John Cena vs. Ryback at Extreme Rules 2013 will be a battle of power vs. power, of the newcomer looking to knock off the established veteran.
Comparing champion and challenger side-by-side highlights both their similarities and differences. It shows us that Ryback's chances are not great going into the pay-per-view, but bigger upsets have happened.
Physically, Cena and Ryback are a lot alike.
Cena is 6'1'' and 251 pounds and clearly spends a lot of time in the gym. He has bulked up from his days at Ohio Valley Wrestling. Ryback is just two inches taller and weighs 291 pounds.
Both men use a power-centric offense and end the majority of their matches with a finisher that begins with their foes atop their shoulders. Fans should undoubtedly see Shell Shocked thwarted and reversed into the Attitude Adjustment and vice versa. Which move will end the match and earn someone a victory?
A look at their strengths and weaknesses gives us plenty to think about going into the WWE title match.
Both Ryback and Cena's best weapon is their power. Their match will feature a large number of slams, clotheslines and assorted power moves. Which man is stronger though?
While Ryback is bigger and has more muscles in his shoulders than some men have in their entire body, Cena may actually be the more powerful of the two.
As many times as Ryback has lifted two men simultaneously, he has yet to match what Cena did at WrestleMania 25. Lifting over 400 pounds of Big Show is impressive enough, but to also have Edge (240 pounds) on one's shoulders, even momentarily, is stunning.
Ryback hasn't had the chance to match this feat, so Cena can only claim the edge in power until proven otherwise. As much as it was Tensai's fault for not cooperating, watching Ryback struggle to lift him diminishes Ryback’s aura of having almost superhuman strength.
Compared to Bret Hart or Bob Backlund, Cena's mat wrestling looks awkward and sloppy. Compare him to Ryback, however, and suddenly his ring work looks more varied and more precise.
Cena has moments of quality technical wrestling, but he certainly isn't consistent.
Watching him perform moves like the body scissors or triangle choke shows what Cena's best looks like. Better yet, watch his match against Shawn Michaels on WWE Raw in 2007. As much as Michaels was the lead dance partner that night, Cena more than held his own on the mat.
Contrast that with Ryback's in-ring toolbox. It consists of mostly slams, thrusts and strikes.
Big Hungry is one of the few guys on the roster that Cena can claim superiority in technical skills over. Luckily for Ryback, no one will be expecting a mat wrestling clinic, especially since their Extreme Rules match is of the Last Man Standing variety.
Just five years older than Ryback, Cena has a lifetime more experience than his opponent.
Ryback's total pay-per-view record is 4-5, with those five losses following an undefeated streak of four wins against lower-level competition. The Shield, Brad Maddox and Mark Henry have Ryback sitting at a winning percentage below .500.
Cena has as many wins at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view as Ryback has in total.
Cena, to his detractors chagrin, has been collecting championships over the years. He has won the Royal Rumble twice, the Money in the Bank ladder match in 2012, the tag and U.S. titles and has had 11 reigns as the WWE champ. Ryback is looking for his first taste of WWE gold.
Ryback's choice of the Last Man Standing stipulation may be exciting for fans, but in terms of storyline, it favors Cena despite his heel injury. Cena has beaten the monstrous Batista and Umaga in that match. He did lose to Alberto Del Rio and Edge in Last Man Standing battles, so Ryback does have some hope.
The match will be a test of what Ryback can do in the spotlight and a chance for him to prove he belongs in WWE's upper echelon. Cena represents the status quo, the guy WWE has leaned on for years. Ryback represents freshness, a potential new megastar.
His opponent has been atop the food chain for years, accomplishing the feats Ryback likely wishes he will achieve. Regardless if he wins or loses, for Ryback to avoid sliding down to the midcard, he needs to impress the WWE decision makers on May 19.
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