By dominating and winning the 30-man over-the-top-rope battle royal he can show he is ready and able to carry the banner of the WWE as a world champion.
“I knew all along that this was going to happen.” Ryback told ESPN.com.
Whether by accident or not, Ryback has been pushed to the edge of greatness by the WWE. But with three straight pay-per-view loses, he needs to win the Royal Rumble.
Ryback isn’t going to beat Punk when they meet for the title on Raw. The WWE clearly wants that strap around the Straightedge Superstar’s waist when he meets The Rock.
But winning the Rumble will show he doesn’t need Punk, The Shield or any other big-news wrestler to be in the main event.
And Ryback needs to be the main event. He needs to be the one others are gunning to beat.
He needs to be world champion.
No matter how hard Ryback is pushed, if he can never win in the big matches, then the fans will turn away in droves. Ryback will become a joke.
He was thrown into title picture when the WWE was worried about John Cena’s injury. It was an ill-advised move. Neither Ryback nor Punk could afford to lose.
But Ryback did lose. He lost again at Survivor Series and once again at TLC. Even if those loses were because of rouge referees, outside interference or him not getting pinned, they are still losses.
Ryback needs to step out of Punk’s shadow, to be the draw without him. At TLC, the stigma of Punk was all over his match. The WWE champion was even at the pay-per-view, watching him compete.
But with TLC, it was more than just Punk. Ryback’s tag team bout with Team Hell No was only news because of their opponents, The Shield.
Had they been going up against anyone else, the bout would have been a throwaway. Ryback must be the reason people talk about a match.
The Royal Rumble is the match that can make him.
If Ryback wins the Rumble, he can walk out of the arena and into a new future. It's a future that doesn’t include playing second fiddle to Punk and The Shield, and includes gold around his waist.