Since Ryan Nemeth and I originally spoke in 2013 for Journey of a Frontman, he’s certainly been up to a lot since that time! We had discussed his releases Life Advice for Your Life and I Can Make Out with Any Girl Here previously, but now he’s back and better than ever with a dynamite release. Hardbody: How to Be One is described in the Author’s Note as “a collection of stories about men and women who have accomplished incredible things, coupled with some advice how you can accomplish incredible things, too”. Above you will find a listing of those who contributed to Hardbody (“AND TONS MORE!”) Nemeth made note that this book is “for anyone who is thinking of considering maybe someday perhaps perchance possibly starting to try to attempt to incorporate exercise into their life”. However, it should be known that a HARDBODY is defined in the intro as “someone who puts forth ultra-focused, driven and unflinching effort in the gym or elsewhere”.
We spoke in-depth about fitness being in his life and in the world of wrestling, exercise and nutrition habits from those who have spent time in NXT, his cheat meals and guilty pleasures, how he honed his skills as a writer, the time that his peers thought he randomly debuted on RAW, his involvement with Swerved, telling others about his occupation as a professional wrestler and much more.
When you first stepped foot into the gym, what were some mistakes that you were originally making?
I first stepped foot into the gym before high school. Kinda clueless, don’t know anything. I really just knew what the magazines said. Back then and a little bit now too, magazines aren’t the best way to learn things. You are reading what professional bodybuilders do every day. A two hundred and seventy pound, shredded, five percent body fat bodybuilder who has probably been taking tons of drugs for the last ten years, what that person does in a gym every day really does not relate to anything a normal human should ever be doing in a gym ever. I was just as misguided as anyone else who just reads a magazine and goes, “Oh, I should do what this guy does!” But really, everyone’s bodies work differently and bodybuilding is not the only style of training. There are things that I would pick up on as I started training a lot with Rob MacIntyre in FCW and NXT. He was the strength and conditioning coach back then for us. This guy’s amazing at everything and he’s so smart about all these different styles. We would do bodybuilding style, we would do strength, we would do injury prevention, endurance, Olympic lifts, functional training. Any kind of training you can think of, he had it scientifically worked into our training program. You would see guys including myself show up in FCW and NXT and after training with him for a few months, they would be the strongest and biggest and best looking they’ve ever been. Ever.
Now I have to ask since it appears to be an annoyance to people who work out at the gym, how do you feel about those who choose to curl at the squat rack?
(laughs) That’s fine to do as long as nobody’s waiting to squat or deadlift. If anyone’s waiting to do that and you’re curling, that’s pretty stupid. You could do that anywhere! You don’t need the squat rack to do that. However, if the gym is dead and you just feel like doing that, I don’t care. It’s fine.
As we head into 2016 and a new year, what’s your view on gyms getting very crowded in January due to new year’s resolutions?
I love that because it brings a whole lot of new faces to the world of fitness. And not all of them disappear. Some of them do stick around. It’s kind of like if you’re throwing a bunch of darts at a wall and one of them sticks, it’s not like you miss ninety nine darts, it’s like you got one. It’s like pitching ideas creatively, there’s a million things and one of them will stick. So maybe three of them stick around the rest of the year, cool, so now there’s three more people who know that fitness is great.
And even though three may seem like a small number, that’s three individual lives where fitness will make a giant impact with a whole world of potential.
It’s not just numbers, it’s actual people. So is it bad that only one guy’s gonna keep working out? No, it’s awesome that one guy will keep at it. It’s great.
Who were some of the first wrestlers that you worked out with when you were breaking into the business?
This would be in OVW in Kentucky when I was training with guys like Mike Mondo, Paradise, Cliff Compton. The lifestyle there was very repetitive, but in a good way. You wake up, you’re eating the healthy stuff you wanna eat, go to the gym with these guys and everyone’s rallying around each other. Very motivating. The lifestyle is understood: you go to the gym, you need to tan, you need to wrestle. Every day was the same : wrestle, gym, tan, wrestle, work out. Sometimes you’re working out a couple times a day and you’re wrestling for four hours a day. But again, I didn’t pick up on all these different factors on how to program training over a period of months, set specific goals, do specific training and direct your own stuff to get towards those goals. Switch it up every two months. I learned those kind of things with Rob MacIntyre. And I still learn about it, still value it, still use it with people I work with now, whether they’re pro athletes or not. That kind of specific training can be beneficial to anyone from a housewife, a stay at home dad, a screenwriter, whoever. We’re all humans. You don’t just have to be a pro wrestler to benefit from this kind of thing.
