There must be a moment when Ryback’s latest prey knows that their night is about to end disastrously.Maybe it comes as early as when the fledgling brute steps through the curtain or between the ropes. Maybe making eye contact with the callous combatant is enough to trigger it, or after failing to make Ryback flinch in a match’s opening moments. Perhaps the sense of dread sets in as an unwitting competitor realizes that, despite his years of training and innate talents, he simply cannot stop Ryback’s relentless assault.
The trail of battered opponents left in his wake leaves little to the imagination about how a Ryback bout will end, but where does that treacherous course begin? What motivation feeds this savage beast as he mauls one challenger after another in his pursuit of WWE greatness?
Reviewing the ferocious forefathers of Ryback’s sinister skillset may help unravel the mystery of what makes such a fierce Superstar tick. Take a look at five WWE Legends whose ruthless reputations live within Ryback as he paves a destructive path where mere mortals fear to tread.
Ryback’s recent success relies on two guiding principles – his frenetic pace to keep opponents off balance and his symbolism as an unstoppable juggernaut. Having his average match to date last 51 seconds helps with the former, while the Terminator-like skull airbrushed on his intricate tights and his exclamations to “feed me more” opponents fulfills the latter.The Ultimate Warrior also established himself as a frenzied fighter and symbolic Superstar. Warrior pushed himself to full throttle from the second he started sprinting into the ring like a bat out of hell to the moment the referee raised his arm in triumph. An opponent only needed to see the Warrior’s iconic face paint, airbrushed tights and multi-colored tassels to learn that a world of hurt would follow momentarily from a ranting lunatic that will never relent.
That frenzied symbolism could serve Ryback well as he continues the success he has experienced to date on SmackDown. Every time he lifts up a weakened adversary for his own Gorilla Press Slam, he conjures up the memory of the Ultimate Warrior doing the same – and doing it with reckless abandon.
From humble beginnings come formidable champions like Goldberg.The two-time World Champion arrived in anonymous fashion for his WCW debut against Hugh Morrus in 1996. No one knew what to make of the rookie competitor, but Goldberg quickly introduced himself to the world by brutally dismantling Morrus in the opening moment of what would become his defining 173-match undefeated streak. He did not flaunt his talents like “Nature Boy” Ric Flair nor abuse them like the notorious Hollywood Hogan – Goldberg just kept winning.
The influence of Goldberg’s stoicism and imposing presence shows itself when Ryback arrives at ringside. Ryback decimates an opponent with a surgical precision and ends the affair before getting carried away. He does only what he needs to do to succeed, even if what he does involves rapidly battering an underprepared foe into ruin.
John Bradshaw Layfield’s influence on Ryback may not seem obvious, but it is apparent – and in more ways than just Layfield’s devastating clothesline from Hell.
It’s true that JBL’s signature smash comes to mind when Ryback steps into the ring. Just as JBL did during his storied career, Ryback can deliver a lethal clothesline designed to go directly through an opponent rather than merely lay him out. It hurts just to watch as Ryback spins his adversary around his arm like a pinwheel.
However, the elitist attitude with which JBL carried himself in his WWE endeavors does creep into Ryback’s psyche as well. Just as the malicious mogul felt superior to his competition, Ryback appears to approach every encounter with a presumptuous attitude regarding the outcome. The brash brawler acts with a sense of entitlement toward the very idea of success, as if it’s predestined or, as it was for JBL, impossible for a lesser being to understand.
If the aspirations of Ryback appear unclear to the WWE Universe, it may be deliberate on the novice grappler’s part. Head games that overwhelm opponents only play to Ryback’s advantage, just as they previously did for one skyscraping Superstar.
The only thing that was stable about the maniacal competitor known as Sid was his self-interests. Sid frequently reiterated his only goal of becoming “master and ruler of the world” and worked to that end with a fanatical devotion. He forged and broke alliances with the likes of Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan, cashed in on the dirty deeds of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and even fought toe-to-toe with nWo ringleader Kevin Nash – all in the name of proving his capabilities as one of the greatest of his generation.
While the debate whether Sid was an unfettered psycho or unrivaled manipulator remains unresolved, that duality can fuel a rise to WWE prominence. If Ryback continues to rattle the mental state of his rivals in the future, it is because the sinister soul of Sid is alive and well within him.
As Ryback doles out his unique brand of punishment, his methods are highly effective but rarely pretty. The menacing beast leaves no doubt regarding his desire to do anything to win, even if those tactics will not get him mistaken for a tactical guru like WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Perfect.Still, there’s a blue collar brutality to Ryback’s approach that summons the spirit of another WWE legend. Built like a tank and always ready to brawl, Bam Bam Bigelow could overwhelm most adversaries with his size alone but could surprise his foes with his impressive agility and aggressive technique. The scrappy giant with the flame-engulfed cranium and the Asbury Park pedigree could give as good as he got from anyone and displayed a heart and determination in the ring that few before or since can match.
Generating The Beast from the East’s grittiness and unpredictability could come in handy as Ryback readies himself for the next level of WWE competition. If Ryback can continue to leave his motives shrouded in mystery, then his rivals will struggle to seize control against the formidable fighter with the fiery soul in the spirit of Bigelow.
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