On WWE Raw last night, John Cena once again defied the odds, fighting off The Shield in the closing segment. He also floored Ryback with an Attitude Adjustment and stood tall as the show went off the air.
The Ryback heel turn and subsequent feud with John Cena has failed to ignite the wrestling world and doesn't appear to be heading toward Steamboat-Savage level anytime soon. In fact, the booking of these two workers shows exactly why WWE is as stale as ever.
Let's start with Ryback: Since being booked against CM Punk a number of months ago, Ryback has gone from someone who never lost to someone who can't beat anyone. The guy got some good crowd reactions and beat up some jobbers, but then WWE totally blanked on what to do with him.
So, instead of doing something, I don't know, interesting, the creative team booked Ryback to lose approximately 732 matches in a row, including his match at WrestleMania against Mark Henry.
Somehow, this loss to Mark Henry qualified Ryback for a world title shot. Fine. WWE probably thought, "Well, he's turning heel anyway, so the loss to Henry won't hurt him." However, you can't just turn a guy like Ryback and then shoot him to the top of the card with basically no buildup whatsoever.
What WWE should have done was have Ryback turn on someone like Sheamus or Kofi Kingston. He could have turned on a mid- to upper-card guy, squashed him at Extreme Rules and moved on to Cena at the next pay-per-view.
The way things are now, WWE has booked itself into a corner once again. Beating Ryback a few weeks after his heel turn will kill the character dead (well...more dead than it already is), but do you really want to see WWE champion Ryback? Of course not. No one does.
So how does WWE get out of this one? It will utilize the Extreme Rules concept to get out of booking a finish to the match. Obviously, you can't book a screwjob finish at an event that has no rules, so expect to see a tables match between Ryback and Cena. That way, Cena can beat Ryback without pinning him, and they can stretch this feud out to waste more TV time.
You can't take the title off of Cena because you just spent a year building to him winning it. You also can't beat Ryback because that makes him a dork who can't win after turning into Heel Ultimate Warrior 2013. It basically amounts to another predictable finish in a promotion full of them.
I don't want to rant again about John Cena—God knows I've done more than enough of that in my previous columns—but the whole thing is just stale and uninteresting. John Cena as the unbeatable, defying the odds, taking on the world Superman is done. It's over.
That's not a criticism of Cena, though. This happens to every single worker eventually. Hulkamania eventually ran out of steam, and people started booing. Steve Austin's hellraiser character eventually became predictable around 2002, and people started changing the channel. John Cena has simply reached that same milestone as a character.
As much as WWE tries to play off Cena's heel heat like people are booing because they don't want him to win, that booing means so much more. That booing represents people saying, "I am sick of this guy, and I want a change."
John Cena has essentially been the exact same character since 2005—eight whole years. Hulk Hogan had a similar time frame but wasn't overexposed by hours of TV every single week. Steve Austin's hot streak lasted from 1997-2002, and he even worked in a heel turn.
Look, I understand. Kids are buying the John Cena teddy bears, and nerdy adults are buying his hats and wristbands. Cena blows off changing his character because he doesn't want to stop doing charity work or let down the kids, but—let's be honest here—he doesn't want to lose the money.
With WrestleMania's buyrate apparently much lower than expected, I would expect Extreme Rules to be equally disappointing. There simply isn't enough interest in Cena as champion or Ryback as a heel to warrant spending $60 on a B-level pay-per-view.
So go ahead, Cena fanatics. Call me out. Say that I don't understand how the business works or how wrestling should be booked. However, numbers don't lie, and right now there aren't too many people who are going to be watching Extreme Rules.