As a roster member during the early days of NXT’s Full Sail University reboot, Ryan Nemeth has been competing in the wrestling industry for over a decade. While Nemeth’s WWE run left a lot to be desired, the Hollywood Hunk is making big splashes in AEW.
Nemeth debuted to much fanfare on the January 27 edition of AEW Dynamite in a losing effort to Hangman Page. Speaking to Chris Van Vliet, Nemeth revealed his big debut came about randomly.
“Being [in AEW] is kind of like a huge reunion,” Nemeth said. “I have so many friends from NXT or other parts of wrestling. Walking in the locker room felt like home. I went to AEW to see Amanda Huber (the late Jon Huber/Brodie Lee’s wife) because I knew there was going to be a birthday for Brodie Jr. I thought I would surprise her and say happy birthday. I used to babysit him in Tampa. I wanted to say hi to her, I also secretly had my gear with me. They asked me, ‘Since you’re here, do you want to wrestle?’ And I said sure. I think it went well, I blacked out but I think I won (laughs). I was honored to debut on Dynamite. It felt great to be back in the ring. During shutdown I have been doing a lot of wrestling but not in front of a live crowd. It’s been a lot of stunt work or coordinating for TV shows. AEW are super into promoting creativity, very motivational and positive environment.”
Many will recognize Nemeth as the younger brother of WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler. Nemeth discussed the parallels between himself and his older sibling, and while he admits they exist, Nemeth says he has gone to great lengths to differentiate himself from Ziggler.
“There are similarities. We are brothers, we are related, we were both trained by the exact same people in wrestling,” Nemeth said. “We grew up wrestling for the same school together. But I will say I’ve spent my entire wrestling career looking and dressing the exact opposite of him. He had blond hair, I dyed mine black. He wore pants, I wore shorts. No matter what I do, for a decade, any time I’m in a match, the Internet says I’m a carbon copy of him. But we’ve had pretty different lives. He was a college wrestler, I focused more on acting and writing. In the past few years, to do so many of these things together is awesome. I never felt like we were competing for anything though.”
As mentioned, Nemeth had a short stint in WWE where he competed for both Florida Championship Wrestling and NXT. Going by the ring name Briley Pierce, Nemeth quickly shot up the ranks backstage. Despite having high approval by officials, Nemeth’s potential seemingly disappeared overnight.
“It was working great for me there while Dr. Tom Prichard was head coach and John Laurinaitis was in charge of talent relations,” Nemeth said. “They had a top 10 list of talent and I was number 3 I think. Almost overnight, someone took over head coach, someone took over talent and I didn’t seem to exist anymore.
“This new coach did not like me or my brother. He is not there anymore though. I didn’t believe in him as a coach, I just said it. An executive confirmed the coach didn’t like me, and didn’t know if there was anything I could do. When the executive called to release me, I asked if that was what’s happening here, he said yes. It’s just how wrestling works. The phone call, the executive thought I was going to go to Hollywood. One month later I moved to Los Angeles.”
Outside of the ring, Nemeth does a bit of acting and writing for movies. The Hollywood Hunk is currently working on a film, HEEL, which covers uncomfortable themes in the pro wrestling industry.
“The plot of the film deals with sexual assault in the world of indie wrestling,” Nemeth said. “It comes from a very real place. I was ambushed with stories about assault. That’s why I took a break from wrestling. It was really close to home for me. I can’t speak on behalf of these people. Legally, imagine the trouble I would be in if I did speak on behalf of victims. But I can use art to encourage conversations about these things. I love wrestling and the people in it but there are some bad eggs that do bad things and get away with it. There is not one solution to it, but it’s one that I can try to help with. I would love it to expand to a feature or a series.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Insight with Chris Van Vliet with an h/t to Alex Hunt from Features of Wrestling for the transcription.