Ryback may very well be the hottest thing going in the WWE right now, and because of that, it appears consideration is being given to him challenging WWE Champion CM Punk in the main event at WWE Hell in a Cell 2012. If at all possible, though, the company has to avoid putting Ryback in that position.
Ryback has a lot of potential and could potentially be a main-event star at some point, but he isn't ready. I understand that his gimmick is an unstoppable monster, who does his talking with his fists rather than words, but a main-eventer has to acquit himself well on the mic, and Ryback hasn't shown any evidence of that.
Also, while Ryback has been a dominant force during his time with the WWE, he hasn't beaten anyone that would suggest he is in line for a main-event push. The vast majority of his wins came against local jobbers or low-card superstars such as Jinder Mahal or JTG. His biggest wins were over former world champions Jack Swagger and The Miz, but Swagger hasn't won a match in months and Miz has been putting over everyone and their mother since winning the Intercontinental Championship.
There is no signature win for Ryback to grasp onto, and I believe that one is needed in order to take that next step. His interactions with Punk over the past couple weeks where he has stood up for Mick Foley, Jim Ross and Vince McMahon have been entertaining, but that doesn't mean he is ready for a title shot.
Basically, it all comes down to whether or not John Cena is ready in two weeks. He had elbow surgery a few weeks ago and the recovery timetable made his potential availability for Hell in a Cell a bit foggy. But if he hasn't made significant progress by Monday, then Ryback may be forced into a situation that benefits absolutely nobody.
At the close of the latest edition of Raw, McMahon gave Punk an ultimatum as he would have a week to choose either Cena or Ryback as his Hell in a Cell opponent. Punk has said for weeks that he wouldn't face Cena again, but the prospect of facing a beast like Ryback instead might change his line of thinking.
Again, however, everything is related to Cena's health. I firmly believe that Ryback's involvement with Punk has simply been done in an effort to make him a backup plan. There seems to be a decent chance that the WWE will have to turn to Plan B. Cena has always been a quick healer over the course of his career, but he looked very limited on Raw and will need to make some major strides very soon.
Perhaps the biggest strike against Ryback facing Punk for the WWE Championship is there simply isn't a result that would work for all involved. Since conventional wisdom would state that the match will take place in a cell, any type of disqualification, countout or draw is taken completely out of the equation, so there would have to be a decisive winner.
Whether you like him or not, it's obvious to see that Ryback isn't ready to be WWE champion, so he simply couldn't win the match. On the flip side, Ryback has an undefeated streak in place that the WWE has really been building up and marketing, and I'm sure that the WWE isn't ready for that run of dominance to come to an end.
Regardless of who Punk faces, I anticipate Brock Lesnar to interfere in the match on Punk's behalf, so Punk probably won't be winning this match cleanly. But a loss is a loss when it comes to Ryback. Cena has done so much winning and earned so many accolades over the years that a loss due to interference wouldn't hurt him in the least, but it could cause Ryback to lose the considerable amount of steam he has gained.
One would think that WWE will try to preserve his streak until WrestleMania at the very least since it is something that could easily be used to hype his match whether it be against Lesnar, The Undertaker or whoever else. The WWE has painted itself into a corner, and Ryback could become the only option.
There is nothing that the WWE can do if Cena isn't cleared, but if there is even an inkling that he can possibly get through the match, then he needs to be trotted out there. Hold him out of action until Survivor Series after that if need be, but in order to protect the mystique of Ryback, the WWE needs Cena for Hell in a Cell.