The path from the bottom of the card to the main event is usually a long and arduous one. Everyone from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock to John Cena and Randy Orton has had to put up with their share of setbacks on the way to the top.
Not our buddy Ryback. One minute he’s making local enhancement talent question their career choices, the next he’s facing CM Punk for the WWE Title on Pay Per View.
I spoke with the hungry one in the days leading up to his TLC title opportunity to get his take on his meteoric rise to the top, his sweet catchphrase, and those pesky Goldberg chants…
Gordon Holmes: You have rocketed to the top of the card. Has that had a chance to sink in yet?
Ryback: I live my life one day at a time. I try to do my best each and every day. I don’t try to look too far ahead; I try not to dwell on what’s happened in the past. It’s been unbelievable to go from being in the ring with local athletes…fine local athletes might I add.
Holmes: Of course.
Ryback: Moving on up, essentially jumping to the main-event scene out of nowhere. It was like showing up one day and here we go. And I was prepared for it, thank God. But it’s been a tremendous opportunity. I feel I’ve done well. I feel very at home where I am now. I look forward to being in this position for a long time.
Holmes: Has anything about this new position surprised you at all?
Ryback: No, not at all. My goal is to become the WWE Champion and be the foundation of this company. It’s a great company, it’s a company I love and believe in. This is what I expected it to be. Every day is a challenge. I’ve got to work very hard outside of what you see in the ring. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s fun. That’s the most important part for me.
Holmes: You’re part of the downloadable content for the “WWE ‘13” video game. What’s it like to see a virtual you tearing up the competition?
Ryback: It’s unbelievable. I grew up playing all of the WWE games. To see myself in the game now with Attitude Era stars like Stone Cold and The Rock, Mankind, the Undertaker…it’s awesome. And it’s great that kids of this generation get a chance to play as Ryback and challenge whoever they want. Hopefully they’ll beat up CM Punk like I do in real life.
Holmes: Speaking of the Attitude Era, is there anyone from that time that you would’ve liked to have Shell Shocked?
Ryback: All of them, to be honest. I say “Feed Me More” because I’m all about competition. And more is never enough for me. I want people to give me more because I can handle it and I want to succeed. But, obviously “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the top dog of that era; that would be the guy for me.
Holmes: You are a monster. You are a huge dude who just ripped through the competition. How do you differentiate Ryback from other guys who’ve cut a similar path?
Ryback: It takes time for people to see differences in Superstars. Our fan base is the most loyal in the world. They become loyal to someone. So, to be compared to someone from the past, it’s up to me to differentiate myself as time goes on. It just takes time. I’ve been compared to some great Superstars.
Holmes: You’re referring to the “Goldberg” chants?
Ryback: The Goldberg chants and whatnot, he was at the top of his game. He was at the forefront of WCW. He was the hottest thing going. To be compared to that right now is great. But, I’m different in many ways. I bring a lot to the table. As you see every week, I’m very intense. I look forward to speaking more as time goes on. It’s a slow build, we’re creating patience with people in a time when people aren’t very patient. It takes time, you know?
Holmes: Absolutely. And what happens if you ever step into the ring with Goldberg?
Ryback: You’re going to see a hell of match, that’s for sure. And it would end with Shell Shocked, one…two…three. You never say never in this business. If that’s presented to me I will welcome it with open arms. You’ll be hearing, “Feed me more.”
Holmes: Part of the challenge with your rapid rise has to be taking part in matches you’ve never had to deal with before. I’m thinking specifically of October’s Hell in a Cell and this month’s TLC match.
Ryback: Yeah. (Laughs)
Holmes: Are these things you have any kind of experience with?
Ryback: Coming up in developmental you’re not put into these matches on a regular basis. My big thing is film, watching past matches and the Superstars that were put in those situations. Just being a student of the game. Two weeks before Hell in a Cell, I got the DVDs and I watched them. I study what other guys do, I start and stop, what would I do in this situation? I prepare mentally because I feel like doing things in your head is pretty close to doing the real thing minus the physical pain and whatnot. So, that’s how I approach all of these things being thrown at me.
Holmes: Do you pop in the “WWE ‘13” video game and start smacking people with ladders?
Ryback: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s the cool thing about this game, you can do anything. It’s cool to see that the franchise has evolved.
Holmes: It’s a training tool.
Ryback: It is a training tool. You can come up with new moves just playing the game. I’m all about that.
Holmes: I think you’re very fortunate in that it seems like there is a world of talented guys behind the scenes who can give you advice and steer you in the right direction.
Holmes: Is there anyone in particular that you go to?
Ryback: I keep a very small circle of guys. Everyone offers advice, it’s up to me to take it and apply it. The guys that’ve really been instrumental to me so far are Arn Anderson, Triple H, William Regal, and Michael Hayes. Those are the guys that I have open ears for at all times.
Holmes: Guys that have had your kind of sudden burst into the spotlight…sometimes they get a big head as far as the business goes. Have you been taking steps to keep yourself in check?
Ryback: Yeah, definitely. You see that with guys, that’s not me. Anyone who’s known me since I’ve been with the WWE knows that I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low. I take things one day at a time. I’m very thankful for everything that I’ve gone through, whether it’s bad or good. I love WWE, I love being a part of the company. I want to be the foundation for WWE. I’ve always said; however much money you have, that doesn’t make you better than anybody. I’m just a guy that likes to work hard that wants to be my best and make a difference in the world eventually. As much as life has to offer, I want it. I want everything. But that would never go to my head. We’ve seen it before, but that’s not what Ryback is all about and it’s not what I’m about. I believe in helping others and giving and things of that nature.
Holmes: At TLC, you beat Punk, you take the title. What happens to The Rock at the Royal Rumble?
Ryback: Shell shocked. I was just saying, that’s cool that fans get to do that with the video game, they get to see that match beforehand. It would be a tremendous honor and I would be very thankful for the opportunity and that’s one of my goals. Punk and Rock are locked into the Royal Rumble thinking that’s the for-sure matchup. In this business anything can happen. Nobody expected me to be where I am now except for me. To be in the ring at the Royal Rumble and to hear The Rock’s music? I would not be shocked. I hope Dwayne takes notice because I am not someone you should overlook.
Watch WWE: TLC, Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET on Pay Per View.
Ryback is available as DLC for “WWE ‘13” on Tuesday, December 4, 2012.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes