WWE | Pro Wrestling

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

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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Tom Clark

Tom Clark can regularly be found on Camel Clutch Blog. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at https://tomclarksmainevent.libsyn.com/

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