Wrestling: Ryback

"Ryback's so bald you can see what's on his mind, and what I see is destruction."
Jerry Lawler, Monday Night Raw

Ryback (real name Ryan Reeves) is a professional wrestler currently employed by WWE. He originally debuted in 2004 as a WWE Tough Enough competitor, and was later rechristened "Skip Sheffield" for WWE NXT. He broke his leg at a house show and was sidelined for over a year. When he came back, he was portrayed as an unstoppable powerhouse who would squash two people at a time.


  • Alliterative Name: As "Skip Sheffield".
  • Anti-Hero: Type IV or V as a face. Whether a face or a heel, all he really cares about is beating people up. The only reason he was a face in the first place is because the people he beat up happened to be heels or nameless jobbers.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Shield. Even after his heel turn.
  • Bald of Awesome/Bald of Evil: Depends on whether he's face or heel.
  • Barbaric Bully: Ryback's underwent a "bully" gimmick for a while, which had him terrorize random enhancement talent backstage.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: A main event match featuring John Cena and CM Punk that ended with a few WWE NXT wrestlers making their invading debut to the main roster. Are we talking about the 2010 debut of The Nexus (which Skip Sheffield was a part of) or the Ambrose/Rollins/Reigns attack on Ryback at Survivor Series 2012?
  • Berserk Button: BOWLIES, during his alliance with Paul Heyman. He seemed to flip-flop between being a BOWLIE and hating BOWLIES for the rest of his heel run.
  • Big Beautiful Man: Referred to as such by Paul Heyman, though it's actually an aversion.
  • Big Eater: During WWE Tough Enough, Al Snow gave an interview about Ryback constantly sneaking large amounts of food around and getting in trouble for with Bill DeMott for it. Years later, Daniel Bryan gave an interview also describing Ryback's eating habits.
    • It's pretty much become his character, used to describe him literally as well as metaphorically in terms of in-ring competition.
  • The Big Guy: As a face.
    • The Brute: As a heel. Although he actually started referring to himself as "the big guy" after his heel turn.
  • Blood Knight: His face gimmick was to pretty much to beat a guy (or pair of guys) down, then promptly ask for more guys to beat down.
    • Cena probably put it best on the 10-15-12 episode of RAW when he said that Ryback was probably the only man in the company who didn't give a damn about the WWE Title; he just wanted to beat down Punk.
      • This comment may had come back to bite Cena in the ass.
  • Boisterous Bruiser
  • Breakup Breakout: Due to his injury, he was barely in the Nexus at all. However, back in 2010, very few people would have guessed that Skip Sheffield would later become a bigger star than anyone else in the original Nexus. While he hasn't been center of a high profile angle the same way Barrett was, he's been far more consistently high on the card. While Daniel Bryan is a much bigger star than Ryback, he was never really a part of Nexus, being kicked out in less then a week.
  • Canon Discontinuity: He was in no way shape or form part of The Nexus. What they acknowledge is that he was part of NXT season 1, before getting hurt.
    • Discontinuity Nod: A close look at his ring gear reveals a subtle (if not accidental) one, in that he wears arm bands on his biceps with a huge "R", right where the Nexus armband(s) would be.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Most notably, "FEED! ME! MORE!!". Other catchphrases include; "WAKE UP" when entering the ring, "I HIT! HARD!" while he assaults his opponent, and "FINISH! IT!!" before Shell Shocking the opponent.
    • "Everybody loves the big guy!"
    • After the match is over and Ryback has won (usually decisively): "DONE!"
    • As Skip Sheffield, he had "Yup yup yup, what it do!"
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Established in kayfabe, he lifted up two jobbers at the same time, but the jobbers were small and scrawny. He also tossed one of Miz's stage couches out of the ring after interrupting one of his shows, but seeing how it barely made an impact as it landed, it was very lightweight. By contrast, he showed considerable difficulty getting the 360-pound Tensai up on his shoulders for the Shell Shocked, a slightly modified Samoan Drop, whereas his predecessor Goldberg managed to hoist up Big Show vertically for a Jackhammer (though Tensai had dead weighted Ryback on the move, while Goldberg had Show's full cooperation). He has, however, managed to get the even larger Mark Henry up onto his shoulders for the move, with some help from Henry. Then he does it to Khali and does his signature walk around twice.
