They Blew It

Justin LaBar

CM PunkI was predisposed to hate Punk-Ryback long before it took place. But what transpired at Hell in a Cell made it easy to dislike.

A crooked referee? I guess the prop department forgot the taser. Logic 101: Why was a referee we’d barely seen before assigned to Hell in a Cell? Wouldn’t that job best be given to a decorated veteran?

Now Ryback is just a big goof who leads his own cheers. Boy, does THAT get old after a very short while. Imagine Goldberg doing that.

I don’t blame Punk. His facials, his desperation, his sense of gravitas, his mix of two-thirds cowardice and one-third courage…it was great. He’s great. I don’t blame Ryback. If that match serves his character, he handles it.

But it didn’t, and he couldn’t. Four minutes in, it already felt too long.

One lesson WWE should have learned from Goldberg: WCW televised Goldberg’s entrance from his dressing room to the ring. It was dramatic TV, a big production. It filled time and lessened the need for a longer match.

It didn’t take long for Hell in a Cell to indulge fake wrestling: a fire extinguisher, a chair, a Kendo stick. Paul Heyman should have borrowed Jimmy Hart’s megaphone. In the midst of all that, Ryback came off as corny and clichéd. He stopped looking legit. Goldberg always looked legit.

Sorry if you hate the constant Goldberg comparisons, but they’re inevitable. That’s what WWE wants Ryback to be. It’s a fair cop.

Goldberg knew how to be Goldberg. Ryback doesn’t.

It was a nice touch when Ryback tossed the Kendo stick aside. A killing machine wouldn’t need that. More of that. Less cheerleading.

When Ryback pulled down the straps on his singlet, I was reminded of Jerry Lawler. Then I realized what I’d just paid $44.95 for, and nearly had a heart attack. (No offense, Jerry. Welcome to the club.)

The crowd hated it. Much of the crowd was behind Punk to begin with. The crowd died after the finish. Even the climb up the cage was anticlimactic.

I don’t know where you go from here. As WrestleMania approaches, the “real stars” will show up occasionally, so Ryback and his full-time ilk will cease to be as important. It’s all about The Rock, Triple H, ‘Taker and Lesnar.

Ryback never should have been in a title match this soon. Should have cleaned up the whole mid-card first. It was too early to lose. Ryback’s character wins. That’s the character. He needed to keep winning.

Disagree? OK. Tell me one other thing about Ryback. He wins. What else? His matches have been too short for the announcers to tell stories. His promos are all testosterone and spittle. How does that loss fit in?

Triple H reportedly felt Ryback hadn’t yet paid his dues. But this is fast-food wrestling. By the time you “pay your dues,” you’re established as a mid-carder. That’s how the fans will continue to see you. This was Ryback’s shot.

Booking doesn’t choose who’s over. The fans do. Goldberg was organic. Now we’re going to find out that Ryback isn’t.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA(105.9) . Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing wzmarkmadden@hotmail. com. FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MarkMaddenX

Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report? Submit it now!