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Posted in: My Two Centsss
My Two Centsss - Ryback, What Have They Done To You?
By Super Chrisss
Sep 2, 2013 - 10:54:33 AM

(Credit: Tom Jenner @ImageBlownOut)

1. One Great Week Of Wrestling, Despite A Lack Of Logic

2. Ryback, What Have They Done To You?

1. One Great Week Of Wrestling, Despite A Lack Of Logic

As a wrestling fan, this past week of storylines in both WWE and TNA have left me feeling very jaded. On the one hand, I thought we got arguably one of the best weeks of programming all year - Raw was fantastic, from start to finish; Impact was solid; and last night's SmackDown was probably the most compelling episode they put on in quite awhile (I'll explain why a bit later). If I was grading each show, not a single one of those three would have scored lower than a B. Considering how I found Raw and SmackDown almost unbearable less than six months ago, and with TNA usually finding a way to screw up their momentum, that's one hell of a turn-around in quality, if you ask me.

As a wrestling fan, I should be very pleased. But I'm not. Both companies - WWE and TNA - made a huge error in each of their respective top storylines. The ****-up, or "botch", if you will, made me wonder if management thinks the fans are idiots or whether the creative team has any idea what they're doing.

The first head-scratcher came at the conclusion of Raw and during the opening segment of SmackDown. When Daniel Bryan was getting his ass kicked by The Shield and Randy Orton, the entire lockerroom stood on stage, looking on, but unable to assist thanks to Triple H threatening their jobs if they did anything. To WWE's credit, the angle came off very well. Superstars like The Big Show and The Miz sold their emotions perfectly, and the announcers did their job of explaining why no one did anything - as JBL said, "They have a family to take care of." For the most part, the angle was a success, but a large portion of the audience were left wondering,

"Wait a minute - doesn't Big Show have an Ironclad Contract?"

Yes, folks, yes, he does. You know how I know that? Because ever since Big Show did heel turn #732 last year at Over The Limit by helping Big Johnny defeat John Cena, the announcers spent the rest of 2012 and the better half of 2013 reminding us how Big Show has been signed to an Ironclad Contract. They shoved it down our throats incredibly hard - hell, it was brought up in every single Big Show match since then. Cole, Lawler, and JBL would constantly remind us that Show could do what he wants, when he wants, without worrying about the repercussions. They made Big Show so synonymous with his Ironclad Contract that some people even speculated he would defend his contract in some sort of capacity at Wrestlemania 29.

The company drilled it so hard into our brains that when The Big Show was forced to do nothing at the end of Raw, many of us were left wondering why the hell didn't the giant take advantage of his contract and help out Bryan? After all, we've been reminded for over a year now how Show "can't be touched". Are we supposed to assume that contract only works when Big Show is a heel? Did WWE forget to shoot a backstage segment where Triple H tore up Show's Ironclad Contract?

Well, for those of us who watched SmackDown last night, we got some answers. As Big Show made his way to the ring for MizTv, JBL briefly made a comment that Show's Ironclad Contract was no longer valid. And that was it. Nothing more. The audience wasn't informed, and if you happened to tune into SmackDown anytime between 8:10 and 9:59, you missed the 'announcement'. This tells me the company knew all along Big Show's Ironclad Contract was still in play, and they just decided to 'sweep it under the rug', so to speak. Months and months of the commentators hyping that twist to Big Show's character vanished into thin air. Not only does it make the company look bad for wasting our time with something they had no long-term plans for, but it makes us, the fans, feel stupid for constantly associating Big Show with the term "Ironclad Contract".

Was this lack of storyline consistency enough to spoil the ending of Raw? Did it take away from a surprisingly solid episde of SmackDown, which for the first time in quite a while, felt like an actual continuation of Raw, not a 'Raw Rebound' show? Not at all. But it still leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. If the fans are able to remember storylines and certain details, then so should creative. That, or the company should have more faith in our level of memory, rather than giving us a tutorial how to download their stupid App every few weeks, or replaying the same video package over and over.

