Ryback talks early Bill DeMott, character & the future

Former WWE Intercontinental champion Ryback continues to appear on the independent scene, forging a new career since the end of his tenure with the company. The Big Guy also has interests beyond what happens between the ropes and has pursued different opportunities. After a health scare that contributed to his departure from the company, Ryback is on a journey of recovery while re-establishing himself. Under the training and tutelage of the likes of Bill Demott and Al Snow, Ryback gained insight into wrestling that he wasn’t necessarily privy to prior.

His ongoing appreciation for the business and desire to improve have made him as in demand today as ever.

His future is bright as he has a new lease on life and his health continues to improve. The Big Guy isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Ryback discusses how he has continued to stay true to himself. While having to look outside wrestling to see what lay ahead. His respect for the teachings of Bill DeMott, the success of Feed Me More nutrition, and his continued confidence in himself.

Fans can communicate with him on various social media platforms such as Twitter, where he can be reached @Ryback22

Besides wrestling, you had other athletic pursuits. Were there ever any plans of pursuing other sports professionally such as baseball and football? Also, had it not been for injury would that have been something you would have pursued?

Ryback: I played soccer and baseball as a kid, and then football and baseball as I got older. I had a lot of success at both, and I come from a baseball family. That was the first real sport and skill I learned as a kid. From a very young age, I played with my father. I just took a liking to it. But I always loved professional wrestling. It was just something I discovered on my own and drawn to. Baseball and football were realistic for me to pursue. But wrestling wasn’t seen as very realistic and not seen as an option.

Then, as I got older, I suffered a foot injury, in baseball and college.

I directed my attention to wrestling’. There weren’t all the wrestling schools like there is now. Our generation had it easier than the generation before. But it wasn’t like it is today where there are multiple wrestling schools in Vegas now. I know there are one or two really good ones, I know there are different options out there. However, back then you had to look around, and I would have had to move away from school. So, it wasn’t realistic at the time for me.

Ryback: I loved baseball and football. Baseball, I felt was expected of me.

Wrestling was something as a career pursuit that was fairly new. I remember looking online and seeing wrestling schools in different cities. I also remember wanting to go out there and get my degree. There just came a point where Tough Enough came along, and it fell into my lap. I dropped out of my college courses and all, I knew that I just wanted to go all out. However, it came to me rather than me having to go to it. That was always something I was thankful for.

Ryback talks early training with Bill DeMott, character & the future
Photo / Sportskeeda

What motivated Ryback to pursue professional wrestling? What initially inspired that decision?

Ryback: I think as I got older and thought for myself. I’ve was always a big believer that you have to go and make decisions for yourself. I was always doing what I was told and what you hear from other people. It didn’t seem realistic, but I came from an athletic background. Anything I have ever done I achieved success, from being able to apply myself and focusing and working hard. I was working hard so I felt it was going to be no different. I loved wrestling from a young age and just made the decision.

I’ve loved weight training.

I thought traveling would be cool and I loved watching wrestling. There were never any wrestlers that I hated. Literally, I liked everyone. I just thought I could do this and be good at this. I just decided that once I was chosen for Tough Enough, I stopped everything I was doing. At the time, I just went all-in on all that and it paid off.

Share if you could your early training under the likes of Bill DeMott, Al Snow, and Jody Hamilton. How was each experience different from another, and what did you walk away with from each experience?

Ryback: Bill DeMott was by far the most difficult trainer I have ever had. But I wouldn’t be the wrestler that I am today without Bill DeMott. I was always intense, and I had this aggression inside me. He brought out the best in me on that end. Everything you heard in terms of it being boot camp is all true. I don’t think Bill would argue that. He always said from the beginning that no matter what you go through in wrestling. Nothing will be as tough as going through me. He was not lying. To become a WWE superstar or a professional wrestler and travel, it takes so much sacrifice and mental toughness. He was just weeding out the people that were not mentally tough enough for it.

In the process, he was saving them time, and a lot of people quit because of Bill DeMott.

