The battle for the WWE title at Extreme Rules 2013 will better than John Cena and Ryback's detractors expect.
Ryback has solid matches with CM Punk and was a part of the incredible TLC match against The Shield last December, but his resume doesn't have a ton of glow to it yet.
The assumption for some is that he's not versatile, not talented enough to deliver a main event quality match. Cena has long been criticized for having just "five moves of doom" at his disposal and for generally not being able to wrestle.
Neither man will ever be mistaken for Ric Flair, but their power-centric match on May 19 should be compelling.
It will be a brawl fueled by high-impact moves, a struggle between two motivated powerhouses with plenty to prove. As Jim Ross put it on Twitter, this will be a nasty, physical showdown akin to the battles that go on in the NFL trenches.
Cena's best matches have been with athletic ring generals; Edge, CM Punk and Shawn Michaels. Ryback has little in common with those men, but taking a look back at Cena's clashes with Batista give fans a glimpse into what the Extreme Rules WWE title match can look like.
Cena and Batista’s best work together came at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view three years ago.
Their Last Man Standing match was hard-hitting action with bursts of drama. Ryback is not at Batista's level yet, but exhibits the same sort of straight-ahead style and animalistic intensity. He is fully capable of pulling off a similar match with Cena.
Ryback can prowl about the ring the way Batista did. He can be just as devastating with a chair as Batista, just as convincing a threat to Cena.
Following that match's lead, WWE should make Ryback and Cena's match a Last Man Standing affair. The stipulation's slower pace allows for both men to rest. It also elevates the violence of the match.
Credit WWE with taking the risk of sticking an unproven talent in this big spot. We can't just watch a never-ending cycle of Cena vs. Randy Orton, Cena vs. CM Punk or Cena vs. Triple H. WWE is going to learn a lot about what Ryback can do in increasingly bright spotlight.
Is he the future or just a passing fad? Is he the next top heel or just a perennial jobber eater?
It's going to be fun watching him give his best, for him and Cena to slug it out in front of the fans in St. Louis. Chairs will clang on spines. Clotheslines will smash into flesh. Roars will fill the ring.
Cena vs. Ryback doesn't have the big-name appeal of last year's match with Cena and Brock Lesnar, but it will be a surprisingly entertaining fight.