Ricky Ortiz Talks Playing In XFL, Joining WWE, Being Brought Up Too Fast, His Release, UWF & More
I guess that little interview with Bruce Hart was another bit of gas to the fire. So, I'm reading The Rock's book up there in Canada with the urine-soaked mattress on the floor with about six other guys, eating canned beans and Ramon Noodles. I was thinking, "man, I can relate to this. Let me follow this guy down to Florida. It looks like he's doing something right there."
Because at that time, it was different trying to get into wrestling. There was still a little bit of hidden mystique to it. There was still a kind of underground fraternity thing to it. But, time's have changed a lot.
WrestlingINC: You mentioned that The Rock was one of your influences when getting into the business. What was it like seeing his return over the last year?
Ortiz: Every time I turn around, it's like, "Hats off to The Rock." I'm not trying to work him a chub here or anything but -- hey -- call a spade a spade. Hats off to The Rock and what he's done with his career and what he continues to do with his career. What he's doing for the industry and the other wrestlers in the ring across from him. That's huge. I think everybody is benefiting from it and I think there's a lot of good to come from it. And especially at his age, for him to be going how he's going, it's inspiring for everybody.
WrestlingINC: How did you end up entering the business?
Ortiz: Actually, I was up in Denver with the Colorado Crush. Elway had bought that team up there and was running the show. I thought it'd be fun to work for Elway and see how he does things around there. I'm out in Denver, Colorado and lived there for a few years and we won a championship. After that championship, I got married and I said, "Man, this pro wrestling dream. I've got to go now or it's going to be too late."
Everybody only has so much time with their body. So, me and wifey -- I said, "Come with me. I'm putting it all on the time. I'm all in, I'm making the commitment right now before I even have a job." We went there [to OVW] and went to all of the classes with Rogers. Good, ol' Rip Rogers and Robert Gibson were some of my first trainers. Off we ran. Louisville, Kentucky. It was a little change from Denver, Colorado. That's for sure. [Laughs.]
WrestlingINC: You started there as Atlas DaBone and I remember hearing a lot of stuff about you, and hearing that this guy was probably going to make it. You weren't actually there that long. They kind of brought you up pretty quickly.
Ortiz: Yeah. It was a unique situation. I went there and I was taking all the beginner classes, then I was taking the amateur classes. I was doing all their road show schedules. Then, I was doing the advance classes and their road shows. I was watching their matches and started studying and taking it all in. I made a commitment that this was my life and to eat, sleep and breathe it. To be the best I could and I knew that anything worth anything takes time and to develop any type of skill -- whether it's a professional sport or just your profession or trade in life -- it takes time to hone your craft.
So, I was just trying to get as much in as possible. Next thing you know, six or seven months in, Johnny Ace came in and I wrestled a match with Chet The Jet and he did a helluva job putting that thing together. I was so green at the time and I got a job. That thing started running and I was kind of trying to put the brakes on it. Everything was taking off with the Atlas DaBone character. It had the old school feel, with the rag-tag towel for the Pittsburgh Steelers, DaBone Yard -- I thought it was all really cool. It had a little bit of the old school feel to it. The old heel character with the stubble, the all black, some gold on, some flash and arrogance. Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect kind of stuff.