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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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WIRTB Review: Ryback

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Photo Credit: Miguel Discart on Flickr

Over the past few years since EOTR has been a thing, I’ve probably said my fair share of…not-so-nice things about Ryback. I mean, unless my CM Punk interests are the reasons he’s got me blocked, I’m sure I’ve been one of many folks to call him Goldberg-lite or something. But, was I wr-wr-wrong in my assertions about The Big Guy? Was The Big Guy really underrated even during his tenure with WWE? This is where I, Speed on the Beat, come in, once again, to analyze like the rest of the so-called neckbeards (are some of us wrestling analysts still called that by those "in the know" or nah) and ask “was he really that bad?”

Looking back, Ryback, like many before—and after—him, was subject to some crappy booking. He was a muscular bald dude who was booked as a monster babyface that’d mow through anyone and everyone (hence the Ryback/Goldberg comparisons). That’s fine and dandy. We need those types in wrestling as much as we need the undersized underdogs who still go out and kick all sorts of ass. I’ve come to learn and appreciate that in the field. But…

You know what?

I started this piece to try and answer the question of whether Ryback was really that “bad.” Truth be told, he kind of just existed in WWE for his post-Nexus tenure. Yeah, he had his feud(s) with CM Punk. But, be honest. Unless you were a superfan of the guy, most of us kind of just watched him meander through four years on the main roster. And, I’ll be real with you. The guy, while not the best in-ring, had charisma. His tweets, before I noticed he blocked me, were pretty funny and uplifting at points. So, it sucked to watch them waste his talent.

RybAxel was a thing, and the comedic element of it was cool. It reminds me of JeriKO looking back at it, even down to the borderline bromance-y overtones. But, they never got over to the point where WWE, I guess, felt comfortable putting the Tag Team Titles on them (wasted opportunity). He was put in the Authority storyline, but shrug to that because he was, even when “fired,” an afterthought to Seth Rollins, John Cena, Sting, Triple H—hell, Dolph Ziggler had more of a reason for people to watch than Ryback. When he won the Intercontinental Championship, he ended up in a feud with Big Show. No offense to Big Show, but when you’re feuding with Big Show, you’re usually an afterthought (mainly because of the way Big Show’s been booked over the years, but that’s another WIRTB entirely).

Let’s look at his feud with Kalisto (yet another wasted talent by WWE, but again…another story for another time). He was portrayed as “a big meanie” who was beating the crap out of the small little guy (a rehash of a similar storyline). The thing is that Kalisto kept beating his ass. I get that the underdog is supposed to win sometimes. I cheered when Daniel Bryan won in 2014. But here? It sucked any sort of buzz out of Ryback’s last moments with WWE.

Honestly, though? Pair that with the equal pay thing and it’s no wonder he took his ball and went home. Most of us would’ve done the same if, after years of towing the line, we’re given a crap storyline and crap outcomes day in and day out. 

Now, I get that WWE can’t put everyone over. And, hell, I get that Ryback was pushed to the moon in his early days. But, for Pete’s sake! Was the man underutilized and booked wackily as hell to the point no one could take him seriously? Yeah, he was. Do I think he was that bad? To be honest, no. I really don’t. Do I think he was a GAWD in-ring and on the mic? Eh, no. I don’t. But, I don’t think he was as bad as the “RyBerg” chants warranted.

My God. My first WIRTB in months and I find myself championing a guy I probably shat all over when he was with WWE. Is this what WIRTB will become? Maybe, I don’t know. Stay tuned.

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