Ryback went from the most popular man on the roster to out of the pro-wrestling business in just a few years. What happened? His last match set the tone for his career afterwards but his feud with Vince McMahon ensured we’d never see The Big Guy on TV again.
Ryback’s Last WWE Match
Ryback’s last match in the WWE was on the Payback 2016 Kick Off Show, where he unsuccessfully challenged Kalisto for the United States Championship. He was previously defeated by the Luchador at Wrestlemania 32 and this rematch was really the nail in the coffin for “The Big Guy”. Consecutive losses for a powerhouse like himself showed that Vince clearly had nothing in the cards for him.
While this match was nothing special, it did feature Ryback saving Kalisto from breaking his neck, after a springboard corkscrew to the outside seemed to go awry. He jumped short and look set to bang his head and neck onto the ring apron (the hardest part of the ring) which could have given him a carer ending injury.
Luckily, The Big Guy had the awareness to see this, and stepped into position to catch Kalisto and fall down with him to safety. With all the talk by CM Punk about how safe he was in the ring, Ryback seemed to redeem himself in what would be his final match in the WWE with this catch.
That was his last match in WWE. Ryback was released by WWE on August 8th, 2016 with little fanfare for someone with a decades experience in the company. This was more his decision rather than WWE, who had offered him a new contract to stay with the company for a number of years. However, The Big Guy seemed intent on leaving for a number of reasons.
The former Intercontinental Champion claimed that he was lied to by WWE about his booking. Prior to his leaving the company, he was told by Vince McMahon that he was to be made the top heel in the entire company. He even claimed that he was set to beat AJ Styles at Wrestlemania 32. Instead, he faced Kalisto on the pre-show in a nothing match, then again a month later at Payback. Whether he had the talent to be a top heel is another thing, but the broken promises are more than enough for somebody to want out.
His other contention was to do with money. He revealed that he had a three-year deal with the company, worth a total of $1.5 million ($500,000 per year). However, he claims taxes on that would have been $400k with another $600k in travel expenses, leaving him with just fraction of his wage. His big contention was that WWE should pay or reimburse their performers for travel expenses He made it clear the money was simply not worth putting his body through pro-wrestling and got out whilst still healthy and with money in the bank.
After he left WWE, Ryback took his time before finding his new home in wrestling. However, he did wrestle in a few independent shows over the two years after his release, including winning a few championships. He teamed with Pat Buck to win the WrestlePro tag team titles and defeated Dru Skillz to become the HLW Champion. He was fairly successful put chose his shows carefully, and by that I mean his fee was so large most places could not afford him.
Rumours of Ryback charging indie promotors $10,000 per match were rife, although there is little supporting evidence to suggest this. His last match ever took place in August 2018, when he defeated Dylan Bostic at NEW Wrestling’s Under the Stars tour. He has yet to wrestle since then and can be considered retired.
He has since started his own food reviewing Youtube channel, which you can check out below. However, a WWE return seems very unlikely due to the horrific comments he made to Vince McMahon and his mother.
Ryback vs Vince McMahon
Ryback seemed to be a favourite of Vince McMahon during his early WWE run. The former Intercontinental Champion racked up a huge win streak at the beginning, drawing a likeness to WCW Legend Goldberg.
However, he seems to have a real problem with McMahon now which will certainly hamper any plans he may have had of returning to WWE. The Big Guy hasn’t been shy about speaking out about the WWE since his 2016 release, complaining that the company is throttling his social media reach and other nonsense claims that have absolutely no base in reality.
In a series of now-deleted Tweets, former WWE star Ryback spoke about Vince McMahon, calling him a “psycho billionaire”. He also spoke about Vince’s “whore mom” and talked about Vince “watching his mom get beat up as a child” as a reason for his behaviour as an adult.
“@VinceMcMahon like most promoters has an insatiable urge to have control. He had no control watching his mom get beat up as a child, which is a horrendous thing for a kid to witness, as their wh*re mom tries to make ends meet. Vince has failed to evolve. F*ck you old man.
It’s so crazy how many people are ok with a psycho billionaire toying with innocent people’s lives and wh*ring out a human circus, but can’t stand the actual truth of that man’s psychological weakness. 48 Laws of Power. Your clock is ticking old man. You take nothing with you.”
Prior to Vince McMahon retiring, he also made it clear that he would return to the company if it was sold and somebody else took the reigns. Clearly the issues ran deeper than first thought and his feud with McMahon is far from over.
Luckily for Ryback, McMahon has since retired and his son-in-law Triple H has taken over running of the company. This could open the doors for a huge return, although with his past comments I would not hold my breath on a Ryback return, or a Hall of Fame induction.
“I will be very open to going back to WWE if they are sold. I have always been quite frank. If Vince McMahon is out of there and there is a brand new leadership, I will then be very interested in revisiting that, because that will be beneficial for me as a brand and as a performer going back to where I am known from, where I built an audience that is already well aware of who I am.”