Since Ryback burst onto the scene in WWE last April, he's become one of the most popular superstars in the company. Though some complain that his character is one dimensional and that he has a limited moveset, fans connect to Ryback as a monster babyface in a big way.
Ryback got over so quickly that WWE even placed him in a feud with CM Punk for the WWE championship late last year.
Lately, Ryback has been ensconced in a feud with The Shield, along with his new partners, John Cena and Sheamus. To some, this indicates a return to the midcard for the erstwhile Skip Sheffield. To others, it demonstrates WWE's faith in the big man. Clearly, the creative team feels that he's over enough to appear onscreen with two of the company's top babyfaces.
As long as Ryback is over with the WWE Universe, there's a good chance he'll get a shot at the WWE championship in 2013. There are those who would argue that he's already had his chance and will not see the spotlight again this year. Others think he deserves another chance.
As long as audiences continue to chant, "Feed Me More," Ryback has a shot at getting another WWE championship match.
The following slides depict one way that it could happen.
Click on as we imagine the beginning of a possible Ryback title reign.
The whole scenario will start Sunday at the Elimination Chamber.
Ryback is slated to take part in a six-man tag team contest against The Shield, with Sheamus and John Cena as his partners.
Ryback performed well in a previous six-man tag against The Shield at Tables Ladders and Chairs in December. If he has another great performance on Sunday, it could start the ball rolling on a big push.
Why it Could Happen: This is just the type of match Ryback can shine in. He'll get to show off his power moves and won't be alone in the ring to have his somewhat limited move set exposed. The Shield are good workers and will bump for Ryback if they're asked to. Ryback will be in the ring with five of the hottest stars in WWE Sunday night. If he has a good showing, his cachet will be automatically increased.
Why it Might Not Happen: WWE has promoted The Shield heavily lately. They may want to keep the heel trio strong moving forward. If The Shield is booked to win the match, it's more likely that Ryback would take the pin than either Sheamus or Cena. Since this is the last PPV before WrestleMania, where Cena is likely to face The Rock, WWE might want to make him look stronger than anyone else in the match.
If Ryback's team emerges victorious from Elimination Chamber, it should put an end to the feud with The Shield. This would leave him without a feud. Since both The Shield and CM Punk were involved in robbing Ryback of the WWE championship on two occasions, it would make sense for him to continue his quest for revenge by seeking out Punk.
Why it Could Happen: It's logical. If Ryback is looking for revenge and gets revenge on The Shield, Punk (or possibly Brad Maddox) would naturally be next on his list. Since Punk is unlikely to defeat The Rock at the PPV, he'll also be without a feud.
Why it Might Not Happen: Since we've already seen Ryback vs. Punk, the creative team might not want to match them up again so soon. There's also a chance that WWE will decide that there are other, more viable feuds for Ryback to take on before he gets another shot at Punk. It's also just possible that Punk somehow beats Rock for the title. If so, he'll have a rematch with "The Great One" to deal with, and Cena is lurking on the horizon, having won a guaranteed title match via his win at the Royal Rumble.
If Punk and Ryback begin a feud after Elimination Chamber, it's only logical that the feud would conclude on the grandest stage of all, WrestleMania.
Since Punk is the No. 1 heel in the company right now, and Ryback would be red hot after dispatching The Shield and starting a program with Punk, the match would have a high enough profile to justify a spot on the biggest card of the year.
Why it Could Happen: Ryback is completely over with the crowd right now. He'd make a perfect foil for Punk's heel character. If WWE is thinking ahead to a Rock-less post-WrestleMania season, it makes sense to keep both of these characters as hot as possible. What better way than to have them fight each other?
Why it Might Not Happen: In the event that Undertaker decides to compete at WrestleMania, most experts predict that Punk will be his opponent. If that happens, Punk wouldn't be available for a match with Ryback. There's also a slight chance that Punk will still be involved in the WWE championship picture, which would leave him unavailable.
While this slide has little to do with Ryback, it does contain an outcome that must take place if the big man is to get his shot at the WWE title belt this year.
The smart bet is that John Cena will face The Rock for the WWE championship in the main event of WrestleMania 29 in April.
The two broke buyrate records with their showdown at WM 28, and Cena won the Royal Rumble, assuring him of a title match at this year's event. It would seem foolish for WWE to book anyone else but Rock as Cena's foe.
Why it Could Happen: Assuming that Cena and Rock do meet, it doesn't make sense for WWE to keep the belt on a guy (Rock) who will be leaving the company to film movies for most of the rest of the year. Also, Cena hasn't held the title in over a year. It might be time for him to reign again.
Why it Might Not Happen: Cena hasn't held the title in over a year. WWE may have decided that he doesn't need it. Also, it's possible, though not likely, that Punk will defeat Rock at Elimination Chamber and thus be champion at WrestleMania. If the title match is between Punk and Cena, there's no particular reason that Cena needs to win.
The PPV after WrestleMania is Extreme Rules. This is where Ryback could truly begin to position himself for a title run.
If Cena holds the belt coming out of WrestleMania, this show might possibly feature a rematch for the WWE title between Cena and Rock. If Rock isn't competing at this event, Cena will likely face either Punk or Sheamus for the title.
