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The January Ryback situation.

Mr Wrestling X



WWE recently announced that Ryback will receive a title shot (that was originally scheduled for the TLC PPV) on the January 7th episode of Raw. Whether this goes ahead or not, is irrelevant, because there can be only one outcome - CM Punk remains WWE Champion and goes into Royal Rumble to face The Rock.


So where does leave Ryback, arguably WWE's breakout star of 2012? Well, there is still The Shield to consider, the group of NXT outsiders that have made a point of laying waste to Ryback in recent months. Their purpose is still undetermined, sure, their initial motive was said to be "anger at the likes of Ryback receiving opportunities at stardom before them", but then there is also the potential association with Punk/Heyman and even Brad Maddox to consider. It was Maddox who initially attacked Ryback, allowing Punk to retain the WWE Championship, stating that he wished to "make a name for himself" and velhemently denied any association with CM Punk and Paul Heyman. This mirrors The Shield's attitude when questioned about a potential association with CM Punk and Paul Heyman. It could be a red herring, it could be an aborted story arc, but WWE needs to book some pay off.


Lets assume that the match with CM Punk doesn't go ahead. The Shield run out and attack Ryback before the match even gets started, Brad Maddox then runs out in a referee shirt and KO's the designated official. Maddox will then urge Punk to climb the ladder and bring down the belt as The Shield are keeping Ryback busy. Once Punk does this, Maddox mockingly ends a match that never even started. At this point, the game will be up, Punk and Heyman will reveal their association with both Maddox and The Shield, with Punk and Heyman revealing that they used their collective influence to ensure that The Shield and Brad Maddox had continued access to WWE. In effect, Punk and Heyman gave them opportunities to make a name for themselves, in exchange for assistance with the Ryback problem.


The pay off in this scenario would be a match between CM Punk and Ryback at Wrestlemania, which could be done regardless of whether Punk loses or retains the WWE title when he meets The Rock at Royal Rumble. If WWE are serious about making Ryback a big player, then I can think of no bigger rub than him meeting CM Punk at Wrestlemania for the WWE title (bonus if Ryback goes over). This raises questions about whether the inevitable rematch between The Rock and John Cena should be for the title. I personally don't think it does, after all, it won't be about the title, rather the title will be providing them a reason to have a rematch (should Cena or Rock win the RR or EC to be match against one another at WM), which isn't really the point.


I am by no means a big fan of Ryback. However, I am enthusiastic that WWE have taken steps to make a new star, such a big player from near the start. As a prime example, NJPW showed in 2012, that such actions can have hugely positive outcomes, with their booking of Kazuchika Okada. The returning rookie, upset NJPW ace, Hiroshi Tanahashi, to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and then went on to win the G1 Climax tournament, succeeding the great Masahiro Chono, as the youngest wrestler ever to win the tournament. Such occurrences are unthinkable in American professional wrestling, indeed, not since Brock Lesnar's rookie conquering of WWE in 2002/03, have we seen any rookie or new wrestler be booked so strong, so early.


Can the building of Ryback as a premier attraction in the star-strapped WWE continue?



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