There is an impressive and lengthy list of those who contributed to Hardbody. One of the names that stuck out to me was Percy Watson because I am curious about what he’s been up to since he left WWE. What can you share?
He’s still in Florida and still goes to Hard Nocks South. He’s still a trusted member of the loyal society of Hard Nocks South. And he’s been doing some acting too. We used to have the same acting teacher so she’ll give me the updates on what he’s auditioning for and what he’s in. The last thing I remember he was in was an episode of Under the Dome. He’s happy outside of the world of wrestling. He’s still super crazy jacked and strong as always.
Once you got to NXT and shared a locker room with the wrestlers of tomorrow, what did you notice about their eating habits as it goes for nutrition? Anything that really stood out?
I remember Big E just walking around with cooked chicken breast, just holding it in his hand with no silverware or plastic fork. He would just hold it all the time and eat. Ryback’s a guy who is eating nonstop, around the clock. He’d time it all perfectly and he’d carry a bag around with him full of food. It’s not insane because someone with his frame always needs to be eating. When he says “Feed Me More”, it’s true. (laughs) You don’t look like that without constantly monitoring yourself and doing that all the time. Rob Terry is another guy who’s always carrying around his little bag of food and supplements. He has it perfectly timed out, very scientific. The funny one is Erick Rowan because we would see him in between training sessions just eating raw potatoes and carrots. Just uncooked vegetables in his hand as if they were apples. To me, that was very funny cause it’s of course a healthy thing to do, but who would think eating raw potatoes is delicious? But it was always entertaining to me.
What is your breakfast routine at the moment?
Right now I’m on a thing that’s very boring. It’s mostly eggs and egg whites and vegetables. It’ll be like five egg whites and two full eggs. And a whole bell pepper, green or orange or whatever color. I’m doing that about three times a day. I’m not so strict about my body fat or anything because I’m not currently wrestling on TV or anything. I’m a little more relaxed than I used to be. If I have something where I have to be on camera coming up, then I’ll change things around and make it more strict. But right now if I want to go eat sushi one night a week or have Ramen soup or whatever, that’s fine. It’s not the end of the world. It’s something Mason Ryan talks about in my book too in his chapter. He says that you don’t have to hit A+ on your diet and training every day for it to be perfect, but it should be pretty good consistently. That’s much easier to maintain and you will yield much better results.
Was there a particular food that you were disappointed to learn wasn’t as good for you as you thought it was?
Ice cream and Boston Cream Pie, that kind of thing. (laughs) I was a little disillusioned as everyone eventually becomes when they find out all these supplements that I’d been buying since high school and college from GNC and all these stores, a lot of them are just completely pointless. You look back and go, “Oh my God, I spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on all this stuff and aside from protein powder, caffeine and creatine, most of that stuff is completely pointless.” In my opinion, it’s just a huge waste of money. That would be one I could think of right off the bat. During high school wrestling, I’d buy tons and tons of protein powder and all these little things where this is a new thing that’ll give you more energy, this and this and that. It’s all just fake stuff.
Being in Los Angeles, what is the meal that you have to have if you are setting no restrictions?
Chipotle is always in that list, no matter what city I’m in. I discovered the beauty of Asian Ramen soup here. It’s something they make in Japan, but now there’s so many restaurants in LA. It’s basically delicious broth, noodles, a soft-boiled egg and pork and chicken mixed in, all these spices. It’s so good! That would be my guilty pleasure thing. And of course Chipotle.
What’s your order at Chipotle lately?
I’m mixing up the medium green with the corn salsa. I like to get the burrito. I think it’s more fun than the bowl because it’s something you can hold and it’s fun to eat. I like the chicken burrito with white rice, black beans and maybe some veggies thrown in. Oh man, so good. If it’s my birthday, I wanna eat some cannolis. A lot of my family was Italian and cannolis was the favorite pastry. Still is, I love cannolis!
Do you put a birthday candle on one and dig in?
(laughs) Alone, sitting on the floor with no one around. Crying and just eating cannolis with candles in them. Still lit and the wax dripping and stuff.
You have worked out with many wrestlers, but did you ever get the chance to work out with Jim Cornette?
I have never shared a gym with Jim Cornette. I did spend a lot of other time around him just at the shows and stuff, never a gym. I would’ve loved to, I think that would be very fun. Maybe I can do a Kickstarter and try to get a documentary shot of Ryan Nemeth doing a training session with Jim Cornette. I would love that, I think that’s a great idea!
Do you think his blood pressure would be an issue from how angry he gets all time?
We can take it easy and I think we can lower it. Some moderate day-to-day exercises can lower it a little bit.
