the WWE feed Ryback more and determine if it’s an appetite he can digest.

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Predicting The WWE 2015 Royal Rumble Winner – The Odds Are Out

January 15, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It is never to early to start making WWE Royal Rumble 2015 predictions. Let’s take a look at the big match, break it down Vegas style, and see who has the best chance of challenging for gold at WrestleMania 31!

I thought I’d have some fun and take a look at the chances that each top prospect has of winning the Royal Rumble using Vegas odds. Of course take these odds for what you will as I had Batista last year as the favorite with -200 odds and John Cena as the 2013 favorite with -6.25 odds, although to be fair I had 2012 winner Sheamus with 50 to 1 odds. This year is truly anyone’s guess at this point.

Of course things can and likely will change from now until the Rumble in terms of injuries, card placement, and even champions. We all think we know what the WWE has planned for the Rumble and WrestleMania, but what if we are all wrong? Let’s take a look and see what the match looks like on the Vegas sportsbooks.

Daniel Bryan – As of today all reports indicate that the Rumble winner is up in the air. If that is true, I have to think that Bryan has the edge. As long as he can get the Yes Movement to rev back up he should be right in the mix for top consideration. I think Seth Rollins being added to the main-event helps out the scenario as well. I love his chances!

Odds: Even

Roman Reigns – Reigns was the odds on favorite for months to win the Rumble. The plan since last year’s Rumble was for Reigns to win the Rumble and defeat Lesnar at Mania 31. Things may have changed. Reigns missed time and during that time off his momentum cooled off considerably. Reportedly WWE officials are concerned about recent reactions to Reigns at the live events. I also think the situation with Rollins being added to the main-event doesn’t help his chances. He is still a favorite but he is far from the lock he was a month ago.

Odds: 2 to 1

Randy Orton – Orton comes in with very high odds entering this year’s Rumble. It would seem that the WWE has a big push in store for Orton, who is set to return as a babyface and feud with Rollins. It is not inconceivable to see Rollins win the Rumble and face Orton at Mania. Would it be a disappointment? Yes it would and the crowd would hate it but that won’t stop the WWE from proceeding with what they think is best. Just take a look at last year’s Rumble if you don’t believe me.

Odds: 7 to 1

Sheamus – Sheamus is rumored to be a big surprise at this year’s Rumble. It seems as if the WWE suddenly gets a renewed interest in Sheamus around this time every year, only for that interest to cool off over the next several months. I don’t think a Mania match with Sheamus and Brock is out of the question, yet it is doubtful. However, as long as the big guy is in the mix he is always in consideration of a big spot at Mania.

Odds: 10 to 1

Dean Ambrose – I would have loved to see Ambrose win the Rumble and I still would. Unfortunately the WWE did a great job of capping any momentum he had a few months ago. Ambrose has been beaten and made to look quite foolish in recent weeks. Not exactly the way you want to see someone booked before the Rumble eh? I would have loved to see it and a few months ago when Reigns went out, I would have predicted it. Unfortunately creative got in their own way and screwed it up for everyone.

Odds: 15 to 1

Bray Wyatt – With rumors of Bray facing the Undertaker at WrestleMania, a Royal Rumble win seems unlikely. However, the company is obviously committed to him and what happens if Taker isn’t coming back? What happens if the WWE already knows this or they have different plans for Bray? They obviously like Bray and have big things planned and while I don’t think he is a real favorite to win the Rumble, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

Odds: 15 to 1

Dolph Ziggler – Dolph is an interesting guy because just when you think he is relegated to jobber-dom, you get the Survivor Series win. He is being pushed hard right now as part of this Team Cena vs. Authority storyline and while I think Dolph winning would blow the roof off of the building in Philadelphia, I’d be surprised if they went that far with the former intercontinental champion at this time.

Odds: 24 to 1

The Big Show – Show is always in the running because as much as I am bored with him as a performer, the company always keeps him in the mix. I think it’s highly doubtful they go with Show in the title picture at Mania but you honestly never know what this company is thinking. Do I think it happens? No, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me either.

Odds: 28 to 1

Ryback – The big guy is the final guy who I will give any consideration to winning the Rumble. Ryback is another guy like many above who has been the victim of the start-stop push so you never really know what they are thinking with him. He was reportedly under consideration for a huge push at the Survivor Series, only to see those plans change shortly before the show. You know Vince loves his muscle guys which always makes Ryback a favorite in a Royal Rumble match.

