There have been plenty of WWE Superstars who have burst onto the scene in the past and made an instant impact, but few can match Ryback in that regard. The monster of a man has vanquished every opponent set in front of him thus far, but he simply isn't ready to headline a pay-per-view.
Although there is something to be said for striking while the iron is hot and capitalizing on opportunities, there was also a time when wrestlers had to pay their dues. Ryback has been with WWE for quite some time as he was previously known as Skip Sheffield in developmental and as a Nexus member, but the Ryback character is still fairly new.
I'm always in favor of pushing new talent if there is obvious potential, and Ryback has gobs of it. At the same time, though, there is such a thing as pushing a guy too much and too quickly. Guys like Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio immediately come to mind when you consider how both of them are scuffling at the moment.
The last thing WWE wants to do is take the Ryback character past the point of no return, and then damage it in a way that prevents him from having long-term success. Perhaps the WWE was backed into a corner when it came to its decision on Monday, but having him face CM Punk at Hell in a Cell for the WWE Championship seems incredibly premature.
Vince McMahon announced last week that Punk would face either Ryback or John Cena at Hell in a Cell and the WWE Chairman decided that Ryback was the man on Monday night. McMahon's choice came after Cena endorsed Ryback and essentially removed himself from the race, so that leads me to believe that Cena's elbow simply hasn't healed fast enough.
Ryback was likely a backup plan all along, but the WWE made the decision to have him as a contingency option knowing full well that Cena's status was shaky at best. It can be said that WWE has no choice in the matter, but there were other possibilities such as Randy Orton and the writers went in a different direction.
Perhaps Ryback will shock us all and deliver a big-time match at Hell in a Cell, but there are too many things that can go wrong. I'm not saying Ryback is incapable of working a long match, but wrestling Punk in the main event means that he'll likely have to go for at least 20 minutes and I'm not sure his offense is diverse enough to last that long.
In addition to that, Ryback's limited ability on the mic is a concern. Ryback's supporters are quick to point to his Skip Sheffield character as evidence that he can talk, but he isn't a big, goofy hillbilly anymore. What he did as Skip Sheffield is inconsequential when it comes to Ryback.
Perhaps the WWE is making the choice to keep Ryback mostly silent in an effort to preserve his reputation as a machine with no emotion, but I view it more as the WWE covering up a deficiency. That can work for a certain amount of time, but if Ryback is going to sustain himself as a possible main-event player, then he is going to have to cut some promos.
Punk is incredible on the mic, but he can only talk to himself for so long before an alternative voice is needed. Wrestlers without mic skills have thrived in the past with Brock Lesnar as one of the prime examples, but many fans consider speaking to be equally as important, or maybe even more important, than wrestling.
There are simply too many areas for Ryback to improve in before he is ready for the big time, but that isn't stopping the WWE from hotshotting him to the top. Even if you ignore all of Ryback's shortcomings, having him main event Hell in a Cell still doesn't make sense since there is so much for him to lose.
Should Ryback be in the main event at Hell in a Cell?
Ryback is undefeated, and while the bulk of those wins have come against nobodies, there is a certain mystique surrounding an undefeated streak as fans of Goldberg and The Undertaker can attest to. Assuming there is no funny business and a Ryback vs. Punk match does indeed happen at Hell in a Cell, Ryback's streak ending is actually the best possible scenario, so that should tell you that it's a lose-lose situation.
If the WWE wants Ryback to be a real star, then he should remain undefeated up until WrestleMania and engage in a big feud that culminates in a WrestleMania victory and the extension of his streak. Even if Ryback's loss at Hell in a Cell is due to interference from someone like Lesnar, it is still a loss and it tarnishes the invincibility factor.
An even worse result, of course, would be Ryback winning the WWE Championship. Maybe Ryback can be a world champion one day, but he is nowhere near that level right now. Having Ryback win the company's top prize would be a slap in the face to guys like Dolph Ziggler who have performed in every facet for years and still haven't broken through.
The WWE has a very valuable commodity in Ryback, but instead of cashing him in so soon, he should be kept in the company's back pocket so he can appreciate in value. Putting Ryback in the main event of Hell in a Cell may pay dividends now, but the WWE is going to look back and realize what a big mistake it was.