The numbers that Ryback's pulled in over last few weeks isn't exactly reflective of the desire casuals appear to have that Vince certainly does in putting him on that podium is it?
Not really. He's reliable, with such short amount of push(it has been what 6 months right? and most of them were local jobbers), he's proved that he can draw even at random quarters. Like I said before, we dont really know if he can draw or not until they actually put the title on him.
What's your desire in seeing this guy as being a figurehead? What will he bring besides the stereotypical image?
He will bring what Batista or Goldberg brought to the table. A powerhouse brute who's unstoppable. People love that kinda stuff as proven in the past, he can be a big draw if pushed right. That "stereotypical image" is something that exists only among the internet fans and wrestling hardcores to a degree, casuals dont care so its irrelevant.
For 9 months Punk was treated as second best if even. Since Raw 1000 he's been the central point of the show. Now granted, he hasn't been doing any good but you can't treat any champion in that position like dirt for 9 months out of 10 and then suddenly expect masses of people to buy into him as a legit show carrying superstar because all the actual show carrying superstars left. Taking the title off Punk solves nothing. This weeks Raw we got some insight into what WWE looks like without any star power. Punk is the 'top star' right now on a roster where there are no stars. There is a lot of merit in what you're saying and I spent a few posts saying the same thing myself but it isn't as black and white as that either. Punk is essentially feuding with nobody right now. He's in limbo while WWE sit on their hands waiting to see if John Cena can compete at the PPV. They haven't treated him the way a champion of 300+ days should have been treated for the duration of his reign so is it any bit of wonder he's bombing in the ratings?
I disagree. Just because he played second fiddle to John Cena, the absolute top guy of the company, doesnt mean he was "treated like dirt". By that logic, Batista was treated like dirt most of his career. Much like Sheamus right now, Batista post 2006 hardly ever main evented over Cena and the WWE title. Hell, he couldnt even main event with Cena, wrestlemania 26 Cena/Batista was the top draw but they promoted Taker/Shawn as the top match instead and it bombed. How many PPVs did Jeff Hardy main event? the few he did main event were against Punk. You can push the mid card act as a main event attraction every ppv if you want, but its just not going to work because the fundamental problem lies with Punk.