Odds 36 to 1

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CM Punk: A Drastically Different View of Things

January 05, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Something has been bugging me ever since I first heard the original CM Punk interview with Colt Cabana. After reading so many comments and columns praising the CM Punk interview, I decided to listen to it again but this time I got a completely different impression from the interview, something I could never have gotten if I didn’t have a complete neutral point of view. Everything I was hearing from different websites and people really influenced my decision yet the only opinion that really matters to me is my own which mow happens to be drastically different than many others.

CM Punk is a jerk, and that’s putting it nicely in my opinion! While I do fully agree with some of the things he said like Vince McMahon being an “out of touch old man”, I think the way he bashed some of the people in the interview is wrong. For instance, the way Punk talked about Ryback came off as ignorant to me. I completely disagree with Punk’s statement that Ryback took a few years off his life.

How can you say that in a business like this? Ryback didn’t take a few years off your life, professional wrestling did. While I understand Punk’s frustration, you can’t go off on the man now if you didn’t do so earlier. I like to use the example of a wrestler names Droz/Puke, he got paralyzed when D Lo Brown botched a move after slipping on soda (or what not) that was thrown in the ring yet he doesn’t hold a grudge against D Lo, it’s the same with Ryback…accidents do happen but that’s what you have to deal with in the wrestling business not to mention the fact that Punk isn’t even close to being paralyzed.

While his medical stories about Dr Chris Amann certainly do seem compelling, there is simply no way of knowing what really went on between the two. Obviously both sides will have vastly different stories and analysis on the event and there no way of knowing what happened. Is it really unheard of that CM Punk possibly lying, now don’t twist my words around and say that I am calling Punk out for lying but, hey, we’re all humans and we’re all capable of it. While CM Punk certainly did have some medical issues, nobody knows what happened between the two and you can’t really take Punk’s word for it without hearing Dr Amann’s side of the story which unfortunately, without a doubt, won’t be revealed for a long long time.

Finally, when it comes to Punk’s interaction with the fans, I found it inexcusably harsh. When responding to a fans comment that stated that the fan bought his house for him, Punk responded “F*** you, I bought my own house.” Am I the only one who sees something wrong with that response? This is a big FU to the fans, literally! Not only is this highly disrespectful, he may also be responding to a good point.

Where would CM Punk be without his fans, in fact he wouldn’t even be CM Punk, he would just be plain old Phil Brooks. Now it’s not right to say that the fan personally bought his house for him, but it’s even worse to swear at the people who made you famous. Also when Punk mentioned that he should have made way more money for what he did, I find that as being a big slap in the face to Indy wrestlers.

There are thousands of Indy wrestlers in the US aspiring to be in the WWE that don’t make nearly as much money as you do, yet it feels like he just blows it off while counting his millions. Yes, I understand that he was an Indy wrestler for a long time in companies such as ROH but that doesn’t mean you have to go out and bag on the people less successful than you are!

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Ryback Responds to CM Punk

December 22, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s been a tough few weeks for Ryback. CM Punk singled the WWE star out, publicly ripping Ryback for being dangerous in the ring among other things. Ryback has finally responded and according to the Big Guy, none of what Punk said was true.

These CM Punk interviews are the gifts that keep on giving to bloggers. Punk has dropped several pipe bombs as of late but no single individual absorbed as much shrapnel as Ryback. Punk went out of his way to rip Ryback apart during his now legendary interview on the Art of Wrestling where he accused Ryback of being so careless in the ring, that wrestling Ryback took 20 years off of his career.

“That took 20 years off my [expletive] life,” Punk says of having to work with Ryback, whom he basically calls unqualified to wrestle in the WWE ring. “There was one time he kicked me in the stomach as hard as he could and he broke my ribs, right at the tail end. I never got an apology for that. A real piece of work, that guy.”

Punk also went on to recount a confrontation he had with Ryback after Ryback dropped him on a table and according to Punk, carelessly injured him in the process.

“First night out, he’s supposed to gorilla press me through a table…f*cking misses the table. Dumps me on the fucking concrete ground. Tilts my f*cking pelvis. F*cks me up for weeks. I walk up to him and go, ‘You can’t tell me you didn’t do that on purpose because you’ve done it so many times now. You’re either dumb as f*ck and you suck or you did it on purpose.’ And he was like, ‘I’m dumb as fuck. I’m sorry.’”

I called bullsh*t on that story the second I heard it. I have no doubt that Punk got hurt because if you watch the spot, it isn’t pretty. What I have highly doubted is that the dialogue between Punk and Ryback went down as Punk described. Guess what? According to Ryback, it didn’t.

Ryback was a guest on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast recently and was asked about Punk’s comments. Ryback took the high road yet clearly the big man is upset about Punk’s recollection of their matches and confrontations. While Ryback takes full responsibility for the spot, he claims that the meeting between he and Punk after the match went much differently.

