Published on June 9th, 2019 | by Guest Editor0
Former WWE Superstar, Ryback Reeves Talks Candidly About Walking Away From it All and New Beginnings!
A 60-second video landed, Ryback a slot on WWE’s “Tough Enough” show where he became one of the final eight finalist. Although he didn’t win the competition, he impressed WWE execs enough that they rewarded him a developmental contract. Reeves would enjoy a ton of success in the WWE and even became the Intercontinental champion at Elimination Chamber. However, unhappy and injured, Ryback decided to part ways with the WWE in the prime of his career to focus on his health and fair opportunity. Due to back and shoulder injuries, Ryback’s career looked to be all but over, but following several stem cell treatments “The Big Guy” is very optimistic for a 2019 return to the ring. During his time away from the ring he has created a successful nutritional company “Feed Me More Nutrition,” as well as a intriguing podcast show titled, “Conversation with the Big Guy!”
I caught up with, Ryback who opens up about the severity of his injuries, his departure from the WWE, his nutritional company and much more!
Big guy, how are you doing? How is everything going?
Ryback Reeves: Very good. Very busy. Life has an interesting way of kind of working itself out. I left WWE, 3-years ago, I was hurt. I didn’t know to what level, but I knew internally that I needed to leave. Something inside of me was just telling me, which is crazy because I never would have thought that I would be leaving there to be quite honest. But I was very unhappy over several things, but the main thing is, I was hurt. My back and my shoulder and in particular my back. It had grown significantly worse over the last year there. While I was there, they were pumping me full of Toradol and Cortisone. It’s one of the things that happens, I was told that I would be completely okay. I was okay while I was there because it kept me going week to week. The problem with that kind of thing is that it was covering up some serious-serious problems which, I needed to go get an MRI done on my back and shoulder. As wrestlers, sometimes you kind of don’t want to know what’s wrong with you, but this was one of those situations where this wasn’t like a bruised muscle. I had 5-disc in my back that I needed to have fused because they got worn so thin from doing certain moves in the ring and all of the power moves like picking up, Big Show, Mark Henry and Kane. All of these guys that I would work live events with. My shoulder cartilage had gotten eaten away by all the Cortisone, so my shoulder started grinding and that was causing inflammation in my muscles. I had some muscle tears.
When I left, all of this stuff just hit me out of nowhere. I started my “Feed Me More” nutrition, I started my podcast and I was doing independents. I worked a pretty regular schedule for two years. The money was great and I’m sure you know, when you start a business, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars and I chose to use my own money for all of this because I believe in what I’m doing. It was something that I wanted to hold myself accountable for my businesses, so I took these independent bookings against my doctors wishes. They kind of had an idea of everything going on. It turned out I was told I needed a 5-disc fusion and a shoulder replacement at 35-years old. I weighed out my options and realized, I have seen what happened when people had their backs fused; they’re done. I internally just knew I wasn’t done yet. I just knew that there was no way this was how I was going to end my career in wrestling and in life. I didn’t want to go down like that.
So, I came across this stem-cell doctor in Las Vegas and I have had 11-proceders, 4- on my back and 7- on my shoulder and I can honestly say… I’d be lying to you if I said… I always believed that I would be able to come back and wrestle. I wanted to believe that being positive. I had severe doubts though and I had to prepare life-wise for life without wrestling. I was waking up in tremendous pain and having deep-deep muscle pain and nerve issues. It was very strenuous to say the least and luckily, through that and doing rehab for literally over 2-years straight, my back pain is completely gone. I know now without a shadow of a doubt I’m going to be able to come back and wrestle. A stem-cell company got a hold of me and they are actually giving me free treatments. They are bringing me down to Columbia and using state of the art stem-cells because in the United States there are some restrictions on how many stem-calls they could use. They are using umbilical stem cords on me and they are going to do my back, my shoulder and actually my ankle. I broke my ankle in WWE, and I have permanent nerve damage from a botched surgery that I was sent to from the doctor. Hopefully they can give me my ankle back at full strength because I never had that during my WWE career. I’m going down there in the next 3 to 4 weeks and I’m looking to make my return… I kind of have it in my head right now whereas before I didn’t know if I could ever wrestle again. I’m now looking at coming back when I turn 38. I turn 38 on November 10th. I’m looking at that as a fresh start and come back as the regenerated Ryback.
