AU ABROAD

the AU interview: WWE wrestler Ryback (Las Vegas, USA)

Wrestling has always been one of those polarizing "sports" (or, sports "entertainment" as they've coined it). People either love it and are passionate about it or they see it as a joke; just oiled up, jacked up men pretending to hurt each other. I've always looked at wrestling as a grown man’s soap opera or violent ballet. These guys put their bodies on the line to entertain the live crowd.

Yes, the punches and kicks are staged, but there is still high risk, high levels of physical intensity. There’s no way to fake being slammed through a table. There’s no easy way to hit someone with a chair and there is no soft landing when a man leaps three meters down onto another human being. Yet WWE superstars do this for a total of seven hours of TV tapings a week, plus monthly pay-per-view specials and endless house shows and global tours.

Starting July 25, WWE are coming down for five brutal and highly anticipated shows in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. I got to chat to WWE superstar Ryback. A monster of a man (190cm, 132kg) who will be competing for the WWE championship against John Cena during the tour. I spoke to Ryback about the upcoming WWE tour, what got him interesting in the business and what he does away from the ring.

Where are you at the moment?

I've literally just come back home here in Vegas. My plane was rerouted a couple of times so I only walked in the door ten minutes ago.

I guess it's rare to be home with the amount of travel you guys do?

Yeah it is. Depends on if you have to Smackdown (television taping) or any house shows on Saturdays. I've got a couple of days off before taking on Chris Jericho at the Money In Bank pay per view.

How are you feeling about this Sunday’s match with Chris Jericho? (readers may also know him as Fozzy’s vocalist from this years Soundwave festival)

This is a match I’m looking forward to. When you get into this business you have a list of guys you want to compete with and he was one of them so it’s going to be really satisfying to go in there with him.

After the Money In The Bank you are jumping on the plane and heading down to Australia for the WWE tour, have you been down here before?

I have not, so this is going to be my first time down to Australia. I had an opportunity a few years back when I was with Nexus (former faction in WWE) but I had an ankle injury and had to go home. Since then I’ve been looking forward to coming down. I’ll be taking on John Cena in a tables match for the WWE championship.

You get to battle John Cena again. You guys have had some battles over the six to eight months for the belt. Do you think you’re a chance of taking it off him this time?

Hopefully. I’m looking forward to winning the WWE championship. It’s only a matter of time.

I think it is only a matter of time for you, and I am also hoping, The Shield doesn't cost you the belt like they did a few times at the back end of last year?

Yeah those guys made my life a living hell for a while there. Those guys liked to pick fights 3 on 1 and I was there for most of those times. John Cena was never there which is why I developed “Ryback Rules” (catch phrase) so I can do whatever it takes to be WWE champion so I’m actually pretty thankful of those guys now.

Talk us through how you prepare for a match?

The adrenalin is always pumping before a show. I like to loosen up. Lots of high resistance and stretching. I have a routine for those. I’ll do about 40-50 push ups. I like to spend some time thinking about the match. I’m really big on envisioning how I want things to go. Then right before I go out, I take about three bottles of ice cold water and dump them over my head and body. It wakes up the nerves and gives me that crazy look I like before going out to the ring.

How was Wrestlemania for you this year? I was lucky enough to be there in New Jersey for the event and it was an amazing atmosphere to be there as a fan. How was it for you to be there in the middle of the ring in front of 80,000 people?

It was surreal. It’s weird, the bigger the event, the more calm I am. Since my first Hell In A Cell (match stipulation where they fight in a enclosed cage) with Cena and C.M Punk where it was sink or swim for me, I've been more calm than ever before big matches. I’m a very intense person so I need to be in control of my mind and emotions but when I look back on Wrestlemania it was great to be out there. When I was off for 18 months with my injury I would sit at home and watch Wrestlemania and I made a vow to myself when I came back I was never going to miss being a part of one ever again. So, to be out there with Mark Henry and Shell Shock (Ryback’s finishing move) him, it was unbelievable.

