When WWE “SmackDown” makes its USA Network debut at 8 p.m. ET Thursday, Jan. 7, the prime-time show will feature one of its hungriest competitors, literally and figuratively.
“I woke up hungry for your questions. So go ahead and ‘Feed Me More,’” laughed WWE Superstar Ryback during a conference call to promote the “SmackDown” move to USA Network.
Feed him more for sure. The solid 6-3, 290-pound Ryback not only enjoys devouring questions and WWE opponents but also food -- all types at all times.
How many times a day does he eat?
“Sometimes not enough,” Ryback chuckled. “If I’m home, I can get a good eight to 10 meals with everything balanced out appropriately. On the road, probably looking at six or seven, a little bit bigger meals but spaced out a little further apart. I’m legitimately always hungry.”
Traveling from house shows to “Raw” to “SmackDown” tapings, Applebees, IHOP and Waffle House are three of his go-to eating establishments on the road.
“I’ve learned fast food has become a necessity on the road,” he said, “because a lot of things aren’t open late at night. I thoroughly enjoy sitting down and eating, and all those restaurants look the same, so it gives me a sense of being at home, a sense of comfort.
“At gas stations, they have hard boiled eggs and low-fat cheese sticks. Eating whole wheat sandwiches and Sun Chips are a whole grain complex carbohydrate on the road, and eating the grilled chicken and the grilled steaks at the arenas and the tuna fish. It’s finding a balance.
“This day and age, you can eat healthy anywhere. Sometimes you got to search and look a little harder, but that’s what I do day-in and day-out.”
Ryback mentioned some of his favorite “SmackDowns” are the Thanksgiving shows -- of course -- with the food fighting and food eating.
“SmackDown” opened in April 1999 on UPN. The CW became its new residence in 2006. MyNetwork TV stepped-in, beginning in 2008, and Syfy took hold in 2010, leading to the USA Network, which is also home to WWE’s signature TV program “Monday Night Raw.”
“The big thing is we’re going to have more eyes on us [for ‘SmackDown’],” Ryback said. “Being on the USA Network makes it easier for our WWE Universe to know where to go [to watch it ]-- having everything on the same network like that. Essentially, it’s going to take time.”
All in the family, USA Network and Syfy are under the NBCUniversal banner.
“People know about ‘Monday Night Raw,’” he said. “Everyone’s accustomed to Monday night the USA Network, and now the USA Network Thursday night, that’s where you’re going to see ‘SmackDown’ each and every week.”
Ryback, 34, the cyborg from Sin City, first caught the attention of the WWE Universe by crushing two opponents simultaneously. Since then, crowds across the world have chanted “Feed Me More” along with Ryback, as he has battled some of WWE’s greatest Superstars on “Raw” and “SmackDown.”
“We’re all very excited [about the TV move], and we just got to keep doing what we’re doing,” Ryback said. “We have some of the top talent in the world in WWE, and the competitiveness of our roster to go out there each and every week to put on the best show possible, when you have that kind of an environment, it makes for great TV.”
With a fortitude bordering on invincibility, Ryback is one of the most dominating Superstars to ever set foot inside the squared circle, and there is no doubt that this insatiable juggernaut will be feasting on WWE success for many years to come.
Originally from Las Vegas, Ryback grew up a WWE fan, watching it on television.
“It’s very surreal,” said Ryback, who’s now the one being watched. “I always got to kind of step back and understand and realize, ‘Wow,’ because for me I’m still the same guy I was when I was a kid. Growing up, I’m the same adult I’ve always been, but being on television and having that TV exposure changed the way that people perceive you.
“So I have to remember now when I’m out in public -- going to the grocery store or the gas station -- even though I may feel like Ryan Reeves, in the eyes of the people who see me I’m [WWE Superstar] Ryback.
“It’s always kind of surreal to sit back and see the excitement on kids’ and adults’ faces, when they run into me in public. It’s a tremendous feeling. I’m very thankful to be Blessed to have this opportunity. Not only for the career I’ve had so far in WWE, but to be 34-years-old and have many great years ahead of me. I’m very excited and very thankful for all of it.”
As a 12-year-old, he rang the bell at a WWE event.
What was it like as a kid doing that? What do you remember about that?