Ryback said that he felt horrible about the spot. He said that he came up to Punk after the match in the locker room to apologize. Punk told him, “I’m fine”. That was it according to Ryback. The confrontation that Punk claims went down is fiction according to Ryback. Ryback went on to sum the whole experience up.

“I went and heard part of it (the interview). Punk was always good to me when he was here and I felt I was good to him. He was never like that to my face and I felt we always had good matches for the most part on the live events. To leave and say the things he said, I try not to take anything personal anymore. So whatever he’s going through, if he feels the need to say that, I can tell you it’s not true. It’s one of those things, it’s like, come on man. I don’t understand if it’s a personal thing with me. I don’t know but I have no ill feeling towards the guy, I wish him the best.”

Ryback also went on to tell Jericho that if he was as careless as Punk claims he is, that he wouldn’t have a job. Jericho has worked with Ryback a number of times and defended the big man. Jericho agreed and said that if Ryback was that dangerous in the ring, he’d be gone. They both have valid points…see Ken Kennedy for more.

All of this has to make you wonder why Punk went out of his way to say what he said about Ryback and yet criticized nobody else. The dig about “steroid guy” also seems a bit tasteless as well. The only explanation I can think of is that Punk had so many concussions that he doesn’t remember half of what he thinks he remembers. The other explanation is that he is trying to come off as some kind of tough guy before jumping into the UFC.

I do know this. Ryback sounded very sincere and a lot more professional in his response than Punk. I’d highly recommend checking out the entire interview with Jericho, which paints a much different picture of Ryback than I had prior to listening. Check it out for free over at Talk is Jericho.

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WWE Fallout Continues From CM Punk Interview

December 01, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It has been a few days since CM Punk laid down his biggest pipe bomb interview yet. Punk finally opened up about his WWE exit, leaving a lot of shrapnel in behind and the WWE Universe is firing back.

Punk made a lot of accusations towards the company, members of the office, company staff, and some former colleagues. Many have responded, some stronger than others. The first one to stand up and shoot back was Ryback who was none too happy with Punk’s comments.

Outside of the office, nobody probably got hit harder than Ryback. Punk blasted Reeves for being dumb, reckless, and made accusations about steroids. For whatever reason, Punk singled Ryback out and cut a scathing promo on him. Why Ryback and nobody else? Who knows, but here is what Punk said.

“I go up to Ryan [Ryback’s real name] and I go, ‘Hey man, clean slate. Let’s f*cking kill this. Let’s fucking show them that you’re better than they think you are. Let’s show them I’m better than they think I am and let’s turn this mid-card shit into a f*cking main event,” said Punk.

Imitating Ryback’s voice, “‘Yeah, I’m really excited, blah, blah, blah.’”

Punk recalls, “First night out, Gorilla Press through a table…f*cking misses the table. Dumps me on the concrete f*cking ground. Tilts my f*cking pelvis, f*cks me up for weeks.”

Punk later asks Ryback if he hurt him on purpose or if he’s “dumb as f*ck.”

He continues to Cabana, “I’m compensating because my knee is still f*cked, both my knees, you know what I mean? The one I just had surgery on six months ago and the one that was f*cking torn up and I refused to have surgery on. I just wanted to rehab it, which I did. And now it’s at the point where I walk up to him and I go, ‘You can’t tell me you didn’t do that on purpose because you’ve done it so many times now. You either tell me right now you’re dumb as f*ck and you suck, or you did it on purpose. And he was like, ‘I’m dumb as f*ck. I’m sorry.’”

Punk says, “At that point, there was nothing I could do. In my mind it was like, ‘Great. F*ck, there’s nothing I can do.’”

Ryback is hot happy and responded to these comments on Twitter. Ryback first tweeted a series of tweets in response, which have now been deleted. Here is what he originally tweeted before they got deleted.

For the record if I quit for being fragile and insecure I would make up excuses too. Things didn’t go my way for a long time and I kept – @Ryback22 November 28, 2014

Going day in and out. Slander is a powerful thing and to state complete made up nonsense for no reason shows his insecurities. I will – @Ryback22 November 28, 2014

Continue to bust my ass study matches every chance I get, cut promos when driving and push myself for hours on end even when hurt. Thank you – @Ryback22 November 28, 2014

Ryback deleted these tweets and later posted a more succinct tweet that reads as if it was written from a publicist as opposed to Ryback.

“Last message on this. I will tell the truth about @CMPunk comments in due time. Not once did he ever confront me. Let’s all move on. Thank u” –

I watched the spot back that Punk refers to in the interview and Ryback clearly slams Punk away from the table. I will admit that it seems like a really dumb mistake when you watch the spot back. That said, I am highly skeptical that Punk’s recollection of the confrontation went down as he said did. Punk may be a hot head and he certainly had every right to be upset, but I can’t imagine him speaking to Ryback that way without it turning into some kind of confrontation. Notice that Ryback doesn’t deny the accident, he just denies the confrontation.

