WWE | Pro Wrestling

Ryback Ruled: The WWE Rise and Fall of Ryback

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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