Last week Ryback interviewed Rusev on the former’s podcast and he mentioned that Triple H once told him WWE has no more marquee names after John Cena. Ryback recalled that conversation and how WWE goes about in putting a ceiling on Superstars on “Ryback TV Shooting Blanks Wrestling Report With Raj Giri.”
“That was during the initial main event run and my contract ? Jane Geddes was in charge of Talent Relations and they had her handling the contracts ? and they threw a sh*t offer. Horrible, especially with where we were at at the time. That was my first real, ‘What the?? Whoa!? This is the money we’re talking about at this level?’ Granted they could put anyone in those positions but we were doing really well,” said Ryback.
“I had to go talk to Hunter about the contract and we were just in a hallway somewhere in Texas. He goes, ‘Ryan, I’m just gonna tell you straight ? John Cena is the last marquee name we’re ever gonna have.’ Hunter could have just been saying that to not get me a big contract? but I think he was telling me, ‘Hey, off the record, this is what this is.'”
Ryback then brought up that people say, ‘What about Roman Reigns?’ and he responded that he thinks WWE puts people in top positions that they believe are not gonna get “too” over. He then brought up guys that get over organically, like Rusev, and that WWE puts the kibosh on them to prevent them from getting too big.
“There’s a cap on things. That’s their business and the way that it is. When guys start getting too hot, they’ll cool them off and make them lose in a position where you’re scratching your head,” stated Ryback. “Then they’ll get them back on track a few months later but the damage has already been done and they’re very good at that? They’re great at taking away the momentum when guys need it most.
“It’s not rocket science on how to build stars. You just do what organically, naturally ? who is gaining the momentum along with the push. Or if you’re not getting a monster push and getting a lot of momentum, you just go with it. Start finding situations to let that character come out. If it gets bigger, it gets bigger and if it doesn’t then it doesn’t.”
Ryback then brought up the momentum behind his “Feed Me More” chant and the fact that he then lost seven PPVs in a row which can’t be justified. He added that the way WWE operates in this fashion has turned off fans and things would look differently if WWE let guys organically get over.
“If they opened the floodgates and said, ‘Whoever can get the most over within the guidelines, go get the most over’ then it wouldn’t be the guys on top right now. And it wouldn’t have been the guys who’ve been on top,” said Ryback. “You would have seen other guys that are more talented, I believe overall, in that position that can go out there and have that energy. You hear it all the time ? the X-factor.”
He then noted that the bigger wrestling promotions want themselves to be stars rather than individual wrestlers. They want control over the talent and it often takes wrestlers to go out on their own to break free from that and market themselves.
“I think Cena is great in the ring. But Cena didn’t have to get challenged because he had a comfort zone. It didn’t matter if guys got hot because they put the kibosh on them because from a business standpoint, that’s what they wanted. It’s their company and their right to do that, but from a wrestling fan standpoint it’s really frustrating because it gets repetitive really quickly. That’s why you’ve seen so many people tune away and walk away and it’s gonna be really hard to get them back,” said Ryback.
“If AEW ? I think in the next 12-18 months I think they surpass WWE overall in the ratings. That gap has closed a lot already. If I would have said that a year ago I would have sounded f***ing crazy. But I truly believe it because the business model ? unless WWE changes that ? but I think it’s caught up to them overall.”
Raj then asked him if AEW will surpass WWE’s ratings due to AEW rising or WWE falling off in popularity.
“I think there’s gonna be a point where they meet and that could be very well what happens. I don’t know if AEW is getting a 3.0 rating in 18 months as that will be a huge jump. I think it’s meeting somewhere in the middle but being on the uptick of that?,” stated Ryback.
“If they have the mindset of creating stars, the power is on their side. That WWE business model is too repetitive now and the damage has been done so that now there’s no stars.”
Going back to Ryback’s theory on WWE cooling down guys that get too hot, he brought up The Fiend getting squashed by Goldberg for the Universal Championship at Super Showdown.
“Explain the Goldberg loss to me!? For Goldberg to look the way he did against Braun at WrestleMania with no fans, it doesn’t make [sense], right? You look back and go, ‘Why did that happen?’ All it does is hurt The Fiend overall. The Fiend should have squashed Bill, that’s the way it should have been,” said Ryback. “But it is what it is and it’s not my problem anymore [laughs].”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit “Ryback TV Shooting Blanks Wrestling Report With Raj Giri” with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.