Another strong word used in the earlier tweets was “slander.” I would presume that the slander would come from Punk calling him “steroid guy.” I can’t ever imagine a legal case coming out of this but it was probably a little unfair of Punk to single out Ryback by those accusations.

Next up to respond was the WWE. Punk blasted the company for what he called a “bullsh*t” concussion test and made some very heavy accusations leveled against the company doctor and the attitude of the company when it comes to injuries.

“I got a concussion in the Royal Rumble. It’s pretty god d*** obvious. I knew I had a concussion. Everyone knew I had a concussion. And they were like we want you to take this test and I said your test is bull***. I took the test while texting you [Colt Cabana] and listening to my headphones and I “passed” with flying colors. But then they were like we want you to go to the ring and run the ropes. And I was like but I just passed your test and they were like yeah, but we still think you have a concussion. I was like so your test is worthless. I’m not going out in the f****** ring like a two-week rookie to run the ropes in front of everybody. Let’s just call it [a concussion] now.

“I remember when I was supposed to go back to Birmingham and get cleared before I came back to wrestle from my elbow. One day I was just at TV and it was the same thing … I’ll probably just cut a promo and then Michael Hayes comes up to me and goes, “Alright, you’re working so and so,” and I was like no I’m not. I just got this laser eye surgery and I don’t want anyone f****** up my eyes. And he’s like you really should have told somebody, and I was like told them what … my elbow! And he goes no, I just checked and they said you’re cleared. I was like I haven’t even gone to Birmingham to see Dr. [James] Andrews yet, what do you mean I’m cleared? I talked to Dr. [Chris] Amann and Dr. Amann was like I called him [Dr. Andrews] and I told him how you were and he said OK and he cleared you. I was like what kind of witch doctory bull**** is that? Like I’m going to go see him before I f****** wrestle. Book that s***, I’m not wrestling tonight.”

Maybe more disturbing than any of his allegations was one against the doctor who misdiagnosed a growth on his back. He wound up going to an outside doctor who diagnosed his growth as a full-blown MRSA infection, which could have killed him. The WWE sent a brief response to Yahoo Sports in response to Punk’s allegations against the company and their health standards.

“WWE takes the health and wellness of its talent very seriously and has a comprehensive Talent Wellness Program that is led by one of the most well-respected physicians in the country, Dr. Joseph Maroon.”

Road Dogg is a WWE agent and close friends with Triple H. He is probably the closest to the office who you will hear or read comment on Punk right now. Dogg was asked on Twitter about it. Dogg said there are two sides to every story. However, he says that we probably shouldn’t hold our breath waiting to hear more about it from the company.

“The way everyone is reacting, I don’t believe it’s in the WWE’s best interest to give one.” –

Dogg also doesn’t believe the story about Punk getting his release on his wedding day. Dogg tweeted that if his wedding was a secret, how would anyone know? That was probably a misinformed tweet as I am sure AJ as a WWE employee gave plenty of notice in order to make sure she was not booked on her wedding day. Dogg does also say that talent get to the doctor of their choice which also calls into dispute some of Punk’s frustrations with medical.

Some other notes making their way to the Internet. One report indicates that Triple H and Stephanie are downright furious with Punk where Vince really isn’t paying much attention to Punk’s comments. Colt Cabana is allegedly blacklisted from the WWE for his part in this. Bryan Alvarez on his podcast reports that most of the locker room is happy that Punk said what he said, specifically about pay and salaries. Even those that don’t like Punk are happy he said what he said.

I think it is fair to say that we haven’t heard the last of this interview. I would expect more response from the WWE in some form whether it is a leak or a statement. Punk leveled some very heavy accusations against the company in regards to medical. There is potential here for a bigger story and we’ll know shortly how big of an explosion the pipe bomb left or whether it just fizzles out.

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Ryback Revisited: Will WWE’s Big Guy Make it This Time?

October 31, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Ryback made his comeback to WWE on the October 27 edition of Monday Night Raw. The Big Guy made his surprising return to the company against Bo Dallas, who he promptly squashed and left for dead. Bray Wyatt’s baby brother didn’t stand a chance and as Ryback stood there flexing over him, it occurred to me; he’s over.

Wow. Just like that, huh? Well, isn’t that something? Isn’t it something that the guy so many fans wrote off as just a cheap Goldberg clone, a failed WWE experiment, was actually getting a pop when the last time they saw him, he was a heel?

