Former WWE superstar, Ryback, and Wrestling Inc.'s own President, Raj Giri, took to the Conversations With The Big Guy podcast this week to talk about AEW's progress since debuting on TNT earlier this month. For "The Big Guy", AEW has been able to hold his interest on Wednesdays better than WWE's weekly NXT programming.
"I think it's too early to say with AEW if that 1 million mark is going to hold or if it is going to rise. I think it's so early, so I think it is really going to be decided on their storylines, and talent development, and the product they put out," Ryback said. "I will say this so far: I love AEW and the vibe they are putting out, and the excitement from the crowds. I haven't watched NXT outside of flipping over last week really quick during a commercial, but then went back to AEW. I've been watching that because from my standpoint, I am more interested in what they are doing and watching some of these things. They are putting storylines in place, and putting in some things and laying the ground work. It's going to take time in doing this."
Even though he's a fan of the show overall, Ryback admitted that the main event World Championship match between Darby Allin and Chris Jericho on last week's episode of Dynamite felt like a mismatch. He believes that the size differences between Jericho and Allin distracted him from suspending his disbelief.
"I didn't like the main event. I love Chris Jericho. I think this is just me. I don't know what the ratings were for the main event but I think to me Darby Allin is really talented. I think it was such a mismatch appearance-wise that I thought Jericho was wrestling a little kid to me," Ryback stated. "And I'm looking at it from a standpoint of how people look at wrestling who are tuning in. Again, the match was great. Everything was good, but you can tell watching it - to me, we know it's entertainment but it didn't appear believable. Chris Jericho is a big guy, he's a thick guy, so to me, I felt like I was watching Chris Jericho play wrestler against a little kid. I've seen Jericho be more intense and vicious; Chris Jericho is a tough mother f***er and I just didn't feel like I was watching a Monday Night RAW or a Monday Nitro big-time main event on that, even though Chris Jericho is a big-time main event."
Ryback agrees that putting a rising star in the spotlight against an established performer like Jericho is definitely the right way to get the viewers invested in Darby's character. Nevertheless, Ryback wishes they would have given Darby more time to grow before having him compete for the World Championship.
"Again, you do make stars by bringing Darby in there with a guy like Chris Jericho, but Darby hasn't been built enough in my opinion to have that kind of match with Chris psychology-wise," Ryback said. "Darby hasn't been built up as a credible threat for a world championship match in my opinion from a fake storyline perspective to suspend your disbelief with that kind of match with Chris. Chris having his arms tied behind his back took everything he had to defeat Darby Allen who is, at this point, in the game. The equity on him isn't anything in pro wrestling where it will be in time."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Ryback TV with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.