Either way, Ryback and either Punk or Sheamus could easily be booked in a No. 1 contenders match for the WWE title. The winner would be guaranteed a future shot at Cena (or whomever is champion).
Why it Could Happen: Assuming that Rock will be gone, Cena will need a new feud. Since he's already wrestled Punk several times, WWE might want to move on. Sheamus is a babyface and thus not a great matchup for Cena. There don't appear to be any other heels on the roster that are ready for a title shot at this point.
Why it Might Not Happen: Rock might still be around, giving him one more match with Cena. If that were the case, a No. 1 contender's match would likely feature Punk and Sheamus, not Ryback. If Punk is the titleholder, he's more likely to feud with Sheamus or Cena than re-ignite a program with Ryback.
If we go ahead and pretend that everything in the previous slides took place, that would set Ryback up for a title match against Cena at the yet-to-be-named PPV in Rosemont, Illinois on June 16.
Imagine a backstage scene in which The Shield, taking orders from a mysterious person in the shadows, (maybe on a cell phone) attacks Ryback, rendering him incapable of taking on Cena.
Cena would then take on Punk, who would be named as Ryback's replacement. Cena would keep the title.
Why it Could Happen: If Ryback were the No. 1 contender, that would likely infuriate The Shield, which has already established that it doesn't approve of Ryback high on the card. Also, since this isn't a premier PPV (they haven't even named it yet), it's unlikely that there will be a title change. It wouldn't make sense to have a Cena-Ryback showdown in this event.
Why it Might Not Happen: The Shield might be on to other things, perhaps chasing the WWE Tag Team title, or beating up the SmackDown roster. If WWE made Ryback the No. 1 contender, they might feel that they have to deliver a match with him in it. Since Cena isn't going to lose the title at a minor PPV, Ryback would be untracked here.
Here's where the real fantasy booking comes in.
At the Raw following the Rosemont PPV, Vince McMahon appears and announces that the board has decided that all of the backstage attacks, in-ring interruptions and other shenanigans have to cease. In order to ensure peace, the board has decided to install Stone Cold Steve Austin as the new Raw GM.
As his first order of business, Austin announces that he will investigate who was behind The Shield's attack the previous night, find the culprit and "open a can of whoop ass."
He'll also state that since Ryback didn't get his promised match, he'll get a shot at the upcoming Money in the Bank PPV. A contract signing will be set for later in the show.
Later, Austin informs The Shield, set for a Tag Title match with Team Hell No, that the match will be cancelled if they don't reveal who sent them after Ryback.
The is Shield shown discussing the concept and deciding that justice is best served if they have WWE gold around their waists. They promise to "make it clear" who ordered the hit on Ryback later in the show. Austin agrees.
At the end of the broadcast, Cena and Ryback go to the ring for the contract signing. The Shield runs in and beats down Ryback while Cena "hides" in the corner.
Once the beatdown is complete, Cena emerges from the corner and shakes hands with Dean Ambrose, thus confirming he's been behind The Shield from the beginning.
Michael Cole has a conniption, and the WWE Universe has the long-awaited beginning of a John Cena heel turn.
Why it Could Happen: Somebody has to replace Vickie Guerrero as the authority figure on Raw. Why not Austin? If Austin were GM, deciding to award Ryback a second shot at the title seems like something he'd do. Cena can't be a babyface forever. Even Hulk Hogan turned heel.
Why it Might Not Happen: It's not likely that Austin is going to return for anything less than a WrestleMania spotlight. It's also highly unlikely that Cena is going to turn heel at any time in the near future.
Okay, you've swallowed the whole scenario to this point. You might as well stick around until the very end.
After Austin's announcement and the revelation that Cena is the evil mastermind behind The Shield, the contract for a title match between Cena and Ryback is finally signed. The match will take place at the Money in the Bank PPV on July 14.
Since there is always the chance of more interference by The Shield, Austin makes the bout a Cage Match.
During the contest, Cena and Ryback trade offense. Cena eventually puts the big man down with an Attitude Adjustment and starts to climb the cage.
As Cena climbs the cage, the fans pelt him with garbage. Ryback gets off the mat, climbs up behind Cena and clotheslines him off of the top of the cage back into the ring.
Back in the ring, Ryback picks the prone Cena up from the mat, places him on his shoulders and marches around the ring. The crowd goes insane, but Shell Shocked isn't to be. Not yet, anyway.
Ryback, with Cena still on his shoulders, climbs the cage. From the very top, he adminsters the Shell Shocked, and both men go crashing to the ground. Ryback turns over and pins Cena for the title.
Why it Could Happen: If anyone could outmuscle Cena in a cage, it's Ryback. He's picked up men as big as Tensai, so it's not a stretch for him to climb with Cena on his shoulders. WWE likes to close big PPVs with happy endings. If Cena were a heel, and facing Ryback, there's a good chance that the big man would go over.
Why it Might Not Happen: An awful lot of pretty unlikely things would have to take place before this scenario played out. Odds are that at least one of them will go awry, thus destroying the rest of the chain.
Will Ryback hold the WWE championship it 2013? It's likely. How will it happen? Who knows?
Have your own ideas? Think Ryback is on his way back down the card? Have a scenario of your own to talk about? Speak your mind in the comments section below.