Will Ryback ever be able to overcome backstage heat and mediocre booking to return to the main event scene?
It’s certainly been a rough 18 months for the former Nexus star. Ever since losing to CM Punk at Hell in a Cell in 2012, his career has been on a major downward trajectory. He’s suffered loss after loss on pay-per-view, and his credibility with the fans inevitably plummeted. His once-promising association with Paul Heyman was dropped out of nowhere.
These days the behemoth has been reduced to tag teaming with Curtis Axel—another wrestler whose status has fallen hugely in recent months—in forgettable television bouts.
It would be easy to lay all the blame on WWE’s inept booking, but Ryback really hasn't helped himself either.
It’s easy to see why Vince McMahon and his booking team may be reluctant to push him. In many respects, he’s as green in the ring as ever.
In particular, his WrestleMania bout against Mark Henry last year was absolutely awful, far and away the worst match on the pay-per-view.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com recently reported that the star has garnered heat for working stiff, particularly when he accidentally gave Dolph Ziggler a concussion during a taped bout for Superstars last week.
He has heat for other things too. Bryan Alvarez of WrestlingObserver.com reported two months ago that the star had ruffled feathers with management after using several of Bill Goldberg’s patented moves in matches without permission.
PWInsider (via WrestlingInc.com) also claimed the star had made enemies backstage due to his attitude problems and unwillingness to do PR appearances.
His perplexing and well-publicized Twitter tirade last week—which included him falsely claiming he’d been fired—moved Dave Meltzer to note on Monday night's (free) edition of Wrestling Observer Radio that most in the company considered him to be “nuts” and wouldn't be surprised if the star did actually get fired.
OK, it might be easier to ask what Ryback doesn’t have heat for these days. Going by these reports, things are looking very bleak for the performer.
Is there anything working in his favour?
Well, the star is showing some genuine personality for the first time ever in his current role. As Dave Meltzer (via Cageside Seats) noted earlier this week, Ryback is apparently positioning himself as a 2014 version of Brian Pillman with his (intentionally) wacky Twitter rants.
Safe to say, at least some in the company are on board with this, otherwise the star would have been fired or severely disciplined weeks ago.
There’s potential in this new crazy character, for sure, even if letting a performer go out and tweet whatever controversial thing they want sounds like a very bad idea on paper.
Many are claiming Ryback’s social media antics are wrecking his career, but could they end up saving it? Well, stranger things have happened.