Below are highlights from the second episode of “Conversation with The Big Guy”, the new Podcast of former WWE star Ryback. You can subscribe at iTunes and SoundCloud and listen to the full Podcast at the bottom of this article.
On His Mentality During Developmental:
My mindset was just survive, survive, survive. I was so mentally fragile with my time in Deep South. Just a quick story on that; my first day in OVW, I remember when they transferred me from DeepSouth to OVW, it was very bootcamp style, very organized and, you know, you’d run a mile or two before, and then it was 500hindu squats, 100 crunches, and then it was 3 hours of drills outside of all this conditioning stuff, but I got to OVW and saw everybody laughing and having fun and like Al [Snow] was in the back because class hasn’t started yet, and he’s like, alright guys, let’s get warmed up, and guys were kind of, it was much more relaxed. I was standing there in awe and in fear because I was always anticipating somebody coming out and cursing at us and asking what we’re doing. It blew my mind, looking back at all that.
On His Prediction of Being Fired from OVW:
I didn’t even know if those rumors were true. I had no idea. At the time, I was having vivid dreams that I was going to be released, and I had a very negative mindset at that time for all those things with wrestling; till this day I look back, I didn’t say anything to anyone else, I just came up to you [Pat Buck] and we weren’t even that close yet, nowhere near where we are now, but I just felt the need, I don’t know why, but I’m getting fired today, and you said, no you’re not, and I did.
On His Life After OVW:
No, it was just one of those things that I had to get away mentally, I just lived a normal life essentially. I met a girl and moved in with her. She had a kid at the time, and I essentially took over the father role for that kid, and trying to figure out my life. You know, in that moment in time at developmental, everything is so unsure, and to get released, you know, two years in your developmental career, I wasn’t in the mindset that I am now and learning a lot of the things. I was 24 years old and it felt like I let the world slip through my hands with just a huge opportunity. I remember, I didn’t talk to my parents for a good stretch, it was like, I didn’t know what I had to do, I just knew I had to get away from wrestling for a while and get my mind right. I didn’t intend for it to be as long as it was. Other circumstances kind of played a part in that, and it just happened, but i knew it was for the best. I knew if I went back to Vegas, that at the time, for wrestling, I needed to stay in Louisville since WWE was connected with them, that if I moved home, I’d be moving away from this wrestling and I didn’t want to get a job, didn’t want to go to school because this was my dream. I knew that if I set a goal for anything I normally accomplish it. It doesn’t always happen right away, but that was the mindset for that.
On His Slow Process When Training in Developmental:
Danny Davis was one of those that was in charge of OVW at the time and he didn’t believe I deserved to be released. It was one of those things, I think the business has changed with NXT and how Developmental is run, my first year in wrestling, I am very grateful for how my career had turned out. Bill Demott breaks human beings down, and you have to be a man to survive Bill Demott and most people couldn’t. So, I’m grateful that he put me through the things that he did, because he made me more of a man than if I had gone through an easier system, and taught me some hard lessons. Do I agree with all of them? No, but that’s neither here nor there. At the same time it slowed my development down on other things. John Laurinaitis came down to Deep South and said that we expected you to be on the roster by this point in time going against Brock Lesnar, and I was nowhere near ready at that point in time. They put a lot of pressure on me because I realized being a fan at the time and coming in athletically, it was easy for me to pick up, but I was psychologically broken down very early on, and at that time I didn’t know how to turn the negatives into positives, and it ate away at me. It wasn’t just me. A lot of people’s wrestling careers ended because of Deep South Wrestling. It just slowed my development down for a while, but eventually I picked up on it and when I hit, I hit hard, so it was just one of those things. There was some negatives in that, but I was able to turn them into positives and am very thankful for it.
On Working as a Bouncer:
Funny story about that while everybody is listening; When I got released I tried to do some independence in Tennessee. I did some work down there, I had a Nissan Titan at the time; and it was for $75, or $50, but I remember getting a cheap polaroid camera. I have always eaten a whole bunch of food, and at this time when you are in WWE you were given 90 days, but I remember catching up with a lot of my debt, you make enough to get by, but I counted all my cards just right and had a little bit of money and I remember doing that show and coming back, and at the end of it, I lost $25, and I was like, I’m going to have to get a real job besides wrestling. I wrestled Shawn Schultz. I remember putting him over because he was always an extra on those WWE events and we still talk and laugh about it. I remember trying to get a job at different places, and have always had a work ethic, always applied myself, but didn’t have a deep enough job history, and pro wrestling doesn’t exactly translate to anything unless of course the company is a mark, so I remember getting a job at the bar we used to always go and party at, Sully’s, and this was kind of a low for me at this point. There was so many memories of us having a good time and going down there, all the funny stuff that would happen. I remember having a green Sully’s polo shirt on with my jeans, and was probably wearing basketball shoes at the time because that’s what I always wore, and I remember people making comments and I go, what has become of my life? I remember right there and then, I thought to myself, I can’t do this, I was sitting on the box, and were giving me Incredible Hulk comments, which wasn’t really a bad thing, but I remember it brought back all these memories after having so many good times there and now I’m here making $10 an hour, I just had to leave.