Tuesday , 21 October 2014
Wrestling's Greatest Rivalries
Home » Editorials » WWE » Oh My God, Who The Hell Cares? #1: Ryback

Oh My God, Who The Hell Cares? #1: Ryback

There is a problem in WWE.

It is that we, the fans, don’t care about a large majority of their stars. We don’t know them, we don’t understand them, and we don’t care about them. In many ways it’s not their fault; they try, but are undermined at every turn by poor booking, gimmicks, and exposure.

This is their story. The story of the wrestlers that we (I) just don’t care about.

He’s 6’2′, and 290lbs. A juggernaut of a man, he has never been defeated in legitimate circumstances. There’s no stopping him, and his insatiable hunger to inflict more pain on any unfortunate opponents.

He is Ryback.


Not me, that’s for sure.

So, on the one hand, we have CM Punk; our WWE Champion, ladies and gentlemen, for no less than 359 days. On the other hand, we have John Cena, record 10-time WWE Champion, and the poster boy of both WWE and the entire wrestling industry.

Two men who have fought each other countless times, usually to positive reaction by fans and critics alike; two men who, in recent history, have defined one another. Opposite sides of the coin, they are united by their desire to be the best and be acknowledged as the best.

And then we have Ryback.

What on earth is he doing there?

By there, I mean a match for the WWE Championship on one of the biggest PPVs of the year, Survivor Series. By there, I mean in a match with probably the two biggest stars currently in the industry. A position of such esteem must surely be something a wrestler has to earn.

Unless you’re 6’2′ and 290lbs, apparently.

That though, isn’t the issue. Ryback is phenomenal in stature; his physique and the strength that comes with it have very often amazed. Someone like him was always going to be given an opportunity to attain stardom in the wrestling industry.

It’s just a shame WWE have messed it up so badly. No, being 6’2′ and 290lbs isn’t the issue.

The issues are thus:

Who is he?

What are his intentions?

What are his motives?

Why should I care about him?

All I know about Ryback is that he has a disquieting habit of always being hungry. There are gastric bands that can help curb that, you colossal, strange beast. Beyond those three words, which are still catching on with a lot of the older audience, I see nothing but some random, muscular person wearing a singlet.

Nothing about Ryback feels special; that intangible quality that differentiates a popular wrestler from an absolute star either isn’t there, or isn’t being allowed to shine through by tediously predictable and unoriginal booking.

That Ryback, who has been with WWE since 2005, is a mixture of past gimmicks is a well known fact. The Goldberg comparisons are apt, but there is also a startling resemblance in presentation between Ryback and the Ultimate Warrior.

Two past wrestlers who, like them or not, where absolute stars with immense popularity.

Can Ryback reach that level?

With Goldberg, there was a lethal, unspoken intensity; with Ultimate Warrior, there was a frenzied, uncontrollable maelstrom of energy.

With Ryback, there is nothing but three words and, most damning, a collection of meaningless victories over meaningless opponents. Suddenly, he is thrust into a rivalry with one of our longest-reigning WWE Champions and the biggest star in wresting today, and it’s brutally apparent just how far he has to go.

Because Ryback can have the best look in the world. He can even be the best wrestler in the world.

But if I can’t relate to him, don’t know anything about him, and don’t understand what it is he’s about, then I just won’t care about him.

About Paul McIntyre

From Gaijin Classics to Golden Promos, Paul McIntyre is without a doubt a one of a kind writer. No one possibly displays more passionate and thought-provoking work regarding wrestling than he does. With a love for championship prestige and Everton FC, he remains to be one of the very best writers on the staff.
  • https://twitter.com/DragonSagaWE Jason “Dragon Saga” Patrick

    Judging from the always increasing pops and merchandise sales (could see a lot of Ryback t-shirts in the crowd Monday night) I’d say a lot of people care. I won’t comment on your opinion of Ryback as everyone knows where I stand, but year, a helluva lot of people care.

    • http://twitter.com/Paul_Mc7 Paul McIntyre

      And a hell of a lot of others don’t care. But anyway, I was mainly talking about myself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502433023 Andy Panpipe Vale

    For me, it boils down to the fact that they’ve been banging on about the Attitude era & its stars for a couple of years. We’re constantly reminded of them and they are placed on this godly pedestal that hardly anyone has a chance to achieve because they’re in a very different organisation than the attitude guys were.

