Ryback, the hottest up-and-coming babyface in the WWE, wrecked John Cena to close Monday Night Raw this week. The powerhouse charged the ring to save the WWE Champion from an attack by Mark Henry, only to hit his signature finisher on Cena to a huge ovation.
The question is: Was that a heel turn?
Based on Ryback's character, a merciless wrecking ball, it shouldn't be out of the ordinary. John Cena is the WWE Champion. Ryback wants the belt. It doesn't matter face or heel, everyone wants a shot to be champion. But that's logic.
Think back to the Raw 1,000. The Rock opened the show announcing he was going to receive a shot at the WWE Champion at the Royal Rumble, no matter who is holding the belt at the time. CM Punk, who was one of the company's top faces at the time, was in the middle of his historic title reign. To close the show, Punk leveled the Rock and stood over The Great One as the show closed.
The attack from Punk seemed logical. He's the champ and a guy just threatened his title. In response, he laid him out to send a message. In all booking of babyface champions, the creative team should ask the simple question: "What Would Stone Cold Do?"
The biggest, baddest superstar of the last 20 years took out anyone in his way. And the crowd loved it. Punk, who has looked up to Steve Austin as a performer, seemed to be taking a page out of his book in this attack.
For some reason, though, this was considered a heel turn and Punk has been the central antagonist on the WWE product ever since that night.
Monday Night Raw after WrestleMania closed with a similar scene. Ryback stood over John Cena as the crowd chanted "Feed Me More" and we went to black with the commentators in disbelief. It was a huge moment for Ryback's career, as it appears he's set to enter a feud with the biggest face in the company.
But was it a heel turn?
Based purely on crowd reaction, the answer should be no. Last night's crowd, though, was truly out of the ordinary. The New York-New Jersey fan base is usually more likely to associate with the Internet Wrestling Community to begin with, but this was the day after WrestleMania. Much of the crowd had probably stayed in town over the weekend and were amped up from a few days of wrestling Valhalla.
It wouldn't stun me if we came back next week to have Ryback painted as a monster heel. This, though, would be a huge mistake. The crowd wants the anti-Cena. A bulldozer, no matter the limited move set and mic skills, is something that draws fans.
Ryback gets Goldberg comparisons, but historically he's more similar to the Ultimate Warrior. He's super intense and without and clear purpose. His biggest goal is to destroy people, and now that he's been close to the gold, he wants it for himself.
Saying that, we could get a huge reaction from a Cena-Ryback singles feud in the same way Hogan-Warrior was a massive success. With Punk planning to take time off, WWE needs something to satisfy the 18-35 male demographic in the way Cena can't. By putting the belt on Dolph Ziggler last night and moving Ryback to the forefront, they may be doing just that.
What do you think? Did Ryback turn heel last night? Should he be a heel or remain a face?