If you could work out with any comedian, who would it be?
Easy answer. Chris Farley. I’ve just heard tales of how strong and athletic he was. He played rugby at Marquette and he was rumored to be just so strong. I was told by a lot of people who were around him in Chicago back then that he would do back flips during improv and sketch scenes on stage. I would love to work out with him. We have to rugby background in common. I think he is one of my top favorite comedic actors of all time. That’s pretty easy, yeah.
Though Hardbody puts your passion for fitness on display, it is also a showcase of your love for writing. When you were able to choose your own topic for a paper you had to write in school, what’s something memorable you picked?
In graduate school while earning my Master’s Degree, one of my final papers was on wrestling. I was a grown-up college graduate who’s trying to get a graduate degree, of course I’m writing about wrestling. That’s where I was headed. It was the history of the English language, I did a paper on the language of the squared circle, jargon and something something used in professional wrestling. Something like that. I remember thinking this was my favorite project I’ve done. I put together this PowerPoint presentation and the class loved it. It was the hardest class I’ve ever taken my life, but the paper was pretty easy to write. The class loved it because this was something that was so foreign to these scholars of English literature and medieval text and all this stuff. I showed a couple clips of pro wrestling matches. I interviewed my brother and a couple other wrestlers, it was kind of cool to have them on there. I had this high school teacher in tenth grade, Mr. Barker. We were doing a section on satire and parody and so we were reading stuff by Al Franken and all these other comedic writers. He had a contest to see who could do that style of writing. I won the thing. I think I did a funny pick on some kind of Hemingway short story. I’m so proud of it and that was kind of a key moment. We posted them up all around the classroom and people voted. I got the most votes and thought, “Woah…this is pretty cool!” I took an original and familiar source, Hemmingway’s books and stories and all that and put a twist on it. It didn’t disrespect it, just twisted it a little bit. It was such a powerful feeling to think, “Ah…writing? Feels pretty good. You’re in control of something and making these people laugh.” It was a good feeling.
So you also wrote for the school paper at one point?
Yeah, I used to write for the St. Edward High School Paper. It was called The Edwardian. I also wrote for the Xavier University Newswire as well. Written pieces and comic strips that I would draw and other kind of weird stuff. The English department in high school realized I had a thing for writing and they assigned me private tutoring lessons of Brother Joseph Chvala, who was very esteemed in the Jesuit community with writing and all this stuff. I would do sessions with him to work on creative writing stuff. It was pretty cool. I gotta thank my parents for putting me in school because I didn’t feel like I was in the factory of just getting stamped for a high school diploma. I really was treated like an individual and nurtured and challenged. Having to report back to Brother Joseph every Tuesday or whatever after school to show what I’m doing on my creative writing piece, this was not for a class or for a grade, just because the school felt like they wanted to stimulate and challenge my writing skills. That was really, really helpful.
Was there ever a point in your life where you always kept track of your thoughts in a journal?
I can’t think of a time where I haven’t been doing that. Even since I was little, I used to just write weird short stories and read them all the time. An outpouring of creative stuff has never not been a part of my life.
Do you have writings that you look back on from years past and think you could have done so much better on them?
Yeah, I do. Every time I go back home to my parents’ house in Cleveland, I’ll find a stash of pieces of art that I’ve created through high school and college and I’ll also find all these little pieces of writing. It’s almost embarrassing to read! (laughs) But then there’s little gems once in a while. I won some writing contest in seventh grade and they published the thing I wrote in this book and we all got a copy of it. I cannot even dare to read that. It makes me cringe. Apparently it was good at the time for a seventh grader, but you could not pay me enough to read that right now. So yes, that is true.
I wanted to get your thoughts on something in the WWE that has especially been criticized by wrestling fans this entire year. What are your thoughts on opening RAW every week with a twenty minute promo, generally by the Authority?
I took a break from watching any wrestling at all for several months. I was working out with someone and they asked me what I thought about RAW. I said, “I will tell you I haven’t watched it in about four months, can I guess what happened on the show?” “Sure.” “Here’s my guess, Triple H and his buddies are talking for twenty minutes at the beginning and the whole show is based on him and how everyone hates him.” “Yeah.” “Okay cool, so it’s the same episode as it was from a month ago? Cool, I’m not missing much. And once every two months, someone from NXT gets called up. Great, I got it. I think I got it covered. ” (laughs) I like Cena and those promos he was doing on the top of the show a couple years ago. I enjoyed those. I think he’s a great speaker. He’s great at either coming out with nothing or a few bullet points and improvising. He’s very, very skilled and talented in that respect.