Wrestlers are build to endure pain, and they are created off of larger than life personas, dealing with the amount of pain you were in, at what point did you realize, this isn’t about being a tough guy and you had to do something and in a hurry?
Ryback Reeves: Something inside of your head, man. There was just something talking to me. Being in pain is a very depressing thing. We have all dealt with it, especially pro wrestlers. We are in pain all the time. I constantly had nagging injuries. This was, waking up in a hotel and you go to get out of bed, and you fall to your knees. I was a young man. This started happening around, 33-34. It’s not normal. And then my shoulder, the grinding and the pain. The stuff just started adding up where it just wasn’t worth it anymore. There was no amount of money. I walked away from millions of dollars in the prime of my career. One, I wasn’t happy, but the reason I put up with it so long is because I wasn’t hurting, but when I started feeling that pain, the bullshit wasn’t worth it anymore. I just knew I had to get out of there. There is a lot of good and there is a lot of bad doing that schedule. With the disc injuries that I had, and it was from “The Backpack Stunner,” my injury was so severe that nobody has probably ever destroyed 5-disc like that. I can’t explain it. My core and my body were so weak. No matter what I would do, no matter how hard I would train or how much strength exercises I was doing, they had to inject me with pain medicine, Toradol for me to go out there and wrestle. I was like, “What the hell am I doing?” It just finally hit a point where it just wasn’t worth it anymore.
I think a major problem with your injuries is, you look to part. I don’t look at you right now even with the amount of time you have been out of the ring and think I’m looking at a man with a bad back, a bad shoulder and a shot ankle. You posted a picture of you at 293-pounds of solid muscle. How do you feel physically?
Ryback Reeves: I feel great. I actually weighed 301 last night which is the heaviest I have ever been. I’m finally able to start training again. I’ve worked out this entire time. When I first left the WWE, I lost a good bit of weight because I had to stop lifting for quite a bit initially. I hung around in the 270’s which is light for me because I’m usually always around 290 when I was in WWE. That was part of the problem. I have said from day one that I was hurt, but like you said, I think people would visually see me, “Oh, he looks fine.” So, it doesn’t relate. They don’t quite understand how severe everything was and I expressed it over and over again. I thought I was done. I should’ve been done because if stem-cells didn’t exist, I would’ve been done. I’m physically at a point now where I could say, I’m going to be able to return to wrestling.
Where that is and to what level, I’m not entirely sure yet. I’m going to see what my options are. The goal would be to come back on TV. If I’m going to do this, I want to do it at the highest levels. I think I’ve earned that. And if I have to go out and do a few matches to show people just how good I am again; I have no problem doing that because I know what I bring to the table. I need to get this last round of stem-cells in later this month. I need to take some time off again, from the weights and kind of just let everything sink in and work it’s magic and then I’m going to go full blown and get ready. I will be training. I talked to a few guys already, I’ll be going down to one of the wrestling schools. I always stay in shape and in condition. I’ve been out of the ring for a year and a half before and came back as, Ryback and I was totally fine. I think it’s like riding a bike. Once you do it, the biggest factor is just being in condition. I’ll take some bookings and I’ll see where everything’s at. But I feel great, man. Physically and mentally I’m just in a fucking great place right now.
Now, you have “Feed Me More” nutrition. What separates your supplements from the rest of them out there?
Ryback Reeves: So, the one thing that really bothered me… well, towards the end with the WWE, there was a book, it’s called, “The 50th Law,” by Robert Greene. 50 Cent is actually in that book as well. My good buddy, Wade Barrett, Stu Bennett is his real name. We would always bounce books off each other. I rode alone my entire time while in the WWE outside when I first got up there. I did it because I loved having that alone time to listen to audio books to learn and get an education on the road. It was something that just stuck with me. I do 2 to 3 audio books a week. I do one physical book every 2-weeks. I love learning. I read a lot of different things. Being in WWE and making a little bit of money and being injured before and having my career taken away with my ankle injury for a year and a half and being very fortunate enough to come back from that, you gotta be able to use your brain. Especially in this day and age.
