From his increased exposure on Raw, to his inclusion in Survivor Series 2011, it's clear that WWE has big plans for Mason Ryan. The question is, is he going to fit into today’s WWE, or is he too much of an anachronism, a throwback to the '80s?
The current roster has less muscle-bound beasts than the days of the Barbarian and the Warlord.
The steroid scandal and the WWE Wellness Policy have caused guys to shrink down to more realistic builds. What is in vogue now is shoot-style kicks, acrobatic and inventive moves.
Ryan's shoulder block and powerslam-heavy arsenal sticks out. The image of him in a match against CM Punk, Sin Cara or Daniel Bryan is an odd, disjointed sight.
If he’d been around in the '80s, he would have been handed a ridiculous gimmick to try and mask his limited-ness. Vince McMahon might have given him a hardhat and some coveralls and called him the Jackhammer.
Currently, in this era of more subtle gimmicks, Ryan doesn’t have much to work with. He's big, he's angry, he's from Wales. Besides that, who is he?
Ryan is a less charismatic, less versatile version of Batista.
So is there a place for him in today's WWE? He doesn’t have enough charisma to stand on his own, but a man that powerful is still an asset worth using.
McMahon's love affair with comic book bodies won’t end anytime soon, so Ryan is likely here to stay, regardless of what fans think. By no means should he be placed in any main events or given any titles to carry, but he's not dead weight, either.
Accepting that WWE is willing to roll with the big Welsh hammer, finding the most appropriate angle for him is paramount. Perhaps he's best suited as an enforcer of a stable like he was with the Nexus, or the tag team partner of a more captivating superstar.
Big Show looked far better as a one-half of Jerishow.
He needs some motivation and a more defined persona as well. Is he the guy who always helps the bullied faces? Is he the loyal sidekick?
Just thrusting Mason Ryan into the spotlight now without answering these questions would be a mistake. Fans today are more sophisticated that those of the '80s and expect more.
Looking the part was often enough then. Today's fans would not accept the one-dimensional Ultimate Warrior now.
In some ways, Ryan is today's Ultimate Warrior, minus the tassels and with about half as much energy.
Barring the invention of a time machine to send Ryan where he'd blend in more, WWE is going to need to be creative in adapting him to the present.
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