Source: Conversation With The Big Guy
On episode 5 of Conversation With The Big Guy, Ryan Reeves, formerly WWE's Ryback, talked about stint as Skip Sheffield. Specifically, Ryback explained why he went with the cowboy gimmick in the first place and why the character was ultimately dropped.
"I remember Undertaker came down to FCW and [Pat Buck was] here for this at this point. And CM Punk, actually, was there, with Taker. And I spent a bunch of money on, a got a new Ryback outfit made and I was all geeked up and jazzed up to, I had a promo cut on The Undertaker for Ryback and it was a weird thing having him just sitting there staring at you as you're in the ring cutting a promo on him. And you're like, 'who's this guy?' Do you know what I mean? But I just thought it was, I put my heart and soul into it. And I remember afterwards, I think Taker didn't approve of it or something. Yeah, I think that's what [Undetaker] said, that it was too 80s, which is funny looking back. Absolutely. And at that point, when you're in developmental, you just f--king get critiqued left and right. That's the name of the game and you just take it. And everything happened for a good reason and all that, but when you get a guy like The Undertaker saying something like that, changes have to be made.
"So I get called into the office with Dusty Rhodes and he just tells me, he goes, 'I want you to do, you're a funny guy, we need to get away from this Ryback character.' And I'm [defeated]. Everything on my mind with the positivity and I created this, and we have something with this and 'you just love this - what are you talking about?', 'now you're being told you can't like this, but you told me you love this'. And he goes, 'I need you to come up with a new character.' And I go, 'can you help me out?' Like, he goes, 'all these stupid football players, like, they're hired with no experience.' He goes, 'you're not like that.' He goes, 'but I want you to make fun of it.' And he goes, 'you're a stupid former football player.'"
On how he came up with the name, Skip Sheffield, Reeves said it was partly a tribute to Dr. Tom Prichard.
"That's kind of a stupid name, but you have this physical look that kind of says otherwise." Reeves said, "I started watching wrestling and I saw a thing, for one of the wrestling DVDs, from Sheffield, England and I just remembered I loved Gary Sheffield, the baseball player, as a kid. And I go, 'Sheffield is a cool last name.' And then, somewhere, I remember, I guess it was when I was a kid and I was the guest bellringer. At 13 years old, at Thomas & Mack, I've talked about this on countless interviews, that Dr. Tom Prichard, who to this day has been such a huge influence. I love [him]. Dr. Tom, if you're listening, thank you for just believing in me and letting me go out there and have fun. The first person to ever do that and I don't know if it was something I remember that moment, but anyways, Skip was one of the names, one of The Bodydonnas. And I don't know, but for whatever reason, the name Skip Sheffield kind of popped in my head and I was Skip Sheffield. I go, 'I could do something [with that name]'. Oh, happy-go-lucky guy."
According to Reeves, he was picked for NXT because his Skip Sheffield character was getting over in FCW. Although William Regal warned Reeves that the character would not do well on WWE's main roster, Reeves kept it at the time because the southern jock gimmick got him where he was at that point.
"At that time, Skip Sheffield, was, and I'm not tooting my own horn, with the FCW crowd, I was very over down there, I feel like. And that was kind of, I feel, what John Laurinaitis always used to say, like, 'get over in developmental and we'll give you an opportunity on the main roster.' And I think I had earned it at that point and that was kind of the reasoning for putting me in that first season of NXT." Reeves continued, "[Regal] has always been very, very good to me and he is well respected down there. He [has] always told me straight. He even told me, right off the bat, 'I don't think you should do this character.' Well, I go, 'in all fairness, what am I supposed to do? I don't have a character. What is my name? What am I? This is why they brought me up here.' And I just said, 'I have to try. I don't know what else to do.' And he goes, 'I understand that.' But I think he kind of being in the system and knowing Vince [McMahon] and whatnot knew that this wasn't [me] and I was playing a character that wasn't true to myself."
Ryback divulged that Vince McMahon told him to gradually move away from the Skip Sheffield character during that first season of NXT.
"Vince came up to me, after I think week two or week three [of NXT], and he just said, 'I need you to get away from this character - this isn't you. You're going to make me millions of dollars being yourself.' And I said, 'cool.' You know, that's a lot. It's great to get that feedback from the boss that early on. But what do I do? I've already debuted as Skip Sheffield. And do I just show back up the next week and he goes 'slowly go away from it.' So if you go back and watch that show, you'll see. I think I lose the cowboy hat eventually. And then, I'd try to go back and do the old Ryback spiked vest, but it was a Skip Sheffield one. But I was just trying anything to try to get [away from the character], but I was still talking in the accent and I was just on there and it was only two or three weeks doing it, but, like, you can't just change overnight."
Listen to the show here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Conversation With The Big Guy with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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