Ryback on his path to success: "Last year at WrestleMania I was coming back from injury and sitting in the family box and watching the show. It was great and as a fan it was fun. At the time we weren't sure what I was going to do yet. I was chomping at the bit to get back. I just said to myself no more; this is the last WrestleMania I'm going to miss. Especially in developmental I saw a lot of guys come in after me, getting called up before me. I always stayed positive and knew when my time would come it would be the right time. I told myself when I'm going to hit, I'm going to hit big and strike hard. We are coming up on a year and it's arguably one of the biggest years anyone has ever had. Merchandise wise I'm right behind John Cena. My goal is to pass John and get to be the number one position in the company. I'm sure he doesn't like hearing that but I believe I'm the guy to do it."
On his ankle injury: "Pretty much what happened is I was in a match with David Otunga against the Hart Dynasty over in Hawaii and I took a dropkick from Tyson Kidd feeding in and my ankle literally... I had just gotten brand new boots from Stagecoach, they make my boots now they're great and it was probably my fault, I measured my foot wrong and made my boots too narrow so I was rocking really bad. I didn't give it any thought because I've always had good balance. I took the dropkick and I didn't go down my ankle just ripped out in three places, my foot was dangling. When I'm out there I feed off the adrenaline and what's going through my head, I just remember it went into slow motion at the time and I can't lie here and cry because the way I come off on TV that would just kill it so I just popped back up and kept going. I wish they could show the footage of this but I pretty much fed an entire comeback running with my foot dangling on the ground. Each step I took I spiral broke my leg because the break reached, I believe, the tibia or the fibula on the other side. It literally spiral broke all the way up below my knee. I finished the match and we win, after the cavalry the adrenaline just left my body. I just laid there and I couldn't move, my foot was literally just all contorted. They took me to the hospital and I pretty much broke my bones very badly. What a lot people don't know is we had some complications with the surgery; a doctor botched the entire first surgery. I have a scar that runs all the way up my leg because I've had my leg filleted open three times now. He did the surgery improperly and unfortunately put metal through all my nerves and I lost function from my calf down to my foot and my big toe.
"I lost function of all that. To this day my big toe still doesn't go up, it's just nerve damage and I believe it'll come back over time but it takes a long time. I told him that I'm not right and the guy did a second surgery on me and it didn't fix it. I'm out a year now and with that injury I was only supposed to be out three or four months and the doctors pretty much thought I was done and that I'd never wrestle again. I told them that I wanted the metal taken out of my leg and if they took the metal out my leg would get better. Thankfully the WWE stuck by my side and it was one of those things where I had been out for a long time and I hadn't done anything on TV really significant yet so they were just going on potential and they stuck with me.
"They took the metal out and believe it or not my nerves started growing back very quickly. It's going to take years for them to fully get back to normal but I was just rehabbing morning and night. The leg started getting better and they started bringing me back on the road, I was out a year and a half and hadn't wrestled a match. I came back and wrestled my first live event after being out a year and half with no ring time and just hit the ground and they brought me back up until I finally debuted on TV as Ryback. Funny story… When I first started doing the shell shock I started marching around the ring which was another thing that was never planned out, it helped me keep my balance when I had a guy held up in that position. My foot now is great but when I first came back it was very wobbly and I was having a bit of balance issues so I had to do that rock back and forth because that was the only way that I could really do that and keep the guy above me. It just got better as time went on. I still do rehab with it and work my calves twice a week really hard to get that strength. It's been a work in progress but I'm very thankful for everything. If it had not worked out that way I wouldn't be in the position that I'm in. We had to get rid of that other identity so it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me."
On being marketable to kids, teens, and adults: "Our company needs a guy now; John's [Cena] been on top for eight to ten years and been untouchable merchandise wise because we haven't had anyone that could replace that. I know that I am the one that can not only replace it but can exceed it. We haven't had a guy since Austin sell to kids, teenagers, and adults, Ryback sells to all three. I've seen the stats and John sells to kids so in my eyes I say why not run with this thing and let's make ourselves some more money."
On winning over Goldberg fans: "The Goldberg things never bothered me. The fans are very loyal to those who came before us and everyone loved Goldberg when he was on top in WCW and then he came into the WWE and had a good run. It just takes time to make the fans become loyal to you. I knew that if we kept doing what we were doing and we were patient, they would go down and the 'Feed me more' chants would take over. I remember at the TLC pay-per-view in Brooklyn, I did the spear to Dean Ambrose and this was my true test. I... (Continues on next page)