Unfortunately, TNA did no better this past week. They put on a solid episode of Impact, but once again, Hulk Hogan proved why he needs to be the next victim of the company's on-going cost-cutting. I'm not going to complain about how Hogan seems entitled to close every single episode of Impact he's booked for, because it should be obvious by now that the man does not even watch the show when he's not out there. That's because in the show's closing moments, Hogan announced that Bully Ray would defend his world title in two weeks against a member of Aces & 8s, and that Bully would also have to "Defend against Sting, right now, brother!"

A few problems with that scenario. Allow me to list them, if you would:

1. When those words came out of Hogan's mouth, my watch read 10:59. So either this would be the shortest world title match in TNA history, or this was going to be the match for next week's show (which they tape immediately after the live episode ends).

2. Sting lost a match to Bully Ray at Slammiversary, a mere two months ago, which per stipulation guaranteed Sting would never be able to wrestle for the TNA world title ever again.

3. Whatever happened to Chris Sabin and his automatic rematch clause? Even if the company has no plans to keep him as a main-eventer, the man is still first in line for a rematch against Bully.

Now, the Twitter account for Impact Wrestling would send out a tweet late Thursday night/early Friday morning saying that Hogan was mistaken, and the Sting vs. Bully match which would take place next week would be a non-title match. Still, you have to wonder if the damage has already been done. How do you explain that ****-up to the fans in attendance? What about the viewers watching at home? Or the thousands of people who don't follow TNA on Twitter? What's worse, Hogan made himself look like a huge idiot once again. Late last year, he infamously tweeted Austin Aries, calling him "champ", even though Jeff Hardy had defeated Aries at Bound For Glory to win the world title a few weeks earlier. It's moments such as these that make it look like Hogan doesn't give a rat's ass about TNA; that he's only there to collect a paycheck and get jobs for his buddies.

In the same week, both WWE and TNA did a lot of things right, but they both screwed up as well. As I mentioned, I don't believe these screw-ups are significant enough to drive away viewers or hurt either company, but they do leave the fans with a lot of questions and a sense of confusion. The questions I should be left with at the end of Raw are, "How will Bryan exact his revenge?" or, "Who will grow some balls and stand up to HHH next week?", NOT, "What about Big Show's Ironclad contract?". As for Impact, I should be asking myself, "Which member of Aces & 8s will Bully go to war with?", NOT, "When are they gonna do themselves a favour and get rid of Hogan?".

Both companies need to wake up and realize that the majority of their fanbase isn't as clueless or moronic as their creative team and people in charge are.

2. Ryback, What Have They Done To You?

Last Wednesday on #LoPRadio, longtime LOP reader and Twitter buddy Bernard (@CBMac84) called in to my show and we spent a good five minutes discussing none other than Ryback. Those of you who have been following my columns since April or earlier know exactly how I feel about the Ryback heel experiment - it's been a complete failure. You can blame WWE Creative for turning Ryback heel, you can blame John Cena for 'burying' Ryback during their feud, it doesn't matter who you get angry at. The bottom line is Ryback is now damaged goods...but is it too late to save him?

I brought up a point last Wednesday, one that I would like to repeat, because it is quite the bold statement. In my opinion, had WWE not jumped the gun by turning Ryback heel the night after Wrestlemania, and feeding him to Cena at two consecutive Pay-Per-Views, then I honestly believe Ryback would be in the position Daniel Bryan finds himself in today.

Think about it. During the height of Ryback's popularity - late 2012, when he was feuding with both CM Punk and The Shield - the audience went insane for Ryback. It might have been a forced push due to Cena being injured and WWE having to come up with a Plan B, but the fans were more than happy to accept Ryback as their new hero. Everywhere you looked, Ryback merchandise was being worn by men, women, and children of all ages. The crowds were so invested in his matches they chanted along to the set-up of his Meat Hook clothesline. And dare I say, the "Feed Me More" chants were just as loud as the "Yes" chants you hear today.

