Examining Ryback's Direction, Upside and Long-Term Potential

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Examining Ryback's Direction, Upside and Long-Term Potential
Photo: WWE

Ryback is a human hurricane who will leave plenty of rubble behind to awe his doubters.

Fans often chant Goldberg's name to mock Ryback. There's another Superstar, though, that his career will most parallel—Batista.

Goldberg was a rare physical specimen, more athletic than Ryback; but "Big Hungry" is more well-rounded.

Focusing on comparing the two is shortsighted. Yes, both started their careers with undefeated streaks and both evoke images of a wrecking ball in the ring, but Ryback is a better talker and a better showman. He will answer his detractors with a borderline Hall of Fame career.

GIF from WWE.com

The impressively powerful and explosive Ryback recently went from being a headliner to being mired in a bizarre perversion of his character. After being effective as both a heel and a face, WWE had him show signs of cowardice.

He ran away from Mark Henry during a match and quit against The Miz in another.

It felt like the company was asking a rhino to start acting like a snake. It didn't fit him in the least.

His most recent angle, his backstage bullying, is far more beneficial for him. He appears to be having fun as the man pushing around those who are smaller.

The only issue with this narrative is that it requires a Superstar to stand up to him, something WWE has yet to do.

Building him up as a cold, unfeeling brute is wise, but he needs to face some sort of consequence. He needs a smaller fan favorite to step in his way and fight back. Once that storyline gets rolling, Ryback will get a chance to do what he has most excelled at so far: in-ring devastation.

 

Photo: WWE

The Destruction Specialist

Like watching monster trucks tear cars apart, Ryback is a compelling force inside the ring. He smashes, clotheslines and powers his way through in-ring stories.

Even as WWE shifts to an era filled with sleeker athletes like Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan and Sami Zayn, the company is going to need powerhouses like Ryback.

He can be the one-man demolition crew that tears through the roster or the colossal force that WWE's heroes must overcome. The energy, passion and emotion he shows in his in-ring work will have him considered for both roles often.

When he faced Dolph Ziggler recently, he thrived as the hyena picking at the fallen antelope.

There's a magnetism surrounding his brutality as he taunts and tosses Ziggler. This makes him a valuable commodity as a heel.

Ryback is about more than power. He has impressive explosiveness and does well to emote during the action. Watch him grimace as Daniel Bryan kicks his leg numb, roll around dramatically when Bryan dives at him outside the ring and then burn with anger.

Granted, just about everyone looks good against Bryan, but this is a showcase of what Ryback looks like at his best.

It's a match like this—and his TLC match against CM Punk and his Last Man Standing match against John Cena—that can give WWE confidence in booking him for future high-profile matches.

 

The Eloquent Monster

Ryback's feud with Cena revealed sides of him many assumed didn't exist.

One doesn't expect a monster to do anything more than tear his prey apart. When Ryback charged onto the scene seething with intensity, he seemed destined to be a one-note song of destruction. He proved us wrong.

After being heavily dependent on his "Feed me more!" catchphrase and giving a robotic pre-taped promo, Ryback evolved right in front of us.

During his segment with Mick Foley on Raw on April 22, he was unpolished and raw, but powerful. He circled Foley, exuding anger—his words matching his wrestling style in terms of aggression.

In subsequent weeks, he continued to show us peeks at what he could do with a microphone. He stood atop an ambulance and threatened Cena. He looked like he belonged on the big stage as he tangled with Cena in a segment on WWE Raw before Payback.

When given the spotlight, he has had more home runs than strikeouts.

He gives WWE flexibility when booking him, allowing him to be beast, badass or bully. His biggest asset is certainly the physical side of the equation, but Ryback can tell a story without throwing a blow as well.

This is the skill that will separate him from all the other powerhouses, to make him far more like Batista than Mason Ryan.

 

Ceiling

Some wrestlers get pushed too early and struggle to recover their lofty spot later on. Don't count on Ryback following The Miz's career path, though.

In a world of larger-than-life characters, being as visually striking as Ryback is a major benefit. He stands out, his muscles bulging, a predatory grin on his face.

Less talented wrestlers have ridden intensity and power and not much else to the top.

Ryback already gave a preview of what he can do in the spotlight, in his battles with Punk and Cena for the WWE Championship. With the growth he has shown between those feuds, one has to assume that further evolution is coming, that Ryback will get even better.

That will earn him a resume that looks a lot like Batista's.

Batista had a similar in-ring style and started his wrestling career later in life. He went on to win the World Heavyweight Championship four times, headline a WrestleMania and win the Royal Rumble. All of those things are in play for Ryback.

Expect a short burst of success and a peak of two or three years marked with impact matches and ferocity on the microphone.

The storm is coming, whipping winds and rattling buildings sure to drown out the chants of "Goldberg."

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