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.
FEED! ME! MORE!
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.