In fact, Ryback was pushed so well that when it came down to him and Cena as the final two men in the 2013 Royal Rumble, you got flashbacks to Cena vs. Batista battling it out in the 2005 Rumble match. Moreover, there were people who predicted Ryback would go over Cena and head to Wrestlemania. Yes, people actually believed Ryback, who spent a large portion of 2012 squashing jobbers, had a legit chance of defeating WWE's golden boy at one of the biggest PPVs of the year. That's how over Ryback was. But then...WWE screwed it up by turning Ryback heel.

And to what end? What has Ryback accomplished since the night after Wrestlemania? If you ask me, absolutely nothing. His heel turn resulted in another pair of losses being added to his already pathetic PPV record. Sure, he would get a 'big win' over veteran Chris Jericho at Money in the Bank, but by July, Ryback's credibility was almost non-existent, and it took a roll-up to defeat Y2J, the same man who had been lying down for guys left and right since his return at the Royal Rumble. Since Money in the Bank, Ryback has had more matches with catering and backstage crew than he has had in the ring, and the few times he HAS wrestled, he's lost (a tables match to Cena on Raw and a DQ loss to Daniel Bryan this past Friday on SmackDown). Ryback, at this point in his career, is a joke, and no bullying gimmick is going to help him.

Since the crowd no longer cares about him - yes, almost overnight, thousands of people who once chanted "Feed Me More" now sit on their hands whenever Ryback's music plays - there may be only two possible ways to save Ryback before it's too late. The first, as suggested by Bernard, was to have the big man disappear from television for a while. This way, most of the audience can forget about him, and when he does eventually return - as a face or a heel - he can start over on a relatively clean state. Sure, he won't be getting Vickie Guerrero levels of heat, or getting a Daniel Bryan reaction, but at least he'll get some sort of reaction, which is miles better than what he's getting now.

The only problem with Bernard's theory is that WWE had the perfect opportunity to write Ryback off TV and they didn't take it. Ambulance matches - like Casket and Buried Alive matches - are designed to write the loser out of the storylines. Since they didn't go for it at Payback, I doubt they'll do it anytime soon, especially with Cena and Sheamus sidelined with real-life injuries. So that leaves us with Option B - turn Ryback face NOW. I know the WWE is lacking in heels at the moment, but as a villain, Ryback has nowhere to go but down, and he's already clinging to life. I'd have Ryback be the one to help Daniel Bryan in his struggle against The Corporation. Heck, the seeds have already been planted. Ryback never got his revenge on The Shield. He probably wasn't happy with Orton and The Shield interfering in his match-up with Bryan, the number one contender for the WWE title, on SmackDown - why not turn him face? Like I said, the signs are there - Creative just has to look for them (easier said than done, but I digress).

Earlier, I said that Ryback could have been the one feuding with Orton and Triple H, and I stand by those words. While there is no doubt Bryan would have been elevated up the card due to his work ethic and unbelievable crowd reactions, I think it would have happened a bit later down the road. I think the angle would have been modified in which we got Cena vs. Ryback at SummerSlam, Ryback vs. Orton at Night of Champions/Hell in a Cell/Battleground, and finally Daniel Bryan vs. Cena OR Orton at Wrestlemania 30. Had Ryback been kept a face, or even a tweener, I truly believe that's the road we would have traveled on instead.

Don't get me wrong - Daniel Bryan vs. The Corporation is a lot more appealing than Ryback vs. Orton & company, that's for sure. But if you're the man formerly known as Skip Sheffield, you can't help but wonder what could have happened had things worked out differently...


Two columns in three days? Hell yeah! I just graduated from University and will be taking some time off from my studies, which means you might be seeing me more often. Isn't that awesome?

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As always, thanks for reading.

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