Ryback came within an eyelash of winning the WWE Championship on Raw this past Monday night. The man called Big Hungry climbed the ladder in his TLC match with champion CM Punk and was reaching for the title belt when the lights suddenly went off and The Shield appeared, stopping Ryback from taking down the championship.
Once again, Ryback was so close, and once again, The Shield got in his way. And now it’s time for The Shield to go away.
The fact is, there can be no other outcome in this storyline. Ryback has to destroy the trio from NXT. It’s the only way for him to be seen as anything other than a pushover.
On four separate occasions, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns have bested Ryback. Three of those times they attacked him and laid him out. For a group of men who claim they do not work for anyone, thus making them equal-opportunity vigilantes, their attacks are becoming more and more focused on the beast who could be WWE champion.
For several months, WWE has painted Ryback as the next big star. His matches, his promos, his feats of strength against super heavyweights like Tensai—everything has been geared toward making fans believe that Ryback is a Superstar we should care about.
And for the most part, I have to say that it’s been fairly successful.
While the Goldberg chants still continue, they have mostly given way to the “Feed me more” mantra that rings out among the crowd anytime Ryback is in the ring, or even when his name is mentioned. He has made a definite impact on fans and has gained some real ground with a good segment of the audience.
So it stands to reason that when you have a rising star who is as strong, as intense and as ferocious as Ryback, that you give him as many challenges as possible. To portray him as completely unstoppable is to say that he has no equal, that no one and nothing can bring him down.
At that point, he becomes superhuman, a man who enters every match on his feet and leaves the same way, showing no ill effects from having just been through a war.
The problem is, there is no drama in that. There is no reason for fans to care about him after that point. The crowd wants to cheer their favorite stars on to victory. It’s part of being a pro wrestling fan. Seeing the babyface get a beatdown, staring down the odds with a huge disadvantage, makes him human. Watching him fight back, to try and get up despite being outnumbered or outmatched, is an adrenaline rush that cannot be denied.
Ryback needs that type of drama. He needs to be presented as a hero who may be fearless but can be hurt. The crowd cannot connect with him otherwise. Much like Dusty Rhodes, watching Ryback come back for more, though it appears as though he has no chance of winning, will do nothing but build his character and give fans a reason to care about him.
Ryback needs The Shield. I am not disputing that.
But the time has come for him to do what he does best. The time has come for him to maul these three young stars and leave them for dead.
Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns have served their purpose in regards to Ryback. This has been going on since November 18th at Survivor Series, and nearly every week has been more of the same. Now it’s time to change it up.
Admittedly, The Shield has needed this time to become fully established as a true force in WWE. To consider the group a real threat to not only Ryback but to veteran Superstars like Randy Orton, The Shield has to look as strong as possible. The trio's desire to make an impact and “fight injustice” are lofty goals and cannot be realized if they look like the young developmental talents that they truly are.
They need to have teeth to be taken seriously. I am not disputing that, either.
But the line between positioning The Shield as a legitimately dangerous threat in WWE and perhaps giving the group too much, especially at the expense of Ryback—who Vince McMahon has been heavily promoting—has not only become blurred. It has become indistinguishable.
For Ryback to continue on the upward trajectory that McMahon set him on since April of 2012, he has to destroy The Shield. And it has to happen now.
I am not suggesting that Reigns, Ambrose and Rollins be kicked back down to NXT, however. Each man potentially has a bright future in the company and should have the opportunities that others are given when they are called up to TV.
But as a unit? As three guys who consistently prevent Ryback from not only winning the WWE Championship but even leaving the ring in a vertical position? That has to end. Now.
Anymore time spent on putting The Shield over while Ryback lies prone on the floor is time wasted. If WWE wants fans to care about Ryback, then it’s time to prove it. Book him in a huge Six-Man Tag match with Randy Orton and Sheamus against The Shield, with a winner-take-all stipulation.
If The Shield wins, then it continues on its path of destruction, and Ryback’s WWE Title shots come to an end. But if team Ryback wins, then The Shield is forced to disband.
And Ryback needs to get the final pin. Let him be the clear-cut victor, the man who tore apart his biggest threat thus far. Let him go over, and then let him move on.
Or imagine a typical Shield backstage video that hits the screen, and as we watch Ambrose holding the camera while each man speaks, suddenly, Ryback appears in the background. Chaos ensues and the screen goes to static.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that video was found earlier today and since then, there has been no sight of The Shield. Could it be that Ryback finally overcame the three young NXT upstarts that have been plaguing him for so long?”
I can only hope so.