So Dolph had a pretty solid year and made some interesting tweaks to his look and his attire. However, there was a brief change in 2011 that caused some controversy. When he had short brown hair for a few weeks, what was your reaction?
I was just freshly in FCW. In OVW and FCW, I’d been making a very strong point to not look like my brother. And that’s hard cause that’s all I ever got compared to. I was dying my hair black and keeping it short. As long as it’s not long and blonde, but short and black, I won’t look like him. So he’s overseas in England or something and comes out with short dark brown, black hair or whatever. I just stood up in my living room and I go “Nooooo! God! Come on, man!” And I got about thirty or fifty texts and calls from everyone I know going “Congratulations, your dreams came true. I just saw you on RAW. Congrats! Good job! I’m so proud of you! We’re so happy!” And I’m looking at these texts going “Oh my God, this is so embarrassing! This is not me!” Tommaso Ciampa sent me a message and he goes, “Heard the good news!” I responded back “No, it’s not what you think.” And he sent back to me, he goes, “Don’t worry, I get it. You have to keep it a secret. I get it!” He didn’t like it, I know he loved the long blonde locks and looking at different and having the rock ‘n roll Mötley Crüe thing going. I’m sure that was a nightmare for him. It was so annoying to me.
I’ve seen photos on his Instagram recently with his hair dry and straightened. It seems so much more authentic and true to rock ‘n roll and Mötley Crüe. I feel it’d be a far better look right now!
(laughs) I think it just takes so long because he’s got such wild, big, weird hair. It takes so long for him to do that kind of thing.
Now that we have made it through another gift-giving season, what was exchanged between you and Dolph for the 2015 holidays?
He’ll give us fake gifts, like funny/silly ones. And so I thought this year I would join in on that fun. I got both my brothers a bunch of really awful gag gifts from the bookstore. Fake mustaches, farts in a can, so stupid things. Terrible, like even little kids don’t want them. We got each other real gifts and gift cards or whatever. Then I got the refrigerator magnets that are so not funny. (laughs) Basically the memes that your aunt thinks are funny on Facebook like the guy from Star Trek facepalming himself and it just says “Facepalm” on it. There’s like nothing funny about it, but I got that for him. But then there’s real gifts too.
Do you ever happen to tell women at the bar that you are a pro wrestler? I’d imagine it would get an interesting response.
I used to kind of lie about what I did. I would say I was something else because I didn’t want to talk about wrestling. I hated the idea of someone doing what you’re saying, using it to show off or whatever. So when I first moved to Florida, I would deny it. I would never talk about it and I’d say, “Nah nah, that’s not what I do.” I was talking about one day it with Trent Baretta and he said “Of course I tell people I’m a wrestler! I’m proud of it! This is my dream, why should I be ashamed of that?” And that was like a light going off in my head like “Yeah, screw that. I’m gonna be proud!” I was very open about it where if someone asked what I do for a living, I’d tell them I’m a pro wrestler. They’d tell me it’s weird, but I think what they do is weird. I went to a wedding in Cincinnati halfway through my NXT days and I showed up with a black eye with a super orange face tan and my hair was dyed black. I think I had two black eyes. And I meet the girl my friend’s gonna marry. “Hi, I’m Ryan. Nice to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you.” She looks at me, goes up and down. She sees the black hair, the orange tan and just a busted up face and she couldn’t even get out the words of what she wanted to ask me. I said, “I’m a pro wrestler and I live in a real life circus. That’s why I look like this.”And she goes, “Okay, I get it. That makes sense. Got it.”
So I understand you had some involvement with Swerved on the WWE Network. How did you get on board with that?
Jeff Tremaine and his crew from Dickhouse and Gorilla Flicks, they came to see my brother and I do an improv set in San Jose the Friday night before Wrestlemania. We had a comedy show there and those guys all came to check it out. They loved it, which was kinda cool to hear. And so my brother said, “Hey, Jeff Tremaine wants to know if they can contact you about maybe writing on this show they’re doing.” They got in touch with me and I came to meet them and they said, “Hey, we saw your comedy show. We know you’re really good and you’re funny and we know you know the wrestling business and WWE really well cause you worked there for a couple years. We need someone who’s funny and who knows wrestling and can get along with wrestlers. You’re the only person we can think of who meets all those boxes.” So we have writer’s room meetings and we’ll basically think of pranks to pull on wrestlers and pranks that wrestlers can pull on themselves. It’s been a whole lot of fun. I think I’ve appeared a few episodes too, which is kinda neat. I’m very, very psyched about it. I think it’s cool. I’m very excited about it. Great group, they’re very fun. Obviously I’m a fan of all the stuff they’ve done with Jackass and Bad Grandpa and all those kind of movies. It’s another cool door that’s been opened by just following things I love like wrestling and comedy. Basically that’s how I see it.
