Barri Griffiths (born 13 January 1982) is a Welsh professional wrestler. He is best known for his time with WWE, where he performed under the ring name Mason Ryan.
Griffiths began training to be a professional wrestler in 2006, and competed around Europe for the next three years. In 2009, he signed a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and debuted in Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), WWE's developmental territory, in January 2010. In July, he won the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship and held the championship until February 2011. Griffiths debuted as Mason Ryan on Raw in January 2011, where he aligned himself with the New Nexus.
Griffiths was born in Tremadog, the son of Carys and Malcolm Griffiths. He attended Ysgol y Gorlan primary school in Tremadog and Ysgol Eifionydd secondary school in Porthmadog, before studying construction management at Cardiff University for 18 months. He worked as a trainee carpenter and in his family's funeral home prior to becoming a wrestler. Griffiths played football as a centre-back for Welsh Premier League team Porthmadog, but had to curtail his career due to a knee injury.
Professional Wrestling Career
Training and early career (2006–2008)
Griffiths began training to be a professional wrestler in 2006 after attending a wrestling show with a friend where the promoter Orig 'El Bandito' Williams, recommended he start wrestling. He trained at aprofessional wrestling school in Birkenhead. Griffiths had wrestled under the names Celtic Warrior and Smackdown Warrior since 2007, and had competed in almost 100 matches in countries including Egyptand Venezuela. He represented the UK in a Battle of the Nations tag team match between the UK and Austria, teaming with Drew McDonald and Sheamus O'Shaunessy in a losing effort to Chris Raaber, Michael Kovac, and Robert Ray Kreuzer at the European Wrestlng Association's Night of Gladiators show in June 2007. After signing with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Griffiths had his final show in Wales in October 2008, when he won a singles match and a battle royal in Porthmadog.
World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE
Florida Championship Wrestling (2009–2011)
In mid-2009, Griffiths signed a five-year contract with WWE. When he received his work visa, he debuted in their developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) in January 2010. Under the name Mason Ryan, he competed against wrestlers including Johnny Curtis, Tyler Reks, Johnny Prime, and Hunico in his first matches.
On 22 July, Ryan won a triple threat match against defending champion Alex Riley and Johnny Curtis by pinning Riley to win the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship for the first time. Over the next few months, Ryan successfully defended the championship against wrestlers including Bo Rotundo, Richie Steamboat, and Eli Cottonwood. At the tapings of FCW television on 2 September, Ryan successfully defended the championship against Johnny Curtis when FCW commentator Byron Saxtoninterfered and aided him. The following week, Saxton became aligned with Ryan, accompanying him to the ring and acting as his manager. In November 2010, Ryan toured Europe with the SmackDown brand, defeating Chavo Guerrero in Belfast on 4 November and again in Liverpool on 6 November. On 3 February 2011, Ryan lost the Florida Heavyweight Championship to Bo Rotundo, ending a six-and-a-half month reign.
The New Nexus (2011)
See also: The New Nexus
Ryan as part of the New Nexus in April 2011.
Griffiths, as Mason Ryan, made his WWE television debut on 17 January 2011 episode of Raw by interfering in a match between CM Punk and John Cena. Following his interference, Punk presented him with a 'Nexus' armband, inducting him into the New Nexus. Ryan then participated in the 2011 Royal Rumble match where he eliminated The Great Khali and Booker T. On 7 February Ryan had his debut match on Raw when he lost to R-Truth via disqualification. In late February, it was announced that Punk would face Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXVII, with each member of the New Nexus facing Orton to win the right to accompany Punk to the ring in the preceding weeks. Ryan was the final member to face Orton, but lost on the 14 March episode of Raw. Following the match, Orton punted Ryan in the head. Ryan was absent from television for nearly a month, making his return on 11 April on Raw with the other New Nexus members, attacking Orton and preventing him from earning a WWE Championship match. On the episode of Raw on 2 May, Ryan lost to Kane by disqualification following interference from Punk, and went on to attack both Kane and Big Show. Afterward he left the ring without celebrating with the other members of the New Nexus. At the Over the Limit pay-per-view on 22 May, Ryan and Punk challenged Big Show and Kane for the WWE Tag Team Championship, but were unsuccessful. Mason Ryan was voted to face Evan Bourne in a singles match and won, but Ryan winning the vote was later revealed to be due to a technical error, as Sin Cara was the actual winner of the vote. The following month, Ryan suffered an injury and was absent from television to recuperate.
Return and NXT (2011–2014)
Ryan returned from injury at a house show in Jackson, Mississippi in late August. He made his television return on the 8 September episode of WWE Superstars, defeating JTG. On the 26 September episode ofRaw, Ryan was chosen by Vickie Guerrero as the partner for Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler in a six-man tag team match against Zack Ryder and Air Boom (Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston), but Ryan turned on Swagger and Ziggler, allowing Ryder to pick up the victory for his team, this turned Ryan face. The following week on Raw, Ryan teamed with Air Boom, Sheamus, CM Punk and John Cena in a 12-man tag team match to defeat the team of Alberto Del Rio, Christian, Cody Rhodes, David Otunga, Ziggler, and Swagger. Ryan began feuding with Ziggler, with the pair trading wins via disqualification. Ryan was part of Team Orton at the Survivor Series pay-per-view in 20 November, where he was eliminated by Cody Rhodes. After Survivor Series, Ryan was confined to wrestling on Superstars mainly for the first half of 2012, but did not wrestle a single televised match in the second half of 2012.
When WWE rebranded its developmental territory, FCW, into NXT Wrestling, Ryan rejoined the developmental roster, returning to the ring on the rebooted WWE NXT and began his singles winning streak on 30 January 2013, by defeating Sakamoto.After squashing Enzo Amore on the 22 May episode of NXT, on the next episode Ryan took part in an 18-man battle royal to determine the number one contender to the NXT Championship, where he dominantly eliminated 11 wrestlers before being eliminated by Adrian Neville. Ryan then entered into a feud against Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady; although he easily defeated them in singles matches, he fell to them in a handicap match. On 30 April 2014, it was reported that Ryan had been released by WWE.
Griffiths appeared in the second series of the revived Gladiators television show in 2009, and competed under the name Goliath. When he was working on a television show in Wales about being a wrestler, he was told that producers were looking for new gladiators, and he applied with the encouragement of his trainer, Orig Williams. He began filming the first show a month later, as he had to grow long hair for the role.
Griffiths has appeared on The Paul O'Grady Show. Barri Griffiths: Y Reslar, a Welsh language documentary about Griffiths' life in the months before he moved to the United States, aired in September 2010 on S4C. In December 2011, Griffiths appeared on the TV documentary Orig, where he was interviewed by Tara Bethan, the daughter of his first trainer Orig Williams.