Ryback gave his two cents on the indie craze in professional wrestling, saying that independent wrestling is hurting the business.
Since Randy Orton and Ohio Valley Wrestling trainer Rip Rogers criticized the pace and style of independent wrestling, wrestlers on both sides of the argument gave their insight on the matter and Ryback sides with Rogers.
On the most recent episode of his "Conversations with The Big Guy" podcast, Ryback said the lack of selling and disregard for the psychology of professional wrestling inside independent wrestling matches is ruining the sport. Ryback gave a negative outlook on the more athletic and aerial offenses being used by wrestlers in WWE, saying gymnastics does not make people tough.
“Independent wrestlers are ruining wrestling. It has carried over to WWE, and Hunter (Triple H) and Vince (McMahon) have allowed it to happen. It’s controlled more up there. This isn’t to say that every independent wrestler, but this is one thing that I have ripped on [John] Cena on personal things for the most part, but Cena always was really good at selling the basics really well. One punch and he would sell it, and that is what Rip [Rogers] was alluding to. If any of those independent guys get punched in the mouth, and I don’t mean that as a knock on independents because I see a lot of it since I am there, it’s running ramped. I was talking to one of our other buddies about this, but these guys are going to kill it for themselves because they are going to shorten their careers too. They are replacing one bump with 5-6 bumps and like, they’re f***ing stupid, which is a nice way to say it. You were throwing out the meaning of one bump for 6-7 bumps that won’t get the same reaction, which I believe is because guys don’t know how to sell accordingly. I think WWE shouldn’t bring guys in there and push them to do that, but they tone it back when they get there because it doesn’t fly there, but they have allowed it on certain extents and that is not a good thing, so I agree with Rip 100%. Don’t get me wrong, all that stuff is cool to do it, you don’t have to do 100 of them but the guys don’t sell anything. I just watched a match the other day where a guy took a Brogue Kick to the face to start the match and then came right back with a dropkick and then it was dive; it’s like, what are you doing? I think Vince Russo said this before, but the game of Baseball and the rules of Baseball were created, then some different rules were added to excite the fans, but they haven’t flat out said f*** you to the psychology of Baseball, which is what wrestlers are doing now, they’re saying, f*** you to psychology because they’ve never been in a real fight.
“This is not a knock on independents. It all comes down to selling. If you sold you wouldn't have to do all that stuff because you would be too busy selling. You’re throwing out the art of selling, that is the big issue I feel like, because selling slows everything down. You can still have all the action and things, but you just have to find different ways to get there. It’s not just doing every move in the book, it’s not about that. If you want it to be in style, put it in style, however everyone’s career is going to be much shorter. I look at the ratings and the ratings are telling me everything. Granted, there is a lot more TV out there now, but casual people don’t think that way. That small independent market is not going to pay the bills. People are throwing away the basic fundamentals of wrestling. Outdoing your opponent by selling that move to the best of your ability; which guys no longer think that way and it is wrong. There’s a difference between the big leagues and selling to the masses, and it is the way it has always been. It’s nothing against independent wrestling. I am having the time of my life; like, I will throw a suicide dive in there, but I’m not doing it after no-selling 100 things. It’s not a knock on them, but it’s just getting out of hand, so hearing that I agree with Rip 100%.
“When Jeff Hardy does that high-spot stuff, he’s always sold accordingly; go back and watch Ricky Steamboat and Macho Man; everyone says it’s one of the greatest match of all time—they sold. Young Bucks are smaller guys so they have a similar style, but now you see everyone doing that style and people begin emulating them.
“I can wrestle independent wrestlers, it’s fine, but I’m not going to go into a match and have them no-sell 20 forearms, it’s not going to happen. Indy wrestlers are super talented, but it doesn't make you a wrestler. It’s all the little things; the psychology of the original rules of the game, because those who came before us created the game, and I’m not talking about Triple H, but the game of wrestling. It evolves in different areas, but it’s people being disrespectful to the psychology and rules of wrestling. They think because chant ‘This is Awesome,’ they’re throwing themselves away and killing themselves.
“WWE is pushing guys that cannot hurt a fly. When did gymnastics make you tough? It doesn't. It really doesn't, and I get that it is entertainment, and it has its place, but for that to replace actual toughness, the business was built around being real, that is why you lose casual viewers because they don’t buy into that and they never will. When the Dads and kids tune in, they are not tuned in to watch that gymnastics stuff. It’s not believable; the whole art of it is making it believable, which is my honest take and everyone has their own opinion. It is what it is and I agree with Rip Rogers.”
Ryback never started his wrestling career on the independent scenes, starting out with WWE's Tough Enough reality show and at Ohio Valley Wrestling. Ryback left WWE in 2016 and was a former Intercontinental Champion. He has been wrestling indie matches since leaving WWE, competing at Revolution Pro Wrestling and WrestlePro.
(h/t: WrestleZone for the transcript)