Ryback Is Not the Headliner WWE Fans Want
WWE fans may be entertained by Ryback's power and intensity now, but his one-dimensional character makes him an unappealing candidate for the company's next headliner.
Ryback has earned louder and louder responses from crowds. The "Feed me more!" chants have begun to muffle the "Goldberg!" chants.
His current momentum isn't sustainable, though, at least not without some tweaking of his charging-rhino persona.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator character didn't truly become interesting until he began to develop a personal relationship with John Connor in T2: Judgment Day. He was certainly cool before that, but it was hard to emotionally invest in a character so far removed from humanity.
Right now Ryback is that unfeeling robot from Terminator.
He's the Hulk without Bruce Banner. He's one of the orcs in a Lord of the Rings battle scene, someone who looks awesome in action, but not someone an audience can really care about.
His character so far has been all fury, all the time. Whenever he's given a chance to speak, it's more growling than talking, more rage than oration.
In promos like these, he comes off as trying too hard.
There's a rigidity to his delivery that is off-putting. His emotions here are a one-note song. WWE fans will have a tough time connecting with him.
Looking back at WWE's biggest names, it's clear that character matters.
Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels made us feel for them through the power of pathos. Either they pulled us in with a narrative of resisting authority, living out a boyhood dream or some other compelling story.
Ryback has no story. He's just a big, dominant dude with an insatiable appetite.
You have to go back to Ultimate Warrior to find a WWE champ as much of an android-like character as Ryback. After Warrior's initial surge, he couldn't hang on to WWE's top spot. He, like Ryback, had only one gear.
Before WWE can consider making Ryback a legitimate headliner, his character needs an added layer.
Ryback has, however, shown glimpses of a more interesting personality, moments where humanity intermingles with his animalistic rage.
This is the key to Ryback achieving top-level status. Fans need to see more of this, more of his pain and struggle. The more WWE shows Ryback's personality and his underbelly, the easier it is to root for him.
It's not as if WWE needs to turn Ryback into Hamlet, but we need to see more of his inner workings.
Destruction alone can only entertain for so long.
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