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WWE Battleground: Ryback Brings his Appetite for Destruction to Buffalo

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WWE Battleground: Ryback Brings his Appetite for Destruction to Buffalo

Photo Courtesy WWE

WWE Battleground PPV: Ryback Brings His Appetite for Destruction to Buffalo

By Ivan the Impaler
Reprinted from Sports & Leisure Magazine, October 2013.

He's been known as Ryan Reeves and Skip Sheffield. He's been both cheered and hated by fans. And he's been known for his huge appetite- both literally and figuratively.

There is nothing subtle about Ryback. The WWE Superstar isn't a high-flyer or scientific wrestler. He simply used his 290 pounds of pure power to thrash his way to the upper tier of the WWE food chain. He radiates an intimidating presence, striking fear into other wrestlers. If a hapless backstage employee or caterer should be in his way, they’ll pay the price for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ryback will be part of the WWE Battleground Pay-Per-View in Buffalo on October 6th at First Niagara Center. His opponent wasn't certain at the time we went to press, but all indications point to a showdown between he and C.M. Punk .

Last year, Ryback got his first shot at the WWE Title when he faced Punk, the defending champ, in a Hell in a Cell match. However, Ryback lost due to a conspiracy between Punk's then-manager, Paul Heyman, and rouge referee Brad Maddox.

Punk and Heyman have since had an ugly split after Heyman turned his back on his protégé. At the September 15th Night of Champions PPV, Punk won the right to get Heyman in the ring. As Punk was pummeling his former manager, Ryback came out to put Punk through a table, help Heyman win and then carry Paul to safety. Is it safe to say that Ryback is now a "Paul Heyman Guy?"

"I wouldn’t say that just yet" declares Ryback. "I haven't forgotten that Heyman conspired against me in the Hell in a Cell match last year and cost me the title....What I saw (on September 16th) was C.M. Punk bullying around Paul Heyman, who's not a wrestler. I didn't like that and decided to take matters into my own hands." (Ryback would later say on Raw that he would never let C.M. Punk "bully" Paul Heyman again.)

When it was suggested that Ryback has been guilty of bullying people himself, he firmly denies the charge. "I'm not at all being a bully. What I do give people is an opportunity. I give them the opportunity to show courage; to stand up for what's right in the American Tradition- the chance to show the courage to be a Man."

"As for October 6th in Buffalo, I have a feeling that C.M. Punk isn't too happy with what happened. (We'll soon) find out if he wants to get in the ring with The Human Wrecking Ball...I have no problem with shellshocking Punk for costing me the WWE Title."

Ryback, under his previous ring name of Skip Sheffield, was part of one of the most memorable nights on WWE Raw. In 2010, he and six other rookies known as the Nexus tossed around John Cena while destroying the ring and much of the set. "That’s a night I'll never forget" recalls Ryback. "We had one opportunity to make an impact; had we not, you probably wouldn't have seen many of us around much longer. We were talented guys coming up through the development system; we’re all still here with the exception of Michael Tarver. That night was very special." He didn't rule out Nexus reforming down the road, but stressed that for now, they're all happy doing their own thing.

Growing up in Nevada as Ryan Reeves, Ryback played high school football and baseball; he also played the latter in junior college. His uncle is former pitcher Randy St. Claire, who played nine seasons in the majors between the Expos, Twins, Reds, Braves and Blue Jays . (Randy has been a major league pitching coach and currently works with the Mets’ AAA affiliate in Las Vegas.) Ryback played third base, shortstop and first base, noting he was a good power hitter who batted in the .350/.380 range. He didn’t wrestle in high school because baseball and wrestling overlapped, but often trained with the wrestlers for physical conditioning. “Looking back”, he says, “I wish I wrestled. I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done, but it would’ve been nice to have that background.”
In the Tough Enough competition where he first caught the eye of WWE, trainer Al Snow marveled that Ryback was always eating. ALWAYS. Ryback’s response: “Hey, the Big Guy loves to eat- you gotta eat to stay big…I’m in the gym three hours a day; I do a lot of conditioning. If I ate like a regular person, I’d only be about 250 pounds.” Ryback would beg WWE to "feed me more" opponents; perhaps he also meant power bars.
He started watching wrestling when he was five years old. When he was 13, he won a contest to be a guest bell ringer at a WWE show in Vegas. “I met all the guys. From that point on, I knew I wanted to wrestle. I didn’t know how it would work out, but I wanted to try because I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. And as it turns out, it is.”
Ryback’s immediate goal, of course, is to be the WWE Undisputed Champion and the World Heavyweight Champion. “I feel like I’m going to be one of the mainstays in WWE for the next ten years” he says. “I love this lifestyle; there’s nothing better in the world…Ryback is championship material and will be in main events for many years to come.”
And if he isn't in the main event? He'll be somewhere backstage, beating thesnot out of anyone who refuses his generous offer to show "Courage."



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