Another wrestling year is nearing completion as 2012 goes the way of Abraham Washington. 2012 gave us Ryback, another Chris Jericho return and 1,000 episodes of Monday Night RAW. 'Tis the season to rank them in order of importance. Stories will be evaluated based on longevity, mainstream coverage and social media influence.
Top 10 of 2012, No. 4: The Rise of Ryback
The WWE is faced with a handful of long-term obstacles. Replacing an aging, beat up John Cena is among its chief concerns.
Enter Ryback. Formerly known as Skip Sheffield of the once-hot Nexus stable, Ryback possessed all the tools. He was a big, strong bruiser
with southern flavor. Sheffield never looked back after being repackaged as an enigmatic killer.
Ryback was booked the old school way. His blueprint followed a hit-or-miss WWE formula of star making. The formula had the potential to produce the next Brock Lesnar. Disaster would churn out the next Vladimir Koslov. Week after week, fans were saturated with a hand-picked star who was two or three power moves from an inevitable win.
Ryback went undefeated for a Bill Goldbergian six months. The long-term investment had begun.
The simplicity was initially mocked by jaded observers. They didn't want to be patronized with Goldberg-lite. They had already seen that movie, and good as it was, they were in no mood for a sequel.
But through every sarcastic "Goldberg" chant, Ryback soldiered on. With each streak-extending win, Ryback slowly won over the coveted casual contingent. His "feed me more" chant begun to catch on. When Ryback's theme music was jazzed up to include the slogan, fans reacted positively as he begun to evolve before their very eyes.
Ryback's surging career was met with a tricky road block following an injury to John Cena. Coming off a draw with CM Punk at WWE Night of Champions, a Cena-Punk rematch was the safe choice for the following month's pay-per-view.
Once Cena was ruled out, Ryback's chance to supplant the current top star came prematurely.
With much time invested in CM Punk's current streak, and a future blockbuster against the Rock, Ryback couldn't possibly win that match.
He didn't. Adding insult to injury, Ryback lost to Punk at Survivor Series the following month. Ryback's momentum was certainly cooled, but both losses came via screw job fashion. This somewhat protected the rising star.
With Ryback now feuding with newcomer The Shield, the WWE has a more comfortable feud to showcase its future money-maker.
Once the Punk-Rock-Cena saga runs its course following WrestleMania season, Ryback would be a logical choice to carry the belt during the summer. If nothing else, it would be an experimental glimpse into the WWE's future.
Top Ten of 2012
9. Just Say Yes!
4. The Rise of Ryback