Ryback is one of the WWE’s top superstars—well, at least that’s what the WWE wants us to think.
Since “Big Hungry” debuted back in April shortly after WrestleMania, he’s quickly risen from a rookie (as far as the Ryback character is concerned, that is) to arguably the No. 3 babyface in the company.
Props are in order to Ryback for playing a big role in getting himself over in such a short span, but it’s pretty safe to say that the creative team’s booking of him has played equally as big a role in his success so far.
As of right now, Ryback is slotted only behind John Cena and Sheamus on the WWE’s pecking order. But even though his massive push has already taken him to a pay-per-view main event, the question of whether or not he’s a true top guy still remains.
In the recent past, we’ve seen several stars quickly rise to the top of the WWE, only for it to ultimately be revealed that their time there was more of a mirage than anything else.
It took Alberto Del Rio only about six months to win the Royal Rumble, and roughly one year into his stint with the WWE, he had won that Rumble, a Money in the Bank match and the WWE Championship. But now? He’s viewed by many as a stale, upper midcard talent, who probably peaked too early and isn’t really capable of being a top guy for the long haul.
Similarly, we had Sheamus debut in June 2009 and go on to win the WWE Championship in December of that same year by shocking the world with a victory over John Cena at TLC. At the time, it was the widespread belief of most hardcore wrestling fans that Sheamus’ ascension to the top of the WWE happened far too quickly.
It’s hard not to agree with that. After all, it wasn’t until earlier this year that Sheamus started being viewed as a legitimate top talent and one of the so-called “faces of the WWE.”
And when I look at what happened with both Sheamus and Del Rio, I can’t help but think that a similar fate awaits Ryback: He’ll be pushed to the mountaintop incredibly quickly, only for the WWE to realize that a star can’t be built overnight.
Ryback’s WWE Championship Match at Hell in a Cell was—and I think most will agree with this—far too premature in that, despite how over Ryback’s gotten, he simply isn’t ready to be considered a legitimate, full-time guy. Just not yet.
I mean, it was only two years ago that Del Rio’s impressive debut and equally as impressive performances thereafter had us crowning him “the next big thing” before he had even really done anything in the WWE. Now, he’s all steak and no sizzle.
No one can be sure whether or not that will happen to Ryback, but just go back throughout history and try to find someone who quickly climbed his way up the WWE and actually stayed there.
Guys like Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar did it, but Angle quickly showed that he was one of the most well-rounded performers in the business and Lesnar was an impressive physical specimen who could also get it done in the ring.
When will Ryback become a true top guy?
Ryback has done an excellent job of making a name for himself and getting so over, but is he the next Angle or the next Lesnar? Heck, is he even the next Del Rio?
I’m not sure, but I am sure of this: It took Sheamus almost three years to become a bona fide top guy, and more than two years later, Del Rio still isn’t one.
It’s likely that Ryback follows one of those paths. Either he turns out to be a bit of a flash in the pan like ADR, or it takes him a long time to earn his spot as a true elite-level superstar.
Of course, some think he’ll stay at or near the top from this point on while others feel like he’ll fall off at some point and then have to earn his way back up. After all, it’s pretty rare that you see a star get to the top quickly and stay there for a stretch of four to five years or more
Randy Orton and John Cena did it, but let me ask you this: Is Ryback really the next Orton or the next Cena?
I don’t think so. I think that Ryback rose to the top more quickly than he should have and that it could come back to bite the WWE in the butt in the long run.
Ryback’s got talent and the chance to succeed, but if we’re complaining about him in two years like we are about Del Rio, I’ll be the guy saying I told you so.