When did he decide to become a wrestler: “All my life growing up [he was a fan]. When I was around 13. [he wanted to become a wrestler] My first real memory of attending a live event, I went to one when I was about five or six. It was headlined by Hogan and Andre. All I really remember was the yellow tights and the black singlet. I was a little too young to take it all in and remember it. But when I was 13 I won front row tickets and I got to go backstage and I was the guest bell ringer. I won a bunch of free WWE merchandise. I still have it, it’s sitting at home, my official WWF bell hammer, or whatever, to ring the bell. I bet they don’t even have anymore. That was the moment I knew I wanted to be a WWE Superstar. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what path I was going to take to get there but thankfully it all worked out and here I am.”
How did he envision his wrestling character as a kid: “As a kid at 12, before I ever touched a weight, I had kink in my bicep and a divet, a hole in my forearm, this forearm muscle that was just abnormal. I always pictured myself, not with a shaved head necessarily, but being the jacked up, muscle bound freak. It’s weird as a kid to kind of see yourself like that, but that’s kind of how I envisioned myself. Interestingly enough it turned out pretty similar.”
Does he think the Skip Sheffield gimmick could have been successful as Ryback: “I think it could have been very successful if handled properly, not in the same capacity. It would have been a much more of a comedy based, more of a Santino based character. But at the same time I feel with my look, I could have taken it a lot further than people would have ever expected. It was one of those things, I was Ryback before, in developmental. It was a little more Terminator based at the time. Now it’s much more me and not as much of a character.
“It [Skip Sheffield] was something Dusty Rhodes approached me about, wanting me to do something a little funnier. He knew I was capable of pulling some tricks under my sleeve. I came up with this whole, it was more of a rib on Dusty at the time to me. He hated Texas A&M he was a Texas guy, so I came up with this character for him, in all seriousness I was completely against it, called Skip Sheffield and it was a huge joke to me. It turned out this damn thing got so over down at Florida Championship Wrestling, because for the first time in my career I didn’t have to worry about being serious and I was allowed to just go out there and have fun. It soon turned into the greatest positive of my life, from a wrestling standpoint. It allowed me to go out there and like I said, have more fun than I’ve ever had. It got me called up to the WWE roster.
“When Vince McMahon saw me, I had already debuted as Skip Sheffield, we’re like two or three weeks into NXT, Mr. McMahon pulled me aside and he said you’re not doing this. This is not who you are. I don’t want you playing this guy. You’re going to make me millions and millions of dollars being yourself. At the time I’m thinking dammit, I just put everything into getting a lot of fun with this guy. But it was the greatest thing he ever could have said to me and we slowly got away from that and luckily Nexus gave me a great opportunity to be myself with one problem: I was stuck with that dopey ass name Skip Sheffield. Luckily my injury and being away for as long as I was, a year and a half, and the way things all turned out was another big blessing and I was allowed to come back under my own terms and be Ryback. Thankfully I am who I am now.”
What he thinks of the Goldberg chants: “It doesn’t bother me at all. I obviously wish fans would say my name. I’m not doing the feed me more right now, finally got sick of that whole deal and felt like I needed a change of pace. It’s one of those things, I think it’s a positive. It motivates me even more because it’s setting me up for success down the road because it’s allowing them, each and every night I go out there and prove myself to them, I will change them one by one. I will convert them into a Ryback fan.
“It’s very easy for them to want to chant Goldberg or whoever else they want to chant at me, but once they see me and what I’m doing and the passion I have and how I go out there and give this everything I got and the displays of strength that I’m able to pull off night in and night out, five nights a week, and not to discredit anything anyone’s done in the past, in a day and age where you don’t see a lot of guys doing the power stuff anymore, I take great pride in that. I really firmly believe it’s just me going out there and keep proving myself and having quality matches.
“People love to doubt and be negative and I don’t mean to use the word hate, but it’s just something that’s very easy for people to do because they have no idea. The first thing I remember hearing was Ryback can’t wrestle a five minute match, he’ll blow up and I just laughed. These people have no clue. And then it was he can’t even do ten minutes. And then it’s he can’t do fifteen. And then it’s he can’t do a twenty minute match. He can’t do a twenty five minute match. He can’t do a thirty minute match. I believe me and Cena have done 35, 40 now a couple pay per views in a row. The live events, easily do a half hour, no problem. It boggle my mind how people just thrive on negativity.”