You see some of these athletes, when their careers come to an end, some of these guys in other sports make so much more money than wrestling. You see them all lose their money and you see it time and time again. I wanted to do something using my brain and I found that business wise, the key is doing something you’re passionate about and providing a service. Seeing life and that there is so much shit out there. There’s a good way to make money and there is a bad way. A lot of people unfortunately choose the bad way no matter what business they are in. For me to feel good about it… at the end of the day you want to make money. I have other goals and things I want to do, but I want to do it in a good way. Supplements is one of those things I became fascinated with at a very young age; herbs and supplements. I remember as a young kid watching my mom take different herbs. When we first got AOL and the internet when I was a kid. We went from no internet to having the internet and I found myself looking up different things about the human body and supplements.
I have always been heavy against steroids, which is ironic because I used them from age 20 to 24 when I got into wrestling because I saw my hero at the gym talking about what he was using. Which, my adolescent mind, I allowed that to kind of make the decision for me. “Oh, he does it and he is my hero, so I can do it too.” That’s one of the reasons I’m very passionate about this with health and fitness. I want to let people understand; you can have all of the success in the world without this stuff. You don’t need it. I made some bad choices when I was young, and I learned some valuable lessons and I’m very thankful for all of that. The supplement industry is one of those industries, man that was created back in the day with Joe Weider and Arnold and they used these steroid bodybuilders… and I love Arnold. He is such a fascinating human being and back in his period, that stuff was legal. But it all kind of started from selling people this protein powder and saying that this what these guys are using to look this way. That was never the case. The entire industry was built around lies to begin with.
I was definitely one of those guys in high school going out and buying all of that stuff because of how one of the bodybuilders promoting it looked.
Ryback Reeves: There is some good companies out there and a lot of bad companies, but for me, artificial sweeteners; aspartame, sucralose, this shit is horrible for the human body. I know that because I was overconsuming it because it was in all of my supplements. I was making my own formulas even before I made it big in WWE. I invested in natural supplements from day one because I felt like, the better I looked and felt, the better wrestler I could be and the more well-rounded I could be. If people are drawn to my physique, they’ll be more drawn to me from a wrestling standpoint as long as I took care of all of the other business in terms of being a pro wrestler. For me, it was an easy decision of what I wanted to go into a business doing. I didn’t know what I was doing at first as far as building a business. I just learned you go for it; you figure it out and you sink or swim. You’re going to make mistakes and I made mistakes along the way and it’s been a great learning process. It’s actually providing supplements that I first handed worked with different food scientist and the manufacturing facilities where I work with the owners. The first thing they said is, “This is so great that you actually know what you’re talking about when it comes to this stuff and that you actually want to spend money and come out with formulas that actually work.”
That’s another thing, our formulas are two, three to four times as much as some of these other companies. It’s because I’m using all of these natural ingredients that work really well together. It’s something that I am extremely passionate about because it’s worked so well for me. I believe health and fitness has to go together because without health, we have nothing. You can’t have love and you can’t have happiness if your health is shit. We can’t experience life on this planet as we know it without health. Our bodies and our health need to be our number one priority. Unfortunately, with the way the world and how everything works now, that doesn’t apply to a lot of people. They kind of just take their health for granted and they think every supplement is just good for them. Well, the aspartame and the sucralose and a lot of these formulas that these people are taking, yeah, it might make you look a little better, but it’s actually not good for you. That’s the fight. To try to condition people, but in 2019 with the internet and social media, a lot of people are starting to become very-very health conscience. I have seen my sales grow year after year in my first two years and it’s a hell of a lot of social media work and talking to people. I get up at 6:30… sometimes 6 every morning with the stock markets to do my stocks and then I do 3 to 4 hours of social media work before I even begin my day. Talking to people and interacting because that’s my best line of communication with people and my following to show them what I’m doing and what I’m offering. And being that guy that kind of educates them because a lot of them don’t know. It’s a premium supplement. Everything we have is a premium supplement and there are no artificial colors and no artificial sweeteners.
It sounds like more of a long-term solution as opposed to the instinct rush some of these supplements provide.
