Ryback may have already seen the writing on the wall when it came to his future, or lack thereof, with the WWE. Yes, he was given a United States Championship match at the biggest pay-per-view of the year, WrestleMania. But that title meant a lot more when John Cena was issuing open challenges every week, and thus because Kalisto is the current champion, the match with Ryback was relegated to the kickoff show. And only half of AT&T Stadium was filled.
Ryback did an interview in Dubai where he claimed the U.S. Championship deserved better, especially at WrestleMania. He also inferred that Ryback deserved better, and if he wasn’t given a fair shake, he would “find a world” where his talents were appreciated. One pay-per-view later, same thing. Ryback got a rematch against Kalisto with the title on the line at Payback, but the match was on the pre-show yet again. But this time, The Big Guy upped the ante by mimicking CM Punk’s entrance in front of a hostile Chicago crowd and wore a weightlifting belt that said “Pre-Show Stopper.”
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, a decision to release Ryback had been made before Payback, but it wasn’t until the following night before Monday Night RAW that he was sent home. Initially, Ryback was told to leave amid a contract dispute with Vince McMahon, though apparently, WWE would have continued negotiations. That all came to a screeching halt when Ryback posted his”equal pay” blog and slammed the door shut on any attempt at re-signing.
Obviously, Ryback couldn’t have felt great about his position in the company or on the card. But his bigger gripe had to do with the financial terms of contracts for every superstar on the roster. Furthermore, the Observer points out that his contract demands went well beyond that of pay equality. The Big Guy demanded a guaranteed contract that would pay him in full for the duration of the deal, even if he was released for whatever reason. Ryback also wanted his road expenses and hotels paid for as it pertained to traveling from city to city with WWE.
Maybe he knew he was getting shown the door and just wanted to test Vince and see what, if anything, he could get away with. While those stipulations were applicable in a lot of WCW contracts, it has never been the case in WWE. Not during the Monday Night Wars, not ever. Certainly, Ryback would be lauded as a pioneer and trailblazer had Vince agreed, but it doesn’t look like those are options any time soon.
Ryback, along with Adam Rose, found himself on an internal list that had been leaked containing names of WWE superstars that were to be released last Friday. Both managed to avoid the wrath of “Black Friday,” but it’s not going to save their jobs long-term. Rose’s recent arrest will be his final straw, and WWE officials are more inclined to let Ryback’s contract run out rather than release him beforehand, as it will save them time and paperwork. PWInsider is also now reporting that the two sides have not communicated since Ryback was originally sent home last Monday.
Many of those who spoke out in response to Ryback’s unorthodox blog did not agree with his stance, and one who did found herself on the unemployment line shortly thereafter. Cameron, who was one of the eight original superstars let go last week, was not on that list that had been circulating. We noted before how she saved someone else’s job, and it became more evident that her tweet in support of Ryback was the nail in the coffin for the former Funkadactyl.
With Ryback’s inevitable departure, only five original members of the group Nexus remain in WWE. Of those five, only Darren Young, Heath Slater, and David Otunga perform under their original names. Otunga has since been relegated to a host of the RAW pre-show on the WWE Network. Michael McGillicutty and Husky Harris have since transformed into Curtis Axel and Bray Wyatt, respectively. And whether you’ll remember him as Skip Sheffield or Ryback, Ryan Reeves is no longer a WWE superstar.
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