Ryback’s status in WWE is somewhat unclear after he once again lost a championship match to John Cena at June 16’s Payback. The man once believed to be a future headlining star in Vince McMahon’s company now seems to be in a holding pattern. While anything could happen, I believe we may have seen the last of Ryback right now on the main event level.
Let’s face it. What’s left for this guy?
From the moment Ryback first debuted back in 2012, we have been led to believe he is exactly what WWE wants: a big, tough guy with a marketable look and a tremendous upside. Ryback resembled WWE Superstars of old, a man of few words but with strength unmatched.
He had a power game in the ring, a simple name and a memorable catchphrase. On the surface, Ryback seemed to fit right in.
But when the "Goldberg" chants began at a very faint level and then grew stronger every time Ryback was in the ring, the cracks in the armor became apparent. Whether or not it was intentional, fans believed they were no longer merely looking at Skip Sheffield with a new gimmick and a new opportunity; they were looking at a WWE-engineered Bill Goldberg clone.
And that's not the worst of it.
Ryback’s ring work is just not working for many fans out there. Though his repertoire is one we have seen so many times before from big men in the past, we still find reasons to criticize him for it. Heavy hands, big boots, clotheslines and high-impact slams—that’s the name of the game for Ryback, and, quite honestly, that move set is perhaps wearing too thin.
Of course, we cannot forget The Shield, whose mission upon arriving on WWE’s main roster was to decimate Ryback and leave him for dead.
While I had no problem with Ryback getting involved in a storyline that could perhaps improve his position in the company, the truth is that facing off against Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns did nothing for him.
His station in WWE did not improve, and he actually seemed to lose ground. The Shield stopped Ryback from making any forward progress, including winning the WWE Championship from CM Punk on two separate occasions.
But even though Ryback had his negative points, I decided to let it go. I wanted to wait and see how WWE chose to handle him. The company has done more with less before. Maybe this was just the latest example, and we would eventually see Ryback rise to the occasion in a very big way.
The guy can’t win the big one. Period. He was unable to defeat CM Punk, he never got any sort of real measure against The Shield in the process and now he has come up short twice against John Cena. Despite how strong WWE makes him look on TV or how much we are supposed to buy into his character as a top Superstar, the truth is that it’s not working.
And perhaps it never did.
I have to say that this is one of the most curious bookings of a WWE Superstar I have ever seen. He was built for success, given an opportunity, and then pulled back down the moment he began to gain any traction. Then they continued to feature him, but he has yet to hold any gold and cannot buy a victory on pay-per-view.
And WWE has stuck by him every step of the way.
But the time has come for the Ryback experiment to be redesigned. Back to the drawing board for WWE. Is he a true future main event Superstar, or is he destined to stay at midcard status? Will he be WWE champion at some point, or is he meant for a secondary title?
Is he the real deal or just a blip on the radar? Is there anything left for Ryback?
Ryback seemed to be a man on his way up in WWE. He appeared to have all the tools necessary to succeed in Vince McMahon’s company, but after once again losing to John Cena on pay-per-view, Ryback’s time on the main event stage has ended for now.
But stay tuned. I have a feeling we will eventually see Ryback on the main event stage once again in WWE and it could perhaps be sooner than we think. It may never be over.