However, he was probably doing them a favor. They probably would have quit at some other point, or very early on in their careers. He taught the basics and taught them well. Punching, kicking, being aggressive, and laying your stuff safely. Things that Vince McMahon likes and that top WWE official that are creating superstars like.

Ryback talks early training with Bill DeMott, character & the future
Photo / Bleacher Report

Ryback: Pro wrestling is not acrobatics. Pro Wrestling is the illusion of a real fight.

He was able to make guys look like they were in a real fight. People can say what they will about him, but people that typically couldn’t survive with Bill weren’t tough enough. I am always thankful for that. He got two guys out of me and (the) Miz that have had great careers thus far. Miz is doing incredible, and we’re two guys that come from Bill DeMott. So, I will say nothing has been as tough as what I went through with him. Even the ankle injury and the mental stuff I had to go through at different points in my career. Would I ever want to go through that again?

No, but being 22 years old and coming into pro wrestling, it was exactly what I needed.

Were there things I would have changed in terms of how he did things? Yeah, but he simply did what he advertised. He brought out true aggression and intensity in me. Aggression and intensity that I have been able to keep with me my entire career. That has made me a lot of money. So, I am thankful for that.

Ryback: Al Snow was when I switched from Deep South to OVW.

I agree with Al on so many different aspects of the business. Any up and coming aspiring wrestlers should listen to Al Snow interviews. Granted he has his opinions like anyone else, but his views on the business are very accurate and they have been since I have met him. I remember just learning so much from the psychological standpoint from him, for a year, year and a half. I have listened to so many things that he has said in different interviews and I agree with him completely.

He is very educated in the business and he carries a philosophy that is completely different from Bill DeMott. I enjoyed training with him. I had a brief interaction with both of them during Tough Enough, and together they mesh very well. We get a physical aspect from Bill and the psychological aspect from Al, and it’s the best of both worlds.

I am beyond grateful that I came into the business through them.

Dr. Tom Prichard is another trainer of mine from FCW that helped me tremendously, and I am beyond thankful that I had the relationship that I did with Dr. Tom. He simply allowed me to be myself. I kept in contact with him actually, early on in my WWE career. He helped me through some tough points where I had questions about things and whatnot.

As for maintaining relationships with them, have you ever connected with them for their feedback or critiques of your matches?

Ryback: I have always kind have been that kind of guy that asks for a lot of advice, believe it or not. You will see a lot of the guys now that come up and do their match. They are WWE superstars, and they will go instantly running to John Cena or somebody and say ‘what did you think of my match?’ To me, that just screams you are not confident in what you are doing, and you have to be your own person when you are out there. I think you have to go and make your own mistakes and learn from them, and I have. I am not afraid to make mistakes.

You could go and get the cheat sheet from somebody else, but I think it’s better to screw up and self-correct on your own.

It’s more gratifying that way. I haven’t had to reach out to past trainers at different points. Again, if I am up there I would go to Triple H or somebody and ask them if I had a legitimate question. This would be because they are my bosses. They are the ones looking for specific things. Bill and I will text here or there, but it is not typically about wrestling, it’s about just how proud he is and ‘How are you doing?’ Whenever I see Al we are very friendly, and it’s like you are never been away from each other. As far as reaching out, I’ve never really had to do that.

Where did the original concept for the Ryback character come from in OVW? How did it evolve during your time developing there?

Ryback: It was essentially at a low point in my life where I was drinking heavily. I was working at Smokey Bones restaurant, working 50-60 hours a week. I had gotten released out of developmental. My roommate and I always watched WWE on demand. I would always go and get a big bottle of vodka and diet Mountain Dew and watch wrestling. This particular night I watched wrestling and then I had flipped channels and Terminator 2 with Arnold (Schwarzenegger) was on. I had always been a big fan of his. At the time, I was pretty loaded. I was just sitting there, and I just told myself ‘I am a machine, what happened to me?

I need to learn how to set goals and accomplish them again.’

I’ve had become very negative again, and it was a creation of a being drunk, honestly. It was nothing more and nothing less. But alcohol had triggered something in me. My real name was Ryan, and my first wrestling nickname was ‘Silverback,’ a nickname that I had gotten when I was younger, and I just combined the two – ‘Ryback’.