There was speculation online that the filming of the show was unpopular backstage because of dealing with getting pranked in addition to the stress of lengthy travel every week.
There’s probably someone who felt that way and there’s other people loved it and couldn’t wait to do more. I think it depends on your personality. Nobody likes getting pranked, but everyone likes to do the pranks. I think it depends who you ask and what happened that day. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable, that’s the point. The job of a wrestler is never comfortable anyways. I could see the point if someone was upset, but I also see the point of “Get over it. You work here. You probably knew about it and signed a paper. Deal with it.” (laughs) But not everyone is involved with Swerved, you can choose not to be. If certain guys don’t wanna be, that’s fine. We’re not gonna force someone to get pranked cause that’s not fun for anybody. There’s certain people you know who enjoy it, someone like Xavier Woods enjoys a prank if it happens to him. No one likes it at the moment, but one second later, it’s funny. If people really don’t want to be pranked, and there are a few of them, that’s okay. No one will be forced to be cattle prodded. But it would be great if Brock Lesnar opens a door and water falls on him. I think that would be a good prank for him. It’s simple and he is pretty straightforward. He’s a badass, ass-kicking tough guy. I think that’s the most straightforward prank there is, open a door and water falls on him.
But then the water will immediately turn to steam once it lands on him!
And then we all run.
As we get towards 2016, how do you plan to balance wrestling, fitness, writing, comedy and everything else you’re working on?
Lately, I’ve been reaching a pretty good balance. I would say three months ago, I started to feel really good about things. I had such good balance of performing live comedy, writing gigs for comedy and fitness stuff. Now I launched this book and it seems to be very well-received. That book kinda embodies my perfect blend of all the things I love: comedy, writing, wrestling and fitness. I think that book is the balance. I will keep just trying to blow that thing up as much as I can.
Now that it’s been over a month since Hardbody was released, how has the response been?
I’m so happy about the response. It spent two weeks on Amazon’s best-selling list for Humor. Now it’s on the best-selling list for Wrestling for two weeks after that. Every review I’ve read, and they’re not fake reviews, but they seem fake cause they’re all so flattering. (laughs) My dad will call me and go “Are you writing your own reviews?” “No! People like it that much. They’re excited about it.” I just saw a bunch of guys who were in the book I saw Ryder and Tyson Kidd and Natalya and The Miz. It’s cool to hear from them and say that they’re proud and that they read the book and think it’s awesome. They thanked me for having them in it. That is such a nice thing to hear from your actual peers, people you’ve worked with in the past or whatever. It’s great.
Before we wrap up, what do you hope those who check out Hardbody will take out of it?
The foreword was written by Rob MacIntyre, the former NXT strength coach I talked about earlier. He trains guys like John Cena, Big E, Cesaro, all these different guys. These huge, strong people. In the foreword, he summarized the entire message of the book. “Fitness is not complicated. It’s simple. There’s two main principles: Don’t eat too much and get out and move sometimes.” In this book, I show there’s all these stories from all these guys and girls that I talked to. There’s WWE Superstars, Divas, screenwriters, actors, filmmakers, comedians, bodybuilders, fitness gurus, singers, all these people who have excelled in whatever their craft is. My great example is Max Landis. He’s a screenwriter and he also did Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling, the wrestling spoof of Triple H. He is an extremely successful screenwriter and filmmaker. He is not athletic and he is not a gym guy. I put him in my book as a hardbody. I put him in there because the idea of hardbody is more at the core of the person. They don’t have to have abs or big muscles. They don’t have to be Ryback, but they could be Ryback. Max Landis has worked so hard and so passionately and so tirelessly in writing. I think that kind of effort and dedication and love of what you’re doing and risk-taking, all that stuff embodies the exact message. Maybe you’re not gonna be a screenwriter, maybe you’re not gonna win a Judo World Championship, maybe you’re not gonna be Seth Rollins, but some little part of what they do is gonna help you live each day a little bit better and easier and healthier. I want people to take away that fitness is not complicated, it’s not the hardest thing in the world. There’s challenges and it’s not easy, but you can do it. If you have an interest in it and you want to work a little bit harder at something, this is how you do it.
Sounds like the perfect blueprint! I wish you continued success with the book and everything else that you work towards. I’d love to thank you very much for your time.
Thanks! Thank you for having me back on!
Pictured: Nemeth, Rob MacIntyre, EC3, and Trent? together at the legendary Hard Nocks South gym