Ryback's fall through the ambulance roof at WWE Payback during his match with John Cena is symbolic of the direction of his career moving forward, at least for now.
The definitive nature of his loss to Cena will have Ryback out of the WWE Championship picture for the moment. After reaching the highest point of his career, as a top heel, championship contender and one-half of the main event, Ryback must now journey toward the ground.
He gave Cena a hellacious fight, but it wasn't enough.
WWE tried their best to make Ryback look as good as possible in the loss. Even after how brutal their battle got, Ryback had enough juice left to avoid a trip to the emergency room.
He overpowered the champion for most of the night. He pounded on him with forearms and rattled the ring with power moves.
At one point, he was flinging around the steel steps like some comic book villain.
Ryback won the first fall and only needed either a win in the Tables match or Ambulance match to end the night happy. Defeating Cena is not a feat that many men can achieve though.
During Hulk Hogan's WWE title run from 1984 to 1988, a conveyor belt of challengers opposed him. Hogan, though, knocked each one off.
Hogan was WWE's Superman at the time, finding a way to overcome even the largest and most dangerous foes. King Kong Bundy, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff and Andre the Giant all came at the king and missed.
Cena is carrying on that tradition.
He is the man so firmly rooted in the top spot that it takes more than the kind of momentum Ryback had to knock him off.
Ryback now heads to the position in the WWE pecking order that Mark Henry has had this year. Henry hasn't been a serious contender for the major championships in 2013, instead being asked to slug it out in the upper midcard.
That should be Ryback’s new home for now.
Expect him to start a new non-championship feud. Daniel Bryan should get his shot at Cena next, or perhaps WWE visits the Cena and CM Punk rivalry once more.
Maybe Ryback has a few slugfests with Sheamus or maybe he gets involved in a feud with a returning Christian.
Should Ryback continue to get the kind of reactions he's getting from most crowds and should he continue to show growth both in the ring and as a talker, Ryback's destination after some wandering will likely be the World Heavyweight Championship scene.
He is just too strong and has too much of an impressive physique to not get another shot at a major title.
One could look at Ryback's pay-per-view singles record and point at it as proof that WWE doesn't believe in him.
Losing to Mark Henry at WrestleMania 29, two times in a row to Cena, once to Punk and once to both Punk and Cena at the same time doesn't look good on the surface. The fact that the company has been putting him in those high-profile matches already means more than the results so far.
He'll be invited to the top of the card once more even if it takes several months.
Let Ryback lick his wounds and feed on some lesser prey. Eventually, a new opportunity will arise. This loss Cena will send him tumbling backwards for the moment, but expect the beast to rise again, his hunger even more voracious.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!