Any time a WWE superstar evolves into a top babyface, he’s destined to become a topic of controversy.
Just ask Ryback.
Since making his debut back in April, Ryback has gone from WWE newcomer to one of its most popular superstars.
As was the case with guys like John Cena and Sheamus, however, his ascension to the top of the WWE hasn’t been met with all smiles and cheers.
For every Ryback fan out there, there’s at least one Ryback hater—a guy who says that he “can’t wrestle,” that “he sucks” or that he’s “jacked up, but that’s about it.”
Sorry to break it to all you anti-Ryback guys and gals out there, but Ryback is here to stay, and he is indeed the future of the WWE.
Whether you like him or not does not matter. What truly matters is whether or not the majority of fans do.
Suffice it to say, the reactions that Ryback continues to generate prove that the very vocal minority is just that—a minority. Meanwhile, the majority doesn’t hate Ryback like some of us think they do.
The fans that attend WWE shows—the ones who put money in Vince McMahon’s checkbook—are the ones who will ultimately determine Ryback’s fate.
Judging by the response so far, Ryback’s fate is not to be a one-hit wonder or a flash in the pan. It’s to be a major part of the WWE as we move into 2013 and beyond.
As is the case with just about every superstar who’s ever stepped foot in the WWE, Ryback is not and never will be everyone’s cup of tea. Some will always hate him, and some will always love him.
Howeer, for those who aren’t fans of Ryback, blasting his in-ring abilities or his gimmick ultimately isn’t going to accomplish anything.
Ryback has become an integral part of the WWE machine, and the creative team has done anything and everything it can to get him over with the crowd.
It’s worked, too.
Whether you are chanting “Feed me more” or not, most WWE crowds are now filling the arena with a chant that is rivaled only by Daniel Bryan’s “Yes” and “No” catchprases.
On the surface, “feed me more” just seem like three simple words. In reality, they mean so much more.
The more that the fans chant for and along with Ryback, the more over he gets. The more over he gets, the more likely he is to stick around. The longer he sticks around, the more likely he is to succeed.
It’s WWE math, really.
The company knows what it’s doing, and it knows that pushing Ryback the way it has will ultimately lead the fans to start accepting him as a top guy.
Without the backing of the creative team, Ryback’s rise to the top of the WWE obviously would have never happened. The fact that the creative team has stuck by him for so long speaks volumes.
There have been times when it looked like the Ryback character was doomed—like when he squashed no-name wrestlers for months upon months or when he lost two straight WWE title matches on pay-per-view.
Yet, through it all, Ryback is still going strong. He’s booked in a way that, no matter what the outcome of his match, he is always protected.
Will Ryback be a long-term main eventer?
Less than a handful of guys have been booked like that in recent years. It's a list that includes John Cena, CM Punk, Sheamus and Randy Orton. You can now add Ryback to that list.
The WWE has protected Ryback at all costs, and every superstar it has done that for has—whether we wanted it to happen or not—become a top star.
Sheamus has been booked in much the same way over the last year or so, and look at him now. Although it took some time, he’s firmly entrenched as a top babyface and one of the WWE’s building blocks of the future.
The same goes for Ryback.
His rise to the top may not be happening as organically as others, but it’s happening nonetheless. More importantly, the way it’s happening suggests Ryback will be successful in the future.
Scratch that—he is the future of the WWE.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!