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Ryback: Why the IWC has it all wrong

Rating: 2 votes, 3.00 average.
When I hear the crowd mocking Ryback with "Goldberg" chants, I shake my head.

When I read how Ryback can't cut a promo when he hasn't yet been given the chance, I die a little inside.

Ok, maybe I was a little over dramatic on that last one. But nonetheless, characters like Ryback and the subsequent response by we, the IWC, has led me to perhaps give perspective as to why this man should be encouraged and cheered to succeed, rather than be dismissed as yet another failure by the WWE.

I understand that the last handful of years has been difficult for wrestling enthusiasts. We are the generation of wrestling fans who lived through the golden ages of wrestling: 80's and early 90's of the wrestling boom; the NWO; WWF's Attitude era which encompassed the Mcmahan/Helmsley era, Invasion era up to where I believe we are currently at. the Post Wrestlemania 21/PG-era. (My personal opinion is that Wrestlemania 21 was the last great Wrestlemania which culminated with John Cena and Batista winning their first top championship belts, angle vs HBK, a young Orton v. Undertaker). Now what makes WM21 an important moment is the residual effect it's had on today's product. Cena and Batista were waaaaaaay over at that moment in time. We had reason to believe as fans that these two were going to take the torch and lead us into the next era of wrestling. That didn't work out too well. Batista proved to become uninteresting over time then eventually left WWE, and we were left with Cena. Yes, the John Cena little kids love, and big kids can't stand anymore. The transition from tv-14 to TVPG assisted greatly in this at epic fall, but I digress. The issue since then has become the problem in finding the "next" guys since these 2 seemingly failed.

Our attention spans have become that of a fly. If someone doesn't grab our attention right away, we dismiss them. Or, in Ryback's case, we mock them as retreaded ideas of the past, or someone who's too "green" to be interested in. I'd find this rational to be funny if it wasn't so sad. What amazes me is how Ryback's character has been on TV for about 6 months now, yet many in the IWC have already written his obituary. We see his intense pre-match presence, we call him Goldberg. We don't hear him on the mic, we assume he can't cut a promo. Not even 1 years worth of substance, and already he has been judged. This is where a history lesson is needed:

Perhaps you youngins don't remember way back when the Undertaker came onto the WWF scene. I do. And I remember thinking "how f'in stupid is this character." A big guy wearing oversized rubber gloves with too much pale makeup on, barely taking bumps. The biggest thing that stood out was beyond a couple mumbled sentences and his "rest in peace" catchphrase, the first 2 years of his career, he didn't cut 1 SINGLE DECENT PROMO! He didn't talk! But we gave him a chance. We gave him time to grow before dismissing him. And slowly but surely, he became one of the WWE's most beloved and respected characters.

Lesson learned? Don't assume because I guy doesn't talk on the mic, it means he can't. Big misnomer there kids. These guys are characters. And when building a character up, you don't use the same ingredients to develop them. Ryback's character, for now, isn't meant to speak. His "actions to the speaking for him." Rolling your eyes? About to chant the next guy I'm going to talk about's name?


See Goldberg is an interesting case given the timing of his push happening at the apex of WCW's popularity along with the dominance of the Attitude Era. Here was a guy who didn't say anything except...wait for it...."who's next!" He was unassuming. His character was meant to be a bulldozing "good guy" who's actions spoke for the words he didn't. Whether Bill Goldberg could or couldn't cut a good promo is irrelevant. His "character" wasn't meant to speak in the same vein as the Rock, SCSA, Nash, Hogan etc....And yet he got over big time. Crowds loved him. It was because he didn't speak much that I believe his character worked. My point being where I miss the mic talkers who could produce in the ring, I don't need EVERY character I like to fit that mold. Occasionally, we just want the huge, strong ass kicker. Few words, just action.

I hold WWE, along with TNA, ROH and other wrestling promotions, accountable for keeping us interested by developing characters we care to follow. But I also sympathize with their position. We have developed incredibly short attention spans. We ask these promotions to wow us, but don't give them the proper amount of time to do so. If the character is lame at the beginning, they become labeled as such, and we move on.

Listen, the onus falls on the heads of the higher-ups in WWE. The writers and bookers deserve the majority of the blame for the current state of wrestling. But we as fans have a responsibility to be more patient than we have been.