Ryback Reeves: With my testosterone booster, we actually tell people to go get blood work done before and after. The testosterone booster has shown to raise testosterone levels 3 to 400 points. That’s for everybody who actually have gone and got the bloodwork done. Now is that going to happen for everybody. Maybe not everybody, but I’ve yet to see one person who has gotten the blood work done, not come back with it significantly higher. And that’s with their own natural… not using prohormone or steroids. It’s like a multi-vitamin. It’s just been years of me, trial and error and figuring this stuff out and trying to find things that made me feel better. It’s really cool how it all came together and now I’m just trying to past that knowledge on to other people and have a business but do it the right way.
Before I let you, go, now that you have endured the injuries and the pain, when you return, will your approach be different? Are the certain moves that you will prohibit yourself from even attempting?
Ryback Reeves: There was one particular move that I was doing, the “backpack stunner,” where the guy was on my back and what I would do is like a, “Stone Cold Stunner” with the guy on my back. I was taking and landing on my butt and the weight of the other guy was coming down on my spine and that’s what caused my back to degenerate at the rate in which it did. On top of everything else, the schedule, the working every night, the traveling and weightlifting. But that one particular move I can’t do anymore because I know the compression that it causes, so essentially eliminating what we call ass bumps where you land on your ass. With that bump the energy can only go one place and that’s your spine and it causes compression on your disc. Knowing that, that is the one thing that I will avoid.
And I will say, I have always been very thankful. Anyone who has ever seen me perform in the WWE, one of the things that I would always do after every match, I would give a bow to all four sides to just say thank you. I was very aware after my ankle injury that this could be taken away from you at any moment. And I think even more so now going through this, every match I have, I will be even more thankful for. I kind of switched my approach.
I have a lady coming on my podcast, Dr. Sue Morter. She has this book called, “The Energy Codes.” Again, it’s kind of crazy how life works out. I get this book in my P.O. box maybe about 4-6 weeks ago. It’s this “Energy Codes” book and I don’t know who sent it to me. It was from the publisher. It had the publishers address on the box. I get this book and I read it and it’s the most amazing book. You know when you need something, and you get it… the book found me. There were some things in this book and she’s actually coming on my podcast next week and we’re going to have a really big discussion on all of this. But I realized as positive as I was in certain areas of my life, I was being negative in other areas and one of those areas was social media. When I left the WWE there was a lot of negativity and a lot of hate. I don’t know where that came from. Whether it came from the WWE or not, I don’t know, but there were a lot of false things put out about me that really really hurt my brand and my image. And I had to get an attorney and have a lot of that stuff taken down. But the damage had been done. You know when a negative article comes out, even if they do a retraction piece on it, the damage has already been done. That happened for about 2-years, man. I took it very personal and it really hurt me. I’ve always loved my fans and I have always treated people well, but I’m the type of person who is a happy and positive guy, but I don’t put up with bullshit either. It really wore on me and I had a really sour taste in my mouth with social media where I didn’t want to use it because of the negativity and people hating me for things that wasn’t true. That’s a tough thing to deal with on a regular basis. People are saying these things to you that aren’t even true, so this hate doesn’t even exist, but the reality is, they really do hate you. Something in that book just caused me to shift.
Gary Vaynerchuk is another guy I’m huge on. I talked to, Gary and I’m going to have him on the show. He’s fucking amazing. I was looking at social media so negatively and the reasons to avoid it and what I didn’t like, when in reality, I have millions and millions of great fans out there that love me. We have this platform where we can motivate people and enrich people. I was looking at it like, “Fuck social media because of all this negativity.” I block it out anyways, but rather than keep my focus on that, I shifted it to all my fans. I was ignoring all of the people that love me on this platform. Something just shifted where I have this sense of thankfulness now and I realize that we could be positive sometimes in some areas in life and negative in others and those areas that we are negative in could actually carry over to other parts of our life if we’re not careful. It was just eliminating negative people around me and I’m just in a great place mentally. Everything has kind of just come together here since reading that book. Business has been great and growing, the podcast has been growing and I just think I’m going to be even more grateful and appreciative for every moment I have to be able to do it again because, if I would have talked to you even 3-months ago, as positive as I was being, deep down I was thinking it was maybe over and that’s a scary thing.
By Percy Crawford
Be sure to visit www.feedmemore.com for all Feed Me More Nutrition. They are also on Amazon as well. Also, be sure to check out, Ryback’s podcast, “Conversation with the Big Guy!”