It was a Terminator based character, a tribute to Terminator 2. Then, it evolved from there to where I was rehired by John Laurinaitis and WWE and sent back to Florida Championship Wrestling. It was very gimmicky when I was in Ohio Valley Wrestling, but it worked. It was something that got me rehired, and then when you get back into the system you have to evolve. There was a bit of no-selling going on with the character down in OVW, that was what they wanted. Then, when you go to Florida Championship Wrestling, you can’t do the no-selling, which I had no problem with. I just evolved the character and we went from there with it.

Ryback: I was getting my mind back on track and just setting goals and achieving them.

I was setting missions. The character was just a mission-based character and it was always ‘mission: destroy,’ as Ryback would say back then. That was who I was becoming at the time mentally, I was someone who was starting to set goals for himself no matter what. Again, the focus and the drive and the intensity, it was something that I have in my real life. I was able to just apply to a wrestling character and amplify it all the way.

Your rise in WWE after your injury as Ryback was quick. During that initial rise was there anything you were the happiest with and anything you would have preferred to have been different during that time, and what might it had been?

Ryback: I wouldn’t have changed anything. That is easy to sit back and say, but I was thankful for the entire process. I was thankful for the extra local talent that I worked with those first, whatever it was, five, six months. They played such a pivotal part in all of that. When you are that new and you are doing a character like that. When you are having to go out there and do these feats of strength and things like that. You are relying on multiple bodies at one time. I was new at this at that point, being on TV and being put in a really good position.

You have these other guys that have never been on television, and a lot of people get nervous when they get a camera on them. So, I was beyond thankful and Road Dogg especially was good with helping me pick the right guy. I had a part in picking. Triple H too and Road Dogg would give me suggestions on whom he thought were maybe the better ones.

Ryback: I would spend all day with those guys and eat with them and talk with them.

I wanted them to feel comfortable with me, so when I was out there with them they understood that yes, this is for me, but I couldn’t do this without you. When you are that early in your career, you can’t have things going wrong consistently. And they all came through every week for me. So that I was thankful for it. We nailed it with picking the right guys. So forever I will be thankful to the people that played a big part for the first 4-6 months.

Photo / Sportskeeda

Ryback: As far as what I would have changed, I would have preferred when whatever happened to Cena. With the elbow injury or whatever, not to jump into the main event yet because from a character standpoint I was still doing short matches. I was taken out of that and had to work a guy in Punk who was, at the top. I was playing a supporting role, filling in for John at that point against Punk. We got 7-9 months out of that in the main event slot, but it was never for me. I would have preferred that the organic natural rise continued and then to be put in the main event spot when it was about me. It was the only thing that looking back I would have changed.

Again, I am so thankful for that whole experience, I learned so much going out there and being in that role.

It was a lot of fun and I wouldn’t take that back. Looking back I obviously would have preferred it to go another way, but I did what was, asked of me. It was not easy, but for me, it was a huge confidence builder because up to that point I hadn’t worked with top WWE superstars. So it was a huge confidence boost to get in the ring with guys like Punk, Cena, and Jericho, to be completely comfortable and realize ‘Okay, there is nothing different about this, you are just in a different role and you are going on last.’ That is where I felt the most comfortable believe it or not. I just enjoyed the entire process.

Was there anyone you would have preferred to work with, before the main event run?

Ryback: I thought Miz and I were going to have a deal at one point. I love the Miz, he is one of my favorite people and he is the energizer bunny of the WWE. The Miz has been through some really bad periods. I know he wasn’t happy and whatnot, but he kept going. He has himself in so much of a better position right now. I am truly happy for him. For his success and everything that has happened to him in his life. I would have loved to have had a nice program with him during that period. I felt like it would have been a nice transition.

To go from the locals to some of the WWE talents, and still have the shorter matches. Then, maybe going into something with the Miz. That would have been great. We had a few matches, but it was blown off quickly, and it didn’t do him any favors because they were quick matches. I would have preferred to have had a 2 or 3-month program with The Miz.

Photo / Sportskeeda

Ryback: Cesaro was someone I always loved working with, he is beyond talented.

