When CM Punk had that look of shock on his face at the end of last week’s episode of Monday Night Raw, I, too, expected to be shocked with an appearance by a major name—perhaps Brock Lesnar or even The Undertaker.
Instead, the man staring down Punk was none other than Vince McMahon’s latest pet project, Ryback.
Reaction to that surprising Raw ending was mixed, with some left disappointed by what they considered to be an anticlimactic event and others glad to see a different face end Raw for a change. Others, however, were left outraged at the thought of an unproven guy like Ryback potentially getting involved in the WWE Championship scene so early on in his WWE career.
But that cliffhanger ending hasn’t guaranteed anything. It hasn’t guaranteed that we’ll see CM Punk vs. Ryback anytime soon. It hasn’t even guaranteed that Ryback is going to rise to the main event picture.
At least on the surface, however, it looks like that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
In one episode of Raw, Ryback squashed the Intercontinental Champion, The Miz, in less than three minutes, and then appeared in the show’s final segment with one of the longest-reigning WWE Champions in history.
If just the latter happened, I’d probably think that this was nothing more than a tease that Ryback will make it to the main event relatively soon. But because Ryback destroyed The Miz—a former WWE, US, Intercontinental and Tag Team Champion—in such quick fashion, I have to say that I think Ryback is headed for the main event in the near future.
But here’s a newsflash, WWE: He’s just not ready.
The WWE has recently made a habit out of giving massive pushes to recently-debuting superstars, propelling them to the top of the card about as quickly as you could possibly imagine. Yet, it hasn’t really worked out all that well.
Within roughly a year of his debut, Alberto Del Rio won the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank match and the WWE Championship. No matter how well he performed, however, the fans just didn’t take him seriously as a main eventer, and all of those monumental accomplishments were followed by lackluster performances thereafter.
Similarly, Sheamus debuted in June 2009 and won his first WWE Championship not even six months later at the WWE TLC pay-per-view. Like with ADR, he simply hadn’t been around long enough to be viewed as a credible World champion or a legitimate threat to John Cena.
They both proved that it’s not the booking of the superstar that matters. It’s the superstar himself, which is why I think Ryback is destined to fail if he becomes the king of the mountain before he’s ready to take the throne.
While Ryback has a phenomenal look and has gotten very over during his six months on the main roster, he’s not as good as Alberto Del Rio was when ADR got his push, nor is he the same overall talent that Sheamus was when he got his.
So, I ask myself this: If Sheamus and ADR were better talents, but still weren’t ready to make a splash in the main event scene, then why will Ryback be?
I get that McMahon probably drools over Ryback’s bodybuilder physique, but beyond his impressive look and “Feed Me More!” catchphrase, there simply isn’t much to Ryback that warrants a main event-caliber push.
Ryback can get as over as he wants to, but if how over a superstar was/is dictated how far his push should go in every scenario, then Zack Ryder probably would have won the WWE Championship by now. Needless to say, that’s not happening anytime soon, and neither should Ryback winning a World title or being a main eventer.
Is Ryback ready to be in the main event?
More so now than at any point in recent memory, the WWE’s main event scene has been highlighted by guys who can do it all. Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, CM Punk and John Cena can perform in the ring and on the mic, and that’s why they deserve to be there.
When I look at Ryback, however, I don’t see the two main ingredients that make your typical main event-caliber superstar. While I’m not saying that every main event level guy has to be cut from the same mold, the bottom line is that the fans just won’t buy someone like Ryback as a full-time main eventer or World champion.
After the appeal of his “Feed Me More” chants and Goldberg-like domination die down, we’re left with a man who’s limited on the mic and in the ring when those two skills matter much more now than they have in recent years.
Ryback has his place in the WWE, but it’s not at the top of it. I don’t care how over he is.
Sheamus wasn’t ready, and Del Rio wasn’t, either. Neither is Ryback, and no matter what Vince wants to think, he won’t be for a very long time, if ever.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!