The Ryback rules: How 'The Big Guy' is resurrecting kayfabe

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When in doubt, act crazy.

I hope you've all been following "The Big Guy" on Twitter.

Ryback's tweets are what you would end up with if The Ultimate Warrior was only afforded seven seconds to cut a pro wrestling promo.


What's interesting to me is how often things change with Ryback, who has undergone a couple of transformations during his time with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). After squashing just about every jobber on the Indy circuit, he was the beneficiary of Paul Heyman's Midas touch in a short-lived run as a hoss of all trades.

Then ... nothing.

Ryback was still on television, alternating between beast mode and least mode, but his character lacked direction.

Part of the blame had to do with the constant re-shuffling of the main event scene. Some guys got hot, like Daniel Bryan, others got hurt, like John Cena. You can also point to the renewed focus on tag-team action, which elevated acts like The Shield, The Rhodes Bros. and The Wyatt Family, among others, into the weekly spotlight.

Then came the dirt sheets.

According to the snoops of the squared circle, Ryback has "heat" backstage. It's not as serious as a "dressing down," the equivalent of getting written up in the corporate world; rather, it establishes you as that jerk in the office who no one likes.

How long does it last?

Until they get over it, or until you do something favorable to make amends. Normally, when you drop the ball -- or in this case a wrestler -- the standard practice is to shut the hell up and stay out of everyone's way, hoping they grow tired of being pissed off. Not this time.

Not even close.

In fact, the more precarious the situation, the more vocal Ryback becomes. And not in the universally-accepted "fuck them" method of backlash, but instead through a series of public outbursts that at times seem so off the wall, appear to have been orchestrated by the serfs in WWE Creative.

Or not.

That's the appeal of the (new) Ryback rules. I don't know if this guy has completely lost his marbles, or simply expects to be fired and has gone into business for himself. Whatever the case may be, reports now suggest that his bizarre conduct, because it's a hit with the Internet Wrestling Community, will be re-gifted for television audiences.

Which may explain this video.

That's nothing new in the entertainment business. One of the first rules of live theater is "invent nothing, ignore nothing." If Ryback's digital dog-and-pony show is drawing attention, then WWE's knee-jerk reaction is to bottle it, slap a label on it and peddle it to the masses.

Fake becomes real ... then real becomes fake.

That's how the circle is completed in this business and as long as the wheel stays in motion, it elevates the product. The hardest thing you can do in the Internet age is maintain kayfabe -- long declared dead -- but when Ryback comes along and trolls the fans (and quite possibly his superiors), then everybody wins.

Like most of the WWE "Universe," I want to know if it's a work or a shoot.

Secretly? I don't want to know.

Not knowing, or pretending to know and then being wrong, is one of the few remaining joys of this business. That's why the Mark Henry retirement angle drew such an incredible response. We thought we knew -- but we didn't -- and those who did, while they won't admit it, were probably just guessing and happened to guess right.

But even the know-it-alls are befuddled by the Ryback rules.

If indeed a shoot, there is a chance WWE will tolerate his new shtick until they can use him for something dirty, like a Goldberg squash match at WrestleMania, before leaving him at the curb. The flip side? His new persona is an elaborate work, one that could build to absolutely nothing, because Creative sometimes forgets how to ice the cake.

Until then, Ryback is going to be acting like a loon, both on screen and online.

Feed me more.

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