It was a learning curve, the Riker inconsistency. Initially, he's a juggernaut rising star, on track to be one of the youngest captains, but then he turns down a ship to become #1 to Picard, & there he sits, inexplicably settling for like a decade & a half, & turning down 2 more. Nowadays when you want to have character like that, you bake a character flaw into the recipe, that can explain away why they'd be there, instead of moving upward, & eventually... they did that with Riker too. I think the Pegasus tragedy was a smart play, because it's a history that looms heavily over him, & could easily have been something that both drove him to be an unfettered hero beyond the call of duty, that pushed him like a rocket up the chain of command, but could also make him self-conscious enough to get gun shy about actually becoming a captain, possibly feeling like he might not legitimately deserve it, especially if some of his postings came from having Erik Pressman's recommendation as a highlight of his resume. That line of Pressman's "I made you Mister" hits pretty close to home. It's not a meritless claim. Without Pressman being a solid recommendation, he probably doesn't get the cushy assignment on Betazed & likely a bump to LTJG (Where he was likely put deliberately, to keep him sequestered a while until the heat blew over) & then also in getting the posting on the Potemkin, as a LT. By then, the guilt must've really started to kick in, & he began his overcompensation heroics, like Nervala IV, just to get out of the shadow of Pressman, & begin feeling like he'd tried to pay back for those lives he'd been a part of losing. It might also explain why he's kind of a dick too, to subordinates etc.... He's got a huge burden he's carrying, & someone like Ro Laren, who is almost like a polar opposite of his story, with a similar outcome, must really chap his butt. The Pegasus story made Riker a much more complex & rich character, & fixed some glaring oddities. Season 7 gets a lot of flack for being kind of weak, & with good reason, but there are moments when they really added something outstanding imho.