Who is Ryback?
Ryback is an American professional wrestler formerly signed with WWE and currently wrestling on the independent circuits. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ryback started working out in the gym at the age of 12 and the desire of getting a chiselled physique got him going all through his teenage. In 2004, he appeared on the fourth season of ‘Tough Enough,’ a reality show produced and monitored by the World Wrestling Entertainment. Although he did not win, he was one among the finalists and impressed the recruiters at WWE enough to land a developmental contract. He was further sent to fight in WWE’s developmental territories such as Deep South Wrestling, Ohio Valley Wrestling and Florida Championship Wrestling. In early 2010s, he made his grand debut on NXT with the ring-name Skip Sheffield and in the same year, he made his debut on WWE’s main roaster. Wrestling in both Raw and SmackDown from time to time, he was a part of several pay-per-view matches and fought many times to earn WWE Championship but always fell short of acquiring it. Throughout his WWE career, he only managed to win an Intercontinental Championship and in 2016, he bid his farewell to WWE.
Childhood & Early Life
Ryback was born Ryan Allen Reeves on November 10, 1981, in Las Vegas, Nevada into a middle class Polish family. His first interest in bodybuilding and wrestling sparked when he was 8 years old and he got the chance to ring the bell in a World Wrestling Federation match. Around the same time, he started watching professional wrestling and became fascinated by it.
By the time he was 12 years old, he got another chance to ring the bell in a WWF event and that further got him interested. He started spending hours in the gym to train himself and began lifting weights at such a young age. As he got a little bulky a couple of years later, his friends started calling him a ‘gorilla’ and hence, Ryback later adopted the name ‘silverback’ and made it a part of his ring-name in WWE.
Ryback started appearing in the school teams playing sports. Although he played many sports, baseball remained his favourite. He attended Palo Verde High School and Western High school and played in their baseball teams. He was so good at it that there was a time when he thought of entering the professional baseball arena.
After graduating from the school, Ryback started attending Community College of Southern Nevada. He continued playing baseball there but during his freshman year itself, he got injured and missed out on the two following seasons. Following the tragedy, he started attending the University of Nevada and got enrolled into the program for fitness management.
Graduating from the college, he started working at Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino and kept working out to make himself ready for the future as a professional wrestler. In 2004, he sent his one minute tape to become a participant in WWE’s ‘Tough Enough’ and became one of the 50 contestants to appear on the show.
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Getting selected for ‘Tough Enough’ turned out to be his ticket to fame. Despite suffering from injuries and sickness in the very first week of his entry into the show, he was chosen as one of the eight finalists to appear on SmackDown and was the last finalist to be voted out. He impressed the show runners enough to compel them to sign him on for a developmental contract. Before heading to the WWE developmental territories, Ryback spent some time in Georgia to become fit to make his professional wrestling debut as Ryback Allen Reeves.
During the first few months of his developmental contract, Ryback appeared in Deep South Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling. In 2006, he failed the WWE drug test and was subsequently suspended for a month. He accepted that he was taking a bodybuilding supplement but it was not illegal then. The drug got somehow banned a few weeks later.
He then went to fight in the Ohio Valley Wrestling and participated in a few matches. In 2008, took a break from OVW and returned back a few months later with the ring name Ryback. In October that year, he defeated Anthony Bravado to become the new OVW Heavyweight Champion. After successfully defending his title once against Anthony, he eventually lost it later that month.
Ryback then joined the Florida Championship Wrestling and got off to a bad start as he lost two tag team matches back to back. In February 2010, it was announced that he was to be one of the eight ECW Wrestlers to be a part of WWE’s new show ‘NXT.’ After opening with a loss in a tag team match, he made his single debut in April 2010 and won against Daniel Bryan. Further in a June 7 episode of RAW, Ryback took several of his ‘NXT’ colleagues and disrupted a match between John Cena and CM Punk and announced the arrival of their group The Nexus.
The feud between Team WWE and The Nexus reached their culmination in the SummerSlam 2010 when they faced each other in a seven on seven elimination match. The Nexus lost the match and in August, Ryback broke his ankle, which kept him away from professional wrestling for the following year.
He made his comeback in April 2012, this time on SmackDown and came ahead as a better fighter and remained undefeated for several of his earlier matches. He returned back to Raw in August 2012 and picked up a feud with Jinder Mahal. Ryback ended up defeating Mahal several times, but Jinder’s cunningness kept him away from a clean victory. In September, he decided to pick on CM Punk, the reigning WWE Champion.
In October, during a pay per view, ‘Hell in a Cell’ match, Ryback got his shot at the championship but lost to Punk. He further joined John Cena and Sheamus to stand up against The Shield, the wrestling group that had been terrorizing wrestlers and getting away with it. The Shield defeated the trio in an ‘Elimination Chamber’ match.
In 2013, Ryback’s feud with Chris Jericho began and in a July match at ‘Money in the Bank,’ Ryback defeated Jericho. Somehow, he kept feuding with several other superstars such as CM Punk and Mark Henry. He wrestled through most of 2014 in the tag teams and some of his biggest feuds were with John Cena, Kane and Bray Wyatt.
In the 2014 ‘Elimination Chamber’ match he defeated several other wrestlers including Sheamus and Mark Henry, to win the vacant Intercontinental Championship. After successfully defeating his championship against The Miz and The Big Show in the following few weeks, Ryback eventually lost it to Kevin Owens in September.
In November, Ryback participated in a 16 rounds tournament in the race for World Heavyweight Championship but was pinned down by Calisto in the first round itself. This also started a small feud between the two. For the next two years, Ryback made several attempts to win a major WWE title but he failed.
In May 2016, a contract dispute had Ryback getting fired from WWE. Following his ouster, Ryback participated in Northeast Wrestling, Wrestlepro and Combat Zone Wrestling.
Ryback has been compared to Goldberg many times during his fights in the ring. To which he said that he would love to fight Goldberg in the ring someday. One other wrestler he desperately wanted to fight was the Undertaker.
Ryback married his long time girlfriend Melissa Reeves in 2014.