Ryback vs CM Punk Thoughts

Nick Paglino

WWE Hell in a CellWith so much speculation on the upcoming “Hell in a Cell” match between Ryback and CM Punk, I wanted to share my thoughts, based upon my time in the WWE and what I think might happen.

I am not one who thinks that Ryback has to win and cannot lose.

Because Ryback is not the answer in 2013…

He’s not Goldberg, he’s not Brock Lesnar. He’s not Hulk Hogan. He’s Mick Foley.

Ryback is over right now and red-hot. Now’s the best time to knock off the big man because his ceiling is not much higher than it is right now. The WWE has spent very little capital on the push of Ryback. Vince McMahon took bumps for Punk. They’ve brought in Paul Heyman to work with Punk. Stone Cold makes YouTube videos on CM Punk.

But the biggest investment was one clothesline from Punk on The Rock earlier this year.

Remember how Punk turned heel? Title defense vs Cena, Big Show interferes, here comes the Rock, “Rock Bottom”, People’s Elbow… derailed by CM Punk’s clothesline. Rock sold it like he was shot. This is to build the Royal Rumble and in turn, WrestleMania. If you think Ryback fits into the equation with The Rock and WrestleMania, you would be wrong.

The push of Ryback reminds me of the build for Mankind in 1998 and 1999. The wars between Mick Foley and Rock were legendary but when Stone Cold Steve Austin came back from injury and wanted to only work with The Rock at WrestleMania and not do a 3-Way, Mick was out. Austin used Shawn Michaels to help persuade Vince McMahon that Rock vs Austin was the best for business. Mick was out of the main event in WrestleMania and was reduced to being chokeslammed by the Big Show on top of chairs.

Now, I am not saying that The Rock has called Vince and said, “here’s what you’re going to do with Ryback” but Rock is not going to let his investment he made in CM Punk be wasted by Ryback. In 1999, Stone Cold was very smart. He talked Shawn Michaels into speaking to Vince because HBK always had a magical ability to persuade McMahon. Mick Foley got screwed and all that work he put in was undone rather quickly with one stroke of the booker’s pencil.

Did Mick Foley wind up ok? Of course he did but going into 1998, Mick was never the long-term answer for the WWE and Vince McMahon. Did Mick make lots of money? Yes but he needed to reinvent himself and history will say he did better than he was expected to. Mick’s ceiling was low but he went far beyond his perceived capacity.

The WWE stumbled on Ryback, who’s a 31-year old journeyman. Up and down in Developmental since 2004, he’s been pushed properly to this point but he wouldn’t even be in this match, were it not for the injury to John Cena. Ryback’s a bit player, not a top guy. Ryback is at max capacity right now. He doesn’t have the skill set to grow beyond this and is simply doing what he’s told to do.

Ironic to me that Ryback first got on the radar with CM Punk after Punk attacked Mick Foley on Raw.

Can Ryback be saved after he loses (and I predict he will) this Sunday? Of course but is he anywhere near as smart and talented as Mick Foley, who had to reinvent himself to solidify his own place in the WWE? Unfortunately, Ryback will have to rely on the Creative team to give him that opportunity. That’s where the similarities between Ryback and Mick Foley end.

Fans will moan and groan about how the WWE has wasted another potential monster. I did the same thing in 2000 when I worked there and Kurt Angle, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit all lost on the same Fully Loaded PPV to the Undertaker, Triple H and The Rock. All three recovered from those losses and the sky did not fall after that night, as I worried. But each was able to transform themselves to get back what they gave in July, 2000.

The fact is CM Punk is “the man” and Ryback is there to help get him over.

Because it’s all about WrestleMania, even in October.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @RealKevinKelly.

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