While its fairly evident Ryback is a Goldberg clone, the guy is seriously over. I must say, I'm a fan. He's a breath of fresh air, has a unique look, and currently he's my pick to win the Rumble. Kinda wish they'd ditch the "FEED ME MORE" at the beginning of his theme song. The clang of a gong followed by military style drums its not. Goldberg's theme was so much a part of the character, it, along with Goldberg himself, commanded attention. Ryback's...not so much. Still, its something we don't get to see often.
Now, I'd like to take this opportunity to explain something that I'm hoping Vince or someone on the creative team will read. At the very least, it will clear up a few things about why CM Punk is not working in this current role. Let's compare him to the superstar I believe the WWE is trying to emulate with Punk's booking-Ric Flair.
I see a lot of parallels between Punk and Naitch. The emphasis on promos and mic work, the cowardly attacks, the arrogance, the demeanor, they all say to me "this guy is trying to be a 2012 edgy version of Slick Ric." However, there are a few major differences that the Fed for some reason is just not getting. Were they to book Punk in a way that actually WAS like Flair, I guarantee we'd see loads more success.
For starters, tonight. When Punk was on his knees praying to Vince not to hit him when he was in a position of weakness, that was so carbon copy a Ric Flair spot that it was comical. I actually thought it was the best part of the match when Punk low blowed him, its such a classic Flair move (that or a thumb to the eye). However, Punk is missing something extremely important that Ric Flair always had-muscle. Look at any time Flair was a heel in his career and you see some muscle behind him. In the 80s, it was the Four Horsemen-Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Ole Anderson, Barry Windham, Sid Vicious, Lex Luger and the like. This is in ADDITION to any valets or managers he had like J.J. Dillon or Baby Doll. When he came to the Fed in the 90s, who backed him up? Mr. Perfect and Bobby Heenan. Not AS big muscle, but he had some backup nonetheless. When he returned to WCW after that? He started allying himself with Vader, pretty much some of the biggest muscle you could get at the time. In 2003 when Evolution started, he had Hunter, Orton and Batista backing him. As part of Fortune in TNA? James Storm, Robert Roode, AJ Styles, Kazarian and Desmond Wolfe (though he was managing at the time mainly). As part of Immortal? Abyss, Bully Ray, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Mr. Anderson, Gunner, Murphy, Rob Terry and Scott Steiner. Basically, the moral of the story is that if you wanted to get to Flair, it was extremely hard. Thus, it was a long journey to finally get your hands on him, and when you did, that's what people paid to see. When Ric Flair ran and let Batista and Orton fight his battles for him, or had the other Horsemen join him in a beatdown, you pretty much had a shield around Ric Flair that prevented him from looking like a shmuck. He was always in a position of power, and it was those rare moments when he wasn't that the fans craved to see because that meant the babyface would finally give him what he deserved. Its a really simple formula.
In fact, a lot of history's most successful heels have followed this method. The Rock was backed by the Corporation, where you had guys like Big Bossman, Big Show, Ken Shamrock, Test and the like, which also acted as a shield when trying to get to Vince McMahon, THE big heel in the late 90s. Undertaker had the Ministry of Darkness-Mideon, the Acolytes, the Brood and Viscera. Triple H had Evolution (of course, Flair benefited from that, too). Hogan had the nWo and the plethora of members that afforded (there's way too many to name). Kevin Sullivan had the Dungeon of Doom (featuring The Giant, Zodiac, Shark, Meng, Barbarian, etc). Any time you had a heel who talked a good game but had that cowardly streak about him, the logical thing to do is position him to be surrounded by guys who can pick up the slack. It also helps so much because it gives the babyface some real challenges to overcome and plays the story of the pursuit to the title and finally getting the chance to beat this heel.
Who exactly does Punk have backing him? Heyman himself is not enough. Every time Punk runs away like he did...what, 3 times in the match alone tonight (once when Vince had the Kendo stick, once when Ryback made the save and once he countered Ryback's finisher), he looks like a gigantic loser. The babyface has already proven he's better than the heel and the heel had to run away like a bitch. We're not talking about going on the lamb while his goons and underlings try to assault his enemies, which would help to at least maintain the aspect that he's in control. No, we're talking about looking like a bitch, bottom line, that's it That, to me, is a huge reason why Punk feels so...unimpressive right now. I mean, his promos are great. Slapping Vince was awesome. He's got that arrogant fire in him that really conveys "I completely believe what I'm saying." Then it just gets all undone when he gets made to look like a chump. Its not like this is some long drawn out journey like wrestling tends to be, it feels like each episode is self contained. At the beginning the villain is built up, by the end he's brought right back down and basically defeated. We've been seeing this for weeks now. Up, down. Up, down.