    As a result, it’s difficult to convince people to tune in every week and care about the current stars. We’ve had it force-fed to us that this is just the B-team compared to the mega-star one-match-a-year guys.

    I mean, in 1999 we didn’t have Austin vs Rock with a backdrop of “Oh, it doesn’t matter too much because Rock’s got his big match with Ultimate Warrior in 5 months.” The top guys were allowed to be at the top without getting nudged down the card at the biggest events because Bob Backlund fancied a match.

  • http://twitter.com/TheBerge_ Kevin Berge

    See but there’s a reason you don’t care about him and it’s a number: 7. Seven months Ryback has been on the main roster. Sure, Ryan Reeves has been training with WWE for years, and Skip Sheffield debuted in 2010. But the character Ryback didn’t debut until April 6.

    How do you possibly care about any star who has had enough time to barely get your attention? He is trying right now to define his character, right now to show a breadth to his mystique.

    How is Ryback like Goldberg or Ultimate Warrior? He is a monster face. That’s what makes him similar. Monster faces are a rare bread, so they are clumped together by fans. Yet I could make the same comparison between Sheamus and Ultimate Warrior or Evan Bourne and Billy Kidman or Mark Henry and Vader.

    WWE needs stars right now to step up. If they fail, they fail, but let them have their chance before you write them off.

    • http://twitter.com/Paul_Mc7 Mrs Nesbitt

      “How do you possibly care about any star who has had enough time to barely get your attention? He is trying right now to define his character, right now to show a breadth to his mystique.”

      And yet he’s in the main event? Where I’m SUPPOSED to care about everyone involved. I’m all for him defining his character, but let him do it in the mid-card.

      • http://twitter.com/TheBerge_ Kevin Berge

        WWE needed a face in this role right now, so he was thrust in. He’s not a permanent addition. The crowd is behind him, and the story makes sense right now. He has to be in that spot to test the water. Who else could be in that spot?

        • http://twitter.com/Paul_Mc7 Paul McIntyre

          Randy Orton, off the top of my head. And I’m not a fan of him, either, but at least he wouldn’t look out of place in the main event. And you don’t know that he’s not a permanent addition, Kevin.

    • http://twitter.com/E__RAGE Eric

      Bray Wyatt debuted roughly 6 months ago and I care more about him than Ryback

      • http://twitter.com/TheBerge_ Kevin Berge

        Bray Wyatt hasn’t debuted, and that is because you went out of your way to learn about him and get invested in him. There are many who have done the same with Ryback. Ask GSM.

        • http://twitter.com/E__RAGE Eric

          I’ve watched Ryback since he debuted so I know about him. Meanwhile what is there to learn about him? He “feeds” on competition, his self-given nickname is “Big Hungry” and that’s it. He has no backstory, never cut a “real” promo, and got pushed to the main event with no real, again, story. He never said he wanted to defend JR or Foley from Punk. He never said he wants the Title.

          • http://twitter.com/TheBerge_ Kevin Berge

            It’s not as though any of that isn’t intentional though. He’s an enigma and doesn’t cut many promos which makes him come as mysterious. Over time, he may be explained, but there is weight in a character that isn’t explained. The more you flesh out a character, the more normal they can get.

            Look at Kane. Once a mysterious monster, he became too familiar, his character became too understood, and he ended up just being a happy go lucky demon who doesn’t have any serious direction.

          • http://twitter.com/E__RAGE Eric

            The man is not mysterious at all. He’s one dimensional with a one track mind.

            You mention that Kane became too understood but everyone CAN understand Ryback. Like I said “He “feeds” on competition, his self-given nickname is “Big Hungry” and that’s it.”

  • SiD

    I care…..

  • http://www.wrestleenigma.com/ Adrian Fylonenko

    Pretty funny, Paul. Good job!

    • http://twitter.com/Paul_Mc7 Paul McIntyre

      Cheers, Adrian. Much appreciated.

  • JacobStachowiak

    Fucking awesome, Paul haha