Ryback’s Backstage Fight With Brock Lesnar and their Cancelled Match, Explained

Hamish Woodward

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In 2012, reports of a backstage fight between Ryback and Brock Lesnar were released, shining a light on the WWE backstage atmosphere that had not been revealed for many years. Very little had been reveled of Ryback vs Brock Lesnar backstage, with only a glimpse of Ryback’s black eye being caught on camera on WWE Raw.

While little came of this interaction, it opened the door for a future match between the two wrestling giants. It even set plans in motion for a Brock Lesnar vs Ryback match many years later, although Vince McMahon would ultimately refuse the idea, and even fire Ryback just a few short years later.

This was just one of many connections between Ryback and Brock Lesnar (although Ryback has drawn more comparisons to Lesnar’s long-time rival Goldberg than anyone else, and not always in a positive sense) that would have made a match between the pair one of the most exciting WWE bouts of the 2010s.

Ryback and Brock Lesnar Had A Fight Backstage

In August 2012, a supposed report from Wrestling Observer Newsletter claimed a backstage confrontation between Ryback and Brock Lesnar happened during an episode of Monday Night Raw.

The incident took place prior to Summerslam 2012, when Brock Lesnar was backstage to rehearse a main event angle with his pay per view opponent, Triple H. Usually, Lesnar kept to himself and did not fraternize with the wider WWE roster, outside of his close friends and his opponents for the evening. He is known to be anti-social, with multiple sources claiming he just “doesn’t like people”.

For some reason, in this instance, Brock Lesnar was in the presence of Ryback. The former Intercontinental Champion was in his main event run at the time, and could brag being one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. He was on the way to a match against CM Punk at Hell in a Cell 2012, which ultimately killed his momentum in the WWE.

The report suggests that backstage at Raw, Ryback confronted Brock Lesnar. Reports vary on the actual content of their argument, but the fact that Ryback confronted Brock Lesnar remains consistent. He is said to have “put his hands on Lesnar”, clearly a big mistake by Ryback. Lesnar is a 6 foot 3, 300lb, former UFC World Heavyweight Champion. Who knows what Ryback was thinking.

After seeing Lesnar face off with The Undertaker, how did Ryback think he stood a chance?

Brock Lesnar then threw Ryback away from his, before throwing him into the floor. He then mounted Ryback, punching him in the face three times in a “ground and pound” style, before being pulled off him by the wrestlers and agents backstage at the time.

Ryback was reported to have been removed from Monday Night Raw show that night. However, he wrestled Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks on the August 6, 2012, episode of Raw, so that part of the rumor is proven to not be true.

The article also claimed that Ryback had a laceration above his left eye. We can see in this still from the Ryback vs Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks match from that Raw that he does not have a cut anywhere on his face. This could indicate the story is false, or that the backstage fight happened following his match that night.

However, Ryback came out in 2022 to completely deny the story. Speaking on “The Ryback TV“, the former WWE Superstar revealed that the altercation never even happened, and that the story was created as a way to hurt him in the eyes of the fans – ruining his “big guy” image in their eyes.

He also revealed that he was hit in the face, but it was during a match with Camacho, and had nothing to do with Brock Lesnar.

“It was done to try to hurt my credibility with the fans that, ‘Big bad Ryback isn’t so big, bad and tough.’ That altercation never even happened. I and Brock get along great. I got hit in my eye by Haku’s kid Donny Marlow [Camacho], as I know him as in Florida Championship Wrestling,” clarified Ryback.

Daniel Bryan Revealed Hilarious Story About Ryback & Brock Lesnar

Daniel Bryan revealed a hilarious story during an episode of Table for 3, claiming that Ryback tried something very unorthodox to impress Brock Lesnar backstage on day. While the previous backstage interaction is said to have never happened, this one is slightly more believable – at least according to infamous liar, Bryan Danielson.

In the story, Daniel Bryan (now Bryan Danielson in AEW) claimed “The Ryback” told him that he needed to “impress Brock Lesnar”, so planned to take a certain kind of medication to show Brock Lesnar that he really was a man, in the eyes of The Beast.

“I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was the night Brock Lesnar came in and The Ryback said he needed to impress Brock Lesnar.” Daniel Bryan revealed, in a hilarious episode of Table for 3 on the WWE Network.

However, Ryback quickly retorted, “No, see this is where you take the story and you guys just alter it and change it to try to make me look bad in front of everybody.”, knowing exactly what Daniel Bryan is like backstage.

However, Bryan quickly fired back, which made Dolph Ziggler burst out into laughter, “No, but you [Ryback] legitimately said that you needed to impress Brock Lesnar, so he [Ryback] was going to take a Cialis (an erectile malfunction medication] to show him that he was a man”.

You can see the full clip about Ryback and Brock Lesnar down below:

Ryback Pitched For A Match With Brock Lesnar

Despite their real-life feud being a complete myth, that did not stop Ryback from trying to get himself in the ring with Brock Lesnar. Recognizing the incredible star power of the former UFC Heavyweight Champion, he pitched multiple times for a match against The Beast, pitching the bout for three straight WrestleManias.

For three years in a row, Ryback asked Vince McMahon for a match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania. However, the build for the match would be much more unorthodox than any other, and give Ryback something that most wrestlers would dream of – not a match with a top star, but six months off wrestling for the WWE.

His idea was that, to build up to the clash between Big Guy and Beast, Ryback would need to go away from the WWE for six months. His plan was to go to a full MMA camp (Las Vegas is huge for UFC fighters) and train for six months, getting in the best shape possible to face Lesnar.

It would invoke a sense of reality into the storyline, as Lesnar himself once fought (very successfully) in the UFC. It would also have helped build up Ryback into the monster he was in 2012, but with more legitamcey in the real-world than he did prior.

Obviously, Vince McMahon rejected this idea. He clearly sensed it was just a ploy for Ryback to have six months off, paid, to go and do some training he wanted to do on his own time. This was years after Ryback’s main event run against CM Punk, so he was nowhere near on the level of Lesnar (who had matches against Undertaker and John Cena around this time).

The match would likely have been a faux-MMA style match, perhaps similar to Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle in TNA. Whether Brock Lesnar would want to work with Ryback in another thing, and the pair never even shared the ring in the WWE.

Speaking on Busted Open Radio, Ryback said:

“My idea was, and I went to Vince, I’ve been asking for Brock Lesnar for WrestleMania for the last three years. But I told Vince, ‘you have to build me up properly.’ And I go, ‘this pay-per-view, it will break all-time records if you build this match up properly.’ And I asked him, I go, ‘you need to let me go away for six months’ and I go, ‘I live in Las Vegas. MMA is hugely, insanely popular. It’s pretty much the breeding ground here in Las Vegas of MMA.’ I said, ‘let me go join a fight camp, full-time, for six months. We will make it look like I’m about to go out and do a real fight. I come back to WWE though, challenge Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania.”

For obvious reasons, Ryback wasn’t allowed to swan off for six months to pretend to be an MMA fighter. While it was clear that Ryback could have been the WWE Champion at one stage in his career, by the time this pitch to face Brock Lesnar came around, he had one foot out of the door of the WWE, with zero chance of ever returning. Ryback is now retired from wrestling, despite teasing a return to WWE or AEW near-constantly.

Learn more about why Ryback retired here.

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