Oh and to make matters even more interesting; no one chanted Goldberg’s name this time. So what happened? What made the same crowd that booed and hissed Ryback now decide that he was worth their time? Honestly, I don’t know and I don’t much care.

The only thing I care about is that Ryback has another chance and this time WWE needs to get it right. This guy can be a star; there is no doubt about that. Despite how many fans didn’t like him the first time around, I don’t know of anyone that didn’t feel he was not capable of getting to the top. He has what they want and this time they need to want it.

Here’s the thing. I am a CM Punk guy. I am also a Daniel Bryan guy, a Dean Ambrose guy and a Cesaro guy. I believe that WWE is at its finest when the best workers are on display. I’m old school and for me, there is nothing better than a straight up pro wrestling match.

I love the back and forth, the give and take, that only the best workers can provide. Any schmuck can learn to run the ropes and take a few bumps but to do it convincingly while keeping the fans interested from opening bell to ending bell is something else altogether. Only an artist can do that and all of the men listed are responsible for some very impressive works indeed.

But, and you knew there was a but, there’s nothing like the big guys. As much as I respect the technicians that can tell a story with holds and counters, I can also appreciate the smash mouth action that only a super heavyweight can provide. Mark Henry, Big Show, Luke Harper and Erik Rowan, no one can bring the pain like these guys can and let’s face it; it’s just not pro wrestling without the monsters.

And the fact is that WWE loves the monsters, they always have. At one time, Vince McMahon’s company was littered with them as WWE was essentially the land of giants. Andre, Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, The Barbarian, King Kong Bundy, the list goes on and on. At one time, this is how WWE did business and how Vince wanted his product to look.

The bigger the better, that was the train of thought. And other companies around WWE followed suit. Pro wrestling was all about the larger than life characters that could bench press minivans and those are the guys that sold tickets.

No one cared about the smaller guys and really, why should they? It was hard enough for the casual viewer to buy into the reality of the business, if all a company featured was cruiserweights, it was even harder. Believing that the physicality and potentially deadly moves were being inflicted with utter malice was much easier if it happened with a cast of 7 foot 300 pound guys.

Those guys could shake it off a lot easier, they seemed built to take the damage, and they made it more real. But the problem was that a good number of those super heavyweights attained their physiques through chemical means. While a lot of fans didn’t really care, a lot of people outside the business did and truth be told, things had to change.

So Vince let the cat out of the bag and decided to tell the world that the industry was all a sham. When that happened, he incurred the wrath of every promoter on the face of the planet as well as many fans that had their fictional realities shattered before them. But as much as he was hated for the move, the fact is it had to be done.

By shifting the focus from the comic book style storylines onto the sheer athleticism of the talents involved, Vince opened the door for more guys to advance and to get their names out there. Suddenly, pro wrestling was less about football players with no pads smashing each other to pieces and more about dynamic technicians creating an art form.

That’s why Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and a host of others were able to ascend the ladder and grab that brass ring. The fans of 2014 are not the fans of 1984 and that’s just how it is. So does that means there’s no room for a guy like Ryback?

Absolutely not. Just because he’s built like Goldberg does not mean he is Goldberg. And just because he’s not Seth Rollins in the ring does not mean he cannot entertain. Ryback endured two years of chants directed at a former star and hate that was unfounded because at the end of the day, no one wanted to give him a chance.

He took it all on the chin, he kept his head down and he kept working. He did the heel turn and watched helplessly as he was fed to John Cena. He stood by Paul Heyman’s side and was never given a real shot at moving up. He was put in a tag team alongside Curtis Axel and did everything he could to get over, only to never win the tag team championships.

Ryback has been near the mountaintop, got pushed back down and then was given a plate of garbage as a consolation prize. Now he’s back and this time, he deserves a chance to make it big. Will he be the megastar that John Cena is? Maybe not. Will he rally the fans to his cause like Daniel Bryan did? Who knows? At the end of the day, Ryback may be nothing more than just a solid mid-card guy and nothing more.

But he needs the opportunity to at least try. The company needs to get behind him and two years from now, if he’s right back where he started once again, then I will be the first one to admit that he just didn’t have it. In the meantime, I’m anxious to see what happens with Ryback. Here’s to second chances.

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Ryback Ruled: The WWE Rise and Fall of Ryback

August 11, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

If you have ever been a fan of the WWE, or at least watched some of the product, it should be no secret to you that the WWE loves to ‘shotgun’ debuting wrestlers to the top. Some debut by compiling a large undefeated streak, while others win mid-card championships weeks, or even days into their career.