Ryback is a perfect case in point. He is growing on me week after week. And while squash matches no longer help his cause, they are at the very least trying him out in bigger situations. Last night's Raw gives me hope for this guy's future. The pop he received at the end was refreshing to see and hear. Perhaps he's not the "next guy," but unlike most in the IWC, I'm not going to right him off. Ryback isn't Dameon Sandow (<candidate for next big thing in WWE), but he's not suppose to be. Forget trying to recreate the Rock or Stone Cold, let's appreciate each character and their differences, so that they are unique, and not all trying to be the same "guy." We've suffered and complained long enough. For once, let's give Ryback, and this next crop of future guys for that matter, more than a few months to win us over. If for nothing else, this may be the last crop of wrestlers who if they fail, we may finally start tuning out for good.....and that will be a dark day for this guy.

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Updated 10-09-2012 at 03:05 PM by steezin4areezin



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  1. ToiletBowl's Avatar
    Ryback actually had pretty good promos in FCW (when he was playing the goofy country boy). I think we saw some of this on NXT... "Yep Yep Yep, What it do?"

    But you are right, guys like Edge and Christian NEVER got to do much talking. It wasnt until they finally got the TAG titles and the 5 second pose promos that we actually got to hear them speak... and these are two guys who are excellent on the mic. Taker didnt talk much if at all early in his career. Goldberg's promos were awful. Brock has actually improved since his stint in UFC, but early in his career, Heyman did all of the talking. Look at the Ultimate Warrior. His promos were pathetic.

    Based on the Silverback / Skip Sheffield promos... I know Ryback can speak and be fairly entertaining. I'm not to worried about this. He's about as old skewl as there is in the WWE.
  2. Vondraco's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkside Ron Garvin
    There's a difference in being "given" a gimmick and "taking" a gimmick with the blessing of someone. Personally, the similarity is as simple as the 30 second matches to build him as unstoppable against people he should destroy anyway, just like Goldberg. Using a more basic move as a secondary option when he can't preform his primary (Goldberg had the Spear to his Jackhammer... Ryback has the Lariat to his Shell Shock). Third, they are booking him the same way they booked Goldberg. Still have yet to see Ryback in a match longer than 7 mins. In his first 6 months, did we see any Goldberg matches that went longer than 7 mins?
    No. Just ... no. Goldberg in the early days started out facing actual, real wrestlers. Hell, his first WCW match was against Hugh Morris. Not a top name in the industry at the time, to be sure, but still an actual competing wrestler. Though you are correct, his early matches were short on the whole.

    He went on to face some jobbers, certainly, but he faced people whose names we (or at least I) recognize: Glacier, Disco Inferno, Chavo Guerrero, Curt Hennig, etc. Along with some forgettable names, sure. But Ryback for several weeks was facing people whom I had never seen before and am pretty certain I'll never see again.

    Lately we're seeing Ryback start to get legitimate matches (or, as legitimate as scripted matches can be) against people that matter. Don't get me wrong, I like the character. I do think it's a mistake that WWE just pretends that he wasn't formerly Skip Sheffield who ... actually lost some matches. Kind of like they pretend that Lord Tensai wasn't formerly Prince Albert, even though the chants prove that people remember him as such. But I digress.

    WCW built Goldberg's streak initially against people you were used to seeing. Disco Inferno was actually the TV Champion when he faced Goldberg, so not someone you automatically assumed would lose; he wasn't a full jobber at the time. And WCW built Goldberg slowly. Ryback on the other hand ... he beats some no-name jobbers, he wins some matches against actual name wrestlers, and suddenly he's being considered for a top title match?

    Again, I don't dislike the Ryback character. And given the attention span of most WWE fans today, maybe a slow build-up wouldn't of been the way to go. (Yes, I know it should be "wouldn't have," but I'm writing for the lowest common denominator here. The ones who can't understand that "there," "their" and "they're" are different words; you know who you are.)

    Ryback is, IMAO, a second-rate Goldberg knockoff. That being said, I like the guy (the character) and expect to see him go on to be a top name in the WWE.
  3. TheJosephBanks's Avatar
    I think the biggest problem a lot of the IWC has with Ryback is, it's not who they want to see, so they write him off- call him a failure, despite the fact, he's gotten over with the crowd in a relatively short amount of time.

