Ryback was seen 'confronting' CM Punk at the end of this week's episode of RAW, and it definitely got a lot of people talking about what is coming next. I may have been skeptical of giving him constant jobber opponents, but I have been a fan of him as both Skip Sheffield and his current gimmick. If you go back awhile, I wrote in a past Spotlight column that giving Ryback cakewalk matches were fun to watch, but they can't go on forever. We have been seeing him slowly moving up in quality of opponents, and he went from facing guys who didn't get a ring introduction to Curt Hawkins and Jinder Mahal. The nice thing about seeing those two guys (and Tyler Reks) was it gave Ryback a consistency over a few shows and it let them test how he would do in a proper feud. I didn't really expect much out of any of the feuds besides Ryback would crush them and win, but it did end up serving a bigger purpose.
There's no denying Ryback and Goldberg will be compared; the key here is trying to give Ryback that little twist or spark so he doesn't exctly mirror Goldberg. Ryback did more in Monday's show than Goldberg did in the first few months of his push; he has the benefit of long-term booking and he didn't actually do anything. WWE hooked all of us by just having him stand in front of Foley, and CM Punk had a 'just shit my pants' look on his face so I thought it was someone very important. I really didn't have any idea as to who it really could be, but the way Punk sold it was huge and it gives Ryback more momentum. Having him involved with the WWE Champion is a good thing, and he all he had to do is stand there and look scary. (Not a hard thing for him to do.)
Goldberg's push was slow like Ryback's, but he came out, kicked ass and left, and it built the mystery around him. Ryback has been brief in his promos, but he still has had more of an early presence and it's helped get him over quicker. Ryback didn't really have a good pop in the beginning, but he's really made strides and the 'Feed Me More' chants are starting to take place of the 'Goldberg' chants. Booker T introduced Ryback to Miz TV and everyone made the assumption that he would feud with Miz at have a match at Hell In A Cell, but they fast forwarded it and Miz lost cleanly on Monday. What was the point of Miz losing like that? Was it just a once-off to get Ryback a better pop? I can make all the assumptions I want, but I'm sure WWE just changed their minds and went in a different direction. Miz may come out next week and ask for a rematch with the title on the line, they may forget about it all together.
Ryback got a lot of interest by being featured with Punk, but I hope they let this one go on the back burner for awhile. Ryback hasn't feuded with enough people or had enough credible matches to be in the world title picture yet. He needs a few more wins against midcard guys to pick up just a little more steam; this week's Smackdown tapings may be an indication of him getting better opponents. I would have Punk ignore the fact that Ryback showed up to protect Foley, and I would even go as far to have everyone ignore it. Punk can say something along the lines of how he showed Foley who he really is, but have it stop there. Ryback should continue to win, and just have him 'run into' Punk like he did this week. Just having him be in the back of Punk's mind keeps him in the title picture in a way, but it still protects him in case they don't know what exactly to do yet.
There are a few theories that were presented as to where Ryback is headed, but let's focus on the one thing that has been a constant rumor. Vince wants Ryback to get over, and he's going to keep pushing him. If he is going to keep going with this push, do things the right way so it gives the character longivity. If Punk gloats backstage about winning another match, show him leaving with Heyman and have Ryback walk past him. Little things like that will be great for a slow build, and when things finally come together it will be huge. I think back to the way Sheamus was hot shotted up to the WWE Championship after debuting on the main brand. It could've been better. Since we already established the comparison, imagine if Goldberg vs Hogan had more than a few days notice. Ryback doesn't need a title program right away, he can continue to get impressive wins and Punk already has to finish a program with Cena and maybe the Rock.
We don't know what will happen with Punk's reign, but Monday was a good indication that Ryback as a threat will happen sooner than later. Ryback needs more time to have a feud or two with guys that can risk losing a match to him. Miz will rebound from his loss, and Randy Orton wouldn't be a bad name to mention either. Ryback looks good, Orton will still get a cheer and it gets Ryback enough credibility to warrant a title match. Just like predicting where Ryback goes from here, you can't predict how he will get there until it happens. He could win the Royal Rumble in dominating fashion, or he could win a tournament or number one contender's match. The only part of it that matters is that they handle things correctly, and this coming Monday could speak in volumes. Miz and Punk are a good step up from where he was, but Ryback needs a few more matches under his belt. Keep him away from Punk short-term, and keep him in the background until Punk finishes up with Cena. Booked correctly, Ryback can be a force, and he will be a good asset for the WWE in the future.