Yes Ryback. And you can check your “mutant love child of Goldberg & Rob Van Dam” jokes at the door right now, Ryback is a most interesting case study right now. At first Ryback & his career path were a huge throwback to not only the Goldberg streak but to an even earlier time in the then WWF with his squash matches. Now though, Ryback is an altogether different animal. Angry, disaffected, driven. So fresh off his 1st PPV encounter with John Cena & just days off a promo in which he insinuated he’d be willing to murder every member of the audience, I want to have a look at “The Ryback” and where he’s going right, where he’s going wrong, and what’s ahead for the former Skip Sheffield.
Ryback looks like a pro wrestler, instead of an athlete. Huge, jacked, menacing & with a garish line of attire, There’s no mistaking Ryback for an MMA fighter upon first glance. That’s a huge boon to him, I know in this day and age the “inflated” physiques are passé and if Ryback is chemically enhanced, there are numerous health risks to consider. But it’s part of his “throwback” appeal. You could superimpose Ryback into a screenshot of late 80s/90s WWF and he wouldn’t look out of place. Although there he’d be one amongst many, now he stands out a mile, and like it or not, it’s those that stand out from the crowd that have a greater chance of connecting with the audience. I’m aware that Ryan Reeves is not master of his own destiny in WWE, but this appraisal is focused on Ryback the TV character, and he has been given this gimmick and so far I’m enjoying it.
Wisely, there has been a significant change to the Ryback in ring act since hopping the fence & becoming a heel. The dropping of “Feed me more” from his entrance theme and the removal of his posturing before delivering his big lariat dubbed “The Meathook” robs the crowd of something to chant along to. A great move, as if the crowd were allowed to chant along, Ryback would still be cheered, robbing him of any heel heat.
Areas of Opportunity
Not unlike myself, this one is simple. Ryback needs wins. Even before his heel turn Ryback found himself too many times in the loss column, almost in some twisted parody of Goldberg’s streak. A lot of these losses came as a result of shenanigans I’ll agree, but instead of looking like some dominant force that was being screwed over at every turn, Ryback continually came off as looking foolish & weak. Not exactly the makings of a monster.
This one is weird. Stick Ryback in front of a live crowd with a mic in his hand and he’s pretty good, backstage however he’s a mess. Looking off screen seemingly at cue cards is an odd sight, and all the more odd given he can deliver live promos just fine. I don’t get the reasoning behind this, but if the backstage promos are to continue, a new way to producing them must be found to avoid harming Ryback.
Whilst I’m a little disappointed that Ryback is now a villain, he is slowly but surely winning me over the whining & complaining have given way to anger and hate, qualities much better suited to a heel of his physical stature. Ryback is a great foil for John Cena, big, but not to the detriment of his mobility, popular, but not so much that he will be cheered opposing Cena, and is now in possession of a proper heelish character. I for one would like to see The Ryback lift the WWE championship if only to avoid him looking like a complete failure and in need of yet another reboot. In this modern era the championship titles mean something, but not as much as years past, so Cena losing the belt wouldn’t harm his drawing power or merchandising, he’s above that. A title run can cement a newcomer to the main event picture however, and like it or not, a fresh face in the main event is something to be lauded, if only to open the door to more new names up there. Who knows, we could be hailing Ryback as the 1st of a new generation years in the future.
There you have it, more words written by me, read by you. If you’ve enjoyed/hated/agree/disagree as always I’m always up for the discussion in the twittersphere where I can be found spewing all sorts of random about the place @BunnySuicida I’d love your feedback, good/bad/indifferent and hope to carry on the discussion. Until then folks, have fun with wrestling because that’s what it’s there for.
Martin “Rules” Dixon