There is no denying that Ryback's meteoric rise to the top over the past several months has been sudden and impressive, but he has fallen on some hard times as of late. Ryback has lost at five consecutive pay-per-views, and the crowd reaction has cooled to some degree, so a heel turn in the near future could pay big dividends.
Although there are definitely arguments to be made against a Ryback heel turn, I feel like it makes a ton of sense. There is a sentiment out there that main-event faces outnumber main-event heels, but that isn't the case.
In fact, with the likes of John Cena, Sheamus, Randy Orton and Alberto Del Rio ahead of Ryback or equal to him on the depth chart, many avenues to the main-event scene as a face are closed off to him right now.
The heel picture is much less muddled as CM Punk is really the only established top heel in the company. There are other heels with a ton of promise such as Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger and Wade Barrett, along with veterans like Big Show and Mark Henry, but all of them would easily be surpassed by Ryback if he jumped over to the dark side.
Ryback really reached his high point during the period between Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series as he was routinely getting the biggest pop of the night ahead of Cena, Punk or anyone else for that matter.
The issue with that is the creative team pushed him a bit too far too soon, and it resulted in him losing at both of those events. While it took a screw job from Brad Maddox to lose at Hell in a Cell and The Shield took him out of the equation in a triple threat at Survivor Series, they were still losses.
Those defeats were then followed up by Ryback and Team Hell No losing to The Shield at TLC. Again, Ryback didn't take the fall, but it went down as a loss.
Ryback had a good showing in the Royal Rumble and was among the final two superstars remaining, however, Cena was able to overcome him and eliminate him.
The icing on the cake came at Elimination Chamber when the team of Ryback, Cena and Sheamus lost to The Shield with Ryback surprisingly taking the fall.
Following the match, Cena was in total disbelief, and when he tried to talk to Ryback about what had just transpired, Ryback simply left the ring and essentially walked out on his team. Ryback and Sheamus engaged in a heated argument backstage the following night and they proceeded to team with Chris Jericho against The Shield.
Once again the faces lost, however, so Ryback is now in a state of flux.
Just a couple months ago there was a strong contingent of fans that believed Ryback would challenge Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania and beat him. That obviously won't come to fruition now that Del Rio is world champion, so it's difficult to predict where Ryback goes from here. The Shield has been a thorn in his side, so I suppose he could have them in some capacity at WrestleMania, but he has already been foiled by them on numerous occasions.
My favorite potential scenario involves Ryback adopting an "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality, resulting in him aligning himself with The Shield. That can either occur during a match between The Shield and a Ryback-led team at WrestleMania with Ryback making the turn then, or perhaps The Shield can interfere in the John Cena vs. The Rock main event. Ryback would come out to seemingly make the save, but he would instead lay out both Cena and The Rock.
This would lead to a partnership between Ryback and The Shield and it could set up a feud between Ryback and Cena for the WWE Championship after WrestleMania.
There is some definite storyline heat between Cena and Ryback, and even though it hasn't been played up yet, it's obvious. The fact that Cena eliminated Ryback from the Rumble has to be weighing on the big man, plus the miscommunication they had at Elimination Chamber could be a sign of things to come.
It can be argued that Ryback joining forces with The Shield wouldn't make sense after how much trouble Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have caused him, but it wouldn't be a difficult storyline to write.
It seems like Ryback is becoming disillusioned with Cena as the top guy in the company, and it can even be said that he finds it to be unjust.
Perhaps Ryback will simply have an epiphany that allows him to fully understand The Shield's mission. He can then focus his attention on vanquishing Cena and winning the WWE Championship following WrestleMania.
With The Shield on his side, Ryback would truly appear to be unstoppable. As big as Ryback became as a face, I am confident that he would be an even bigger and more effective heel.
Besides, the options for Cena in terms of a feud after 'Mania are sparse. He has already faced Punk countless times, and the same can be said of guys like Big Show and Ziggler.
Cena has essentially taken on the entire heel roster in WWE to this point, but he and Ryback have yet to feud. Perhaps the encounters they have had thus far were serving as a precursor to a true rivalry following WrestleMania.
The art of the true monster heel has been lost over the years, but Ryback has the look and demeanor to bring it back. There aren't many guys out there who the fans truly believe can beat Cena, but Ryback is one superstar who can. The booking of Ryback hasn't been very good as of late, however, if it leads to a heel turn and feud with Cena, it will have been well worth it.