WrestlingINC: When you were released that summer, what was the reason given to you?
Ortiz: They basically said, "Why don't you give that Atlas DaBone character another try," and basically, "Go and refine your skills. There will be an open door here and hopefully, we'll be in contact with you in the future with each other." They made a call for me to go to Puerto Rico right after my release and that was it.
You sensed it and then you knew with the squash match I had with Great Khali before that. With the call, you know, it hurts because you've put everything on the line. But, if you want something, you've got to be willing to pay the price for it. Everybody's got to pay dues and has to go through hard times. That was just the beginning of it. [Laughs.]
WrestlingINC: After you were released, you appeared on an episode of "Last Call with Scott Hall." I know you traveled with Hall for a few indie shows, as well as Larry Zbyszko. What was your relationship like with them, two guys who are legends of the sport?
Ortiz: Well, I ended up living with Scott Hall for about eight months and studying tape every single night. I listened to his stories with Shawn Michaels about the stuff they'd talk about before and after the matches. Looking at the entertainment aspect of sports-entertainment by studying movies and different sorts of actors. All the stuff that had to do with the business that was that old school type of teaching and mentoring. Kind of young boy style.
Just really breaking stuff down. Studying old Dick Murdock tapes and hearing the stories about him being young and him doing stupid stuff like him doing a slingshot over the ropes and he's about 280 pounds. Dropping down and leap frogging you even though he's a big giant dude, just because he can. Just doing all this kind of stuff, where you go, "OK. These guys weren't always psychology-based geniuses. They weren't always these artists at the top tier. They actually had to learn and they were mentored and it took time." So, it was actually refreshing to live with him.
He [Hall] was on the straight and narrow when I was there and then stuff happened. Shoot, we all need prayer, brother. God helps us all, man. But, I thought it was good. Then, we'd go do these indie shows and hear the stories on the road and I'd pick his brain.
That's another thing that's missing is being on the road for years with guys in the car after shows. Then, after the show, they tell you what's what and you start to get a sense and a vision of what works for you. Then, there it is: it's the gift passed down and I think that's a part that's missing also. You can call them the dinosaurs. [Laughs.] But, I mean, those guys are a dying breed. They hold a lot of the golden keys, so to speak, to the industry and what built the industry. They've been groomed under all these great guys that have built the industry and have been taught all these secrets. That helps with them giving back to the business like that. It really does.
It helps -- not only that person -- but the person up and coming. It helps the business. And the end result is that the fans get a better product and that makes it all worth it.
WrestlingINC: Do you still keep in touch with Scott Hall?
Ortiz: He's going through his battle right now. I think the best thing to do is just pray for each other and let everyone fight their fight. Be there for them if they call or want you to come by. But, everyone's got to fight their own battles. Everyone's gotta step one foot in front of the other every day and just be there for each other. Just to be a shoulder to lean on -- offer a hand.
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