Either way, it seems like every year, the ‘machine’ that is WWE brings in these new Superstars and pushes them up, only for them to be pulled back down just as quickly. Is this making sense? Does this bring back any memories? Not sure? Do the names Brodus Clay, Fandango or the infamous Lord Tensai ring a bell? Well, do you remember when Ryback debuted on the main roster? He is a perfect example of a WWE Superstar who was pushed to the moon, only to soon after crash land back on Earth. Let me refresh your memory.

There was a time not too long ago when Ryback was destroying everyone in sight. Ryback debuted right after Wrestlemania 28 and went full force from the moment he entered a WWE ring. For the first few months of his run, he was defeating jobber after jobber. On some occasions he would defeat two, or even three competitors in handicap matches. Simply put, Ryback was a beast; his finisher was different and his intensity was captivating. Yes, he may have looked awkward in RVD’s attire and he may have even been a ‘poor mans’ Goldberg, nevertheless, he was making it work. Ryback embodied the exact mold that ‘we’ believe Vince McMahon loves the most; he had ‘the look,’ he was strong and he was ‘larger than life.’ He seemed poised to move up the card and become a top babyface in the company. After demolishing an endless list of no-name local jobbers that they put on his plate, he began to move up the ranks.

Ryback ran through the low-card and mid-card with ease, defeating both the IC Champ The Miz in a non-title match as well as the IWC Champ Dolph Ziggler. As months went by, he continued to garner a respectable fan-following, as they would chant “Feed Me More” in unison during his matches. Feed him more the WWE did. Seven months into his run, the still undefeated Ryback was given the ‘rub’ from John Cena.

Cena gave up a chance to face CM Punk for the WWE Title so that Ryback would get an opportunity at the championship. It seemed like Ryback was being positioned to become a ‘top guy.’ He was being booked as an unstoppable force, he had never faced a true challenge in any of his matches; with his physique, intensity and the dominance in which he displayed in all of his matches, he felt unbeatable. Though he received the championship match, he got screwed out of the title by Brad Maddox and lost 2 other title matches due to interference from the Shield. Ryback went on to feud with the Shield, continuing to be, what one could consider the number two or three babyface in the WWE.

At Wrestlemania 29, 371 days since his debut, Ryback was pinned cleanly in a singles match for the first time against Mark Henry. The result of this match was was shocking, most expected the WWE to use the victory over Henry at Wrestlemania as a way to continue pushing Ryback as a strong babyface. Though the result was shocking, it was not as shocking as what Ryback did next. The next night he received the largest pop of his career when he turned heel and attacked John Cena. He failed to win the title in 2 matches against Cena. He then went on to join forces with Paul Heyman to feud with CM Punk another time, thus entering the road that would take him straight down the card. Ryback lost to CM Punk and was eventually relegated to teaming up with the other non-successful Paul Heyman guy Curtis Axel, forming Rybaxel.

This marked the beginning of a new Ryback. He was still strong, intense and had a killer physique, but his legitimacy took a massive hit. He may have had a year long streak of not being pinned cleanly, but he rarely won matches against formidable foes; Ryback couldn’t win ‘the big one,’ he was WWE’s version of Tony Romo. Therefore, he looks like he could beat anyone at anytime, but at the end of the day, it is hard to view him as a viable threat to win any championship because he is unproven. Ryback has since then entered into the category of Superstar that is currently occupied by wrestlers such as Big Show and Kane. He looks like he could/should beat anyone, but you don’t expect him to win the match that he is in, he is being used as ‘enhancement talent.’ His tag team with Axel is not the worst, but it is definitely not in the top tier of the division.

Ryback was once a dangerous threat to win the WWE Title. He had sold out arenas chanting “Feed Me More” and “Ryback Rules.” He was once arguably the number two babyface in the company. He struck fear in the souls of both John Cena and CM Punk. Now, he is stuck in the low to mid-card of the tag team division. Ryback was pushed to the top way too quickly, he did not have the ‘miles’ under him to keep his spot.

Even still, the character of Ryback has great potential and I believe that if booked well and with slow enough build, he could once again be near the top. There have been many WWE Superstars like Ryback who debuted on fire, but were quickly cooled off. Brodus Clay, Fandango and Ryback are just a few examples. Think about those who are in that position right now. Think about the ‘new kids on the block’ such as Bo Dallas, Paige and Rusev. What will become of them? Will they still be successful in a year? Will they make it to the top of the card? Will we remember them? Will they last? Only time will tell.

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The Atrocious WWE Booking Of Ryback

November 15, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE has done it again. WWE creative has successfully stalled any momentum one of their rising stars effectively killing off his potential. The booking of Ryback has been a disgrace and Vince McMahon should be ashamed of himself.