I know for myself and everyone around me to see you lift Mark Henry and Shell Shock him was amazing. He’s a big boy (tipping the scales at 460 pounds or about 210kgs) that wouldn’t have been easy!

It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Not to mention your dealing with the fact it was at the end of the match and things didn’t go my way. It was just one of those things where everything was riding on that and I knew it would be my Wrestlemania moment. He’s not designed to be picked up. His legs are the size of big oak tree trunks! It was great to be able to pull that off.

Who in the current WWE roster would be a dream opponent for yourself?

I’ve said this, and everyone thinks I am crazy, but trust me it’ll happen eventually, is to take on The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. I’ve dreamt about it and have envisioned it each and every day. I also look at guys like Triple H who I grew up with as a favourite guy. I like his attitude and his smarts in the ring. If that opportunity came up I wouldn’t hesitate to get in the ring with him. Fans on twitter have said Brock Lesner which I think is real possibility down the line as well. I think we could bring out the best in each other. I think the same about Kurt Angle (with rival company TNA) it would be a similar situation.

You mentioned being a fan of Triple H growing up. When did you first start watching wrestling and wanting to be a wrestler?

My first memory was when I was 5 or 6 years old and the WWE had a show out here in Vegas and all I remember was yellow tights and a black singlet - it was Hulk Hogan against Andre the Giant. When I was 13, I knew I wanted to be WWE superstar. I bought a bunch of tickets in a radio competition and I got to be the guest ringside for a match involving Dr. Tom Pritchard and as it turned out Tom Pritchard ended up being the most influential coach I ever had coming up in the WWE. Its funny how these things happen but I knew at 13 that I wanted to be a WWE wrestler.

What do you away from the WWE? What does Ryback do in his spare time?

I’m extremely focused on what I do. I travel alone on the road. I get along with everybody but I like to travel on my own. I’m very motivated by success. I like to read a lot especially on topics like the power of positivity. i think it relates a lot to what we do and how react to certain situations. I’ve been reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book. it’s very motivating reading how he came from nothing to be one of the biggest personalities of all time. That's helped motivate me to be the best WWE superstar I can be.

I’m also interested in things financially, so I’m constantly reading things about money and where I can invest it. I like to be educated with my money. I had this taken away from me for a year and a half with my injury and I was told by doctors I would never wrestle again. I was fortunate that WWE gave me another opportunity and stuck by my side. During that time I realised it could easily end and I have to be smart with my life. I want to be working for WWE for rest of my career and be out on the road but you never know when it could end in a injury.

Some people don’t probably realise how dangerous some of these moves are you do in the ring. I imagine there is no easy way to take a chair shot or to go through a table like you may have to on this upcoming tour?

There is only so much you can train and prepare for. It is so physically demanding thats why over the years I’ve learnt the importance of stretching and taking care of your body. Its not so much about lifting weights, but conditioning. The name of the game is to stay healthy . Every time we go out there we are taking risks and you never know when the end is going to come. Obviously we do our best to take care of each other but if you look at the past there have been some serious injuries and it’s no laughing matter.

Any last words for Australian fans before the tour kicks off?

We’re all really thankful for the opportunity to come out there and perform to different fans from a different environment. We’ve got a lot of very young and hungry guys who are determined to put on the best matches every night. We just came back from Japan where we did two nights and the competitiveness of the guys made each show amazing for the fans. When you have guys in that mindset of trying to out do each other - everybody wins and that will continue when you come out to Australia. You’ve got myself and John Cena in a tables match for the WWE championship. You’re going to see chairs and bodies going through tables. You’re going to have Daniel Bryan and Kane against The Shield. Miz against Curtis Axel. You’re going to get to see all your real life heroes in person putting on the best entertainment that only WWE can provide.

------------

TOUR DATES:
Fri 26 July - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Sat 27 July - Allphones Arena, Sydney
Sun 28 July - Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Mon 29 July - Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Tue 30 July - Perth Arena

For all the details on the WWE Australian events head here: http://www.wwe.com/events

Tickets are available here: http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=WWERAW13&v=RLA