Ricky Ortiz Talks Playing In XFL, Joining WWE, Being Brought Up Too Fast, His Release, UWF & More
WrestlingINC: From OVW you went to WWE and they gave you the name Atlas Ortiz. Who came up with that name?
Ortiz: They said, "You're going to debut today." I thought it was a rib. They said I was debuting and I was like, OK. [Laughs.] "We're going to cut this promo but your name's going to be Atlas Ortiz. You know, you're Ricky Ortiz, but your friends call you Atlas." I was like, "Oh, my gosh. Really, dude? Like this?" But I was like, whatever. So, you run with it and you figure that that's how it goes. You never know, things change and flip around.
Tony Atlas was there at the time and I think it had something to do with him, who I respect. I didn't have a problem with that. They bring you in one day, they change your name the next day on television. It was actually the second day. It was the follow-up. It just kind of makes you wonder about the trust and how much trust is going on with the thought process and what's going on. I mean, this is my life. I dedicated everything to this. I've sold everything, lost everything along the way and I've put it all on this. I made my mind up not to turn back and I'm coming losing trust a little bit is what it's starting to feel like. They're just throwing this here or there or maybe it's a test. Maybe it's a test, you know. I'm not going to judge anything and I'm just going to take it as it comes with a positive mind frame and be grateful for each day I'm given. What else can you do especially when you're that green in the business?
WrestlingINC: How would you describe your first year in ECW?
Ortiz: It was like a dream come true. It felt like the first time I stepped out in a field or arena playing football. It was like that all over again but with its own uniqueness to it. I wouldn't compare the two but yet, it felt thrilling, man. All those years just spending inside these different arenas and stadiums packed and battling. This is the feeling of grace, just wanting to fall to your knees and say, "Thank you, man. I get to do this again." It's life, brother. You're feeling the heart beat. Man, it's a real grateful feeling. That's for sure. Especially with ECW and the path that those guys had laid before us and what they had put themselves through and sacrificed for that product.
You watch all those old promos and all the old matches. That was actually a nice launching pad for many superstars. But, those guys were coming in with a lot more experience than a year. [Laugh.]
WrestlingINC: Who were the guys you enjoyed working with in the new ECW?
Ortiz: Jack Swagger was fun. I mean, I enjoyed all those guys -- all the guys that are on television now. I worked with those guys every day. All those guys; from Dolph [Ziggler], to Kofi [Kingston], to Jack [Swagger], to Evan Bourne, to Santino [Marella]. I mean, come on. You're just messing around with the comradery with each other and playing around. There's no better job. I think that's important, too. Sometimes, it gets lost and there's so much hustle and bustle that that aspect kind of gets lost in there when you're in it. It's fragile. Life is, wrestling career, all that stuff. You've got to remember the love that drew you there in the first place. That's what I think about when I think of all those guys that I wrestled up there in ECW and everywhere in between.
WrestlingINC: How would you describe the mood in the company at that time?