WWE star Ryback brought his 11-year career with the pro wrestling organization to an end Friday, announcing in an Instagram video that he would be returning to the independent circuit after he and the company mutually parted ways.
“From this point forward, myself and the WWE will no longer be conducting business together,” he said. “I would like to personally say thank you to all the WWE performers whom I’ve had the pleasure of being in the ring with.”
Ryback, whose real name is Ryan Reeves, signed a developmental contract with WWE in 2005 after an impressive performance as a contestant on the company’s reality show, “Tough Enough.” After several years training in Ohio and Florida, Reeves arrived in WWE in 2010 as one of the inaugural members of the company’s developmental promotion, NXT, taking the ring name Skip Sheffield. He and his fellow NXT rookies later banded together to form the heel faction known as the Nexus.
In spring 2012, following several surgeries to heal an ankle injury, Reeves took on the ring name Ryback. Later that year, he enjoyed a brief stint as a main eventer when he competed against CM Punk and John Cena for the WWE Championship. Ryback did not win the title, but would later enjoy a four-month reign as Intercontinental Champion in 2015.
This past May, Ryback requested time off television while contract re-negotiations continued. He went on to complain about WWE’s pay scale in a Tumblr post, saying that the pay gap between main event stars and those lower on the card should be narrowed.
“Why is it a guy who is told he is going to go out and lose and does everything he is told be paid not only less, but much less than said winner over a period of time?” he wrote. “Every single performer for WWE sacrifices the same amount of time from home and their families and every single man or women goes out and does what they are told. Looking at this formula though losers turn into what fans like to call jobbers and their value decreases in the company’s eyes and before you know it they get released. For what? For doing exactly as they are told!”
Ryback, whose contract with WWE had been set to expire this Monday, says that he will be releasing a merchandise line inspired by his catchphrase, “Feed Me More.” He also says that he aims to take on a “full schedule” competing in independent circuits.