WWE WrestleMania 29: Did Losing to Mark Henry Damage Ryback?

Travis TaylorFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2013

Photo by WWE.com
Photo by WWE.com

At WrestleMania 29, Ryback lost to Mark Henry. Despite a fairly even contest on the grandest stage of them all, The World’s Strongest Man was able to upset Big Hungry.

With his sixth straight pay-per-view loss now in the record books, did losing to Henry damage Ryback?

For the man who wrestled for the WWE Championship on two different pay-per-views within months of debuting on the main roster, yet another loss can't be good. How is Ryback to build any momentum or build to a title run if he can't make the win when it counts the most?

He can't. It leaves Ryback as a cool wrestling sideshow attraction. He's the big, larger-than-life monster who is no longer the norm in the sport.

If the WWE is serious in building Ryback up into a main event wrestler, this was not the way. Where do six losses in a row leave him? It leaves him stuck in the mid-card with no clear path ahead.

The matchup with Henry was a golden opportunity. For the first time since making his main roster debut as Ryback, there was a man who could match Big Hungry physically. Plus, that man was a former world champion.

After failing to pin then-WWE champion CM Punk twice on pay-per-view and once on Raw, the WrestleMania matchup should have thrust Ryback back into the title picture.

The buildup to the match was wonderful. Not only did neither man face the other in a bout but their continued one-upmanship in the ring was entertaining. The weightlifting contest between the two was also unique, allowing the WWE Universe to see the two men challenge each other in a more normal fashion.

With the majority of the WrestleMania card a rematch of some sort, Ryback vs. Henry was something fresh. Both men needed to win—Ryback for his building pay-per-view losing streak and Henry to regain the footing he lost while out with an injury.

Henry could have suffered a loss at WrestleMania and not received one dent on his armor. He recovered from his loss at Elimination Chamber unscathed. But for Ryback, the loss stops any forward momentum he had.

How many times does he get pinned during the big matches before the WWE Universe no longer sees him as a practical opponent or contender to anyone or anything?

He suffered his first loss at Hell in a Cell to Punk in a title match. He lost again at Survivor Series in a Triple Threat bout with John Cena and Punk, also for the title.

At TLC he and Team Hell No were destroyed by The Shield in a brutal tag team bout. Ryback's rematch with Punk on Raw, while still a loss, can be forgiven. It was The Shield who cost him the match.

At the Royal Rumble, Cena eliminated him to win the bout. At Elimination Chamber he, Sheamus and Cena lost out to The Shield again.

Now, it is this latest loss to Henry.

Professional wrestling is a world of perception. The audience needs to believe that a wrestler is capable of beating another wrestler. In a world of fixed fights the sport itself needs the workings of the WWE Universe’s imagination.

When that illusion is lost, it's hard to get back.

Ryback now has a reputation for not being able to win the big one. With Cena as WWE champion and CM Punk out with another possible injury, this could have been an opening for Ryback to step back up and challenge for a title.

A victory over Henry would have given him that momentum.

Instead, Ryback is right where he has always been: Stuck in the mid-card, looking up, with no foot holes to climb the mountain.