Ryback is the closest he’s ever been to becoming the WWE Champion.
Although he challenged for the WWE’s most prestigious title on multiple occasions in late 2012 and early 2013, he never really had a chance of winning it. At the time, the title picture was all about CM Punk and The Rock, and Ryback wasn’t going to change that.
But now, Ryback has emerged as the self-proclaimed “biggest threat ever” to John Cena as WWE Champion. Of course, for every person who believes that statement, there are probably five who don’t.
After all, it’s hard to picture Ryback actually winning the WWE Championship anytime soon.
Why? It’s quite simple, really: because of how badly he’s been booked as over the last six-plus months.
Billed as the WWE’s most dominant and unstoppable force, Ryback has been anything but. In fact, as we all know, Ryback has been incredibly unsuccessful in the big matches he has had.
He has literally lost every major match we’ve seen him in dating back to October, yet he suddenly finds himself as Cena’s first challenger during “The Champ’s” 11th WWE title reign. While Ryback has remained over with a big portion of the fans, many simply aren’t buying him as a top guy after all of his recent failures.
I’m not either.
Winning and losing don’t matter nearly as much as they should—Ryback being Cena’s top challenger proves that—but they do matter more than the WWE thinks they do. Mainly, when a wrestler loses over and over again, his credibility as a legitimate Superstar goes down the toilet.
That’s exactly what’s happened with Ryback.
Yeah, he’s over, and yeah, he looks the part. But looking at his track record, there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever why we should ever expect him to be the man who ends Cena’s title reign.
The WWE has shown zero confidence in booking Ryback as a top star, and the creative team has even failed to book him as a winner at times when it was obviously the most logical thing to do—like at WrestleMania, when he clearly should have beaten Mark Henry but didn’t.
Now, Ryback finds himself in a spot where it will be even tougher to truly break through as a World champion simply because of who he’s feuding with.
Think the creative team was iffy about booking Ryback to beat Punk, Henry or The Shield? Then, how do you think creative feels about potentially booking Ryback over the face of the company in Cena?
Cena is obviously the WWE’s top guy, and as we all know, it’s rare to see him lose many major matches, especially when he’s facing a relatively unproven Superstar. That’s what Ryback is at this point, too.
Ryback is totally unproven in just about every capacity imaginable, and though he could shock the world by upsetting Cena at Extreme Rules (a la Sheamus at TLC in 2009), the odds of that actually happening aren’t very good.
The WWE has a hard enough time booking established and proven top stars to beat Cena, so a scenario where a guy who’s only been around for a year dethrones Cena as WWE Champion seems highly unlikely. Sheamus did it four years ago, so it’s possible—but I wouldn’t bet on it.
After all, Cena just won the WWE Championship after not holding it for well over a year. That likely means that he is going to get a lengthy title reign after all the time he spent away from the title picture.
Cena hasn’t been a real force in the WWE title scene for most of the last year and a half, so like it or not, that’s a pretty strong indicator that the WWE will “make up” for his time away from the title picture by having him keep the title for a while.
Cena hasn’t had a WWE Championship reign that’s lasted for more than 84 days since 2007, so needless to say, he’s “due” for a lengthy run with the strap—especially when you consider that we’ve gotten a few lengthy World title reigns recently.
Punk, of course, held the WWE Championship for a whopping 434-day span from Survivor Series 2011 to the 2013 Royal Rumble, while Sheamus held the World Heavyweight Championship for roughly seven months in 2012.
The WWE has shown a lot of confidence in booking its biggest stars as World champions over the last couple of years, and now that Cena is holding the top prize in all of pro wrestling, expect that to continue.
Expect that to leave Ryback out in the cold, too.
It’s good to see a hard worker like Ryback make it to the top of the title picture, but at the same time, most of us know where this is headed. Ryback is nothing more than a minor bump on Cena’s long road to WWE title “redemption.”
Cena will hold the WWE Championship longer than he has in the last six years, and Ryback will continue to do what he does best: lose.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!