Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

WWE Wrestler Ryback Seizes a Second Chance

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

WWE Wrestler Ryback Seizes a Second Chance

Article excerpt

To reach the pinnacle of any profession, you need a certain clarity of purpose. WWE wrestler Ryan Reeves, known by his stage name, Ryback, found that purpose at the age of 13. Already an obsessive fan of professional wrestling, Reeves won a radio contest that allowed him to ring the opening bell at a wrestling event. After experiencing the excitement of the sport at close range, he was sold.

"It was something that I loved watching on TV, but getting to feel it and walk into the ring and just see it up close, it was like I knew I wanted to do that," he says. Though he admits, "I didn't know how or what steps I needed to take."

An avid athlete, the 33-year-old gravitated toward baseball and football, wrestling occasionally as a means of off-season conditioning. His passion for physical activity led him to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas' fitness management program, which he intended to complete before pursuing WWE.

But when he pitched a successful audition for "$1,000,000 Tough Enough," a reality show that trained aspiring WWE wrestlers, he dropped out of school and never looked back. After the show ended, he began working his way through wrestling's developmental leagues, which gave him a crash course in the grueling life demanded by WWE.

"They push you really hard, mentally and physically," he says, "and it toughened me up even more than I was and prepared me to live life on the road, to be able to perform in front of live crowds four to five nights a week ... doing interviews, doing meet-and-greets and being pulled every which direction and still having time to work out and eat healthy."

He began his career with an early prototype of the Ryback persona inspired by the Terminator, before creating the character, country bumpkin Skip Sheffield, that would earn him a promotion to WWE.

A broken leg soon sidelined Reeves for more than a year, allowing him to abandon the Skip Sheffield moniker and reintroduce Ryback. In 2012, his original character returned without the Terminator gimmick.

"I was very angry, had a chip on my shoulder, and that came across on camera," he says.

With his retooled persona came a resurgence in his professional fortunes. …

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