January 25, 2011
Mason Ryan (Barri Griffiths)
REAL NAME: Barri Griffiths
Barri Griffiths, the huge man in the middle of CM Punk's new Nexus faction, is a real Gladiator.
He was a gladiator named Goliath on Gladiators, a program that aired in the United Kingdom in 2009.
But he always aspired to being a professional wrestler.
Griffiths, who hails from Porthmadog, Wales, went to Cardiff University, studying construction management, with the intention of working in his family's undertaking firm. He also played soccer as a centre-back for Welsh Premier League side Porthmadog F.C. before injuring his knee.
In 2006, he started training to be a professional wrestler under the late Welsh wrestler/promoter Orig Williams, who also worked as El Bandito. All Star Wrestling promoter Brian Dixon also helped polish the beastly man. Aside from working throughout the UK, Griffiths made early trips to Egypt and Venezuela to wrestle.
After signing a WWE contract, he headed to Florida and within six months was the Florida Championship Wrestling heavyweight champion, and many have compared him to Dave Batista for his look and size.
"For me, it's like being chosen to play for a Premiership football club, who could refuse the chance to become a WWE superstar?" he told a Welsh newspaper at the time of his signing. "I think I'll miss home but I certainly won’t lose any of my Welshness."
Indeed, Griffiths -- who speaks Welsh -- has a deep, unique timbre to his voice when on the microphone. Other wrestling stars from Wales who have made an impact in North America are Adrian Street and Rob Terry.
Griffith's biggest impact came on January 17, 2011, when he first appeared on Monday Night Raw, during a match between CM Punk and John Cena. As Mason Ryan, he sent Cena from the ring, then turned his attention to Punk. The new Nexus leader spread his arms, and Ryan beat him up too. After, Punk presented Ryan with a Nexus armband.