Ryback is the WWE's clear choice as the heir apparent to John Cena as king of the babyfaces. It has been a long process of forging ahead and force-feeding. A six-month undefeated streak. Countless squash matches. Pay-per-view main events. All designed to make Ryback look major league.
But it all comes down to this.
The WWE's hard work in promoting Ryback could be made or broken at WrestleMania XXIX. The match will be against monster heel Mark Henry, who has been well protected by WWE Creative since returning to the WWE in a form of a Raw rampage.
His sole pinfall loss since returning came at the Elimination Chamber. The loss was diffused after Henry went Godzilla on the remaining field of WWE superstars. Several WWE officials, Booker T and Teddy Long were needed to steer him to the locker room. It was quite the scene.
Ryback defeating Henry would be the type of notch on his belt that Hulk Hogan received after his monumental victory over Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III, albeit to a lesser degree.
However, beating Mark Henry alone wouldn't be enough for the WWE to announce that Ryback has arrived. He needs a WrestleMania moment. Few stars are created without them.
Ryback's moment will come if he slams Mark Henry via his Shell Shocked finisher. If he doesn't, his push will have been set back several months.
It's no secret that Ryback will be in enemy territory faced with a snarky, nostalgic New York crowd at WrestleMania XXIX. Chants of "Sexual Chocolate" and "Ryback sucks" would be considered the norm.
Can Ryback get Mark Henry up for his Shell Shock finisher?
But if Ryback were to hoist a 400-plus-pound hoss in the air and slam him to the canvas, any hostile resistance expressed by MetLife stadium would be futile.
The impressive visual of Ryback slamming Mark Henry at WrestleMania would become immortal. It would be enough to build upon once WWE part-timers such as The Rock, Triple H and The Undertaker have dried up.
There is some measure of drama behind Ryback's ability to carry a super heavyweight on his shoulders. After doing just that on SmackDown against Lord Tensai, Ryback failed to do so on a live, more important version of Raw.
The blunder will create doubt as to whether or not Ryback will be able to pull off the stunt against Mark Henry.
Not bad for a subplot.