The Encyclopedia of Professional Wrestling talks about wrestling champions "Being the type that are slightly better than most wrestlers in the promotion, but are still able to be beaten on any given night in any arena."
Right now, CM Punk looks to fit that part as well as any other WWE champion in the last 25 years.
When it comes to building a monster contender, the WWE may have hit the nail on the head when it chose Ryback to step into the top contender's slot.
While he is everything the company wants to challenge Punk, he is also just green enough and over-dominant enough that putting the strap on him now could thwart any momentum he has. It could, in fact, make it difficult for him to remain hot over a long period of time.
Wrestlers like Shawn Michaels, The Rock, John Cena and Punk have been able to do that over years and in some cases with other stars, decades. Right now, I don't see Ryback with that kind of pedigree or potential. That does not mean the WWE will not put the company's top title on him or the World title on him in the future. Just not now.
Since the time of Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff, and Ric Flair and David Von Erich even earlier in time (WWWF days), the promotions have built up wrestlers like Ahmed Johnson, Barry Windham, Bob Orton Jr. and Kevin Von Erich—wrestlers who were very good but just come up a bit short.
I believe Ryback is in that category. Of the list just reeled off, those wrestlers (with the exception of maybe Johnson) had much more potential and had better careers than Ryback will have (in my opinion). Windham is the lone world champion, and he won it only once.
We miss the "monster contender" in wrestling. We miss the need to build up more matches. We need to see a "new" contender come in and build a reputation and then set his sights on one thing and one thing only.
That is something Ryback, to his credit, has done by way of angles and programs.
Dolph Ziggler in some way has done this as well. But because of lack of competition and the ending of product branding, there is no real chance for this to happen. If the WWE wants to attract more fans and improve the ratings, then follow the Ryback script with other stars like Damien Sandow, Ziggler and someone like Brad Maddox (he could actually be huge).
When the WWE can go old school and take a basic principle from decades before and fine tune it, then you have a winning formula. And right now, it appears no one is winning when it comes to true success in this organization.
Not even the current reigning, undisputed world champion.
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