Photo via WWE.com
In June 2010, the Nexus was formed in WWE’s now traditional big angle in June. While not yielding immediate results, tonight could be every bit as significant as any major surprise WWE has lined up in the upcoming few days and weeks.
Former Nexus member Skip Sheffield showed he could possibly be a serious main event player in WWE.
On June 15 2012, Ryback has arrived.
And it could all be thanks to a wrestling war which ended 11 years ago.
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon won his war with World Champion Wrestling (WCW) in 2001 and loves to remind us of it. His latest poke at the rotting corpse of WCW comes in the form of Ryback. The former Skip Sheffield’s gimmick is clearly inspired by the gimmick of Goldberg, former WCW Champion and main eventer from 1998-2001.
His matches were at first met with derision from most fans, who responded to them with loud "Goldberg" chants at every show since Extreme Rules. The chants always serve to remind fans of the original.
Last night (June 15) on Smackdown, things were a little different.
It is possible that with Smackdown being a taped show, the chants could have been digitally enhanced. We’ve actually seen that before as WCW was known for digitally inserting "Goldberg" chants into its taped shows as well. WWE may have copied every little bit of the tried and tested formula.
In Hartford, Connecticut at least, Ryback was popular, and certainly displayed a certain charisma while the fans enjoyed his absolutely full on offense.
The routine is familiar now. Two jobbers talk trash before Ryback marches to the ring but before the match, they strongly emphasised Ryback’s name in their customary promo. Loud "Ryback"chants began to fill out around the site of WrestleMania XI before Ryback even began to made his entrance. What a smart promo it was.
Ryback annihilated his two opponents with the usual routine of power moves including a bone-rattling clothesline and his specialty, the fireman’s carry on two men into a back suplex. Those jobbers deserve to be paid triple because of their role in making this behemoth of a man look like he is unstoppable.
One of my thoughts since his debut other than "Goldberg ripoff" was "Why is he moving his arms up and down like that? He looks ridiculous!" Finally the arm movements made sense – they were in time to loud "Ry-Back" chants. The reaction was absolutely what WWE has been trying for, and their persistence has finally paid off. He seemed on this night like a sure-fire future WWE Champion.
But why tonight?
The trend for the WWE Universe to chant for the old guy -- or the wrong guy -- is a trend which shows no signs of going anywhere. It’s all to do with where the event was held.
During the Monday Night War, many WWE fans despised the rival promotion and 15 years on, the war with WCW is not forgotten by those die-hards. But it wouldn't make sure for a Hartford crowd – the heart of WWE country -- to chant for a WCW creation.
Perhaps they chanted for Ryback, the WWE creation, out of spite for Goldberg, the WCW creation who was generally booed on the US East Coast during his WWE run in 2002.
What a difference that crowd reaction made. If this crowd reaction isn’t a one-off, WWE finally has created its own next Goldberg. The comparisons to the original will remain, but at least they’ll be chanting the name of the first Ryback.