We had quite a few matchups early on in my career, and I would have liked to have had an extended program with him. I thought it would have been a good jumping-off point before going into the main event. It would be a transition where people could see me doing longer matches. I had done those matches throughout my career, but with the character that was just what we were doing, short matches by design. I had thought the jump was just too quick from where we were to being thrown into the main event.

The way it turned out is it all worked. It just felt weird to me being in there and throwing guys around, and then sitting in a rear chin lock with Punk for two minutes. However, once we were a few months into the program that weirdness went away. It was just that, initially, for me, it was just awkward having shorter matches, and then ‘Okay, now you are working as a regular guy …kind of.’ It was just a little too quick, looking back.

For fans, seeing you paired up with Paul Heyman seemed like a great fit as you had qualities that complemented each other. It was unfortunate that the pairing ended as it did. How did that all initially come about, and were there any plans to have a longer pairing between you and Paul?

Ryback: No. You have to have respect for Paul Heyman’s career, he has been around for a very long time and has been relevant for a very long time. Paul Heyman does what’s best for Paul Heyman though. He is a very smart businessman. I was simply used as a tool, and mind you it was never for me, it was a tool to keep Paul’s program with Punk extended longer. He was with Curtis Axel at the time, and that had run its course. He needed someone that could come in to get a couple more paydays at the pay per views, and I was simply used as that guy.

They took me out of the bully role where I was getting some steam, finally, on the heel end. I was finally getting booed, and we completely did away with that and threw me into a supporting role. It was basically to get a couple more programs out of Punk and then it ended. It was never meant to be anything more or less than that. Again, lessons learned for me.

Photo / WWE.com

Ryback: When you are up there, and you are still that new guy, you are a good soldier.

They want you to do what they tell you to do. After I was there a while, I learned to speak up on different things. Looking back that was probably one of those things that I should have said /No I don’t want to do this. No, I don’t think this is good for me.’ But if you do that you run the risk of being punished when you speak up and say something. You go with the flow. Was it the right thing to do from a character standpoint? Absolutely not, horrible. But you do what is asked of you. It was what it was.

If you were going to tell me that you are going to be with Paul, and this is the game plan. And you were going to make this about me, I think Paul and I are money together. Paul is extremely intelligent, and lessons learned. I have learned what I have because of that, and I am where I am now because of all this stuff. It all was a blessing when you look back at all of it.

While many know of your time in the WWE, competing on the independents allows for certain freedoms. How has the Ryback Reeves character been different on the independent scene from what fans saw on television?

Ryback: Essentially, I am going out there and doing what I was doing on WWE live events for years. I was in a pattern for them where I was going out there and doing long or longer live event matches. Then, on TV my matches were kept shorter. On pay per view, my matches were kept shorter. Again, I was doing as I was told. On independent shows, I can go out there and put in the time, and people can see that. So, I am doing the same things I have been doing for years and was doing it injured for the last two years.

There is something I wanted fans to understand that when I left WWE I didn’t want to leave. I was hurt, and I had tried to express that in different ways, but I probably didn’t do a great job of communicating that. I am stubborn at times, and when you are there you don’t want people to know how to hurt you are because everyone is hurt. My back was really bad, and my shoulder was giving me some problems too. However, my back for the last two years was a mess. You get these muscle spasms, and when you wake up you get out of bed and can’t stand up. I just thought it was a circumstance of being on the road and bumping all the time.

I had communicated to Mark Carrano that my contract is coming up that I was in the final leg of it, the last 8 months.

And I said ‘Could I just let my contract run out, so I can go out and do some other things? I want to give my body a break and take some time off.’ I didn’t necessarily tell them ‘Look I am hurt, I need to get away for a bit.’ I was trying to put in a different way without saying ‘Oh, my body is really messed up,’ just because you don’t want to tell them that.

I was met with a very negative reaction where they said ‘Well if you do that, we are going to job you out and pull you off TV and then we are going to fire you.’ For a guy who has been there since he was 22 essentially that was disheartening because that came from the top.

Ryback: Now, could I have handled that differently by going to Hunter and Vince and said this is where I am at.

