The WWE pulled the infamous no-contest finish out of its bag of tricks tonight, and the WWE Championship match between Ryback and Cena ended without a winner or a loser.
Both men crashed through the PPV set, and even though Ryback rose to his foot before Cena did, the bout was ultimately ruled a no-contest. Once again, Ryback left a major PPV match without a major PPV win.
What’s this all mean? Quite simply, it’s that this was the only way the WWE could have continued the Ryback/Cena feud—at least in its own eyes.
Of course, there are a ton of different ways tonight’s match could have ended—like, you know, with Ryback actually winning. Hell, maybe The Shield could have laid out both men.
But no. The WWE instead went to the old no-contest finish, the main point of which is obviously to protect both guys in the match and keep them looking strong.
Ultimately, though, all that the no-contest ending really served as was a painful reminder that this feud was going to continue past Extreme Rules and it was only going to do so with Cena as the WWE Champion.
Barring some sort of fluke finish, Cena was never going to lose his first PPV title defense because, well, come on. Does that really even need an explanation?
Cena was always going to leave this PPV as the WWE Champion. The only real question was how he would be able to do so. With Ryback involved, that answer quickly became obvious.
How do you protect both men? You have neither lose.
At least on paper, that’s a wise philosophy. After all, why have one of your top superstars suffer another loss when he doesn’t have to?
Unfortunately for the WWE, however, that philosophy was very poorly executed. Ryback walked away from the match while Cena didn’t, so technically speaking, Ryback should have been declared the winner and the new WWE Champion.
But the WWE wanted this feud to continue on its own terms, and those terms are this: Ryback and Cena will continue to feud, but if and only if Cena is the WWE Champion.
When will the Ryback/Cena feud end?
Now, we’ve seen Ryback come up short in a major match yet again, which has been a disturbing trend in his career. He simply never wins major matches, and as a result, he’s unable to get over to the level that the WWE wants him to.
Sure, Ryback has undoubtedly gotten over during his run at the top. But now that he’s turned heel, he desperately needed that signature win to solidify himself as a top villain.
But the WWE just wouldn’t give it to him.
As a result, Ryback is now in the same position as a heel that he was in as a babyface. He’s kinda sorta pushed like a top-level superstar, but at the same time, he’s also booked so poorly as a top star that it’s hard to really buy him as one.
Top superstars are supposed to win consistently, and any which way you look at it, Ryback has done exactly the opposite. Instead of consistently winning, he’s consistently failed in his attempts to become the WWE Champion.
Just because his match against Cena at Extreme Rules ended in a no-contest doesn’t make things any different. In fact, they’re exactly the same.
Ryback the villain is a mirror image of Ryback the hero. No matter how hard the WWE wants us to take him seriously as a top star, we just can’t do it.
And the WWE can blame itself for that.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!