  • The Chew Toy: A minor example; the poor guy just doesn't seem to have much luck. He already had a hard enough time getting to the main roster. And, he'd probably have the WWE title already if other people didn't keep sticking their noses into his business.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: If his twitter rants and behavior in the ring as of 2014 are any indication.
  • Cowboy: As Skip Sheffield.
  • Crowd Chant: When Ryback prepares for the Meat Hook Clothesline, he backs into a corner and thrusts his right shoulder forward three times, pauses, and then repeats until the opponent gets up. With each thrust, the crowd chants in rhythm: "FEED! ME! MORE! FEED! ME! MORE!" He even gets this reaction as a heel.
  • Demoted to Extra: Came within seconds of winning the WWE Championship. Several times. Had since slipped further and further down the card and had been in an afterthought tag team with Curtis Axel for around a year.
  • Determinator:
    • Fought for over a year to come back from a broken leg (see Game-Breaking Injury below).
    • Gave John Cena a run for his money in their Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules. An Attitude Adjustment through a table? Speared through the barricade? Splashed through a table by Cena and blasted in the face with a fire extinguisher? He kept. coming. back.
  • Dumb Muscle: As Skip Sheffield.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: They actually tried having him cut a promo once back toward the beginning of his undefeated streak. Either his mic skills needed work or they decided that The Quiet One was the way to go, because now he only says a few words at a time, although that seems to be changing.
  • Every Month They Fizzle Out: Was made to look like a beast on TV during his initial face run but went a full year of failing to win every match he had on Pay-Per-View, bookended by victories over Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks at Money in the Bank 2012 and Chris Jericho at Money in the Bank 2013.
  • Expy:
    • His large, imposing figure, shiny pate, and tendency to beat opponents in dominating fashion recall Goldberg, which the crowd invariably lampshades with the appropriate chant during his matches. In interviews, Ryback sees the comparison as an insult (because he considers himself to be a more passionate and harder worker than Goldberg) while Goldberg treats it as a compliment (as fans are still chanting his name years after his retirement).

      Ryback even, perhaps foolishly, utilized a Spear/Tackle maneuver at the TLC pay-per-view in 2012. You get one guess as to how the fans responded.
    • He has also been compared to the Ultimate Warrior because of his...interesting promos. His voice is even similar to Warrior's.
  • Eye Scream: For a while, he came down to the ring with an eye that was bright red. This came from an accident involving a kettle bell if Daniel Bryan is to be believed.
  • Exact Words: Ryback said he wouldn't let John Cena get up in their Last Man Standing match. Cue the end of the match, where Ryback drove Cena through the PPV set onto a metal brace. The match was called a No Contest, but whereas Ryback was standing, albeit helped out by officials, Cena was carted off on a stretcher in a neck brace.
  • Eye Take: Ryback has huge eyes that don't blink very often at all. Makes him look rather intimidating.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Heavily implied when he Shell Shocked John Cena on April 8th. The fans (for better or worse) cheered it like he finally got his hands on the top heel, which made it really difficult to tell what the intended reaction was.
    • A week later, WWE decided to drive home that he's a heel now when they had him act like a complete coward when face to face with Cena.
  • Flat Character: His character can really be summed up by his catchphrase, "Feed Me More". This makes a little more sense if you know about insider terminology ("feeding" someone to a wrestler means to put them in a Squash Match specifically to make the winner look better) and Ryan Reeves' backstage rep for being a Big Eater. But it also means that on the rare (no pun intended) occasion that Ryback cuts a promo, he tends to use a bizarre amount of food-related metaphors and puns.
    • Alternatively, a very intense, odd, Blood Knight, since he feels genuinely unsatisfied with the jobbers he's been given and craves more suitable competition.
  • Forced Meme: "Feed Me More!" The guy has to lead his own chants.
    • Whenever a face, he always becomes very much over with the WWE universe, so you'll hear the crowd say it LONG before he does in the match.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: The poor guy broke his leg right as the Nexus angle took off in 2010, keeping him out of the ring for well over a year. Although, given what his previous character was and how the Nexus angle turned out for everyone involved not named Daniel Bryan... this may have been to his benefit.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Possibly. One of the reasons he gave for turning heel was that he was sick of living in John Cena's shadow.