Look, this could have been communicated a little better, as far as how injured I was. I didn’t know, though, how injured I was. I just knew my body was shutting down and it was hurting bad. So that was the beginning, and the fallout started coming during my contract negotiations. They offered me a great amount on my contract and I shook with Vince on that. I was happy with the money. But there were other things I wasn’t happy about, and I needed to get away and didn’t know how to do it.

I just thought that I had to leave, the only way my back was going to heal was being home and getting the time off.

I never expected things to go the way they did, and when I left I my health went down the tubes right away, it amplified times a hundred. So for me, what I would like fans to understand about my doing the independents and doing an easier schedule is that it has allowed me to take time off between my matches and stay sharp, still and still do what I love to do, but have time to rest and recover. I have had seven stem cell procedures done, two on my back, and five on my shoulder.

I am getting ready for one more round on my back and shoulder coming up in the next one to two months. I’m probably about 80% better now. So for me, it wasn’t that I left and I am going to go and make a bigger name for myself that I was going to show them. It was, I had to get away because my body was shutting down. I wasn’t happy about a lot of other things, and those injuries amplified those feelings. But I had put up with them the entire time to be a quote, unquote, good soldier. I could no longer be a good soldier because of the injuries, so I had to getaway. It was a blessing that I did because it saved my career.

Ryback: But the independents to me has been a way for me to stay out there and make money doing it.

I am beyond thankful that I have the support that I do from the fans. It has allowed me to rest and recover and get out there. Had I stayed there and signed that contract extension, I would have been forced to retire 6 months to a year later because I had 4 discs that were completely worn out. With the stem cells, they caught it just in time and they were able to regrow. Had I stayed there with the moves that I was doing, like the backpack stunner and a lot of feats of strength.

It was compressing my spine so badly that had my discs gotten any worse I would have had to have 4 of them fused together, which would have been the end of my career.

So, it has been a blessing in disguise the way everything has worked out. People ask, ‘Why haven’t you gone to Impact wrestling or New Japan Wrestling?’ I simply can’t right now. I need to get healthy before I push myself to be full-time again, or on a more consistent schedule. It has truly been a very trying time for me for the last few years. But I have kept myself busy with everything, with my business, and investing in real estate stuff, and podcasts.

I have kept myself busy just in case my career is going to be over soon because I didn’t know that for quite a while.

But it looks like we are going to be out of that and in the clear, and with one more round of stem cells, I should be good to go. My leaving and being on the independents have been a way for me to simply stay sharp. To then have my own schedule and to allow my body to heal and not break it down by doing this five days a week.

Even though talent is no longer a part of a certain promotion doesn’t mean they still don’t maintain relationships with those that helped them and supported them along the way, who they would call friends. Who would you say has been the most supportive of you from WWE, that you have still maintained a relationship with? To what do you attribute that relationship?

Ryback: I get along with everybody there and I could talk to everybody all the time. That is one of the things I really miss is just showing up at the arena and seeing the guys and just chatting with them. I always traveled alone because I wanted my alone time. But I loved the interaction with the guys, and the majority of the guys there are all awesome. They are great human beings. For me, I always migrated to Stu Bennett (Wade Barrett), and from day one of the Nexus, since developmental in FCW, we have always been close. PJ Black/Justin Gabriel, I will still text quite often. Dolph Ziggler is another guy that we talk regularly.

Rusev is another one that, again, we talk on a somewhat consistent basis. Those guys are so busy, I know how it is. They are constantly on the go and worn out, and it isn’t easy. But occasionally guys like Sheamus will text, and Cesaro every once in a while, Big E every once in a while. Just saying ‘Hey, hope you’re well.’ Or I just shoot them a message. But that is one of the things I do miss that interaction with them up there.

Photo / Bleacher Report

Ryback: The guys up there, you become a family with them.

As screwed up a family as it is, you end up being around those guys more than your own. When I left that was a huge transition for me. I had not been away from wrestling since I was 22. Not being around the guys consistently that for me was a weird thing. It’s one of those things where you bump into each other. Dolph and I will meet up every once in a while when he’s in town, and it is like nothing ever changes. I think we (The Nexus) all went through the same things together. We went through developmental opportunities together, and it was a learning opportunity.

