WWE may not see it right now, but there is a chance the company could find great success with its mid card wrestlers if Triple H and Vince McMahon can stop fighting back and forth over whether Roman Reigns should turn heel once he captures the WWE World Title.
The golden opportunity lies in the idea that the current mid-card champions, Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio, along with Cesaro, and Rusev (when he returns from injury), represent some of the best talent the roster has right now. Sprinkle in a few other names like Dolph Ziggler and potentially Damien Sandow and this division within WWE becomes the focal point of must-see television. This also should include Ryback, who could still become something more than a yo-yo on the company string. Once thought to be a super-sized heavyweight who had a cool mantra (Feed Me More) and a look of a cyborg ready to squash everything in his path.
If Daniel Bryan makes a return to WWE at some point, he too might join the fray of an exciting new opportunity to capture fans and keep them in their seats and glued to the television.
Creatively, there have been plenty of balls dropped in this area. Too much concern for building a main event roster has negated the importance of the second tier wrestling star.
Ryback might be the most curious of the lot when it comes to wrestlers making an impact. The one-time Intercontinental Champion said recently on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s podcast that he thinks he can be the man to replace John Cena as the company’s new face. Not hardly, but I got a good laugh out of it, nonetheless.
“I told Vince this. I am here for the long haul. Like, I want to be my absolute best and my best is going to end up pretty damn good, at the end of this, but the key to that is staying healthy and longevity here. People are going to take themselves out, people get injured, and opportunities open up. And I’ve said from day one, I’ve told Vince this to his face, I am the guy that can replace John Cena, and I’m not John Cena, I’m Ryback. But I’m the guy that can do that and I can sell [tickets], but I need to be healthy and I need to be here every day for that to happen.”
If there were questions years ago by McMahon about whether or not Shawn Michaels could sell tickets and whether or not Daniel Bryan – with the “YES!” movement should be the new face of the company, then the idea of Ryback becoming the next big thing in WWE should be swept under the rug now. Cesaro, for all his accomplishments and given the fact he is the most talented performer on the roster, cannot catch a moving vehicle toward the main event level. While he is not as charismatic as the character Ryan Reeves portrays, he would still present a better option with the fans, who appreciate his skill set.
Two years ago, I wrote a blog on how the company had pushed Ryback too far, too soon. His in ring work was green, he was hurting wrestlers in the ring and he was being rushed to the top of the mountain because of John Cena’s triceps injury. What fans got was an epic lesson in how the company needed a star to replace the injured Superman and got nothing more than a cartoonish figure without a lot of substance.
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.
I’ll give Ryback credit – his work is better, his persona is more solid, and he gets over better with the fans. But he is just as far from being “the guy” in this company – especially when McMahon is hell bent on making sure Roman Reigns, who is just as exciting as Ryback on the microphone, carries his company’s belt around his waist.
If there was ever an opportunity for Reigns and Ryback to work a program with the WWE World Title on the line, fans would gladly pay the company to keep this from ever happening. Yes, I am dead serious.
Ryback is exactly what he is now – a solid mid card option for WWE fans. The middle of the roster right now is a lot like what the old NWA was 30 years ago. That’s not such a bad thing, but McMahon and his cronies do not see the potential because they are focusing on one area of programming and booking. Make Ryback a huge star within his means.
Make all these wrestlers huge stars within the middle section of this company and then build them toward the main event. It will help ratings, it will help programming. There is nothing more disappointing than rushing someone to super stardom and they cannot handle the stage. Reigns might be a prime example. Ryback already tried the main event circuit and it was quickly determined he wasn’t ready.
He’s not ready now, either. Leave him where he is and let’s see what happens.