Ryback should have two goals at TLC: destroy The Shield and look strong at the end or else find himself back in the midcard.
CM Punk is moving on to face The Rock at the Royal Rumble in January. Ryback needs to show that he is major player even without the WWE champion. Dominating his match is the way to go.
Ryan Reeves debuted as Ryback in April of 2012, going six months without a single defeat. “Goldberg” chants soon changed to “Feed Me More!”
Ryback was becoming a beast.
Then came two straight pay-per-view losses to Punk.
There are only so many times Ryback can fail in his title shots before the fans begin to lose faith and interest. And once the chants and cheers fade, the WWE might be inclined to reconsider their promise of a future title match with Punk.
Once he’s not facing Punk for the WWE championship, or is even chasing it anymore, what does he do?
Who should Ryback face after TLC?
A commanding performance in his six-man tag team match with Team Hell No against The Shield is the perfect opportunity to silence his critics.
And he needs to do that. Though Vince McMahon loves big men like Ryback, he’s a businessman first. If Ryback proves to be bad for business, he won’t hesitate to take him out of the title picture.
Win or lose, by dominating his match at TLC, Ryback can prove he can be a long-term major force in the WWE.
If Ryback picks up the win on Sunday, in one match he can destroy The Shield’s aura of invincibility. At the same time, he can redeem his past two losses and continue to be a one-man wrecking machine.
He already looked strong against The Shield on this week’s Monday Night Raw, hurling a ladder at them and engaging in a huge brawl.
He’s over enough at the moment that the fans began to chant “Feed Me More!” before his music even hit.
But what he doesn’t need is to be controlled by The Shield once again, who twice before have managed to overtake him.
Ryback cannot be the weak link in the team when the match ends.
If Team Hell No and Ryback are to lose, then Ryback needs to be seen as unstoppable in the process. He could be beating down Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns while Dean Ambrose makes the pin.
Handled correctly, Ryback can come off the card as hot as ever and engaged in a feud with The Shield. This gets him off Punk and the WWE title without looking weak.
But if Ryback loses steam after TLC, he might find himself back in the midcard and get lost in the shuffle.