Let me make this perfectly clear. I am hardly a Ryback fan. He is not what you would call my cup of tea as far as a pro wrestler goes. However I can respect the business he brings to the company and at the end of the day this is a business. So please understand this isn’t a case of a Ryback fan whining about his favorite wrestler’s push. I am however a fan of good booking.

I wrote a blog last year when Ryback was shot to the top due to John Cena’s injury defending the idea that the WWE put him over CM Punk for the WWE championship. I understood that the company had plans on the table for a Punk vs. Rock program and that Ryback wasn’t even supposed to be there. However, I also saw that the WWE caught lightning in a bottle, by luck mind you with Ryback, and the limited opportunity to strike was there.

They didn’t listen. The Ryback vs. Punk program put a halt to Ryback’s momentum and squashed all of the momentum they had to make a rising star. I blogged at the time that the WWE had consistently taken guys with momentum and did everything in their power to squash that upswing and make sure fans knew that it was John Cena and everyone else. The only reason Ryback was hot was because they hadn’t beaten him yet. Well they did and he was done a few months later.

Here we are several months later and the Ryback has turned heel. Ryback had a ton of momentum once again going into his program with John Cena for the WWE championship. I understood taking the WWE title off of Cena so quickly after he won it probably wasn’t ideal. Yet again the WWE were handed an opportunity where Ryback was hot and needed to continue his momentum. Cena (and Punk last year) could absorb a loss and be fine later on. Ryback could not. Ryback needed to win the WWE title to cement himself as a top guy and continue the ascension.

Again the company didn’t listen and he was done once the program ended. Somehow or another he got a third opportunity as part of the Paul Heyman-CM Punk program. This was it! There was not going to be any more chances for Ryback to get hot. He needed to go over Punk convincingly and jump back into the WWE title picture. The storyline would have been perfect going into the Rumble. Ryback would have been the favorite and put someone else over by not winning, yet sustaining his momentum going into WrestleMania and beyond.

Instead we got two straight matches with Ryback on the losing end against CM Punk. That was Ryback’s third strike and he is definitely out. Now the company is teasing some kind of a Ryback babyface turn. Nobody could ever convince me that this was the longterm plan for Ryback. They are scrambling here and unfortunately no matter who he turns on or feuds with he will never get that same momentum back he had those three previous runs. It’s over!

It isn’t just about Ryback, although he is a great example. You could easily take Ryback’s name out of the title and replace it with Bryan’s. Daniel Bryan was a failure as a top guy according to the numbers. He didn’t draw and fans just weren’t buying him as a top guy. That could have easily been fixed because we all know the momentum was there to change it. What do they do instead? They put Randy Orton over on him, never give him his revenge, and immediately send him into a tag team match against the Wyatts. Job well done!

This leads me to the bigger picture here. The WWE booking has been for a lack of a better word atrocious when it comes to getting new guys over. Vince McMahon wants to blame creative (or Daniel Bryan) for recent low buyrates. How are guys like Bryan, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow, and even Punk successfully draw when they are elevated under this formula? Nobody will ever succeed under this booking. The only reason Ryback had a chance was his streak and you best believe that you won’t be seeing any lengthy streaks under this booking regime.

People like to call Vince McMahon a genius. People like to credit Triple H for understanding pro wrestling when it comes to booking. You better believe that Triple H would be working somewhere else today if he was booked like this in the early part of the century. You better believe that Vince McMahon would not be remotely close to the tycoon he is today if he booked Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, or The Rock like this when they got hot. I can’t rationalize any way that this “even” booking helps anyone when it comes to business. The numbers don’t lie and all you have to do is look at the buyrates to confirm this.

The WWE needs a complete overhaul to its booking philosophy. They aren’t going to go out of business but they are completely screwed if something ever happened to John Cena or he just decides one day that he is done. Nobody on the current roster has been booked well enough to be positioned as the top guy in the company. Just the idea that these people can’t see that is probably the scariest revelation of all.

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Ryback and the Case of the Has-Been Super Heel

November 15, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

If the WWE is going back to its roots and making the “heavyweight” the focus of the WWE title run, then can I ask what in the blue hell the company is going to do with Ryback?

After Paul Heyman came out and essentially say goodbye to the “big nothing” not only have I been wondering what Heyman’s next move is going to be, I cannot help but think of Ryan Reeves and what will eventually become of him and his character.

As it is right now, it seems the WWE is trying to make short work of him in the ring, that the big man is not safe to work a long program with other wrestlers and has injured top stars in the past because he is not a “Kane-like” worker in the run.

