In a night full of surprise cameos from past WWE stars, Monday’s edition of Raw also featured the unexpected debut of a new monster heel, Big E Langston. Immediately christened by Twitter users as “Ryblack” — thanks to the massive physique bulging under his singlet and, of course, his skin color — Langston put an exclamation point the Slammy edition of Raw by attacking John Cena.
So who is this mystery man, and what does the future hold for him in WWE? We’ve pieced together some background on AJ Lee’s secret weapon, as well as some clues about where he might be headed in 2013.
Big E Langston was born Ettore Ewen 26 years ago to parents Margaret and Eltore Ewen in Tampa, Florida.
He is reportedly a former member of the National Honor Society, which recognizes high school students who demonstrate superior scholarship, leadership and character. While attending Wharton High School in Tampa, he captured the Florida state amateur wrestling championship and was a standout football player. According to some sources, he is a musician and former member of the Tri-M (Modern Music Masters) Society for high school students.
After high school Ewen attended the University of Iowa, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts and played football as a defensive lineman, despite being plagued by a torn ACL and a torn pectoral muscle. He eventually turned his focus to powerlifting, a sport in which he became a breakout star. Two years ago he shattered all four of Florida’s powerlifting records in the 275-pound weight class — state records that still stand to this day.
In 2011 at the USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals, he broke more records by lifting a total of 2,039 pounds in the various events — roughly the weight of an average hippopotamus or a Volkswagen Beetle.
He can bench press 529 pounds, which is nearly twice his own weight. He is said to have a t-shirt that reads: “I got 99 problems, but my bench ain’t one of them.” He can deadlift nearly 800 pounds, which is roughly the equivalent of a full-size grand piano. Interestingly, a number of records in powerlifting are still held by Mark Henry.
You can see him in this clip of John Cena giving weightlifting pointers to a group of rookie wrestlers (The Sheild’s Roman Reigns is in there too, among other upstarts:
So Langston is strong. But can he wrestle?
He made his debut in Florida Championship Wrestling exactly two years to the day before he steamrolled Cena on this week’s Raw. And, in a twist of ironic foreshadowing, he teamed with Skip Sheffield and others in an eight-man tag that night. That is, Ryback and “Ryblack” were partners.
He developed a penchant, much like King Kong Bundy, for demanding a five-count for pinned opponents.
He made periodic appearances on house shows and in early 2012.
Earlier this month, he defeated another recent main-roster call-up, Seth Rollins, for the NXT Championship.
It’s clear that Langston’s first target is Cena, in the ongoing saga of AJ Lee’s scorned-woman storyline.
There’s already plenty of speculation about his future. Will he become the rumored fourth member of the Shield? His attack-first-explain-later mandate seems to fit with The Shield’s. His microphone work at NXT wasn’t earth-shattering or terribly original, but it shows potential.
Or will WWE pick up on the “Ryblack” chants, which will inevitably echo through arenas for the foreseeable future, by pitting him against their resident monster babyface? He seems like a shoo-in for the “cleaning house” spot in the Royal Rumble — the monster who tosses everyone overboard until a bigger monster arrives. Given their similar backgrounds, could Langston be pitted against a returning Mark Henry?
Of course, perhaps WWE will suddenly shift gears and he’ll become yet another neglected monster. Some fans mistakenly believed he was Ezekiel Jackson when he burst onto Raw. Remember him?