Ryback as a bully could be the missing link that his career desperately needs. Once a rising star, he was not booked to wrestle on SummerSlam or Raw this past week.
His saving grace came during an angle on Raw where he roughed up an aspiring wrestler (per storyline) backstage.
The scene was awkward for the right reasons. In an era where WWE promotes the Be a STAR anti-bullying campaign, it was uncomfortable watching Ryback mercilessly throw his weight around. The way he obnoxiously growled orders while stalking the young wrestler around the shower was textbook.
"Stand up. Pick up the bag. Go get it!"
It was like a TV-PG prison in there.
Ryback appeared in his element bossing around a smaller, defenseless man who was clearly intimidated.
It was the opposite of watching him cut one of those long-winded promos. Less is more with Ryback, and this angle was a good start.
Should WWE continue to push Ryback as a confrontational bully, no gimmick will be more universally reviled. As long as comedy is absent, he'll be the perfect heel.
Anti-establishment has an element of cool. That's one of the reasons CM Punk is cheered even when he's a heel. Everybody likes a bold vigilante who marches to the beat of his own drum.
Nobody likes a bully.
WWE may be wise to feature Ryback in several segments similar to Monday's before he gets back into the ring.
This will slowly discourage the "Goldberg" chants while Ryback cultivates a fresh new wrinkle to his character, one he can embrace without coming off as a carbon copy.
When fans are continually lectured of WWE's efforts to end bullying, Ryback's habitual antagonizing will remind the WWE Universe that the fight is not over. There are still big, bad, angry bullies out there—ones who will will take your lunch money and slap you in a shower.
In turn, Ryback will become a public enemy, or better yet, a public service enemy.
Can Ryback's "Bully" character get him over as a heel?
Feuds with smaller wrestlers will propel him back into the main roster. WWE could make use of Rey Mysterio or Sin Cara as undersized opposition until Ryback runs into somebody his own size.
Any subsequent comeuppance will be yet another way to enforce WWE's often-scrutinized anti-bullying message while getting Ryback over as a meaningful villain.
For whatever reason, Ryback's Superman push was discarded. He simply couldn't recover after he was prematurely thrust into the WWE title picture late in 2012. Fans did not appear interested in his simplistic offense, and WWE lacked the patience to continue forcing him down their throats.
But a new Ryback—the bald, bearded ruffian—will create a different type of agitation with the WWE audience: the type that will make him matter.