Former WWE Superstar Ryback was recently interview on Jim Ross’ podcast. Below are the highlights.
On working with Paul Heyman and why Heyman’s relationship with CM Punk was screwing him over: “I respect Paul [Heyman] a lot, and he’s lasted in this business a very long time, but we didn’t see eye to eye. Paul and CM Punk were really, really good friends. Heyman was supposed to be, from a creative standpoint, working with me. And he was with Punk all day and they were discussing business, and what they were going on to do, and it wasn’t doing me any favors and I knew that. We were overseas on an England tour [when] I finally had enough. Paul knew he had to get away from me, because I was gonna kill him at the time. He had went to Vince, him and Punk, and they didn’t do me any favors in there talking to Vince. I talked to Paul that night at catering at the hotel,” … “I had one last discussion with Paul at the catering table, in which he bought me beers for about two hours, as I cut a two-hour promo on him on everything, and what I thought of him, and how he did his business with me. He held a butter knife in his hand, twirling it the entire two hours. I kid you not, CM Punk walked around in circles the entire time, acting like he was gonna try to do something, while I was talking to Paul cutting this promo on him.”
On CM Punk’s negative comments about him on Colt Cabana’s podcast: “Not to say Punk gets along with everyone to begin with – he’s kind of his own individual, and a self-admitted asshole at times, but he was always friendly with me. But you gotta remember, when you’re dealing at the WWE level, and you’re dealing with those top slots, you’re dealing with millions of dollars. The two guys I had all my problems with, and everyone else there I’d get alone with just fine, was John Cena and CM Punk. There’s only a certain amount of slots there, and those guys have those slots, and they wanted to keep them. I do think Punk, he was really beat up during the periods that we worked together, physically, and he complained about other guys when he was there that are notorious for being good workers. I just think he was physically beat up, and he was frustrated, and he lumped that all in.” … “He had his issues with WWE, I think I just got lumped into all that. It is what it is. I don’t hate him, not at all.”
On CM Punk “jumping ship” to the UFC: “I’m happy for him, as far as the UFC. I know the fight didn’t go the way that he wanted it to go, or have the performance that he probably felt that he could have had. But having the courage to just take that chance, and anybody who knocks him for that, they have no idea the courage that it takes to be able to go out there and fight in front of the world. Essentially it’s being a modern day gladiator.” … “I think it’s cool. I wish him the best in everything that he’s doing going forward.”
On CM Punk’s frustrations with WWE and how the “WWE machine” affects wrestlers: “He was never the stereotypical WWE guy. He always had to eat shit, so to speak, from day one. He broke a lot of doors down up there for a lot of the independent guys. He kinda had to live through that first hand, where guys now are getting opportunities from the independents, he didn’t necessarily get all of those right off the bat, probably like he felt like he should have.” … “Vince and the WWE, they’re a business. They essentially whore you out and run you into the ground, and then they replace you. Because there are so many guys who want those spots, and the brand is so strong now, that they can do that and get away with it. It gives you a negative feeling on wrestling at times. I feel like Punk had a lot on his shoulders, with the creative and the injuries, where it kind of makes you resent the job a little bit. And I think that’s where you can become a little bitter, and a little angry. Even though he had a lot of success, I feel like at times, but in his mind probably not the level that he wanted. And I can understand that because I know the level of success that I wanted, and wasn’t happy with that. And for him I think it was main-eventing WrestleMania. I think for him, after experiencing the struggles that he did early on just to get there, and then getting there and having success finally, and finally breaking through, and then still not actually truly getting that spot that he really wanted – his goal, so to speak – I think it was just a culmination of everything.”
On how life on the road helped to prepare him for his post-WWE career: “I’m very thankful for everything wrestling related, and my time in WWE. I always talked about how I rode alone. On those car rides, I look at that as very valuable time to myself. Anywhere from three to six hours on a lot of nights, where I could listen to audio books and learn about anything I wanted to learn about, and get a free education on the road while still doing what I love to do.”
On Vince McMahon and why it’s important for wrestlers to communicate with management when they have issues: “It’s a creative business. It’s his world, and if he doesn’t like you – and I know there’s guys there now that he’s sour on – and I always wondered why haven’t they gone in there and communicated? They’re just living week to week. In this day and age, a lot of guys walk on egg shells, and that’s what I’m proudest about myself. I’ve always stood up for myself, and I’ve gone and communicated. When I thought Hunter was against me on things, I’ve gone and I’ve talked to him. Do I think he was always honest with me? No, but I always approached him and I tried to talk to him, and gain ground, because if I don’t nothing’s gonna change. So I had nothing to lose. You gotta get rid of that fear mindset very early on, and most of the guys won’t. The ones that do, will do themselves the biggest favor, and helping themselves as they get to the main roster.”