One on one with Ryback: He wants Goldberg and Undertaker's streak
On Monday, WWE brings the longest running episodic television show in history, Monday Night Raw, to Consol Energy Center. Tickets are still available and one of the stars you will see is Ryback.
He will be 24 hours removed from his match on pay-per-view Sunday night against CM Punk. I talked to Ryback about a number of topics, starting out with his recent on-screen pairing with manager Paul Heyman.
LaBar: Talk about your reaction when you found out you would be working with Paul Heyman?
Ryback: It was something I really didn't know too much about. I really don't like to know what's going on. Whatever happens, happens. Act and react with it. Obviously, aligning myself up with Paul Heyman is a huge step in my career. It is the next evolution of Ryback here. I am looking forward to each and every week going to Monday Night Raw, as I always was, but now things are really in high gear.
LaBar: If you weren't wrestling, what would you be doing?
Ryback: You know I was in school at UNLV before I ever got signed by WWE. I had a couple years left before I would get my degree. I was there for fitness management type stuff. I've always kinda dug that. I'm in the gym so much myself, I like helping other people. My mentality is I've given everything to become a WWE wrestler. Ever since I was a kid, this has been my goal in life. I haven't given much thought. ... I'm an all-or-nothing kinda guy. This has been my goal in life. This is what I've put everything in to.
On the same note, I feel with my work ethic and the way my mentality is, it doesn't matter where you put me. I was released from the WWE for almost two years while in developmental. At the time we were based as OVW in Louisville, Ky. I didn't want to move back to Las Vegas because I was ashamed and upset with myself that I had lost everything I essentially ever wanted. I always felt they considered me a top guy who was going to make it. For me, I felt like I let a lot of people down, most of all myself.
I stayed in Louisville and got a couple different jobs. I ended up getting a job at a restaurant called Smokey Bones.
One, because at the time I wanted to work on my social skills a little more. Talking to people and being out of my element, being uncomfortable. What better way than for a 290-pound guy to work at a BBQ restaurant serving people to put you out of your element. It worked. It was great. It helped me tremendously speaking and just communicating with people.
Two, it allowed me keep my size on and eat the large amounts of food I eat. The cooks and everyone there all knew I wanted to get back to WWE. They would hide steaks for me and chicken breasts. I was being fed morning to night there. I would work 60 hours a week. My one manager there still calls me and tells me he's never had a worker as great as me that worked so hard and cared about his job so much.
That means a lot to me. That's my mentality. Whether I'm a WWE superstar or whether I'm flipping burgers, I'm going to give you everything I have. I take pride in what I do. I told someone in India when I was there last week — if you started me at the bottom of a McDonalds restaurant, I firmly believe in a matter of time I'd own my own McDonalds. Simply on, my hard work and knowledge from over the years, handling money, wanting to be successful and wanting more ... Luckily for me though, that's not the case right now.
LaBar: That makes those segments with you back in catering a few weeks ago all the more funny now that I know all of this.
LaBar: I'm sure you've gotten it before but I gotta ask, what's the likelihood of the dream match of you versus Goldberg?
Ryback: Yeah, I get that a lot.
Ryback: No, that's the good thing when people are talking about it as much as they are.
For me, I grew up watching the guy. He came in an era and dominated. I still remember to this day being in high school and him taking on Hogan. It was during my summer baseball tournament in Mesa, Ariz. All the guys went out and I stayed back. ‘Ah, I gotta stay back because I got stuff to do.' I stayed in my hotel room to watch Nitro and watched Goldberg take on Hogan when he defeated him for the world heavyweight championship in Atlanta. The reaction that man got out of all those people, it takes a special person to do that.
I'd love to take on Bill Goldberg. I think it's a match that's going to make me a lot of money. It's going to make him a lot of money. It's a match the WWE Universe want to see. I said recently that if people keep chanting his name at me, they're going to make me a ton of money. WWE's going to want to bring in Bill Goldberg to face Ryback.
LaBar: Is that the dream match at WrestleMania?
No, one of my main goals is ending The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak. It's something everyone has their opinion on. Some people say it's something that should never end. I say why not? I say I'm good enough to end it, and I'm very confident in myself. I know there are a lot of people that will say otherwise, but I could care less what they say. I'm the one who wakes up every day and knows how hard I've worked for this. It's something, if I don't believe I can do it, nobody else is going to believe it.
I talked to him (The Undertaker) last year at WrestleMania. He made a comment to me. We were down by the ring somewhere and he said ‘I hear you're doing some interviews and saying you want The Undertaker.' I said ‘You're damn right I do.' That's all it was. Whether it happens this year or the year after, I don't know.
Whatever the WWE asks of me, I will do because they are my employer. I give them everything I have because I have a love and passion for this and there is no ego involved. The Undertaker is definitely another one for WrestleMania. There is no bigger for me. The streak has become its own attraction. If that's a possibility, I'm there.
LaBar: My reaction with the streak has always been it shouldn't be broken. It's so entertaining but if it ever did end, whoever breaks that streak, let's say that was you, the pressure on your career has to live up to a certain bar.
Ryback: It's funny, I wake up each and every day, I'm home on my off days and I'm watching tape for the upcoming week. I'm at the gym for three hours. I'm doing everything to get ready to go back on the road and everything is geared around my career in WWE. I've stayed single, I've not had any kids up to this point. Everything I've done is to capitalize and become the best WWE superstar I can be. My goal is to be the number one man in the company.
John Cena wakes up each and everyday with a tremendous amount of pressure on himself. But he's confident, and he knows how hard he works. Through that hard work and his mindset he knows can do whatever he wants. I believe I have that same mindset. If that's what it takes to achieve greatness in ending The Undertaker's streak, I want it. I have no problem waking up and handling that pressure. I know what I'm doing each and every day to be my best.
At the end of the day, as long as I'm giving it everything I got in my body and mind, I don't have any regrets. I believe we live life, we should have everything we've ever wanted in life. We should have no reason to suffer or be poor. I want the greatest things life has to offer.
Right now, if The Undertaker is the greatest thing WrestleMania has to offer, I want that. I want that guy. I know I belong in the ring there with him, and I know what my career is going to be when it's all said and done. You're right, it's a lot of pressure, but I think I'm the one guy to handle it.
Be sure to check out the accompanying video with the full audio of the conversation. Other topics include Ryback getting his first break in WWE as Skip Sheffield, how he knew he would never be main eventing at WrestleMania with the character, Vince McMahon's reaction to it and much more.