Written under duress by Critical Bill (@williamrenken83)
For many years in sports, film, and wrestling, the big three of my entertainment sphere, I had a paradigm that existed that as a kid I couldn’t explain or understand. For the sake of current events, I’ll use Peyton Manning as an example before we get into the nuts and bolts of the most recent Monday Night Raw.
Peyton Manning back at Tennessee was the most overhyped college football player there ever was…back in 1997. It was like this guy walked on water in Knoxville, and yet there was no victory over Florida, nor a Heisman trophy, not even a national championship. And yet, this was the future of football; the greatest football player in history…that had never really won anything of real merrit. And then Peyton Manning graduated. Peyton Manning was drafted by the shitty (beyond shitty, actually) Indianapolis Colts. And yet, here was Peyton Manning, the future MVP of football, who again, had not won anything of real merrit that was already getting a bust in Canton. Hell, I bet, many poor, blind, delusional suckers bet money on a Super Bowl within three years.
If you can’t tell by now, I fucking hated Peyton Manning back then. I couldn’t stand the fact that he was anointed to this throne of greatnesss; bestowed this crown of being the best, the very best the NFL had to offer despite the talent around him. I couldn’t have been happier to see Peyton Manning get his ass kicked that first season. I couldn’t have been happier to see Peyton Manning blow playoff after playoff game and miss the Super Bowl. It just felt like karma (or at least what dumb honkies think karma is).
And then something happened.
By the time the 2008-09 season rolled around, a good ten years after I was chasing the Peyton Manning bandwagon with a shotgun in an out of control Buick, I had the most inexplicable feeling come over me. I saw the team Manning had around him. Not too great. And I saw what Peyton, himself, was having to do to win games, which was completely take over and make up for a team that was ultimately pedestrian that season. That mother fucker was working his ass off, and for the first time (even outside of his, by now, Super Bowl win against Chicago) I found myself respecting and, dare I say, rooting for the bastard. There was just something about him having to battle like he did that was unique. The rest of the events that followed up until now made it even harder to root against him. The injury, the unceremonious exit out of Indianapolis, the comeback in Denver. Now, in the twilight of this career, I find myself 100% on the opposite end of the spectrum in my opinion of Peyton Manning. I’m rooting for the bastard to end this year and his career on top.
What I found in this example after years of being egregiously angry and nonsensical about Peyton Manning was that I had an issue with simply “too much, too soon” being bestowed upon young, unproven talent in all walks of life. It wasn’t until that talent was tested and had paid its dues could I find myself getting behind them. I really grew to respect Peyton Manning by having to work his ass off to make a mid-level team play like a contender year in and year out.
Now, let’s get back to what’s in the name, in the address of this very site. Let’s merge this with wrestling and what happened on Monday night in San Antonio. Bo Dallas put out an open challenge. “Feed Me
More” was the response. Ryback, after months away with injury, returned as the mega face he was in 2012 and part of 2013. And it couldn’t have felt better to see him come back in his maxed out, raged out form. It felt right.
Going back to 2012, I fucking hated Ryback. Couldn’t stand the obvious Goldberg push he was getting; hated it even more that he was in a main event with WWE Champion CM Punk after only a few months in his run. (I’m not counting the Skip Sheffield stuff prevsiouly. Strictly Ryback.) It just wreaked of the typical WWE obsession with jacked up gym rats that would blow up in 10 minutes and couldn’t put together a decent wrestling sequence to save their life. I’ll go across the pond to say it was proper fucking rubbish.
Then WWE flipped Ryback into a mega heel post-WrestleMania 29 in 2013, having him job to John Cena, then become a Paul Heyman guy and be fodder for CM Punk, to finally being in a Superstars-level tag team with Curis Axel, which became painful to watch because you just knew that creative had nothing for either of them. And as we have seen, when creative has nothing for WWE guys, just put ’em together in a tag team and let apathy reign.
But throughout the Rybaxel run and mostly into the waining months of its incarnation, Ryback started to get face pops, which he had to deflect because he was locked in still as a heel. But people were cheering him, even chanting “feed me more” as when he was a face in 2012 and early ’13. And I couldn’t help but feed into the love as well. Why? Just a year before I used Ryback matches for food and piss breaks.
Ryback started to pay dues, and he started to grow in the lower mid card. Not leaps and bounds, mind you. But he had developed not only in the ring but also with his soft skills as a heel. And his absence only helped. Jim Cornette nailed in when he once said that “they (meaning the fans) can’t miss you until you’re gone.”
When WWE brought Ryback back on Monday with proper theme music restored with his proper catch-phrase in tow, it was incredibly refreshing. It almost felt right to have him back. Yeah, he’s still a monster. A big fucking pseudo-roided out monster who isn’t going to make Meltzer color in five stars. But right now, in the doldrums of the WrestleMania calender year, a fresh injection of a rejuvenated Ryback is just what we need right now. Now there’s no streak to worry about, no holes that he has to fill prematurely at the top of the card. Ryback can just be Ryback and run rough-shot through the middle of the pack.
Maybe just maybe, why not, put him on a collision course with Rusev. Rusev and Ryback; hell fucking yeah. Just let two young monsters run into each other until they explode. At this point when it seems like Rusev is stuck in his old holding pattern of opponents until the inevitable John Cena blowoff, why not let him take a Meathook or two.
These really are the fun moments in wrestling. We’ve all seen guys we really hated and despised win us over through their work in the ring. We didn’t cheer them because WWE told us to. We cheered them because they earned it from us.
Welcome back, Big Guy. We missed ya…