Since the change in his gimmick, the man known as Ryback has been a destructive force in WWE.
Racking up victory after victory, the streak that Ryback is developing is likely to continue for a while. The 21 matches that Ryback has had have been displays of exactly what the man formerly known as Skip Sheffield has in his arsenal.
In fact, speaking of Sheffield, it was under that name that Ryback last lost a televised match. That match was at SummerSlam 2010, when he was a member of The Nexus losing a seven-on-seven tag team match to main event the pay-per-view. The following night saw Sheffield get the pinfall in a tag team match with David Otunga against John Morrison and R-Truth. Two days later at a live event in Hawaii, Sheffield broke his ankle and wouldn't return to action until December 2011.
When Sheffield became Ryback and returned earlier this year, a lot of fans who remembered him from his days as Skip Sheffield were happy just to see him back. Fear had built as the months wore on that Sheffield would never make it back to the ring, and that the big man with so much potential would lose out on his chance.
That chance began when Ryback (real name Ryan Reeves) was a part of the $1,000,000 Tough Enough season in 2004. Despite injuries, Reeves worked into the finalists before being eliminated. The competition would ultimately be won by Daniel Puder, while The Miz was the runner-up.
Reeves has not hit the peaks that The Miz has hit in WWE thus far, but he certainly has that chance as Ryback.
Reeves continued in dark matches as Skip Sheffield until February 2012, when he became Ryback. The beast of a man ultimately debuted on the April 5 episode of SmackDown. This would start the undefeated streak, as Ryback faced local competitors with unusual names and rather terrible microphone skills.
Each of these guys would have a minute to put themselves over as a bad guy, only to have the babyface Ryback come in to destroy the puny heel. It was all done to get a reaction for Ryback.
It often worked, but usually because fans were tired of hearing random guys with awful ring names talk on the microphone for a short amount of time. Ryback would come out with a Rob Van Dam-inspired singlet and moves like Goldberg to the tune of a two-minute squash match at the longest.
After four matches like that, Ryback came to pay-per-view to take on two men at once. At Extreme Rules, Ryback won a Handicap tag team match, which would become a trend with these random jobbers.
Following Extreme Rules, Ryback began to face existing superstars like Derrick Bateman and Heath Slater. At Over the Limit, Ryback took on Camacho.
After Over the Limit, Ryback had a streak of nine straight matches that were Handicap tag team matches against two men we had never seen in WWE before. Their names seemed to get more and more ridiculous as it wore on. One week had two men with names that were nearly identical to two former U.S. presidents.
Ryback even faced two men at No Way Out when he took on Dan Delaney and Rob Grymes in another Handicap tag match. This was all to show Ryback's power and have him destroy two men at once. Ryback would even be able to lift two men at the same time with ease.
While it was impressive, it was also redundant, right down to Ryback putting the one man on top of the other and pinning both men at the same time.
When SmackDown was live for The Great American Bash in July, that trend ended. There were no more jobbers with incredibly random names. It was Curt Hawkins instead.
Following that week up, it was time for Tyler Reks to take a shot at the streak. Suddenly, competitors were getting a little bit of offense in on Ryback, and he wasn't so indestructible anymore.
At Money in the Bank, Reks and Hawkins took on Ryback in a Handicap tag team match, but they were forced to tag in and out of the bout. Even still, Ryback was beaten down a bit and even forced to break out of a pinning attempt. Ryback actually needed to rally against Hawkins and Reks in order to overcome both men.
The following night was the 999th episode of RAW, which saw Ryback take on Jack Swagger in his hometown of Las Vegas.
The match never got started. Swagger took it to Ryback and attacked him before the bell ever rang. Ryback would counter and beat Swagger down before The All-American American was out of the ring and the fight was over before it officially had started.
Chants of "Feed Me More," the phrase Ryback yells after each victory, rang out in the arena. Sure, it was a hometown crowd, but there were no chants for Goldberg this time. There were no piped cheers coming through the speakers, something that happens with SmackDown tapings. This was legitimate.
Ryback was not on the 1,000th episode of RAW this past week, but he was on SmackDown to take on Jinder Mahal.
Mahal went after the head of Ryback with some reasonable success. Mahal even tried to lock in the Camel Clutch, but was quickly taken down with the backpack stunner that Ryback liked to use even from his Skip Sheffield days. A spinebuster was debuted by Ryback, and when he tried for the large clothesline, Mahal ducked and ran for higher ground.
It was the first victory for Ryback to not include a pinfall, showing a way for Ryback to win without squashing an opponent.
Mahal may have had the best match yet with Ryback, but would avoid being pinned. Could it even be the grounds for Ryback's first storyline? We will have to see.
After 21 straight victories, Ryback seems to really be hitting his stride in WWE. His moveset is growing now and his offense isn't one-sided anymore. Ryback can take some punishment now and make a match out of it.
That will help him get fans in the crowd and make his matches be more than two minutes of dominance from Ryback. As weeks go on, Ryback needs to be pushed closer and closer to a loss to get some reactions from the crowd. Unlike a guy like Brodus Clay, Ryback is athletic enough to go for a few more minutes and make a higher quality match out of it.
If you believe everything you hear about Ryback and his status backstage, there seems to be a plan for Ryback to be a big part of the future of WWE.
No, he will not be the second coming of Goldberg. Instead, he will be the first coming of Ryback. That metamorphosis for Ryback getting into the ranks of top superstars continues each week.
Watch and enjoy as each week will show a new chapter for Ryback as he becomes a legitimate superstar.
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