Following two pay-per-view losses to John Cena, the former Nexus star is now out of the WWE World Championship picture and feuding with Chris Jericho in the midcard. The two are set to face off at Money in the Bank next month.
While Jericho is undoubtedly a star and a talented veteran, this still feels like a comedown for Ryback—and, really, it is.
It didn’t help that prior to his backstage confrontation with Jericho, the star had just spent several minutes selling for lower-midcard lame comedy act, The Great Khali.
What was the point of that exactly?
Just how did things go so badly wrong for Ryback?
Well, the main issues can probably be traced back to last October’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, in which Ryback took on WWE champion CM Punk and came up short in his attempt to win the title.
Prior to the show, Ryback had been a red-hot babyface, similar to Bill Goldberg in 1998. Fans—no doubt eager to embrace any top babyface that wasn’t Cena—were desperate for him to win the belt and reach the top of the mountain.
It’s hard to argue he wasn’t damaged by the loss, no matter how tainted it was (Punk won when corrupt referee Brad Maddox got involved and attacked Ryback).
To make matters worse, the former Nexus start continued to be hindered by sloppy booking in the weeks and months after Hell in a Cell. Indeed, the guy has amassed a shockingly bad losing streak as far as pay-per-views go, being on the losing side at Survivor Series, TLC, Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, WrestleMania, Extreme Rules and Payback.
For all the Goldberg comparisons, Ryback has certainly not been booked like him. Indeed, in many ways he has become the anti-Goldberg. He loses frequently.
But the 31-year-old is not blameless here, either.
OK, so the booking has been bad, but he’s not the first wrestler in WWE to be booked terribly. Dolph Ziggler, in particular, has been treated way worse, losing to everyone left and right.
But while Ziggler is talented enough to overcome even the most shoddy of writing, Ryback simply isn’t.
Is it too late for Ryback to be a huge star in WWE?
He’s not a great wrestler—or even a decent one—and he’s pretty limited as a personality. He can be charismatic at points, sure, but he can’t really compare to Bill Goldberg or the intense magnetism he showed during his WCW stint.
Really, how much should WWE invest in someone like that?
Of course, there are no absolutes in wrestling. Maybe the company will decide to push the star again at some point in the future. With his physique and following with the fans, it’s always a viable option. A guy like Ryback will never be truly out in the cold.
But at this point, things look pretty bleak for the wrestler.
The lesson here? If a top act is getting hugely over and has genuine momentum, put him over. That’s what WWE should have done at Hell in a Cell.