He said: “I always try to keep that moment alive in my head. I’ve been to one other WWE event, when I was about 5-years old, but I was so young. The only thing I’ve remembered from that was Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan -- his yellow tights and Andre’s black singlet, and I remember screaming. I don’t remember anything else from that.
“When I was 12, growing up, that WWE live event [at the Thomas & Mack Center], I was all about the WWE. I was a hardcore diehard fan.
“I specifically remember getting there early. I won a bunch of contests on local radio. I wrote a letter to News 13 on why they should pick me for the prize package of four front row seats and some other prize packages. They told me that my letter came across the most real and passionate out of anybody that they’ve seen, and they spoke to my mom for quite a while about it. It was such a cool thing, and I remember being there. I took the whole neighborhood with me.
“I remember thinking the WWE ring was way smaller in person than it came across on TV, because on TV it’s a 20x20 ring which is not small by any case, but on TV, as a kid you think everything is always larger than it is. That was the first thing that I remembered, thinking that this isn’t the real WWE ring. I remember sitting there throughout the night. I was the guest bell ringer for the opening match. I got to walk up to the ring and wave to the crowd and got my first standing ovation. It was just such a cool thing, seeing these larger than life cartoon characters in person, but as a kid, it’s so hard for you to process that you’re physically seeing these people that you see on TV, because it’s a dream come true.
“It’s funny. I sometimes get a little bit of criticism from the WWE Universe for some of the merchandise that I wear out to the ring, but I do that -- first and foremost with the beanie and the shirt and the ‘Feed Me More’ chain -- because I rip the chain off, and I give it to a kid each and every night. I take the hat off. I give to a kid. Then I rip the shirt off, and I throw it to a kid, because I see the looks on their faces. That’s the same look that I had as a kid and the excitement that the WWE programming brings. It’s surreal.
“So I’m glad that I got to experience that as a kid because it helps me understand just how much this means to our fans. No matter how bad of a day I’ve had or how tired I am, that when I go out there, these kids, this is the one moment that they can hold on to for the rest of their life, and it’s a memory that I still to this day hold on to...That had a great impact on my life, and it was actually the night that I decided I wanted to be a WWE superstar.”
“It’s very important because this is all about the kids,” he noted. “That’s why we all do this. It is great memories for kids for them to hold on to and be able to take something forward and go on. It was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life, and hopefully I create the same [type of experience] for some of the WWE Universe kids out there.”
- About SmackDown
With more than 800 original episodes, “SmackDown” is the second longest-running weekly episodic program in U.S. television history, only behind “Monday Night Raw.” Over the past 15 years, “SmackDown” has been broadcast from 170 different venues in 148 cities in seven different countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Iraq, Japan, Italy and Mexico.
- Royal Rumble
The Royal Rumble, one of WWE’s biggest shows, is Sunday, Jan. 24 at Orlando’s Amway Center, home of the NBA Orlando Magic.
The event is already sold-out, but to check if any tickets have been released, go to
The Royal Rumble drop kicks-off the Road to WrestleMania with the winner of the 30-man battle royal winning the WWE World title and being featured at WrestleMania 32 on Sunday, April 3 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
- Raw in Miami
Tickets are on sale for WWE Monday Night Raw in Miami, the night after the Royal Rumble. The AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the three-time NBA champion Miami, will host Raw on Monday, Jan. 25. It will be broadcast live on the USA Network.
- More WWE in Florida
WWE will be at the Germain Arena, home of the Florida Everblades hockey team, for a super house show (no TV) on Saturday, Jan. 23 in Estero/Fort Myers. Bell time is 7:30 p.m.
WWE visits the Amalie Arena, home of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning, on Tuesday, Jan. 26 in Tampa for a SmackDown TV taping. Bell time is 7 p.m.
- About WWE
WWE, a publicly traded company (NYSE: WWE), is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay-per-view, digital media and publishing platforms.
WWE programming reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide in 35 languages. WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 over-the-top premium network that includes all 12 live pay-per-views, scheduled programming and a massive video-on-demand library, is currently available in more than 170 countries. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Dubai, Munich and Tokyo.
Additional information on WWE (NYSE: WWE) can be found at
For information on its global activities, go to
- Pro Wrestling On The Web
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