This is CM Punk right now:
Its retarded. He's great, he sucks, he's great, he sucks. The entire point of a top heel is that the ONLY time they should be on a downward slope is when they lose to the babyface and the feud concludes.
This is how CM Punk SHOULD be booked right now:
See how its constantly going up, and then plateaus for a while? That represents the heel building up his character and finally getting settled into that area where he's on cruise control. He's always in control, he's almost untouchable. The time the graph goes down is when the babyface, after a long quest of getting to him, finally beats him.
When the heel is going up and down so often like Punk is, people start to lose interest fast. Who cares about a heel whose weaknesses are constantly exposed and the good guy often gets the better of him? There's no drama, and thus very little entertainment in that. How well do you think Star Wars would have done if in the Empire Strikes back, Luke beat Darth Vader in Cloud City convincingly and Vader ran away from him? You'd be like "wow...evil isn't so hard to beat, its kinda hard to take the Empire seriously since even this poorly trained farm boy with a lightsabre can kick their asses." Not being able to take the main villain seriously really cripples your interest in a story. However, that's not what happened. Vader kicked the shit out of Luke, and Luke is the one who ran. That made the viewer say "damn, how are Luke and the Rebels going to be able to beat the Empire? I mean, Han is gone, the Empire is massive, Vader is an ass kicker...I don't see how they can lose. I want to keep watching to see how the story concludes." Adversity creates interest.
Where is the adversity in this Punk thing? He's beaten and humiliated every week. He's constantly looking like a scared little pussy. That is the fatal flaw in this entire thing and its what is really hurting my ability to maintain interest in what is going on.
Would it be so hard to pair him with some sort of allies that can come in to help him when he runs away? That would be so damn helpful to his character, the Fed doesn't even know. And its not like the heel can't EVER be in a position of weakness. The point is that whatever the babyface does, the heel needs to come back with something better. They always need to be in a position of dominance to create adversity and therefore drama.
I will refer you to a classic example: Austin vs McMahon.
WWF Raw, March 30 1998-the Night after WM14-Stone Cold starts the show by giving the Stunner to Vince. Vince responds by having Austin arrested.
WWF Raw, April 6 1998-Austin responds by punching Vince in the nuts.
WWF Raw, April 13 1998-The first ever advertised Austin vs Vince match, which allows Raw to break the 84 week streak of ratings wins WCW was experiencing. Vince allies himself with Dude Love before he and Austin even touch, Austin is laid out.
WWF Raw, April 20 1998-During the main event between Dude Love and Steve Blackman, Austin runs out to attack Dude and McMahon (who is on commentary). Austin gets a couple shots in, but Dude, Patterson and Briscoe run interference while Vince slips away.
Unforgiven, April 26 1998-Steve Austin vs Dude Love main event. Dude gets knocked into Vince. As Vince tries to help Dude up, Austin clocks Vince in the head with a chair. McMahon is out cold. Austin pins Dude. Austin gets a modicum of revenge, and to see it, fans had to buy the PPV.
WWF Raw, April 27 1998-During the main event between Steve Austin and Goldust, Dude Love interferes to attack Austin. Vince tries to nail Austin with the WWF title but he hits Brisco by accident, leaving Austin unharmed.
WWF Raw, May 4 1998-Austin is on commentary while Dude beats up Terry Funk to become the #1 contender again, Dude and Vince celebrate after with the Dudettes.
WWF Raw, May 11 1998-Dude Love vs Steve Austin announced for Over the Edge. Gerald Brisco is announced as the guest time keeper for Over the Edge, Pat Patterson is announced as the guest ring announcer for Over the Edge, and Vince McMahon is announced as the guest referee for Over the Edge, stacking the odds hugely against Austin. (Can't seem to find a video of this, sadly).
WWF Raw, May 18 1998-Steve Austin vs. Gerald Brisco/Pat Patterson (Street Fight, Sgt. Slauhgter guest referee), Vince McMahon/Dude Love attack Austin and leave him laying.
WWF Raw, May 25 1998-McMahon brags about how he assaulted Austin and got away with it. Austin has McMahon's police escort arrest him for assault, and Patterson and Brisco for obstructing justice.
Later, Undertaker attacks Vince, and Austin comes out, ties up Vince's arms in the ropes and is about to give him a chairshot when Dude runs out and takes the chairshot instead, allowing Vince to AGAIN slip away unharmed.
Over the Edge, May 31 1998-With the overwhelming odds against him, Undertaker arrives during the main event between Dude and Austin to take out Patterson and Briscoe. Since there's a stipulation in place that Austin touching Vince will cause him to be stripped, when McMahon won't count 3 for him, Austin craftily gets Dude to take out Vince with a chair shot, then takes out Dude and wins. Again, to see Austin get his revenge and Vince get taken out, you have to buy the PPV.
