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05-02-2012, 12:36 PM #1
Column: Of Rybacks, Goldbergs, and Geeks
“Gold-berg. Gold-berg. Gold-berg.”
In some ways, I feel bad for the Wrestler-Formerly-Known-As-Skip Sheffield. The guy is massive. Standing 6’3” and a shade over 290 lbs., he possesses a plethora of power moves to match his impressive physique. He’s a typical talent in the mold of Vince McMahon’s ideal personification of a wrestler.
Vince was always one to believe that a guy should look like he could kick your butt. In truth, there is some logic to that thinking. In a “Universe” where gimmicks and wrestlers are larger than life, the easier it is for fans to suspend disbelief, the easier it is for a guy to get over. Talents like Triple H, Undertaker, John Cena, Batista and others have made a living, partially, off their Greek Pantheon worthy physiques.
So when rumors came that Skip Sheffield would be repackaged as a Terminator inspired wrestler, it seemed to hold some promise, right? In truth, it worked to a degree in the Indy circuits and helped him gain notoriety. The issue becomes, however, how cartoonish the gimmick really is and how it’s the wrong inspiration for this day and age.
Look at certain wrestlers like Brodus Clay. When he was set to return, he was to be an unstoppable, no selling monster. Fine, I could see that. The guy is menacing in his look, massive in his size, and impressive with what he can do with that bulk. However, as time passed, he came back as the “Funkasaurus.” Stunning.
However, it’s an easy sell with the younger demographics and the gimmick isn’t without merit. Personally, I loath the gimmick, but i get it’s corny charm. Clay has seemingly embraced it as his own (with some help from his momma) and possesses a decent enough victory over Dolph Ziggler. I lament about the lack of a decent feud and angle for him, but that will come with time.
There is something about the Ryback gimmick that I don’t think connects with the audience. Technically, there isn’t anything wrong with Ryback’s moveset. His has a ton of power moves, seems to take care of his opponents in the ring, and does his level-headed best to sell the thing, but he generates absolutely no heat at all.
There are some issues that need to be addressed though, or at least tweaked. The first is the Terminator-inspired artwork on his singlet and his Titantron. If James Cameron doesn’t know about yet, I’m sure he will soon. However, the entire thing is too cartoonish to target the older fans, and it tends to leave the kids behind who aren’t familiar with the franchise. Clay’s gimmick has charm. Ryback’s is a copyright infringement.
The second is his catchphrases. “Fin-ish him!” and “Beast Mode!” are rip offs from the “Mortal Kombat” and “Transformers” series, respectively. While there is little wrong with using these phrases (WWE Champion takes “It’s clobberin’ time!” from Thing of “Fantastic Four” fame), the usages are to the over-the-top and cartoonish to be effective. Again, it comes down to charm and ripping off. Simply put, they are all wrong for the character.
When Goldberg first debuted with WCW in the late 90s, there was a mystique to the character that helped him become a massive success. He was quiet, menacing, straight-forward, and punishing. He helped to dismantle the dreaded NWO stable and struck a chord with the fans that connected. Why? Because he was a believable badass.
Which leads me to the biggest issue with the Ryback gimmick. Granted, this is a different day and age with nearly a 15 year difference, but the point remains. The gimmick, for all the parallels it should be drawing with the Goldberg persona, is too watered down with sprinkles of video game and cartoon references. Basically, it becomes the antithesis of real life badass.
No one buys a geek could kill you in a street fight. Goldberg, who is a direct inspiration for the character, was a believable badass. Ryback, to date, is not. Yelling “Fin-ish Him!” before nailing your dreaded finishing maneuver isn’t cool.
Simply put, I just hope Vince McMahon is paying attention. Chicago’s openly mocking “Gold-berg!” chant is a signal that the gimmick must be tweaked. Otherwise, WrestleCrap will have a new induction and the Wrestler-Formerly-Known-As-Skip Sheffield’s career will be finished before it really begins in the WWE. Some things work in the Indys that don’t work in the WWE. This is one of them.
“Gold-berg! Gold-berg! Gold-berg!”