  • Groin Attack: A blatant nut-shot from referee Brad Maddox kept him from winning the WWE Title. Maddox would pay dearly for his actions soon after.
  • Guttural Growler: His voice is low and extremely raspy.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Went through a heel turn and a face turn on a single episode of Monday Night Raw (November 10, 2014). First, crushing John Cena with a Spinebuster when confronted by both Cena and The Authority to join their respective Survivor Series teams (Ryback claimed that he's "Not afraid of The Authority, but [he] doesn't see John Cena's name at the bottom of The Big Guy's paycheck." Cue Spinebuster). The implication was that he had turned heel and would fight for The Authority at Survivor Series, but throughout the night, each of the other members of the team continued to rub him the wrong way with repeated visits to his locker room, and it finally boiled over at the end of the night, when Kane interfered in Ryback's match against John Cena, despite being told by The Big Guy to stay out of his way. Ryback cleaned house and destroyed nearly every member of The Authority, apparently turning face again.
    • It wasn't so much a turn as it was a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal with Kane costing Ryback the match with Cena and giving him a boot to the face. The next week, Ryback essentially considered himself neutral until Cena delivered an armor-piercing statement that the guy who constantly proclaims "Feed! Me! More!" suddenly doesn't want to eat at the "big table." That moved Ryback to make up his mind and cement his Heel-Face Turn by joining Team Cena and clearing Team Authority out of the ring to close Raw.
  • Hulk Speak/Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Initially, his gimmick consisted of a lot of this, but as he's spent more time in the WWE, he's become slowly more articulate.
  • Invincible Hero: While he's lost his fair share of matches as a face, very few, if any of them, have been clean losses. His record as a heel was pretty even.
  • Jerkass: Big time with his heel turn.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: His Rybaxel run had shades of this with him being good friends with Curtis Axel and his 2014 return is this, especially if you look at his backstage promo where he thanks his fans for supporting him even when he failed before.
    • The Rybaxel split was wonderfully sincere. They're great friends but they lost... often, and after their respective returns they agreed to stop teaming, at least until they had both re-established themselves as singles competitors.
  • Leitmotif: If Ryback's YouTube channel is to be believed, he is accompanied by his WWE theme music wherever he goes, be it the gym, a drive-through or the hardware store.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: An integral part of his entrance.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The explanation behind his Face-Heel Turn was that he was there to help Cena every time Cena was attacked by the Shield, but Cena didn't return the favor when Ryback was attacked by them.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: Used in kayfabe, but averted in real life, in spite of his defined physique he's got problems lifting up guys like Tensai (though it should be noted that Tensai dead weighted him on one occasion, and he succeeded in an attempt before and after this incident). He'd also lost an arm wrestling match against the much smaller Daniel Puder back in Tough Enough 4.
  • Nice Hat: Since turning heel in April 2013, Ryback began to wear a skullcap during promos and any time he's not wrestling.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: He did this to rogue ref Brad Maddox, after destroying him in the match they had, he then outright annihilated him then threw him into a waiting ambulance. (Keep in mind that this wasn't an ambulance match. The ambulance just showed up because they knew what was going to happen.)
  • Oh Crap!/Hell Is That Noise:
    • For a lot of his foes, the moment his audio cue hits. "FEED! ME! MORE!"
    • For a brief period of time around Extreme Rules 2013, he's had begun to drive an ambulance out, so the first thing his opponents usually heard was the siren.
  • Only Friend: The only person he follows on Twitter is his former tag team partner Curtis Axel.
  • Perma Stubble
  • Pet the Dog: Comforted Vickie Guerrero after she was fired.
  • Portmanteau:
    • Ryback is actually the combination of his first name Ryan and his original nickname, "Silverback".
    • Taken to new levels with his continued partnership with Curtis Axel, which the announcers were forced to call (with a straight face) "Rybaxel."
  • Promoted Fanboy: Has been a wrestling fan since he was five. Also invoked this himself when he responded on a radio show to the Goldberg chants he draws: he says the difference is that Goldberg was in it for the money, but he's in wrestling because he loves it.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: A not uncommon spot in his matches is for his opponent to try and kick him, only for him to catch their foot leaving them open for one of his signature lariats.
  • The Quiet One:
    • Rarely ever talks, and when he does it short and to the point.
