AICN ON THE MAT: The Dean goes toe to toe with the man-monster known as Ryback!
@’s by Ryback!!!
THE DEAN: Hey, Ryback! How are you doing?
RYBACK: I’m good, man, how are you doing today?
DEAN: I’m good, really good, thank you. So what a year for you! You shot to the top so fast this year and now you’re heading to WRESTLEMANIA! I guess first I’d like to hear what this year’s been like for you, what it’s been like rising up in the company so fast and now getting to ‘Mania.
RYBACK: Yeah, I mean I remember last year sitting at WRESTLEMANIA and I hadn’t even debuted on TV, just doing dark matches at the time. But then even those got put on hold and I was really frustrated, and I remember I told myself at WRESTLEMANIA last year that this was going to be the last one I’m sitting out, this is not happening anymore, and now here we go coming into WRESTLEMANIA 29, hasn’t even been a year yet, or just coming up on a year since my debut, and I’ve got a high profile match against the World’s Strongest Man, Mark Henry, and it’s unbelievable.
I’m very thankful for the way everything’s worked out because, you know, they had me going up against local athletes for quite some time, guys that were actually quite small, and it’s not easy to go out and get the people to like you when you’re wrestling guys that are half your size. But fortunately we were able to do some pretty cool things, and throw those guys around, and those guys all did an unbelievable job out there, you know, helping to get the people behind me every time.
Then when we pulled the trigger on it, John (Cena) got hurt, and I jumped into the main event scene with Punk. So yeah, it all worked out very well for me, so…I apologize, my voice is shot from screaming “feed me more,” and “feeding time,” “wake up,” and all that other stuff five days a week, having a live event for everything, so I never get a chance to really rest my voice (laughs)
DEAN: (laughs) That’s alright, I imagine you’d lose it quite a bit with how intense you are out there. So this being your first, does WRESTLEMANIA feel different for you? Does the preparation feel different than all the other Pay-Per-Views?
RYBACK: You know, obviously WRESTLEMANIA is the biggest one of all, but I tell people I only go one day at a time, I don’t look ahead. My training is not matched by anyone, like, each and every day I go my hardest, I wake up to be my best. So my training for WRESTLEMANIA isn’t any different, with the exception being that I’ve added more conditioning drills. Going in there with Mark Henry, that’s a big, strong guy, so I want my conditioning to be beyond anything he can even touch. Then, you know, sometimes I get really amped up, and nerves and everything can really zap you a little bit too, so yeah I’m doing a little bit more as far as conditioning going into this, but other than that it works the same as far as preparation.
DEAN: I mean, especially for a guy like Henry, like how do you practice to lift a guy like that for the “Shell Shock?” Do you practice on small cars or something?
RYBACK: Ha! No, I mean if you saw just last week I got up Heath Slater and Jinder Mahal who weight easily 450lbs together, so I’m not concerned. I mean, people have no idea how strong I really am, like when the WWE says I’m the strongest guy there today that’s not a lie. It’s true. Every day in the gym I’m pushing myself to try to get bigger, stronger, faster, mentally tougher. So yeah, Mark Henry is a behemoth of a human being, but, uhhh… it’s nothing that I can’t handle…he’s just larger than everybody else I’ve thrown around so far (laughs).
DEAN: The possibility of seeing Mark Henry thrown around by you is definitely one of the more enticing things about this year’s ‘Mania! But tell us a little bit more about you, because with how quickly you came in and shot to the top I feel like people didn’t get a chance to know who you are, how you got started, and all that.
RYBACK: Well, pretty much my first memory of wrestling is when I was around five or six. I went to a live event in Las Vegas, my parents took me, and I don’t remember anything from it other than the yellow trunks of Hulk Hogan, the black singlet of Andre the Giant, and a lot of people screaming (laughs). When I was twelve years old, going on thirteen I believe, I won a big contest when WWE came to town, and…oh! I was the guest bell ringer for a live event, I got to go backstage and I met Henry Godwin and a couple of the other guys, and I had front row seats the whole night.
So when I left that night, I knew, like, that that was what I wanted to do. It seemed so unrealistic though, because it’s such, like, this larger than life specimen when you’re twelve years old, you know? But right then and there, when I left that building I knew that was what I wanted to do, somehow, when I got older. Fortunately it worked out, but you know, it’s my passion, I love it, and I want to be a part of it for the rest of my life.
DEAN: So now that you are a full-fledged WWE superstar, is there anything you didn’t expect, anything that surprised you about this business and being a part of the WWE?
RYBACK: Well, I mean, I’m extremely busy right now, like, uhhh…to me it’s very easy now, but if you would have told me my schedule, how it is now, like a year and a half ago? It would have blown away. I’d have said, “Oh, there’s no way I can handle that.” Now, though, it is such a piece of cake to me right now, because I think it’s all in your mentality and how you conduct yourself – when you wake up every day excited, and loving your job, and wanting to be your best, when you’re motivated and have goals, things are easy. Like, whatever WWE asks of me, it’s just not a problem to me anymore because I love what I’m doing, and I know what I’m working towards. I’m doing this to be the very best in the WWE today, and I don’t want to take John Cena’s spot, I want to create a whole new spot, ahead of John Cena, and I believe I’m capable of doing that. But that mentality, when you have that, what’s not to love about it, you know?
DEAN: What about the negativity that surrounds you in a job like this wherever you go? There are always going to be those people who think they know better than you, or better than the people running the company…
RYBACK: Ha! Yeah…
DEAN: And of course, in this day and age you’ve got internet critics everywhere complaining that you came up too fast, or that you don’t deserve the spot you have in the company, etc. So how do you deal with that, or what do you say to those people?
