Ryback has skyrocketed through the ranks of WWE, since arriving on the scene after WrestleMania 28.
Within a matter of months (and after the buzz settled for the returning Brock Lesnar), the dominant superstar found himself squaring off with WWE champion CM Punk in the main event. His meteoric rise validates his hard work in overcoming the obstacles he has faced in his career thus far.
The former Skip Sheffield’s aspirations came to a halt after an ankle injury in August of 2010, just as the Nexus was gaining momentum. The time away made him determined to come back and make an immediate impact. From losing Tough Enough and NXT to an injury that required three surgeries, the grappler feels everything happens for a reason.
“I’m a big believer in the law of attraction, positivity and that certain things will happen to us,” Ryback said. “I feel that had to happen to me for me to be able to do what I’m doing right now. I felt I was ready back then, but again, I had a dopy and stupid name. I wasn’t necessarily the focus of attention in that group. I wasn’t supposed to be by design anyways. It was good to get me away for a while. It was a lot longer than I think any of us expected…
“It was a very positive experience for me and prepared me to come back to do what I’m doing right now. It was hard to watch, but it motivated me. I was happy to see others succeed. I want everyone to be there best. I thought it was good to see other guys get opportunity. I knew when I got back it was going to be alright.”
The Las Vegas native returned to the road on house show loops toward the end of 2011. It wasn’t until the April 6th edition of SmackDown that Ryback was officially unleashed on the WWE Universe. His look and devastating wins over enhancement talent were impressive, but drew immediate comparisons to former superstar Bill Goldberg. The chants of Goldberg were filling arenas whenever Ryback appeared.
“I didn’t expect that,” he said. “I had been on the road from about the end of December, but didn’t debut until after WrestleMania, and not once did I get anything like that. Then once I got to TV, I think maybe the style of matches and the facial hair. I think it was the intense style and the undefeated streak. It never bothered me one bit and never will because I was a wrestling fan all my life. We become very loyal to those we see on TV before us.
“There are a lot of people that are very loyal to Bill Goldberg and rightfully so. It’s only fair that people are going to make comparisons to new talent that may come up. Not necessarily that I was a brand new talent, but people are going to make comparisons. It’s just one of those things. I know that I’m a lot different than him. I’m a different character and different in a lot of ways. It took time for people to see that.”
Ryback saw the chants as a challenge to prove he wasn’t trying to be Goldberg. He was his own man and unique character. Over time the driven performer was able to win over fans.
“As you’ve seen the Goldberg chants have gone down tremendously, if not completely gone away,” Ryback said. “Every once in a while you will hear fans at TV or the pay-per-view try to get them going, but they are drowned out by, ‘Feed Me More’. If I was going out there every night and doing the spear and Jackhammer and mimicking his mannerisms, then yeah, they would probably still be there. But there is a lot more to Ryback. I understand them, but they don’t bother me at all. It just takes time to get a fan base and have people become loyal to you.”