It was a very memorable moment, not just for us, but for the wrestling fans out there. We had a really cool thing happen to us early on in our careers. Luckily enough we have all had our success outside WWE at different levels, for everybody that was in the original Nexus.

While competing in professional wrestling is one creative avenue for you, creating an exciting product in Feed Me More nutrition is another. Explain what motivated the creation of this venture, and what are your short and long-term goals for the company?

Ryback: It was something I wanted to do for quite a while. I have been making my own supplements for some time since I was a young boy around 12 and 13. My mom always had the different herbs and she would be very health-conscious, so I just started taking an interest in that. And then when AOL came out, I was able to go online and look stuff up, I was always looking up different supplements and different things. Ideally, I wanted to do this while I was active in the WWE, that would have been the ideal thing.

But due to different things going on at the time it wasn’t going to happen there.

There were so many things going on and I knew I had to get away. I always went on these car rides alone, and I am always listening to audiobooks and reading different books. I have always been fascinated by working for yourself and not being an employee. To essentially running your own life and having that creative freedom. So, when you decide to go into the business world, you want to do something that will make you money, but also something that you enjoy doing. You don’t want to create a business that you hate and want nothing to do with. I have always been extremely passionate about health and fitness and supplements.

I always invested in myself through my supplementation.

With WWE and with the Wellness program, you need to know what can you take and what can you not take, know what is healthy for you. Unfortunately, in the supplement industry, there is a lot of bad products out there. There are a lot of companies are in it to make money and get these steroid bodybuilders to endorse products that these guys aren’t even using. They aren’t using them and that isn’t why they look the way that they do.

Ryback: For me, supplements have played such a huge part, physically, and in my diet and nutrition program.

I have always been very health-conscious, and I wanted to take that and create a business with it and let other people have that option as well. In an industry where there aren’t a lot of options where health is concerned. Several companies use artificial sweeteners and food coloring dyes that aren’t good for you, as well as ingredients that aren’t necessarily the best for you. I have created a premium nutrition company that was not cheap. The supplements cost a lot more because of how they are made, but you are getting a superior product.

I have been using them for the majority of my WWE career, and we are growing.

Nutrition stores are starting to be non-existent and online is where it is at. I have a good online system in place now, selling to Amazon, and my website, and eBay and the GNCs, and the vitamin shops. That is where we are going to start moving some major numbers, getting distribution from that. The goal is to get full distribution for Feed Me More Nutrition, but it takes time. But luckily for me, I am in a position where I can have my business, but I don’t live off that money. That money gets reinvested back into Feed Me More nutrition.

These other things are going on, with the wrestling, my investments, my real estate, where I have income coming in from multiple pathways and I don’t have to be reliant on the business right now. The goal is, within three years this will be highly profitable, we will see that is another pathway of income. That is what you have to do, and it takes patience.

Photo / FeedMeMore.com

Ryback: I will say I have a whole new respect for business and working for yourself.

It is not an easy thing. I do everything. Whether it’s emails and customer service, I am very hands-on with all of my business. I want to do this. I have always been hands-on, and I enjoy physical labor, and doing things and staying busy. Some problems come along when you have a business, and I am in the early stages, and the bigger you get the more problems there are. It takes a tremendous amount of time and patience, and I have had to sit back and take a deep breath and realize that it is going to be fine. You run into problems every single day.

So, I have a new respect for WWE and how big they have become. It is not something where you can be a little more forgiving of the mistakes that happen. I think that when you have a business that large you can’t possibly know everything that is going on at all times, they have that many employees working for them and wrestlers working for them.

Ryback: I see things a little differently now than I did before.

It has been a great experience for me on so many different levels. I am just looking ahead, and you are allowed to love other things in life. People think ‘Well, why aren’t you just wrestling?’ You are allowed to love as many things as you want. It isn’t just about ‘Oh, I only love wrestling and I can’t do anything in my life but wrestling.’ That has been taken away from me before, and health-wise I had to look elsewhere, and I had to expand my mind. This could have realistically been gone for me when I left with my back. It all played out in such a way that it didn’t.

