WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS from this week’s SmackDown, so STOP reading if you like to be surprised.
If you thought you knew what matches were going to take place at WrestleMania 29, then this Friday’s SmackDown may surprise you.
According to the show’s spoilers (via WrestlingInc.com), it will be announced that Randy Orton, Sheamus and Ryback will take on The Shield at the biggest pay-per-view of the year. The surprising twist came after Orton and Sheamus picked Ryback over Big Show, who actually wanted to be on the babyface team.
Ryback’s surprising addition to the squad seems to have thrown a wrench into WrestleMania plans for Ryback, Big Show and several others.
Or has it?
Though Ryback is currently scheduled to team up with Orton and The Shield, don’t expect this to be anything more than the current plan—a plan that is bound to change in the near future.
After all, what transpired between Henry and Ryback later in the show makes it perfectly clear that Ryback won’t be joining forces with Orton and Sheamus at WrestleMania.
No, it’ll be the battle of the behemoths on the grandest stage of them all: Ryback vs. Henry.
After Ryback decided to join Orton and Sheamus in their effort to take on The Shield, he was jumped by—you guessed it—Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins. He was then attacked again by—you guessed it—“The World’s Strongest Man.”
The latter occurrence should confirm that, despite the way things may appear, Ryback won’t be facing The Shield yet again at WrestleMania. He’ll be going one-on-one with arguably the most unstoppable force in the WWE.
And that’s exactly what should happen.
Ryback has spent most of the last several months doing battle with The Shield, and what does he have to show for it? Oh yeah, failure after failure—with big losses galore and exactly zero wins over his most bitter enemies.
It’s become painfully obvious that Ryback and The Shield just don’t mix. With the creative team wanting to push The Shield as a dominant and unbeatable trio, Ryback had to be the sacrificial lamb, and it’s best for both his short- and long-term future that he moves on to a feud that will actually take him somewhere.
That’s where Henry comes in.
Not surprisingly, Henry has been booked like an absolute monster since his return just after the Royal Rumble, and he’s looking just as good now as he was during his great run of 2011. That’s great news for Henry…and for Ryback.
We all know that Ryback has had a really rough stretch of losses dating all the way back to Hell in a Cell last October, and now more than ever, he needs a signature win to get out of his slump that has lasted for nearly six months.
Beating just anybody isn’t going to accomplish that for Ryback. He’s consistently beaten guys like Dolph Ziggler and Antonio Cesaro on TV, and yet, that has done nothing to change the fact that he has yet to win the big one on pay-per-view.
That all changes at WrestleMania 29.
Despite Ryback currently being booked in that 6-man tag team match, make no mistake about it—that’s a red herring at this point, and after the way he will be manhandled by Henry on this week’s SmackDown, it’s very apparent that he’ll be taking on Henry at the biggest pay-per-view of the year.
He needs it, too.
Although he continues to remain over with the crowd, the fact of the matter is that Ryback can’t continue to lose big matches and expect to be taken seriously by the crowd. He needs that signature, career-defining victory, and Henry is exactly the man who can give it to him.
Will Mark Henry wrestle his last match at WrestleMania against Ryback?
In all likelihood, Henry is close to calling it a career. He’s been in the WWE since 1996, has a lot of wear and tear on his body and is now in his early 40s. Odds are, he’ll be retiring sooner rather than later.
But with nearly unparalleled longevity and an often overlooked career resume, Henry is more than worthy of one last major PPV match before he rides off into the sunset. A WrestleMania match with Ryback would give him just that.
Perhaps more importantly, though, it would allow him to do what so many great superstars did on their way out: Put someone ever.
There’s no reason for Henry, if he really is nearing retirement, to go over an up-and-coming star with a really bright future like Ryback on the grand stage of WrestleMania. After all, Ryback would benefit more from that monumental victory than Henry ever would.
That’s what the WWE has to keep in mind here: Ryback needs this win more than he ever has while Henry’s legacy is already intact.
This match must happen because it will be a wildly entertaining clash between two colossal superstars, but once it’s over and done with, there should only be one outcome: Ryback standing tall in victory.
That’s the only proper way to end the career of Henry while truly starting the career of Ryback.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!