This ended up being a year and a half long storyline and basically carried Attitude for almost 2 years because the fans loved it. And it was all booked smartly as I've laid out.
Now, put Punk in the role of Vince, as being the weasel who let's his henchmen do his dirty work while he often gets away scot free. This would make Punk 1000000 times more interesting than he is now because whatever babyface he faces would have some ODDS to overcome. It doesn't have to be booked this exact way, in fact I don't want it to be (because they'd never come close to how good it was done the first time). But if you give Punk some talent under him, you can book him to run and yet not have him look like a loser. If anything, it makes the fans crave seeing him get his ass kicked even more. You're telling me that there aren't 2-3 guys available who you can have Punk lead? Fuck, Mason Ryan would be PERFECT for this.
Why couldn't we have something like:
Raw after NoC-Mason Ryan and...I dunno...Ezekiel Jackson, let's say, are introduced as 2 people who have seen the light, 2 guys who Punk has found that acknowledge his greatness, in hopes that it will help them achieve their own greatness in their WWE careers. They believe allying with the best in the world will help those chances. Punk, being the egotistical jerk he is, agrees to take them under his wing. Cena does his promo about why Punk should pick him, Punk says no.
Raw September 24-Foley and Punk have their awesome promo. We ignore that stupid Cena/relay baton bullshit. Punk just comes out and says no again. Backstage, Foley tries one last time to reason with Punk, Punk kicks Foley and he, Ryan and Jackson just kick the shit out of him before Ryback shows up to drive them off, making Ryback look like a beast.
Raw October 1-Jim Ross and Punk do their promo. In the main event, Kane chokeslams Punk, but Ryan and Jackson interfere and lay waste to everything (Ziggler leaves so he isn't flattened as well). It concludes with Punk giving Bryan the GTS and all 3, with Heyman, stand tall.
Raw October 8-Punk slaps Vince, we get our fight in the main event. Punk goes over Vince CLEAN and after when Punk continues to beat him, Cena (who is on commentary) runs in to try and stop him. Cena gets a kendo stick shot from Punk. Ryback comes out. He charges into the ring when Jackson and Ryan run in. They beat him a bit, but Ryback clotheslines both out of the ring. Punk has already taken the time to get out of the ring. Ryback saves Cena and Vince, Vince gives his ultimatum.
Raw October 15-Punk comes out with his entourage and dismisses both opponents, saying whoever he faces, he'll beat with ease. Vince appears via satellite to say Punk has to decide his fate by the end of the show. We get a Ryan/Jackson tag team match against some loser team and we see how dominant these guys can be. Punk comes out later and basically tells Vince to screw himself. Vince comes on again and says Cena vs Punk at HIAC. Contract signing next week.
Raw October 22-Punk comes out and expresses his anger at Vince for giving Cena another title shot. Later in the show, we get our contract signing. No Jackson or Ryan out there. Punk, Cena, Heyman and some authority figure (who cares which, really). Punk insults Cena, Cena starts disrespecting Punk. Punk attacks Cena, Cena NOW brings out his baton and gives Punk a shot to the ribs. Heyman steps in and gives Cena a low blow. Punk kicks Cena in the head. We hear FEED ME MORE and the crowd pops, but Ryan and Jackson come out. We see a video from moments ago as Ryan and Jackson blockade Ryback's dressing room from the outside and put a forklift in front of it. Everyone is all smiles and Punk stands victoriously over a fallen Cena. As they leave the ring, we see live from the back as Ryback punches through the gimmicked door and rips it off his hinges, then shoves the forklift out of the way (its in neutral so it'll roll), making him look superhuman, and he charges out after Punk and company. He gets to the parking lot and sees them get into their limo. He runs up to try and catch them but they speed off. Ryback goes berserk and starts trashing stuff.
Hell in a Cell-Cena and Punk have a brawl. Ryan and Jackson try to get in with bolt cutters, and do get in and take Cena down, but Ryback comes in to make the save, chasing them off. Cena gets Punk on his shoulders for the AA, but Lesnar's music hits. Cena drops Punk in shock and Brock stands at the top of the ramp just glaring and doing his dance. Cena gets ready for a fight, but Punk rolls Cena up and grabs the tights for the win. Boom-Survivor Series: Punk/Lesnar vs Cena/Hunter.
There, in 10 minutes I've successfully booked this feud 100 times better than it currently has been. It doesn't have to be exactly Jackson and Ryan, just 2 jacked big guys who can act as Punk's muscle and let him get away with shit that his current stature won't allow without an extreme suspension of disbelief. Make Punk look like a difficult opponent. The way I've done it, Ryback looks like a monster, Punk looks strong, Cena has some actual odds to overcome...Christ, is it really this hard to figure out?