The TLC pay-per-view Sunday night was supposed to be Ryback’s time to shine. It was going to be his time to prove that he was not a flash-in-the-pan uppercard visitor.
While he was on the losing side in the six-man tag team match, Big Hungry showed everyone that he belongs right where he is. He definitely is main-event caliber.
And there is no reason to think that, with a few character tweaks here and there, Ryback could stay atop WWE for years to come.
It was not Ryback’s fault that WWE was forced to relegate him to the middle of the TLC card after CM Punk’s knee surgery forced the cancellation of the Punk-Ryback WWE championship match. Fortunately for him, the match that WWE dropped him into—joining Team Hell No to face The Shield—was the best match of the night by far.
Ryback showed tremendous duration for a man of his size. Most of the matches he has been involved in have been either squash matches or over fairly quickly. The fact that he was still standing at the end of that drawn-out battle is a good sign that he can endure a long match, and that bodes well for future programs.
Ryback also showed that he can take as much punishment as he can dish out. He was powerbombed through the Spanish announcers’ table and crashed through stacks of ladders and chairs, but he still had enough mettle to throw Seth Rollins off a tall ladder and hit his Shell Shocked finisher on Dean Ambrose.
Ryback definitely had more to prove in the match than Team Hell No. Kane and Daniel Bryan already have established themselves as prime talent in WWE. This was Ryback’s validation, and he passed with flying colors.
So what’s next for the big man? WWE chairman Vince McMahon has promised he will get another shot at the WWE championship, but it is not likely he will win the gold. That would ruin the long-planned showdown between Punk and The Rock at Royal Rumble.
But McMahon has never hidden his admiration for big wrestlers, so it is likely that, with the monster pops he draws in WWE arenas, Ryback will not disappear into the midcard anytime soon.
Don’t be surprised if a program develops between Ryback and the Big Show. Who in the WWE Universe would not love to see Ryback attempt to Shell Shock Show?
Try saying that three times fast.
Bill Atkinson is a columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.