    • With his heel turn, that aspect of his character has been scaled back. He began to cut a lot more promos, and they were pretty standard length.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A very straight example of this. As much as WWE liked Ryback, they didn't plan on giving him a WWE Championship match as early as they did - but after John Cena had surgery to repair an injury and took longer to heal than originally planned (and keep in mind that Cena's known for usually coming back faster than expected from legit injuries), they had to go to him as a backup.
  • Red Baron:
    • WWE tried to give him "The Big Hungry" as one, but it didn't stick, and they just stopped calling him that. Jerry Lawler occasionally refers to him as the "Sin City Cyborg" (which is a Shout-Out to the Terminator-inspired gimmick he had in FCW), but that doesn't seem to be sticking either.
    • More recently (mainly after his Heel turn), he's been called the "Human Wrecking Ball."
    • And as Skip Sheffield, he was "the cornfed meathead."
    • His mini-tron (the screen underneath the large "Titantron" screen) features a graphic of a bear trap, which has given him a smattering of nicknames along the lines of "The Walking Bear Trap."
    • He ended up giving himself the Nickname"The Big Guy" and it ended up sticking.
  • Redemption Promotion: Inverted and played with. As a face, Ryback was practically unstoppable, usually requiring massive amounts of interference or a well-organized group like The Shield to be defeated. After his heel turn, his opponents were generally allowed to get much more offense in against him, although he still usually wins, except for title matches. This became more extreme when he ended up getting injured by Justin Gabriel of all people, who is essentially a jobber, then a week later ended up having to quit a match against The Miz because of it.
    • On a meta level, Ryback gets lukewarm reactions at best as a heel (despite looking the part), but tends to be pretty over as a face.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Played Straight with a capital "S" after he settled into his Heel role.
  • Shout-Out/Calling Your Attacks:
    • His signal that he's about to perform his Finishing Move, called the Shell Shock; a loud yell to the crowd of "FINISH IT!!" (started as "FINISH HIM!", presumably changed due to being the exact quote from the aforementioned Mortal Kombat).
    • "Ryback Rules!" is a Shout-Out to Billy Madison, as evidenced by his tweet:
      Just had a meeting with the O'Doyle family paperwork signed and #Done! It is official now so you can all stop whining. #RybackRules
  • Smug Smiler/Slasher Smile: Since turning heel, Ryback had perfected a grin that's about halfway between these two.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Several wrestlers have referred to him as "The Ryback" during interviews or other related publicity. In mid-2013, John Cena started calling him "The Ryback" on Raw.
  • Squash Match: What his matches had been since his (re)debut.
  • Straw Hypocrite: His mid-2013 character was a flagrantly obvious bully who claims not to like bullies.
  • Those Two Guys: Rybaxel had become this. When his push fizzled out, Ryback joined up with Curtis Axel in a heel tag team and the two were currently drifting in the lower card.
  • Took a Level in Badass: More like SEVERAL levels. The whole repackaging from Skip Sheffield to Ryback definitely qualifies, as clearly someone in WWE realized that "Yep yep yep what it do" was so hopelessly dumb that the only way they could make him sound intelligent was to turn him into a grunting monster. And it worked - although recent segments indicate that he's probably more articulate than WWE allowed him to show in the early goings.
  • Trash the Set: On the September 17, 2012 episode of Raw, he interrupted The Miz's "Miz TV" talk show segment and did this. Part of his set-trashing included lifting a couch up over his head and throwing it out of the ring.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Had been going through one, based on his Twitter rants and behavior on Main Event.
  • Villain Team-Up: Even after (and perhaps because) Paul Heyman essentially abandoned both of them, he and Curtis Axel had continued to team together.
  • Warrior Poet: Has shown brief shades of this:
    Ryback: Revenge is a confession of pain. I am not hurt; I am hungry. And when I feast again, it will be on CM Punk.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gave one to Cena, asking him why, he wasn't there when The Shield kept ambushing him.
  • Wrestling Monster: Described as such by rogue referee Brad Maddox.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Very early on, Ryback would yell FINISH HIM! before hitting the Shell Shock. Word of God says WWE Legal encouraged the change to FINISH IT! to avoid complications with Mortal Kombat.
  • You Look Familiar: Was once part of Tough Enough season 4, and a couple years later NXT and was part of Nexus, but broke his leg at a house show and was gone for nearly a year and a half.


Alternative Title(s):

Skip Sheffield