I do. He was a freakin’ man amongst boys in WWE. He was called up to the main roster with Nexus in summer 2010 but was on the injury list shortly thereafter. A shame as he was one of the few members of the group that immediately looked/felt like a main event player. It was a big blow to us fans to never really get to see his potential early. However, it was a crushing blow to Ryback himself. Right after finally having a memorable debut on WWE Raw, he was out hurt. Had to suck. Even worse was setback after setback pushed his return to WWE back until April 2012. A long time in professional wrestling.
Regardless, Ryback was back on television, far removed from the Nexus group and ready to shine on his own. In short order, he racked up impressive victories over local talent, sometimes more than one at a time. It was always so cool to see. I remember loving it. Every show would have its main stories, and then there would be the five minute segment where Ryback marched his way to the ring and decimated his opponents. Awesome.
Within months, he would be slowly garnering a fan following. New catchy theme music. New ways to win his matches. New devastating high impact moves. New sayings to get the crowd invested. New taunts. New movements. Seriously, everything this guy did was cool. Fans caught on, and he started getting some of the biggest reactions. He hadn’t even actually started a ‘real’ feud yet, and Ryback was a star. It was great.
When John Cena went down with an injury and CM Punk needed an opponent to defend his WWE Championship for the next pay-per-view, the spot went to Ryback. It was A LOT for a new talent. The guy went from being a relative unknown to challenging CM Punk for the WWE Title. Heck, Vince McMahon, Jim Ross, and John Cena himself all gave Ryback a big endorsement on RAW. Go back and read the stuff online at the time. Plenty of well respected veterans in the industry all vouched for him, some even wanting him to win the WWE Championship from CM Punk! He was on absolute fire.
Dude was on FIRE!
Alas, WWE had plans to do CM Punk vs. The Rock for the WWE Title three months later, with The Rock vs. John Cena after that for their huge WrestleMania 29 main event. No way was that going to be cut short or altered. Sorry. Ryback did end up losing to Punk but only due to a crooked referee. It saved him some face but also signaled that WWE wasn’t quite ready to go all the way with him to the top of the mountain.
Sadly, that was how his next few years went in WWE. Very good, starts, stops, face, heel, tag team, managed by Paul Heyman, on his own, etc. It just never quite worked out. He made it to the final two in the 2013 Royal Rumble match before being dumped out by John Cena. He headlined countless pay-per-views but only reached IC Title status. Not WWE or World Title status. It was frustrating as a fan and had to be even more frustrating for Ryback. When it came time to negotiate yet another new contract in early 2016, Ryback wanted a nice, healthy raise and the ability to own his name and be allowed to start his supplement company. WWE wasn’t going to do all of that for him, so he was pulled from TV (at Ryback’s request to work out a new deal), but the writing was on the wall.
Then came the announcement on WWE.com:
“Effective today, Aug. 8, 2016, WWE has parted ways with Ryback and he is no longer under contract. WWE wishes Ryback the best in all his future endeavors.”
Boom. Not an outright release or anything dramatic. Just a parting of the ways after not agreeing to terms. It sucked, but life moved on for the company. In the meantime, this is where Ryback began to lose some fans – not sure if he cared or not. Everything posted on tweeted was heavily leaning towards ANTI-WWE, even calling for a boycott at one point. Pretty strong words, even if they were laced with truth. It felt like the time to move on was years ago, remembering his release was in 2016.
Yet, it still continues to this day as he has worked on his supplement company and getting healthy again, revving up for an in-ring comeback. Where to? Nobody seems to know, but smart money has always been on All Elite Wrestling as he is close with Cody Rhodes. While fans wait for his inevitable return, his latest comment is what ignited this column.
While speaking on the “Shooting Blanks Wrestling Report” podcast, he mentioned the following on contract negotiations:
“…it ended up being $1.65 million for three years. That wasn’t horrible, but I wanted way more still…”
That quote is from WrestlingInc, so thanks to them for that. Be sure to visit WrestlingInc.com for more on the story.
Ryback also mentions the new deal would have been a $50,000 raise from what he had been at. Once talks stalled there and not signing over his name/likeness and all that jazz 99.99% of the roster does, he walked away. No new contract, goodbye WWE and his $1.65 million he would have earned by now, plus likely more and obviously any more amounts with bonuses and exposure being on worldwide television for the past couple of years.
Rather than being bitter on podcasts and tweeting junk at every turn against wwe and thinking a three year deal worth $1.65 million wasn’t enough. Very disappointing, as that is where things stand right now. I can’t stress enough how freakin’ cool Ryback was in 2012, 2013 and even during his rougher years, I still remained a backer of his. As I noted, he had the look, the moves, the theme music, the intensity, etc. Folks, he was a bonafide main eventer. Make no mistake, WWE could have 100% done more with him. I say that with certainty, and many reading this would agree.
They didn’t though and missed out big time. WWE missed out…but life moves on. This all reminds me of bret Hart whining and yapping over the Montreal Screwjob over 20 years after the fact and never misses an opportunity to bring it up. We get it. We heard it. We know you were screwed. We heard it the first 50 times ten years ago. It is now 2021. Beyond tiring and not a good look.
This is all just my opinion of course; I just wish Ryback would move on. The legal stuff has to be a struggle and MUST be frustrating. We don’t need to hear about it all, however. Especially turning down a three year $1.65 million contract and then wanting even more. Maybe I am missing something here? In any event, from a big Ryback fan to Ryback the man – please do not feed me more…please.
By Justin Watry (TWITTER: @JustinWatry)