Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Is Ryback's Endgame?

Was there any end in sight at all from the start?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Any time a story starts, it's a fair question to ask what the endgame of it is going to be. A story isn't a story unless it ends. In wrestling, that's problematic because there's no offseason, so there's no convenient end point. Then again, there's nothing that says every story has to end at the same time. I know that not a whole lot of wrestling companies have done a great job of staggering the concurrent stories they have so that they can provide enough resolution to make their audience feel satisfied. In theory, it can be done.

So, with that in mind, Ryback started into a feud with CM Punk in October, and it's still going on. We know that the seed was planted for a Rock/Punk feud for the Rumble, so any story between Ryback and Punk would have to be settled by TLC at the very latest. We've already been baited and switched twice on him winning the title. The best option would have been leaving well enough alone after The Shield cost him the strap at Survivor Series and letting him feud with them or the person pulling their strings (BRAD MADDOX???) or whatever.

But they booked him into a third title match. Wouldn't he have to win now? It's not a matter of him needing to win to retain credibility, but they've set the story so that this is a chase that has to end with Ryback getting his prey, feasting so to speak. On an esoteric level, feeding doesn't necessarily mean he has to win the title. Then again, the way I see it isn't always the way the rest of the fans are going to see it.

So, there seems to be only two options here. One is satisfying and one is WCW-level cockteasing bullshit. You put so much juice behind Ryback chasing Punk, that if he doesn't finally catch him, you risk losing the crowd on him. It's bad storytelling.

It's not even a case of "the faces always need to win" either. However, if they weren't ready to take the belt off Punk yet, then why put him in such a situation where he would face an unstoppable juggernaut who needs to royally destroy him as an endgame if The Rock was the one who was to take the belt off him? It's terrible form. So basically, we're put in a situation where at TLC, Punk is going to walk out with the title and Ryback is going to be left with his dick in his hand once more.

When you condition the fans to believe that no one matters but John Cena, no one is going to matter but John Cena. Fans care about good guys who get to have satisfying conclusions. Cena gets to win convincingly. No one else really does. So when Ryback "loses momentum" over the next couple of months, then whose fault is it really?

The point of a wrestling show is to tell a story. When you tell a story, it has to have an end in sight. WWE often engages in this endeavor, and that's why it's in the state it's in. It has nothing to do with charisma, ability, or "guys disrespecting the business." WWE tells open-ended stories and leaves fans feeling disgruntled over long periods of time with no resolution. There's no coincidence that most dramas on TV that aren't boring, cop-show procedurals have a tipping point. That's why most British dramas only run a set number of seasons and conclude broadcast on their own terms. After a certain point, exposition becomes masturbation.

So, it's more than fair to ask... what is Ryback's endgame? Does he even have one? There should have been concrete answers to these questions before he was even greenlighted to go against CM Punk. The fact that they may not have been speaks volumes as to why WWE is in the state it's in more than anything else.

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