But I had to look elsewhere.

If I didn’t you are looking at another sad case of a wrestler in his 50s or 60s that has nothing. That scared the living sh** out of me. From day one, I saw guys like that and I always said I never want to become that. That is what has driven me and motivated me to look beyond just being a wrestler. Again, if everything works out health-wise and I can return somewhere. Wherever that is that will only help my supplement line and everything that I have put in place right now, getting familiar with real estate and doing these other things with stocks and investing. Anything I do out there wrestling wise is only going to help the things I have going on right now.

In 2012 you were listed as the ‘most improved wrestler’ and in 2013, you were listed as #13 on PWI’s 500. What does that ranking say about your work ethic and about how you are viewed?

Ryback: I honestly never even knew that. I don’t follow that stuff, and quite frankly I think it’s pretty irrelevant. If it’s readers voting on the guys, that’s okay, it’s cool if they voted for me. In my opinion, it’s just like, eh. It is what it is. It doesn’t really do anything for me at the end of the day. There are other things that I do this for.

What does the future have in store for Ryback Reeves for the balance of the year and beyond? Also, where can fans reach out to you if they wanted to reach out to you?

Ryback: Right now, I have my independent bookings. Bill Behrens is busy doing that. I have another guy named Mark Harris in California taking care of west coast bookings and things like that. It’s bookthebigguy@yahoo.com for those. I have a pretty full schedule from August to December, and I might do a couple of things in July. It may be a signing or two. I need to see where that is going to fall. Ultimately my health is my number one priority. It has been for a long time. I need to get one more round of stem cells and I should be getting them soon.

I paid for all of them, and it isn’t cheap. It is something that is thousands and thousands of dollars per treatment, and luckily the doctor out here is great. So, I’m investing in that. I am doing one more round of that. This coupled with my bookings for the remainder of the year and continuing to have fun doing what I am doing. For me, it is growing my real estate and my investments and business.

Ryback: I am just constantly doing different things when I am not traveling.

I just got back from New Jersey, from a great show with Northeast Wrestling, and I tagged with Jerry Lawler.  It was like I never went away. So, it is good to see that there is still that much interest in myself and some of the other guys. I am very thankful for independent wrestling that I can stay out there and stay active. With social media and awareness, it has changed the game. There are so many promotions out there and places to work.

For me, it has been a great source of income. While I am doing all this and spending all of this money doing all this other stuff. It has allowed me to stay in contact with my fans and have more personable interactions with them.

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Ryback: It is just growing and getting healthy and having fun.

I have been on the road for quite a long time, 5 days a week, or gone weeks at a time. Now I love sleeping in my own bed with my dogs every night. It is such a simple thing. But I look back and I am so thankful that I can do this right now. I don’t have to stress out and get up at 3 am every morning for flights and four or five-hour drives. And I am truly enjoying the hell out of this period. I am in a good position. I am thankful for that, and I am thankful for all the fans that have supported me.

For all the negative people out there that want to hate me, I wish them nothing but the best.

I hope they find themselves and they get out of that. Everybody gets that way. I am thankful for the people that supported me and stuck with me through all of this. It will all be for the best at some point, shortly. I think 2018 I will get my health completely on track. In 2019, I will be able to decide on what I am going to do as far as more consistent in wrestling. I think where I will probably end up popping up again is in 2019.

Ryback: The guys up there, you become a family with them.

As screwed up a family as it is, you end up being around those guys more than your own. When I left that was a huge transition for me. I had not been away from wrestling since I was 22. Not being around the guys consistently that for me was a weird thing. It’s one of those things where you bump into each other. Dolph and I will meet up every once in a while. When he’s in town, and it is like nothing ever changes. I think we (The Nexus) all went through the same things together.

We went through developmental opportunities together, and it was a learning opportunity. It was a very memorable moment, not just for us, but for the wrestling fans out there. We had a really cool thing happen to us early on in our careers. Luckily enough we have all had our success outside WWE.

This was at different levels, for everybody that was in the original Nexus.

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