It's a hard knock life in the pro wrestling business: travelling all the time, bumping most nights of the week, no unions.
The industry demands every worker be out for themselves for any real chance of cracking the main event while their body still holds up. Image is everything in a business that thrives on toughness and character credibility. It's understandable why so many workers have become fiercely, almost insanely, protective of their aura and win-loss ratios.
Ego and backstage politicking go hand in hand in with a whole lot of superstars leaving a pile of bodies in their wake. There's also the issue of reckless workers endangering their colleagues with stiff, injurious offence. Even at the best of times, getting smashed on plywood full time corrodes the joints. Throw in potato punches and needlessly hard slams, and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster.
Certain bigger-drawing workers managed to get away with a monumental amount of bad behaviour compared to others. What they have in common with their fellow, lower down the card heat magnets is the general hatred and frustration they inspired in locker rooms everywhere...
There was a split second where Ryback looked like the next big thing.
With booking reminiscent of Goldberg's undefeated streak, the colourful meathead tore through WWE's undercard. When John Cena got injured, CM Punk needed a new opponent for Hell In A Cell 2012 and the Big Guy was given the rub. Considerably more vocal than the hapless jobbers Ryback destroyed, Punk was furious over what he perceived to be Ryback's hazardously stiff offence.
Booked as a choke artist moving forward, Ryback's stock fell both on screen and behind the scenes where he rubbed many big names the wrong way. With fan interest on a deadly wane, the law of attraction enthusiast even requested time off to train in MMA for a worked 'superfight' with Brock Lesnar. Ryback believed he was too big to be manhandled by the Beast (clearly he hadn't seen Lesnar's battles with Big Show) and the match would be the biggest thing the business had ever seen. There's self-belief, and then there's just plain delusion.
Despite notable in-ring improvement towards the end of his tenure, Ryback couldn't even beat Kalisto for the US title. He's even confirmed in the years since that Vinnie Mac himself very unsubtly loathed him by this point. Fed up, Ryback went on a tear regarding WWE's pay scale on his Tumblr and was swiftly dropped from the promotion.
A glimmer of hope via a New Japan contract offer was then ruined thanks to Mr Feed Me More asking for a purportedly exorbitant fee.