For those that missed it on Saturday, we recapped an interview that Ryback did while doing media in Abu Dhabi (See also - Ryback Shoots On The Internet, Wants To End The Streak, Rubs Abu Dhabi Media The Wrong Way?). Perhaps bigger than the story itself was the discussion that ensued between WNW readers and staff as to where Ryback should be booked. Early Sunday morning, the man himself decided to weigh in. The following is from Twitter:
Now the first thing that I want to point out here is Ryback is a heel. If anyone questions him about this Tweet he can dismiss it as an attempt to "play to the audience." However, I think this Tweet adds complete justification to my complaints with him. Allow me to explain.
I do not hate Ryback, I just don't think he's a main event talent...
Ryback was doing fine before WWE decided to strap the rocket pack on him last fall. I don't think anyone saw him as a top guy but he looked like a top guy. So they didn't want to put him over CM Punk and book him with confidence but they wanted to use him as a stopgap main eventer. The lack of confidence in him as a top guy did him no favors, especially given the fact that WWE tried to elevate him as an unstoppable monster. The tag line of "feed me more" was invalidated by consecutive pay-per-view jobs in 2012 at Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series and WWE TLC.
After blowing off his title feud with CM Punk in January 2013, Ryback hit a new low with his job to Mark Henry at Wrestlemania 29. It became clear that any momentum that WWE had with Ryback was lost and it was time to try something different. The following night WWE decided to pull the trigger on a Ryback heel turn.
Given a change in plans with The Rock unavailable for Extreme Rules, Ryback was re-inserted right back to the top of the card and given a feud with John Cena for the WWE title. However, the problems that plagued him just months earlier popped up once again. WWE didn't see Ryback as a viable WWE Champion but they needed someone to operate as a stopgap main eventer and present a believable challenge to Cena. Once again, he was booked without confidence at Extreme Rules and WWE Payback.
Back to where they started, WWE introduced a new twist to the Ryback character that featured him "bullying" call-ins backstage. As with the initial heel turn, this new wrinkle was well-received by the majority of the audience. However, with injuries stacking up and WWE in need of more talent at the top of the card, another main event opportunity came knocking.
This time WWE wanted to pair someone new with Paul Heyman to insert in the ongoing feud with CM Punk. As we reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium, it came down to Ryback and Big E Langston. Ryback was chosen for the role and was selected to oppose CM Punk.
Right back on the proverbial treadmill, he's booked under to Punk at WWE Battleground and headed into to an underwhelming rematch at Hell in a Cell later this month. Ryback hasn't stuck as a main eventer because he's not ready to be a main eventer. However, WWE's persistence to "force him to the audience" comes due to the fact the roster is ravaged by injuries and in dire need of believable threats.
The Chris Jericho test…
Sandwiched in-between main event programs, Ryback was given a golden opportunity to prove his worth to WWE and the audience. The opportunity came at WWE Money in the Bank 2013 where he was booked in a match against Chris Jericho. Jericho is a guy that is one of the best in-ring performers of all time but under his most recent run, he remained committed to helping WWE get newer talent over. This was very clear throughout 2013 as Jericho worked stellar matches, where he didn't mind "doing the honors."
At the time, I commented that Money in the Bank was an opportunity for Ryback to have the pressure taken completely off and show fans [and the office] that he's capable of a top spot. I watched the Jericho match very closely and I will honestly say, Ryback failed the test. The match was slow and methodical and Ryback did nothing to help his cause. It's not that the bout was terrible but this was his chance to prove his worth and there was nothing memorable about the 11:20 encounter.
Problematic behavior out of the ring…
A lack of confidence from WWE in Ryback as a viable main event talent isn't the only thing that has blemished his run as a singles superstar. Ryback has racked up the behind-the-scenes incidents that have left more than a few people rolling their eyes about his maturity and ability to handle a top spot.
February 25, 2013: We reported here on WrestlingNewsWorld.com Premium that Ryback was upset over the fact he would not be challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 29 and was pushing for a heel turn. It was a heel turn he ended up getting but he was very upset and outspoken about the booking of his character.
April 16, 2013: Ryback got a little too personal in his program with John Cena and brought up his highly publicized divorce on Twitter. Here's what Ryback wrote, "Watching the pain on Cena’s face was worth standing back for. Funny the 2 things he says I lack his ex wife seems to love. #RybackRules" In what almost seemed like a desperate attempt to get fans to buy him as a viable heel, Ryback took a personal low blow at the face of the company. All while mentioning in media interviews that he felt no one had really challenged Cena for the top spot and he was going to be the guy to take it. The Tweet was later deleted.
May 20, 2013: Ryback infuriated Vince McMahon with a promo for his match at WWE Payback when he proclaimed that he was going to take the entire audience to the morgue with John Cena. (See also -Exclusive Details On What Ryback Did That Made Vince McMahon Irate & Played A Significant Role In Changing The WWE Payback Main Event)
June 3, 2013: There was an issue where Ryback broke kayfabe on live television that got him some heat. He also complained on Daniel Bryan for "working stiff."
September 23, 2013: There was an incident backstage at WWE Raw after blowing a table spot with CM Punk on live television, where Ryback told a producer that Punk should have bumped better. Punk found out about what Ryback said and it resulted in words being exchanged backstage. (See also -Blown Spot On Raw Causes An Uproar Backstage & Two Top Stars Nearly Come To Blows – Who Was Involved & The Fallout From It, Why There Was Chaos Before This Week’s Show, RVD Working More Than Originally Agreed Upon, Why Randy Orton Is Seeing A Doctor Today)
October 12, 2013: We were made aware of problematic behavior regarding Ryback and the local Abu Dhabi media. According to Wesam El Nemr, who interviewed Ryback for Super.ae, Ryback interacted very poorly and was uninterested in doing media for the event. Nemr said it was so bad that he actually reached out to the WWE office about how Ryback was the worst WWE media appearance that he's ever done.
Where to go from here…
A lot of people think that I do not see value in Ryback and that couldn't be further from the truth. Ryback's size alone, at 6'3 nearly 300lbs, gives him plenty of value. The Great Khali, with his size and large international following, gives him value. However, just because someone has value does not mean that person is a top star. To give you a sports comparison, LeBron James doesn't win his second NBA Championship if Ray Allen doesn't hit a key three-pointer in a pressure situation. However, just because Allen made it possible for LeBron to win the title, his value is not more than James himself. This is a similar situation here.
When I look at Ryback, I see a guy with plenty of opportunities in the mid-card. I see someone the company could bring along by way of a secondary title and "see where it goes." However, he's been continuously force fed off and on as a top guy for a year now and is no further along today than he was at Hell in a Cell 2012. The rocket pack push didn't work for Ryback like it worked for Sheamus. It hasn't completely flopped, because there are some of you that are big Ryback fans, but it hasn't established him as the next WWE Champion either.
Attaching Paul Heyman to Ryback helps him because it gives him a mouthpiece and an opportunity where the pressure doesn't rest solely on his shoulders. However, Ryback is proving to be very green on and off the job and those are issues that must be fixed if he will ever have a chance to surpass John Cena as the face of the WWE.