Kevin Eck is a former member of the WWE creative team and now blogs about pro wrestling for PressBox.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Craig Hunter Ross
I caught up with former WWE star Ryback to discuss his current projects, his messy departure from WWE in May 2016 and more.
Editor's Note: During the interview, Ryback points to the ankle injury he suffered in a WWE match in 2010 as a contributing factor to his strained relationship with WWE management. He goes into detail about the situation on the most recent episode of his podcast, "Conversation With The Big Guy."
You've been busy with a number of projects since you left WWE. Tell me about your motivational book, "Wake Up! It's Feeding Time." Why did you write it and when will it be out?
Ryback: The book is slated to be released either right before Christmas or right after, with the audio version on Audible being done in January, which will be read by me. It was something I started over a year ago while on the road with WWE. Early on in my WWE career I chose to ride alone, so that I could maximize my time. I always enjoyed reading and found that it was becoming increasingly harder full time on the road, and that is when I added audio books into my routine. I have had many ups and downs in my life and career and have listened and applied so many things from books I have read or listened to that I wanted to reach out and help others. Writing this book is the beginning of just one part of my entire Feed Me More brand that ultimately all ties in together. "Feed Me More" is a mind-set and a lifestyle to help people achieve success and be the best versions of themselves they can be. I am not just trying to reach the wrestling audience, but ultimately people in general. I always have approached every book I have read or listened to with the mind-set of if I can get one or two things to apply to my life and learn from then it was worth it. I feel there will be a lot more than that in "Wake Up! It's Feeding Time" for people who read or listen to it.
Tell me about Feed Me More Nutrition.
Feed Me More Nutrition is my supplement company that is also launching here during the holiday season. They will be available at
and select online retail stores to start. This has been a goal of mine for a long time that didn't start to come together for me until the last year. All my life I have mixed and matched different vitamins and herbs to help me reach my fitness goals and achieve the physique I am known for having. Every day I get emails, fan mail or social media messages asking me for advice on fitness and nutrition. And in today's day and age where a lot of supplement companies use athletes who are using performance-enhancing drugs, I felt I could have a positive impact on people's lives showing them you can have success at a high level and look great without those things and through proper supplementation.
Also, this is something I'm extremely passionate about, and the goals I have in my life continue to grow bigger and bigger, so this is the next step for me reaching future goals. I'm entering a very crowded supplement market, but what people will see is that these are not your normal everyday supplements. They are premium, high-quality supplements with the most expensive formulas to date to hit the market. The reason for this is because we have not skimped on the ingredients and have eliminated harmful ingredients and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose -- two man-made chemicals that have been shown to be harmful for humans with many side effects. Instead, we have gone with the proven safe natural plant sweetener stevia. I firmly believe supplements should not only help you reach your fitness goals, but be good for you on the inside as well, and that is what we have done with Feed Me More Nutrition. The line is starting with Wake Up! Unlimited Energy Pre-Workout, ISO-Hungry grass-fed whey isolate protein fortified with probiotics for enhanced digestion, and my personal favorite, The Big Guy all-natural testosterone booster. I have used it to personally restore my low testosterone to now healthy normal levels after five years of low testosterone and five years on testosterone replacement therapy. We have used blood work the entire process and it is amazing to see just how powerful and unique this supplement alone is. It is a legit, viable, healthy alternative to TRT and a natural, safe way for men who use steroids to help restore their natural testosterone rather than more drugs for a post-cycle therapy. I am currently working out international distribution and am hoping to be in Canada and the U.K. very soon.
Any other projects you want to discuss?
R: Myself and my manager, Pat Buck, have our podcast, "Conversation with The Big Guy," available on iTunes and Stitcher. We are growing every week and there is nothing we shy away from on there. The feedback has been very positive and it can allow people to actually see the real Ryback. Outside of that, I am wrestling every weekend on the independents.
Your given names is Ryan Reeves, but I understand that you've legally changed your name to Ryback Reeves. Talk about why you did that.
R: Ryback was a name I created when I was not in the WWE, along with "The Big Guy" and "Feed Me More." I understand WWE and Vince McMahon like to protect the WWE brand, rightfully so, but I don't come in there and say, "OK, I now own WWE and the same goes for my brand." They have gotten away with [that] for far too long, and I gave them my heart and soul while working for them. I refuse to be limited to just a wrestler and have other people tell me I cannot do other things with my life. I want to control how I am perceived and am allowed to make a living with the brand I created and own.
You mentioned earlier that you've been working steadily on the independent circuit, including a U.K. tour, the past few months. Do you have any plans to work with TNA or ROH?
R: Never say never, but I am doing very well financially not being on TV and not working with a contract. I'm booked every weekend pretty much through April at this point, and with the launch of my book and Feed Me More Nutrition, time is thin as it is. I also enjoy being able to control my persona and the perception of me rather than someone who doesn't have my best interest at hand.
I think a guy with your look and skills would get over big in Japan. Any thought of working for New Japan?
R: I am more than open to going over there for two-to-three days here and there. Anything outside of that would be very difficult considering how hands-on I am with everything going on right now.
You left WWE, in large part, because you were unhappy with how you were booked. What was the final straw that led to you asking to be taken off TV?
R: Booking was only one part of why I chose to leave. I actually just opened up about my ankle injury on Episodes 16 and 17 of "Conversation with The Big Guy." I firmly believe my entire WWE career as Ryback went the way it did stemming from my ankle injury in Nexus. Being denied magazine covers and who knows what else while there, along with the stop-and-go
booking, all led to me finally leaving. I could have just been satisfied making decent money but only limited to what they wanted me to earn no matter what I did or how hard I worked or how over I got and being a "TV star," or say [screw] it, I know who and what I am and there isn't another human being alive like me. I create my success, and I'm going to achieve all my goals I have set.
Check back for Part Two, in which Ryback weighs in on the critical comments CM Punk made about him and more.
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