RYBACK: Uhh…well, it’s not just wrestling fans, or the internet fans. I mean, there’s a select minority of them who are extremely negative, but it’s our whole world in general that’s become extremely negative. Years ago, the one book that changed my life, and is responsible, or partly responsible for, a lot of my success is The Secret, which is a book on positivity and the law of attraction. A lot of these guys, and girls for that matter, they seem to focus on all negatives, and they just like to complain about things. They’re not happy with themselves and that’s ultimately what it comes down to. So they like to bitch and moan about everything else that’s wrong with everything. I dare them to watch the product and just enjoy and talk about the things they like about it, instead of the things they don’t like about it, and if there’s nothing they like about it then quit watching, you know, because each and every one of us are out there busting our asses for them.
It’s funny you mention this, though, because I just met two guys in the gym the other day – why they were in the gym I don’t know. They looked like they never worked out a day in their life, and I shouldn’t say that, but…anyway, they come up to me, and they’re these two heavyset guys, probably about twenty-one, twenty-two years old, and they start telling me everything that’s wrong with WWE, and how they’re critics, and this and that. So I went off on them, and I told ‘em my piece of mind, and by the time it was all said and done they shook my hand, they said they respected me a hell of a lot more, but yeah, they were telling me that they could have been professional wrestlers if they wanted to.
It’s guys like that, though, they have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s easy to sit back on your couch, and sit there and critique things when you don’t know the whole story of everything going on. I mean just…just watch it, follow what you enjoy about it, focus on that, and leave it at that.
DEAN: I love that answer, and I totally agree it’s too easy to publicly trash people you don’t know these days. What’s next for you, then? Where do you want to take the Ryback character in the next year or so, and how do you keep this momentum going?
RYBACK: The momentum, you know, it’s picked up even more, and I mean, my goal is to be the number one guy in the WWE. Never in ten years has there been anybody on the cusp of outselling John Cena merchandis- wise like I’m doing right now, and I’m doing that, Ryback is doing that without the amount of items that he has. I mean, I firmly believe that if I had the amount of items that he has I’d pass him in merchandise, which they’ve never had in ten years.
So obviously that’s one of my goals, to become the number one bestseller in the WWE for 2013, but also to become the WWE Champion, and to put the company on my back and bring it to new heights that we haven’t gone yet because I believe I’m the guy to do it, I know I am. The amount of work that I’m putting in now, once I have the WWE championship that amount of work is not going to change, and I’m never going to be satisfied. There’s no amount of money…I mean, I love this, I have a passion for this. Don’t get me wrong, I love money, and I want to have all the money in the world, but even giving me all the money in the world is not going to stop me from doing this. Whether it be movies down the road, anything else, maybe TV shows, I will always stay in the WWE because I love this. I want to work, and I want to help the young talent when I’m older, I want to be a part of this until I die. So with that mentality, I mean, I’m in this for the long haul, but this year I definitely want the WWE championship and to cement myself as the number one guy in the WWE.
DEAN: You were really close with the title at Hell in a Cell, so I can’t imagine that’s too far off for you.
RYBACK: Yeah, and you know, everything happens for a good reason, and I’m more than okay with the way things worked out, because when it happens it’s going to be the right time, so...
DEAN: Well, since you mentioned bringing the WWE to new heights, or to new places, what about pro wrestling as an industry? What do think pro wrestling or the WWE has to offer that things like UFC or other forms of entertainment don’t give you?
RYBACK: You know, with WWE you’re going to come here and you’re going to get a two or three hour show, and you’re going to be entertained with the pyro, the music, and…I mean I’ve been to a UFC event, I’ve been to several of them, and the energy at a WWE event blows away the energy at a UFC event. The crowds, it’s like…I can’t explain it; you just have to be there. Whether it’s because we have more kids there or what, it’s just there a good, natural energy in the buildings from our WWE Universe. Words can’t describe it. And you know, come WRESTLEMANIA at MetLife stadium we’re going to have 70,000 plus out there, and you just can’t match that anywhere else in any form of entertainment, or most sports for that matter.
Our fans are the most passionate fans in the world – they’re critical, they’re very outspoken about it, but deep down they love it more than anything, so…and you know, when you come out and watch us, we just have a roster of talent right now that is very, very competitive, more so than I’d say probably in a long, long time. I mean, you know, we’ve got guys like Damien Sandow, Antonio Cesaro, the Shield; these guys, along with myself, all want the number one spot, and everyone’s very, very hungy, so I think in the years to come, we’re going to hit another boom period in wrestling with the guys we have.
DEAN: Well, I’ve only got time for one more question, so what do you have in store for us? What are we going to see from you and Mark Henry at WRESTLEMANIA?
RYBACK: You’re going to see two guys go out there and leave everything out in the middle of that ring. We’re going to go out and try and have a different match there than everybody else on that card for WRESTLEMANIA that night, and at the end of the night, end of the day, I think the one thing people are going to remember coming out of this WRESTLEMANIA…sure you’ve got Rock and Cena, you’ve got Triple H and Brock Lesnar, or CM Punk and Undertaker, but this is the night that Ryback cemented himself as a main eventer, and picked up Mark Henry over his head, and 75,000, 70,000 plus chanting “feed me more!” in unison. That’s what I honestly believe people are going to remember coming out of this, so…that’s the gold goal here.
DEAN: I love it. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today, this was great, and I wish you all the best on April 7th!
RYBACK: Thank you, my pleasure.
DEAN: Will Ryback get Mark Henry over his head in front of the sold out crowd at MetLife Stadium, or will he wind up another victim in Mark Henry’s “Hall of Pain?” Sound off below, and don’t miss WRESTLEMANIA 29, this Sunday, live on Pay-Per-View!
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