Ryback is a dangerous man.
Unfortunately for his opponents, he's not dangerous the way he is supposed to be.
For months now, the WWE has had a raging monster tearing through its ranks in the form of this musclebound superstar.
Week after week, he is “fed” more inexperienced opponents, normally disposing of them within a few short minutes. Recently, he has been taking on members of the actual WWE roster, with the results being more havoc and chaos.
The issue at hand is havoc and chaos, which also could be used to describe Ryback’s in-ring work. Each week, another competitor is thrown into Ryback’s path, only to be promptly tossed around for a few minutes before getting shell-shocked.
And if done properly, that’s fine.
But after the better part of a decade in the business, Ryback is still as green as a rookie and it shows each and every week in his matches. His near-constant botches and reckless style are becoming commonplace, leading fans to look away half the time as he brutalizes his opponents.
It has also been rumored that many upper-level WWE superstars are incredibly hesitant to get in the ring with him because they fear that they will be legitimately injured.
Now I know that this is not a game of patty-cake. This is professional wrestling. It is meant to be brutal and dangerous, but Ryback takes things to a new level.
As we saw last night on RAW when Ryback took on Jack Swagger, he seems to be incapable of maintaining his opponent's safety at all times.
From the start, Swagger looked terrified to be in the ring with him. And it wasn’t simply, “Oh, I’m playing this up because he’s supposed to be scary,” acting on Swagger’s part. He looked genuinely concerned for his safety. And it soon became very apparent why.
It began with Swagger being Irish-whipped into the corner too fast, which led to him crashing awkwardly into the turnbuckle. That then led to a botched back-body drop, one of the most fundamental wrestling moves, which resulted in Swagger landing on his head and neck.
Swagger winced in legitimate pain and was groggy for the rest of the match.
Now it would be easy to simply blame Ryback and call him a child who doesn’t know his own strength. And that might actually be a part of it.
Between the crowd chanting “Feed Me More,” and just his genuine jubilation at being in a WWE ring, Ryback might simply be too hyped to notice that he’s working recklessly and stiff.
But shouldn’t the real pressure be on the company to ensure that their workers are safe? Or at least as safe as one can be in a business such as this.
By allowing their performers to (seemingly) be put in serious harm's way week in and week out, what kind of message is this sending to would-be employees?
Could this attitude impact Linda McMahon’s Senate run? Are would-be voters going to be mindful of someone associated with a company that knowingly puts its workers in perilous situations?
Again, this is professional wrestling, not a nursery school. The expectation is physicality. But there is a very fine line between staged brutality and what Ryback seems to be doing.
And right now, the WWE is showing a fairly blatant disregard for safety by allowing things to continue as they are.