With John Cena’s time on top potentially winding down, WWE looks to have been exploring the possibility of pushing up-and-coming Ryback to the top babyface spot.
It’s easy to see why. Ryback has gotten over hugely in the past few months as a Bill Goldberg-esque monster babyface, easily running through lower- and mid-card geeks on his way to the top. His cheesy—but fun—“Feed Me More” catchphrase has also taken off with the WWE Universe—hey, if you want to succeed in WWE, an over catchphrase is an absolute.
But can this last? And, what’s more, could the star ever be considered a proper replacement for Cena as someone who could carry the company?
Well it has to be pointed out, first of all, that as flattering as Ryback’s booking has been, it could be better. He has failed twice in a row now to win the WWE Championship. At Hell in a Cell, corrupt referee Brad Maddox cost him the belt. The following month at Survivor Series, rebel group The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) ran in during the Triple Threat match and took him out.
In both cases, he was protected, but he still failed to win. It was announced on Raw that Ryback will take on CM Punk again at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs pay-per-view, another scenario which will likely see him come out on the losing end.
The winner of that match will face The Rock at the Royal Rumble. While Ryback/Rock may be an intriguing prospect, it has not been built up at all. Also, they’re both babyfaces, which makes things even more muddled. It makes more sense—and is much more likely—that Punk will be facing The Rock at the January event.
So Ryback faces the rather daunting possibility of heading into 2013 with three official pay-per-view losses under his belt.
In 1998, Bill Goldberg never had to put up with such shoddy booking, did he? John Cena was also booked much better in the earlier stages of his WWE career.
Patchy booking aside, we have to remember that Ryback is also hindered by a great deal of flaws that could affect his future.
Let’s get one thing straight: For all the criticism that he gets, John Cena is a great all-around performer—he can talk, he gets a reaction, and he delivers in the ring. Ryback really only has two things going for him: his massive size and (temporary?) overness with the crowd.
His in-ring skills leave a lot to be desired. You’d think that someone who has been wrestling for years would look a bit less lost in there. His verbal skills are embarrassingly one-dimensional, and his food-related promos come off as unintentionally hilarious.
Of course, this is partly the fault of the writing team, but his delivery in these segments is so awful, it’s difficult to see if better content would make them that much better.
He also lacks Cena’s strongly photogenic look—it’s difficult to see him taking the lead in a multi-million dollar movie, for instance—and mainstream appeal, again making it doubtful that Ryback could replicate his success. Due to the rather scary nature of his character, it’s also difficult to see him replicating Cena’s merchandise success with children.
With the right amount of booking, Ryback could surely be a top babyface in WWE. But would Vince McMahon be willing to make him the face of the company considering the flaws in his repertoire?
That’s doubtful. For all of his appeal, Ryback simply may not have it in him.