Amid the chaos of this past Monday's Raw, a voice of reason very calmly stated something that has been on my mind since Ryback began his path of destruction months ago.
Dolph Ziggler, not scheduled for a match on Monday, came out to the stage with his Money in the Bank briefcase in hand. After Vickie Guerrero informed us all to shut up, Ziggler openly wondered why Ryback was getting a WWE Championship opportunity while Ziggler had to go through a hellacious ladder match to earn his shot at the World Heavyweight Championship.
Ziggler went on to say that in two months, nobody would remember who Ryback is. He implied that Ryback is the hot thing right now, a fad that will die out along with countless other things that fizzle out as quickly as they do in our world that has an ever-decreasing attention span. It was a great promo by Ziggler and the first time in a while he has gotten to speak his mind.
It was so great because you could ask yourself "What if he is right?"
Ryback is undoubtedly the most popular thing in the WWE Universe right now, especially when a WWE.com poll showed that an overwhelming majority chose Ryback over John Cena to face CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Hell in A Cell. He has signs everywhere in the crowd, and his "Feed Me More" chant has become almost as contagious as Daniel Bryan's "Yes!" and "No!" exclamations.
The difference in that comparison is that Bryan has proven himself to be an incredible entertainer in and out of the ring, consistently giving us great wrestling and making us laugh with his Team Hell No antics. Ryback...well...we don't really know a lot about him. On the internet, of course, we remember that he was Skip Sheffield, a part of the Nexus. That's about it. He broke his ankle in August of 2010 and did not come back until this past April, now known as Ryback, one of his names from his developmental days in OVW and FCW.
Then, of course, there is the obvious comparison that even the crowd was making. Ryback acknowledged the similarities between his physique and Goldberg in an interview with WWE Magazine, but he stopped the analogy there and stated that he was in this for the love of wrestling, not to make money and split. While Ryback's motivations seem genuine, there are other parallels between him and Goldberg. WWE has backed themselves into a corner and needs to be careful how they go about this.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Ryback wins the WWE Championship. The fans explode, Justin Roberts gets to say "Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew!" and CM Punk has finally been dethroned.
The non-internet fans, who have the attention spans of squirrels with fresh nuts, will celebrate and be happy that Punk is not the WWE Champion anymore...until they remember that their actual hero, John Cena, was supposed to be the one to win "his" WWE Championship back. Not Ryback, who came out of nowhere and stole everyone's hearts and minds.
How long will the fans stay behind Ryback? In smaller cities, it should not be an issue, but what will happen at TLC in Brooklyn? The Royal Rumble in Phoenix? WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium? John Cena can get a "mixed" reaction anywhere and it's fine since it has become a part of his character, but I don't think Ryback will be so lucky. The split decision would have to be made to take the WWE Championship off him and put it on somebody else in that time frame, somebody who probably has already held it multiple times.
I don't envy Ryback's position. Win or lose, he has no choice but to put on the match of his very young career with the best wrestler in the world in a little less than two weeks. Ironically, it may be CM Punk himself who determines Ryback's fate with the people. Punk is well-known for pulling incredible matches out of people who are not always prone to them, and I imagine he will be working closely with Ryback to ensure he doesn't blow his chance.
Of course, that may not even matter. The fans could suddenly grow bored and flock toward somebody else, or worse, change the channel.
Proving Ziggler right all along.