When the WWE Superstar known as Ryback faces off against opponents in the ring on TV shows like Raw every week, the 6-foot-3 musclebound titan doesn't just wrestle them. In fact, he tends to destroy his foes with hard-hitting and painful-looking moves like clotheslines, slams, and his devastating finishing move, "The Shell Shocked."
It turns out that Ryback is just as forceful with his words, as we experienced firsthand via a recent phone interview with the 31-year-old spandex-clad performer. He blasted those fans who either boo him or call him a rip-off of Goldberg, as well as bluntly informing us that he plans on winning the WWE title sometime this year.
Ryback's also confident he'll do well during the upcoming Royal Rumble pay-per-view, which takes place at US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix on Sunday, January 27.
Last year was a breakout year for you, but do you feel overexposed? Not at all. I feel 2012 was just a warm-up as far as I'm concerned. There's so much more to Ryback than people know yet. We started at the very basic level and we built patience with people.
How do you deal with people who boo you? You know, they started me off with local competitors and people want to whine and complain about that because our society as a whole is extremely negative and the people just want to be unhappy so they tend to just talk about what makes them more unhappy instead of focusing on positives. But we built patience with people and then the time was right we pulled the trigger and it worked. And I knew it all along and they knew it would all along. Right now is 2013 [and] I feel we're going to see a lot of different layers to Ryback.
When will fans in the WWE Universe get to see this? We're just going slow with it, like you should when you build a new superstar. Things have been rushed in the past. I'm not new to this, I've been in [the WWE] almost seven years. I've been through a lot in developmental. This is just the beginning. There's much, much more to Ryback. I firmly believe I'm going to be the focal point of the WWE for the next 10 years.
What's your take on your nickname, The Big Hungry? I didn't mind it at all. Rumor, though, has it that Vince McMahon was not a big fan of it. So is kinda why its died down and the commentators have quit using it for the time being. I will say I like "The Big Hungry," maybe down the road it will be something that happens, but as of right now its kinda out of the equation.
You recently participated in a brutal TLC match with CM Punk on Raw. How do you protect yourself during such a dangerous contest? You don't. No, you go in there and know it's going to be physical, it's gonna be hard-hitting. There's a lot of outside elements in there, a lot of things that stick out in the ring and either you can't fall on a ladder any certain way. It all hurts and that's something we do for the entertainment of the fans in the WWE Universe. I love it. I'm very physical so it's right down my alley.
Former WWE Superstar Edge was proficient with TLC matches and it may have contributed to his early retirement. Do you walk a balance between entertaining the fans and protecting your body? Uh, yeah. I feel like that would be a better question for CM Punk because I tend to be the one giving out the majority of offense in my matches. I tend not to be thrown around by many individuals. We go in there and, yeah, you're taking a risk with everything that you do, pretty much. My goal is to win, obviously, I wanna stay healthy and I don't want to be injured. But when you get out there sometimes all that goes out the window and the adrenaline is flowing and you do things that you wouldn't necessarily think you would do before you go out there. You just cross your fingers, hope for the best, and give everything you've got. You can't hold back and hopefully you come out of it in one piece.
You've chased CM Punk and the WWE Title for several months now. Do you think there's more money in the chase versus the catch? You know, I just did my goal board for 2013 [with] 13 of my goals for this year and becoming the WWE and World Heavyweight Champion are my main goals. So no, the chase is great, but for my ultimate goal and what I want to accomplish here in the WWE, being WWE champion is something that's going to be a big part of that. And I believe it's going to bring me to a whole other level. Its a responsibility that I welcome with open arms.
How certain are you that it will happen? I know it's going to happen, it's only a matter of time. I've been a fan my entire life and growing up watching this and its going to be surreal moment and I'm going to take every second of it in. And I look forward to waking up every day the WWE champion.
A lot of wrestling critics have said your match with Team Hell No against The Shield stole the show at the TLC pay-per-view in December. I'm very proud of that. Daniel Bryan is one guy that I'm pretty close with in the WWE, him and Wade Barrett. But to be a part of that match with Kane and The Sheild...I firmly believe that those three men [are] extremely talented and when they eventually go on their own, all of them are going to be a big part of the WWE for many years to come. So to go out there and have that kind of match with everyone, it's a tremendous honor. And it was a very physical hard-hitting match. And that crowd in Brooklyn was hot. It felt good to be a part of that.
There have been endless comparisons between you and Goldberg. Do you think you've moved out of his shadow by now? I've explained this to people before, it's never offended me. It's always great to get a reaction from the people one way or another. And I'm sure there's some fans that do it in a negative way. A lot of 'em, I feel, just do it because there are things about me that remind 'em of him [Goldberg]. Me being a fan growing up, I understand that we become very loyal to those who were before us and Goldberg had a tremendous following and he was 'The Man' back in WCW. And he was very exciting and fun to watch and brought a new intensity that we hadn't seen in years. And that wasn't the first time that someone was like that, but it had been a while.
But he has his loyal followers, so when somebody sees somebody that, "Oh, this guy kinda reminds me of him," there first initial response is, "Oh, this guy's a rip-off," whether he is or he isn't. So I understood that part of it going in that I might get some comparisons, but I knew over time that I just gotta keep being me and that people will eventually, hopefully become loyal to me and followers of Ryback. And I will set myself apart from Bill Goldberg.
Were you a fan of his? I was a fan of his. I think was unbelievable and exciting and fun to watch. But I truly, truly love this and have a passion for this and want to be as great as this as I could possibly be. I love money and want to make millions upon millions of dollars, and I'm going to. But at the end of the day, I'm going to be in WWE. I've said it at the beginning, I want to be part of WWE for the rest of my life. And I don't know Bill Goldberg personally, so I don't know exactly how he feels about wrestling and whatnot, but I can just tell you how I feel, and I think at the end how I feel is what's going to be what separates me from Goldberg ultimately when my career is winding down. He was a huge draw and hopefully I can be as big if not bigger of a draw as he was in his prime. It motivates me and I look forward to outdoing him in any way possible. It's never been a negative thing in my mind.
So what does the Royal Rumble mean to you? It's the road to Wrestlemania, this is one of the big four [WWE] pay-per-views. Growing up it was one of my favorites. And its one of the more exciting WWE pay-per-views so I Don't know exactly what my role will be as of now. If I am one of the 30 men involved in the Royal Rumble, my goal is to obviously win it and if not I look to be in a high-profile match one way or the other. Right now its up in the air.
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Every Royal Rumble has one or two WWE Superstars that stand out. Do you have any plans to steal the show this year? I don't see any reason why I can't. I work very hard at this, I put in a lot of time thinking about this, and I'm going into that [wanting] to outdo everybody. I definitely want to have a moment that people are always going to remember and no matter what the outcome of the Royal Rumble. If there's anybody that's here who I would it's me who's gonna do something very spectacular. I got a few ideas floating around already in my head of thing I'd like to see happen, so you just gotta tune into see.
WWE's Royal Rumble Fan Fest takes place at noon on Saturday, January 26, at US Airways Center. Admission starts at $10, VIP all-access is $250, and the discussion panels are $90 each.
The Royal Rumble pay-per-view takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 27, at the arena. Admission starts at $25. See Ticketmaster.