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Ryback talks about Vince McMahon, working with Kevin Owens, his future



Former WWE Superstar Ryback recently spoke with Sports Illustrated about his career. Before leaving the WWE, he had a meeting with Vince McMahon. In the meeting, Ryback explained that McMahon told him he was the hardest working talent that the WWE has, but that hard work doesn’t always pay off in the company, which is part of the reason he left the company.

“In one of our last talks, Vince told me, ‘You’re the hardest working guy that I have here,’” said Ryback. “I just said, ‘Thank you.’ Vince said, ‘But hard work doesn’t always pay off here.’ I looked at him and said, ‘Well then, I need to go to a world where my hard work will pay off.’

“Vince has created that world, that bubble he lives in with the people he has surrounded himself with, and I need to go out and create my world. My beliefs are entirely different than his. No offense, we just didn’t see eye-to-eye business-wise, and I’m going to tell the people why. I’ve taken a lot of s--- over the years for things I had no control over. I do have control now, and I’m not going to live in fear. I know the way things work there, and if I want to talk about it, then I’m going to.”

Ryback feels that WWE is not run by just Vince McMahon anymore but rather the company is public. He added that the company does a great job of building their brand but not necessarily building their Superstars who are not in their inner-circle.

“The WWE is not just run by Vince McMahon anymore,” said Ryback. “They are a publicly traded company and have shareholders. The company’s goal is to make as much money as humanly possible. I’ve said, from day one, they’ve done a phenomenal job of building up the WWE brand, but they’re very stubborn and hard headed. If you’re not in that little inner-circle of guys, it does not matter what you go out there and do. That should not be the case.”

Despite the negative comments about his time in the company, Ryback remains grateful for the opportunity to perform in WWE.

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“I’ll say it time and time again: I’m thankful for my time in WWE,” he said. “I love professional wrestling, I’ve loved it since I was a kid. Working hard allowed me the opportunity to showcase my talent on their platform. I have a lot of the things I have in my life because of that, so that’s never been a question. My decision to no longer work there comes down to business. Having the opportunity, hitting a home run time and time again, and not having the other end reciprocate the effort I was putting in was my issue. People talk about that glass ceiling, but mine was an entirely different situation that I was never going to be able to escape from, so I had to leave there to do what I wanted to build with my brand, Feed Me More, and I had to get out of that environment to thrive and have the kind of success I know I can have.”

Back in 2013, WWE turned Ryback into a heel, who was played a bully. Ryback explained that at this time is when he started to get momentum as a heel following his run as a babyface with the Feed Me More’ gimmick. Instead of pushing Ryback as a bully, they paired him with Paul Heyman and Curtis Axel.

“When I started doing the bullying angle as a heel Ryback, that was the first time I started getting momentum again as a heel,” said Ryback. “That was the first time that the crowd really started to boo me since my ‘Feed Me More’ transition. What did they do there? Rather than follow through with it, they pulled me out because Paul Heyman needed a guy. They needed a guy to put with Heyman because his time with Curtis Axel had run its course, and they needed a guy for two or three months to keep him busy with Punk until Brock was ready to come back. So they threw me back in there with Punk for no other reason than to put Punk over again, and that ended the bullying gimmick. Then I had to start all over again, and I did with Axel—and I loved my time with Axel. But none of our work was seen on TV. We didn’t even get a televised entrance. Most of the time, they’d only use our backstage work on the dot com. I had to take some time off for a groin injury, and I came back when guys were hurt and they needed a babyface. It was a situation of circumstance, and they brought me back as a babyface in San Antonio. The reception that crowd gave me is something I’ll never forget. Then the Survivor Series came, and they built me up as this red hot free agent where no one knew what team I was going to go on, Team Cena or The Authority. I go with Cena’s team, and what do they do with me? Eliminate me first from my team in the match, which made me look like a piece of s---. No one believed I was a big time free agent any more. They never went out of their way to protect me, and when that happens year after year, I knew I needed to get out of there before any damage was done. They went out of their way to run me into the ground. I couldn’t stay there anymore. Ultimately, I take the entire blame. I allowed the damage to happen to live my dream, but when that dream started becoming a nightmare, I knew I had to get away. Things happened and now I’m thankful for them because I will now have control in making negatives into positives.”

Ryback lost the Intercontinental Title to Kevin Owens at the 2015 Night of Champions PPV event. Ryback noted that he was frustrated that he did not get the chance to work a longer program with Owens. He also explained that he is very happy that Owens recently won the WWE Universal Title.

“I like Kevin a lot,” said Ryback. “I’m still frustrated that we weren’t given more time together in our program to wrestle, but I’m extremely happy for Kevin. I got to be around Kevin and his son Owen quite a bit, and he is a really good kid, which says a lot about how he was raised. Kevin has been wrestling on the independents for years and has a really strong following, and I’ll never hate on another talent for having success. He’s proven himself. He goes out and does his job very, very well. Hopefully there can be some more champions there that normally wouldn’t have been champions.”

With his time in WWE now over, Ryback is looking ahead and is setting himself up with new goals, which includes a new workout apparel line.

“I’m launching a workout apparel line, which is still in the works. I started merchandising myself, essentially everything WWE does for the talents but were limiting me on. I’m now doing all of that myself. I don’t have that television exposure, but I have my podcast, and I’m going to be working a full-time schedule in October on all the independents every weekend.”

Ryback also talked about Kalisto and more. You can read the entire interview here.