MITCHELL'S TAKE MITCHELL: There is only one right finish for tonight's C.M. Punk vs. Ryback, and why WWE should make this bold move
Oct 28, 2012 - 6:58:01 PM
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By Bruce Mitchell, PWTorch columnist
(This article was originally published last week on the PWTorch VIP website and app and in the PWTorch Newsletter #1276.)
Everywhere you look, someone is offering a creative solution to The Ryback Dilemma.
The Ryback Dilemma is, of course, how does WWE Creative book the main event at Hell in a Cell (not Hell in the Cell, mind you) so that Ryback comes out of the 20 foot high roofed cage as an unstoppable, unbeaten phenomenon at the same time the defending champion, C.M. Punk, keeps his title?
They have to find a way to do that, right? Ryback can't win the WWE Title outright that quickly, can he? It'll ruin Punk's long-running (almost a year now) tenure as WWE Champion. Not only that, Ryback hasn't beaten anybody (well, he's beaten everybody he's faced, but the biggest star he's faced is The Miz.) He's never worked main events. He's never had a 20 minute match. He doesn't sell. His routine is predictable. His winning the title is predictable. He's an imitation. He hasn't moved the quarter hour ratings. There are guys - better wrestlers - who have been waiting for that chance a lot longer than he has. There are plans already in place for Punk and the WWE Title, big money plans, all the way to WrestleMania, and they don't include Ryback.
On the other hand, if you beat Ryback, or compromise him in any real way, his unstoppable monster gimmick is stopped before it ever gets the chance to get started.
The solutions are creative, I'll give them that. Here's a few I've heard:
*Punk, or even Paul Heyman, enrages Ryback so much in the course of HIAC Ryback tears one whole side of the cage down, impressing everybody with his monstrous strength but leaving the referee no choice but to call the match a no-contest, enabling Punk to keep the title.
*Punk, or even Paul Heyman, enrages Ryback so much in the course of HIAC that Ryback tears Punk's face off and leaves him a bloody mess, impressing everybody with his monstrous strength but leaving the referee no choice but to call the match a no-contest, enabling Punk to keep the title.
*Brock Lesnar, at the behest of Paul Heyman, wastes one of his big money appearances on an unadvertised attack on Ryback and tears one whole side of the cage down, impressing everybody with his monstrous strength but leaving the referee no choice but to call the match a no-contest, enabling Punk to keep the title.
*The Rock, offended by a tweet or a Tout or god knows what, wastes one of his big money appearances on an unadvertised attack on C.M. Punk during the match and tears one whole side of the cage down, impressing everybody with his monstrous strength but leaving the referee no choice but to call the match a no-contest, enabling Punk to keep the title.
*Some guys who deserve an Opportunity least as much as Ryback are revealed to be Paul Heyman Guys too, even if they aren't, when they attack Ryback, and in the course of Feeding Me More, the champion slips out the back, enabling Punk to keep the title.
The proposed solutions to the Ryback Dilemma get more creative and convoluted from there. You can't blame all the nervous nellies – most of them have never seen an act shot straight to the middle, much less the top, during the time they've followed pro wrestling. WCW's Goldberg was the last act a national company immediately took to the top of the card.
(Speaking of Bill Goldberg, as of Monday night, a good portion of the live audience was still chanting his name when Ryback hit the ring. Instead of fighting the obvious resemblance, WWE ought to embrace it. Hire Goldberg to endorse Ryback, maybe make an appearance where he slaps the guy in the face to fire him up even further, and the two reveal, in the old wrestling tradition, that they are actually "cousins," only Ryback didn't want anyone to know until he'd made it. "Goldberg," for whatever reason, seems to be more natural to chant than "Ryback" and WWE could pat themselves on the back for reversing the old sports and entertainment trope by, for once, having a guy change his name to sound more Jewish.)
Ryback isn't a dilemma for WWE, though; he's a choice, and all those objections above are too small-potatoes to enter into it. Every big money-drawing stars in wrestling had drawbacks when he got his big chance. For example, here is what was said about some all-time box-office draws when they got their opportunity:
Bruno Sammartino: uppity
Dusty Rhodes: fat
Terry Funk: crazy
Ric Flair: crazy
Mike Tyson: crazy
Hulk Hogan: bad hair, bloated body, too big to be a heroic underdog, can't wrestle
Ultimate Warrior: can't talk, can't work, no stamina, prima donna, hopeless
Steve Austin: uppity, bad hair, no charisma
The Rock: too pretty (or whatever it was Triple H and his friends said)
Goldberg: stiff, entitled, doesn't love "it"
John Cena: can't work
C.M. Punk: too small, "simulates" work
There are always reasons, good reasons, why a new act might very well not make it at the top. Somehow, at some point, either a promotion takes the risks and gets a chance at the rewards, or, well, they end up like every promotion in the country except WWE.
The choice here is clear, and it's made easier by the simple fact that if the monster Ryback doesn't overwhelmingly succeed in his first major test this early in his career (and let's be even clearer, that means kicking Punk's ass the exact same way he kicked all those jobbers' asses and taking the title free and clear), he will never be the ratings-moving, money-drawing new act WWE and the business needs, and it will make it even more difficult for the next act WWE decides to shoot straight to the top of the card.
Here's the choice - and the objections I listed to Ryback earlier don't mean a thing compared to the stakes. WWE has to choose - and I mean now - between taking the chance (and it's neither a small chance nor an overwhelming one) that Ryback can be a money and ratings-drawing unbeatable phenomenon that can effectively headline pay-per-views and house show tours for the next 18 months to two years (that's generally how long these kind of fad acts last on top) or not potentially damaging their biggest money-drawing WrestleMania match.
Simply put, WWE has to choose between (a) the chance to have a new on-going box-office attraction and a WrestleMania rematch between the Rock and John Cena where the WWE Title is not on the line, or (b) a WrestleMania rematch between the Rock and John Cena where the WWE title is on the line.
One thing does work in WWE's favor here - at least a little. WWE can put Ryback over strong for the title Sunday night, have John Cena endorse him Monday, and put the entire force of their undivided promotional effort behind him from then until January, at which point they ought to have some idea through ratings and box office receipts whether his act is gaining traction. If Ryback is becoming their next big star, hell, it shouldn't be hard for Punk and Rock to make the issue personal between them at the Royal Rumble. If Ryback isn't quite there, or is bombing, Punk can credibly steal the title back, run way from Ryback, and right into Rock's waiting arms at the Rumble and the original WrestleMania plan is back on course.
Can Ryback actually be that game-changing box attraction? I've seen better candidates, ones like Goldberg that the fans got behind before the promotion did, but I've also seen ones that Vince McMahon, in particular, got behind strong enough, like Triple H, that fans eventually followed. That's beside the point, though, because that decision has already been made.
WWE made the choice to either go all the way with Ryback or destroy his monster act when they booked him in a title match for the WWE Championship at Hell in a Cell.
(Bruce Mitchell of Greensboro, N.C. has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. VIP members can hear him for two hours every week on the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show, plus listen to him live with Travis Bryant every Monday night in the hour before Raw at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pro-wrestling-torch.)
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