Cornelius P. Rybackerton III, better known by his former WWE superstar name Ryback (which, in fact, he legally changed his name to in December to skirt WWE trademarks), left his former employer back in August, after a contentious few months when it became clear The Big Guy was dissatisfied with his treatment from the company, and that the company was clearly not paying him enough to eat, as he was frequently heard in arenas around the country pleading, "Feed me more. Feed me more. Feed more." At the time, Ryback said his grievances came down to a failure to pay wrestlers equally for the work they do:
It blows my mind how in a sport which is pre determined from a company standpoint winners are paid so much more than the losers. Every single person who works for WWE from top to bottom is absolutely just as valuable as the next. The winners cannot win unless the losers go out there and agree to lose to them.
It blows my mind that in this day and age though we still adhere to this formula. Obviously things have always been this way, but does that make them right? Times have changed and our goal as humans should be to evolve and learn from our past and the past of others so we could make this world a better place. Why is it a guy who is told he is going to go out and lose and does everything he is told be paid not only less, but much less than said winner over a period of time. Every single performer for WWE sacrifices the same amount of time from home and their families and every single man or women goes out and does what they are told. Looking at this formula though losers turn into what fans like to call jobbers and their value decreases in the companies eyes and before you know it they get released. For what? For doing exactly as they are told!
Mr. Back had a better solution:
Why not pay the talent equally? The winners have more MERCH as it is or are supposed to anyways so they get that extra perk, but why make the guy who is told to and agrees to lose earn less and sacrifice spots in big pay per view match ups etc. This is one of the major problems with wrestling and WWE today. Most guys take great satisfaction in helping making other talent, the bitching and the moaning we always hear about stems from the fact they know they are ultimately over time going to make less and live in fear of being released.
Putting a punctuation mark on his eloquent plea for wrestler's rights, Ryback then bit the head off a live chicken and shouted, "WAKE UP! IT'S FEEDING TIME" as the chicken's blood sprayed all over his bulging pectoral muscles, reportedly.
In addition to his issues with WWE, Ryback also found himself in a feud with fellow estranged WWE superstar CM Punk, who complained about Ryback's in-ring skills on a podcast:
I'm already beat up and I have to wrestle 'Steroid Guy' and he's very… I call it like I see it. He's very hurty. Sometimes deliberate. There was one time he kicked me in the stomach as hard as he could and he broke my ribs, right at the tail end. And I never got an apology for that. He was something else. A real piece of work, that guy.
Ryback was originally offended, but in December, it seemed that he was making overtures to bury the hatchet with Punk:
I will never know why [Punk] chose to say the things he did, and it definitely didn't help my career at that point. All I know is he was very banged up and miserable during the periods we worked together. I think people have to look at it this way: How many other people are out there saying that about me? I was always respectful of him in his time there, and before our runs together, he was always good to me. Working in the WWE, though, has a way to bring out the worst in everybody. I have made jokes [about Punk] over the years via social media, as it is fun to get a reaction from his followers from time to time, but if I were to ever see him, I would tell him, "If I really did ever hurt you [in the ring], I truly am sorry, but I don't think it was the right thing to do to say the things you did." Life is too short to hold grudges, and I truly wish him the best in his life.
And so, with six months having past since Ryback officially parted ways with WWE, and nearly a year since he began expressing his frustration publicly, has Ryback softened his stance on his former employer?
No, it doesn't look like it.
Ryback took to his podcast, via 411 Wrestling, to talk about his experience being relegated to the pre-show at Wrestlemania while part times and newcomers took the spots on the proper show:
I sitting in the locker room and there were WWE, some Legends in the battle royal that was supposed to be on the main show and guys like when Baron Corbin, that was his debut at WrestleMania and I'm just like, 'I've killed myself year after year for this company and, like, proven time and time again,' and I was just like, 'I'm on the pre-show.' And I'm sitting there and I'm like, 'they show up and they're on the actual show.' And there was a lot going on that day and that's just my honest, true feeling on it. Nothing against [Corbin] or any of them. They all should have that opportunity. I think it's great, but I just wanted it too.
And to talk about WWE owner Vince McMahon's attempts to bury him once it was clear he was leaving:
This is nothing against Titus O'Neil, but I just know how they view him as far as… and how they've used him. They've never gone through with anything on him and whatnot. And there was a battle royal for the number one contender for the U.S. Championship and rather than taking the guy who was the number one contender for the last two pay-per-views, and having him have a strong showing – I get it, you have to move on and move the next guy in, but psychology-wise, you would think you would have me in there till the very end to show why I was a worthy U.S. [title] contender, just to have that because I was the last guy following him and the very first eliminations were Titus O'Neil eliminating not only me, but me and Apollo Crews together. And this is just me being honest, as I always am. As soon as I heard that, I realized Vince was going to start the 's–tting on me even more' phase until my contract [ended] because of everything going on with the contract. And I was like, 'I'm not playing his f–king games anymore.'
So if you're hoping for these crazy kids to get back together anytime soon, it doesn't look like you're going to get your wish. Perhaps The Big Guy should head over to Japan for a stint in NJPW. Not only might he have a better chance of being treated with more respect professionally, improving his in-ring skills, and becoming a bigger star, but from what we hear, wrestlers in Japan have no problem finding things to eat. Just look at all the Sumo guys.