At WWE Extreme Rules 2013, the WWE took the easy way out. Again.
Heading into the pay-per-view, a hot topic of conversation was how the company would book the WWE Championship match between John Cena and Ryback.
Surely, Cena wasn’t going to lost his first title defense of his current championship reign. Of course, Ryback wasn’t going to lose cleanly in his first PPV match as a heel. Right?
So what did the WWE do? It had Ryback vs. Cena end in a no contest.
It’s not surprising that there wasn’t a clean finish to the bout, even though the “Last Man Standing” stipulation implies that there is going to be a winner no matter what. But that type of finish is incredibly frustrating, especially for the fans.
We’ve learned over the course of the last year that the WWE loves booking itself into a hole, and this Ryback/Cena feud is just the latest example of that.
Ryback was forced into an awkward booking situation last October when he had to step up to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell. With a major match between Punk and The Rock looming, Ryback didn’t stand a chance in that match.
Naturally, he lost the bout in controversial fashion, and more than half a year later, he has been victimized by the creative team again—yes, the same creative team that hasn’t given him a PPV victory in nearly a year.
What this has taught us is the same thing that nearly all of Ryback’s PPV matches have taught us: That the WWE is only willing to push Ryback so far.
If you’re the head of a wrestling organization and you want to push a guy to become your company’s next big star, logic says that you slowly elevate him up to the top of the card before giving him a number of signature wins once he finally gets there.
But Ryback is still yet to get that signature win.
After all, he’s lost literally every major PPV match he’s had since last July—until now. But let’s just be honest with ourselves here: A match that ends with a no contest finish isn’t exactly a win.
Yeah, Ryback didn’t lose, but he didn’t win, either. Shocking, right? Of course it isn’t.
The WWE proved at tonight’s Extreme Rules PPV what has long been said about Ryback—the company just isn’t willing to take that final step with him and give him the title. That would symbolize his status as a top star.
If the WWE is going to push Ryback as a top singles star, it needs to actually push him. It can’t go back and forth on what it wants to do with him and then decide to continuously protect him without having him ever win the big one.
Ryback isn’t going to benefit at all from losing in controversial fashion. He’s also not going to benefit whatsoever from ending a match in what is essentially a draw because, when it’s all said and done, he still didn’t win.
And that’s what we can say about Ryback—not that he lost or won, but that once again, he came up short.
That seems to be the trend with this guy, though, and if you haven’t learned that by now, then odds are that you never will.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!