The fact the WWE had to push the big man along faster than maybe they would have like because of injuries to other wrestlers (John Cena) speaks volumes about how the company cares for its performers and characters. Ryback is one of those characters we may always wonder, “What could have been.” He is not anything like Goldberg and is not even close to mirroring someone like Batista. He is actually more like Mason Ryan than he is a top superstar.

Ryback’s chasing titles was more out of necessity than anything else.

Does this mean that Ryback will never be a top performer in the WWE or that his ship has sailed? I do not have the answer for that. What I do think is when he was challenging wrestlers like Antonio Cesaro, which I thought was a great feud, the WWE should have put the United States strap on him and helped him build on his legend.

But once again it was obvious that “Vince was being Vince” and the idea of a big, strong, muscular meaty guy mean dollar signs to the owner of the company. Right to the top without “Titan Training.”

It may turn out that Ryback becomes a good mid card wrestler in time. But right now he and Ahmed Johnson are about neck and neck.

Since the WWE has stated in other online statements it wishes to go back to the way of the Big Man, shouldn’t Ryback be included in this kind of rebirth? Isn’t sending him to the mid card a way of humiliation – like a kid being embarrassed on the playground?

And while we are on that subject, here is some food for thought…

The WWE recent has made huge waves about giving Roman Reigns a huge push toward a singles title. He fits the mold of the big man, has a look that is sick and is kin to The Rock. He is a no-brainer in terms of star power, but there is one thing he does not have going for him.

Reigns may be as green as Ryback in terms of experience and when he is a pack like he is with The Shield, he looks dynamite. How will he be with a role on his own? Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins should have been given more of a push then Reigns. Ambrose has the United States Title around his waist and is doing nothing with it. Rollins could be better than both of them when it is all said and done.

Oh, sorry, went off on a tangent there. I know my thoughts seem to roam when they want to. Ryback could still be a huge star, but here is what I think should happen. Send him back to NXT.

Repackage him. Train his some more and most of all, give him a new gimmick. If it does not work, then the company can say it tried. But if it does work, then this could be one of the better comeback stories the WWE has seen in some time.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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WWE WrestleMania 30 Match Rumors Heat Up

September 30, 2013 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It is always fun to follow rumors regarding The Undertaker and his WrestleMania opponents. Several options have been rumored for the Dead Man’s WrestleMania 30 match but the latest rumor is one that is raising a lot of eye brows.

Bryan Alvarez reports in the latest edition of Figure Four Weekly that there is serious consideration right now for a Ryback vs. The Undertaker match in New Orleans. What is even more surprising about this rumor is that the idea would be for Ryback to end the streak. The latest news certainly has a lot of people talking on social media and most are in an uproar over the idea.

Right now, the company believes that Rock probably isn’t doing WrestleMania this year. All subject to change, of course. Undertaker hasn’t committed to working the show yet, but my gut tells me he almost certainly will. If he does, there is talk of doing Undertaker vs. Ryback. The story would be that Paul tried to get his guy (Punk at the time) to beat Undertaker last year and his guy failed, so this year he has a bigger, stronger guy to try to end the streak. I believe this is subject to Ryback getting over big. If not, the other idea is doing the Undertaker vs. Brock match that has been talked about for a while, with basically the same Heyman tie-in

According to report this all falls on The Rock. If The Rock winds up doing WrestleMania he’ll wrestle Brock Lesnar. If he doesn’t, the WWE will likely go with a Lesnar vs. Undertaker match. There is also the possibility of a Sting vs. Undertaker match. We talk about it every year but Sting’s contract will be up by then and he will be a free agent. It’s not likely but that is something that always has to be considered until Sting re-signs with TNA.

I don’t think for a second that we’ll see a Ryback vs. Undertaker match at WrestleMania. WrestleMania is a long time away and I can’t imagine Ryback sustaining any serious momentum until then. Ryback would have to run through CM Punk and another top babyface over the next few months to stay strong. I don’t see the Punk vs. Ryback feud ending with Punk putting Ryback over so what would be the point.

The WWE are enamored with Ryback’s look but let’s call a spade a spade here. He is terrible in the ring. He’s had some decent matches but overall I find him incredibly hard to watch. There has been a standard set with The Undertaker’s Mania matches and I don’t think he could fulfill it. He doesn’t have the star power that Sting has which would make up for that so I just don’t see it happening. It’s a fun idea to talk about now but come 2014 I don’t even think it’s a consideration.

I think at this point my money is on a Lesnar vs. Undertaker match regardless of The Rock. They could always do The Rock vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. The Undertaker vs. Lesnar is a match that has been talked about for awhile and makes the most sense. You can even do the same Paul Heyman storyline proposed for Ryback. Anything other than a Cena vs. Taker match doesn’t make much sense to me.

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