Ryback: 7 Curious Facts About WWE's Big Hungry
Ryback has been feeding on WWE Superstars for a few months now. Vince has found his new big man and is pushing him to the moon.
Ryback started out quietly, squashing local jobbers and eventually had a few legitimate matches.
Now, we find Ryback at the peak of his meteoric rise, in the main-event race.
While Ryback has been outspoken in his actions, we don't know much about the corn-fed meathead. That's where I come in.
Here are seven deliciously curious facts, sure to whet the appetite of any Big Hungry fan boy.
1. He Used to Be a Cowboy
When Ryback stomps onscreen every week, the last thing that comes to mind is a cowboy. A few years ago, that wasn't the case.
Ryback actually was on WWE programming before as Skip Sheffield. Skip was an NXT Rookie who eventually became a member of the Nexus.
Sheffield's gimmick was a full-on cowboy, complete with the hat and vest. Instead of "Big Hungry" he was the "Corn-fed Meathead". Instead of "FEED ME MORE," it was "Yep, yep, yep, what it do?"
Sheffield impressed the WWE enough to be an original member of the Nexus. An untimely injury was the end of Sheffield's first WWE stint and his cowboy character.
Speaking of injuries...
2. He's Pretty Injury-Prone
He gets hurt. A lot.
While most of the Superstars and Divas on the WWE roster have had their fair share of injuries, Ryback's ailments started before his pro wrestling career.
Ryback was a very talented baseball and football player in high school and took his baseball skills to the Community College of Southern Nevada. He only played in a few games before breaking his leg, which ended his baseball career.
While he eventually found professional wrestling, his injuries followed. During his first week of training on WWE's Tough Enough, he was afflicted by bronchitis and a rib injury. He eventually fought through the injuries to finish in second place.
Ryback was impressive enough to be signed by the WWE. He eventually climbed the ladder in FCW and OVW and was a contestant on NXT and eventual member of the Nexus. Just as Nexus was starting to gain popularity, Sheffield broke his ankle at a live show.
Since his return to the WWE, he has been healthy. Except for that nasty case of pink eye.
3. His Name's Origin Isn't as Cool as It Should Be
While there aren't any "legit" explanations of the origin of Ryback's name, the possibilities are endless. He's a huge dude who destroys people! It has to be cool, right?
Maybe the WWE wanted to name him after someone who's elegantly awesome. Maybe his name is an homage to Timothy Ryback, a writer of European history who has penned such titles as: Hitler's Private Library and Rock Around the Bloc: A History of Rock Music in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. That seems pretty awesome, but that's not the reason.
Maybe the WWE board was going for pure action and named him after Casey Ryback, the fictional butt-kicker portrayed by Steven Seagal in Under Siege. Seagal goes all beast mode and beats up like a million terrorists. Just like Ryback's undefeated streak! Seagal's character is a chef. Ryback's catchphrase is "Feed Me More". It can't be coincidence, can it? Yes, it can.
The reason that many agree upon for Ryback's mysterious moniker is simple. His real name is Ryan Reeves and his friends used to jokingly compare him to a silverback gorilla. Put them together and pow; Ryback is born.
The only way his name's origin could be less cool is if Vince was sitting with Reeves at the meeting to discuss his character when suddenly someone stole the giant's loaf of rye bread to which he yelled "GIVE ME THE RYE BACK!" and Vince was hooked...actually, that might be cooler.
4. Feed Him More...Seriously.
This fact may not be all that surprising, but it's certainly interesting.
Ryback is a big dude. WWE.com has him listed at 6'3 and 291 lbs. While a lot of that size was achieved through lifting and work outs, some of it can be attributed to his eating habits. As seen in the video above, the crew from Season 4 of WWE's Tough Enough discussed Ryback's eating habits at great length.
Ryback's "Feed Me More" catchphrase may not be a catchphrase at all. He might legitimately be demanding food from the audience.
5. He Stood Up to Big Show...Sort of
As you've most likely gathered by now, Ryback was a competitor on Tough Enough Season 4. He became one of the finalists who actually got to appear on Smackdown a few times.
The contestants interacted with Big Show a few times and after one of the competitors called out the giant, Show came out and handed out body slams to each of the hopefuls.
Ryback showed his intestinal fortitude (thanks JR) by volunteering to take the first bump. Maybe a sign of things to come?
6. Not His First Time as Ryback
In the WWE, we've seen Ryback on two occasions. First as Skip Sheffield and now as Ryback. Surprisingly, this isn't his first stint as Ryback.
In 2008, as Reeves started his second stint with Ohio Valley Wrestling, one of WWE's feeder programs, he was repackaged as Ryback.
OVW Ryback came complete with a terminator gimmick and one red contact lens.
He then kept the gimmick in FCW as part of a really random tag team with...
7. Once Tagged with a World Heavyweight Champion
Sheamus O'Shaunessy. That's correct, in FCW Ryback tagged with the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Ryback and Sheamus had a few shots at the FCW tag titles but were never able to capture gold.
It was a pretty random pairing of an Irishman and a half-terminator-half-random big guy, but it made for some hard-hitting encounters.
Ryback may be one of the WWE's most feared Superstars, but he hasn't always been as intimidating (especially when he wore a spiky leather vest or a cowboy hat).
So whether you prefer Skip Sheffield, terminator Ryback or new Ryback, hopefully now you have a little insight into the strange career and background of one of WWE's biggest stars.
Enjoy curious facts about your favorite WWE Superstars? Check out the piece on Antonio Cesaro!