From being a contestant on Tough Enough to becoming WWE’s “Big Guy”, Ryback has been through many different gimmicks in search of finding his spot in the company. After his run with the Nexus with an aggressive look, it appeared as if Ryan Reeves finally gained some traction.
However, Nexus was poorly booked, combined with Reeves breaking his ankle that needed three surgeries to heal, his career dwindled. Fortunately, his absence gave birth to much more than a character – it gave rise to a lifestyle. Skip Sheffield became Ryback once again, and “Feed Me More” became his mantra.
Ryback’s chant became infectious with the WWE Universe. While he in-ring ability was in need of development, his character became popular enough for his weekly squash matches to earn him a main event position. He was thrust into the WWE Championship picture against CM Punk after John Cena became injured. In fact, many believe WWE failed to capitalize on him being a commodity by having a lackluster finish against CM Punk inside Hell in a Cell.
Danny Davis-style referee Brad Maddox was instrumental in Ryback losing the match, which was the beginning of Ryback never getting back to that status in his WWE career. A heel turn and subsequent feud against John Cena, a strongman showdown against Mark Henry, a tag team formation with Curtis Axel known as “Rybaxel”, and a surprising but abruptly-ending Intercontinental Championship later, Ryback was left searching for his place in the company once again.
His last hoorah was a United States Championship feud against Kalisto, as a heel. While Ryback seemingly was once again gaining steam, playing a cocky musclehead, he lost every championship match against Kalisto, leaving him in a state of confusion and frustration. This was the final straw for Ryback as he decided to leave the company after being improperly used for so long and being told a series of empty promises.
Although Reeves as the “Ryback” character in WWE experienced many starts and stops, “Ryback” outside of WWE kept going. So much, that he started his own website, feedmemore.com, promoting his apparel and products. However, Ryback was not finished there. The most recent decision he made regarding “Ryback” was to officially make it his legal name, as he stated during his latest “Conversations with the Big Guy” podcast that he has registered to change it to Ryback Alan Reeves.
This is reminiscent of former United States Champion Nikita Koloff being so immersed in his character, that he made the same decision to legally change his name, as well as Jim Hellwig becoming Warrior.
While this may seem a bit bizarre, it does come with some perks. When most wrestlers leave WWE, they are forced to change their name, which has the potential to hurt their brand in the independent circuit. Ryback, though, does not how to worry about any legal proceedings – since his name will more than likely soon be Ryback.
Follow Chris Featherstone on Twitter @cravewrestling