    As much crap as creative is given, you can give the IWC the same amount of power, and I doubt a wrestling company they ran would go anywhere. Creative for either TNA or WWE isn't stupid, despite what is said. It's hard to argue, as someone who doesn't run a business, hasn't done anything IN the business(Aside from arm-chair booking and watching the shows, maybe going to a few), with a company with national and international exposure, and several hundred million dollars profits a year, as to what this company is doing wrong and what they are doing right. They know what they are doing, which is why WWE continues to expand, which is why TNA continues to expand.

    I asked someone one day, you're starting a company, who would you rather have at the top of it? Cena, whose proven to be a draw, and a cashcow, or Davey Richards.

    He told me Davey, when Davey, at the top of ROH has virtually taken them nowhere fast.

    All in all, WWE knows what they are doing with Ryback, and while they have made some 'mistakes', and that, for the most part, is continuing to do what they do and ignore the IWC about him.

    Ryback is over, he gets a loud pop, has the crowd chanting his slogan, is getting lots of exposure - much better than many people have expected.
  4. Heavy's Avatar
    This is by far the best blog I have ever read. Finally some one who know exactly what their talking about in every aspect. Great blog bro
  5. Marx's Avatar
    Ryback will go over on Sandow anytime.. and that's part of the reason why I dislike him. I don't like guys being pushed to the moon, going over on guys who are just as deserving. Probably would'nt have liked Undertaker at that time. I hate squash matches.

    That said: I know Ryback is going to be big, I've seen the pop, I heard the pop he got a few months back. I really don't care: let WWE push him, fine. Let kids like it, I'm okay with that. I'll be tuning in to see my guys wrestle and probably go take a piss when Ryback's on.
  6. Rick Starr's Avatar
    First off great read! I may not agree with you on a lot of things, but the blog was still well written.

    As far as Ryback being a "Goldberg Clone" well, whether you want to believe it or not, that's exactly what he is. He comes out to the ring, beats his opponent up in less than 3 minutes, gets the fans all nuts, and heads back up the ramp. That's EXACTLY what Goldberg did.

    And you were wrong on the Undertaker, he always had a voice: It was Paul Bearer, he did all his promos for him.

    Lastly Ryback did do some promos, when he was in NXT as Skip Sheffield, and he did not do too well. I think the WWE is working with him and his mic skills in the back, or they are holding out to fit him with a manager.
  7. steezin4areezin's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by DK Wrestling Savior
    I like the read. However, gotta call you out on a few things.

    1. when you get into Goldberg, you basically write exactly what Ryback is...yet in the beginning, you state you shake your head when people mock him with the Goldberg chant. I feel you're failing to recognize that he's a recycled Goldberg. Plain and Simple. Vince and WWE know that too, which is why they mimic the quick camera pull up and close up on him at the top of the ramp with his entry, and have him staring at the camera after every power move. I personally have never said anything about him not being able to cut a promo, because there are very few who can do that these days. *Ready my blog on Talking vs Cutting Promo*

    2. "Perhaps you youngins don't remember way back when the Undertaker came onto the WWF scene. I do. And I remember thinking "how f'in stupid is this character." A big guy wearing oversized rubber gloves with too much pale makeup on, barely taking bumps."

    Something tells me you weren't actually thinking that back then. I, too, am a fan who grew up in those times, with Undertaker being my all time favorite wrestler. But unlike the analytical fans of today, who can't just enjoy the show for what it is, we always just enjoyed things as pure fans. I doubt you worried about his make up and how he takes bumps. That's what Zigglites of today worry about. We didn't think about taking bumps, how well they sell moves, or how well they cut promos. We just knew who was the good guy, who was the bad guy, and who we liked and wanted to see win.
    To your first point, I believe if we look at many of this past decades wrestler gimmick's we wouldn't be too hard pressed to find copycats (Jack Swagger/Kurt Angle comes to mind right away). You are right in that Ryback, for better or worse, is a Goldberg-esk retread, but my point is retreading gimmicks (almost directly) is done anyways, why the focus of hatred on this one baffles me.

    Regarding Taker, the target reader was the same overtly-analytical fan (Zigglites, love that by the way) to make the greater point that even the greatest of superstars (taker) needed time.

    I always appreciate the critique and opinion DK, I know from reading some of your stuff on this site you understand what your talking about. Thanks.
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