Ryback Alliance with Paul Heyman Breathes Life into Stagnant Character

Joe Johnson@@JoeJohnsonREALSenior Writer IISeptember 17, 2013


There were only two options as to how Paul Heyman's match against CM Punk would end at Night of Champions. Either Heyman would get what he deserves and disappear for some time from WWE television until returning with Brock Lesnar for revenge, or Heyman would debut a new "Heyman Guy" to continue the battle with his former client. 

The WWE made the right decision and opted with the latter. 

The introduction to Heyman and Ryback's partnership on Raw was well-executed. Heyman, in his Lex Luthor-style wheelchair, was rolled out onto the stage by Curtis Axel with Ryback at his side. He proceeded to claim he is now the best in the world having vanquished CM Punk and that he owes it all to Ryback. 

Ever since turning heel, Ryback's character has been flat. He lost the beanie and adopted a leather vest. He doesn't use the catchphrases that made him popular in the first place. And, well, he's lost a lot. 

John Cena defeated Ryback at consecutive pay-per-views. Then Ryback was used early as muscle by Triple H's faction, but looked far from dominant against Daniel Bryan. He's begun to push around smaller guys backstage who are usually local/indy talents dressed as producers.

The "bully" character works for him as it seems like a natural growth of his personality. But, at the moment, it's midcard at best. 

Heyman is the perfect guy to manage Ryback. I'd say Heyman is the perfect guy to manage any heel, and the failure of Axel isn't his fault. He took the untalented Joe Hennig as far as he could go. 

The key to making this pairing work is a commitment to differentiating Ryback from Lesnar. We have heard the Goldberg chants at every show, but it won't be long before we are saying Ryback is Lesnar-lite when paired with Heyman. 

In the Lesnar-Heyman dynamic, you have an elite athlete and a slimy sports agent. The Punk-Heyman pairing showed a pair of masterminds who were also positioned as best friends. In both of these cases, Heyman is credited as having discovered the talents. Even with Axel, Heyman helped reinvent Michael McGillicutty and transformed him into a third-generation pure talent. 

With Heyman and Ryback, though, it's clear there is already a different dynamic. Heyman's rhetoric communicated that he sees Ryback as his protector. He said he was a "big, beautiful man." There were some deeper, more elicit undertones to the way he spoke, touched and looked at Ryback.

This isn't new to Heyman. Over the last few months, he has repeatedly told Punk that he loved him and discussed how they had a deeper relationship than just as clients. 

It's a potentially hazardous and controversial direction for the character. Heyman moving closer to a loving affection for Ryback is somewhere that I don't know if we've had a manager-client relationship go before.

Ryback's association with Heyman will reinvigorate his career. Working with Punk and Heyman will make him a better in-ring worker and better on the mic. He truly seems to care about improving as a professional wrestler and overall performer. If that's going to happen and he is to become a long-term main event staple, this is the best thing that could happen for his career.