Little has come out concerning Ricky Ortiz’ release from World Wrestling Entertainment three weeks ago. It’s been said that his age worked against him, as at 34, company officials didn’t have confidence he’d develop into the top guy they originally envisioned. It’s also been said that he was let go for budget reasons.
Ortiz, real name Richard Young, is originally from Paradise Valley, Arizona, which is near Phoenix. He attended Glendale Community College where he was second-team JC All-American as a linebacker, and started as a senior at the University of Tulsa. He played professional football from 1998 to 2004, reaching his highest point his rookie year by spending time in training camp with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and making the team’s practice squad during the season. He went on to play in the Canadian Football League (2000 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders) and Arena Football League (2000-01 and 2002-2004). Ortiz also played in the XFL for the Orlando Rage in 2001.
After his football career came to an end, Ortiz transitioned over to professional wrestling and gained experience in Ohio Valley Wrestling, starting in late 2006. He signed a developmental contract with WWE within a matter of weeks and under the name Atlas DaBone, was given a big push in the promotion right from the start. He would make his WWE debut one and half years later during the July 1, 2008 edition of ECW, first under the moniker Atlas Ortiz. His name changed to Ricky the following week. Ortiz would enjoy a five-month winning streak to kick off his career in WWE before being defeated by fellow newcomer Jack Swagger in December. Following his loss to Swagger, Ortiz’ push greatly leveled off and he was left off television more often than not. After his push had subsided on ECW, Ortiz would be transferred over to Smackdown during the 2009 WWE Supplemental Draft. Ortiz would make sporadic appearances on the blue brand, often coming up on the losing end.
Ortiz debuted a completely new look on World Wrestling Council’s “Summer Madness” show in Puerto Rico last weekend. On the same show with Ricky Steamboat and Ricky Steamboat, Jr., Ortiz wrestled against former TNA wrestler/referee Shane Sewell. Ortiz’s new look includes shaving off his trademark hair and changing from the baggy wrestling pants to standard trunks. Ortiz wrestled heel against Sewell, who is a fan favorite in the organization. Ortiz was released two Saturdays ago after appearing on the previous night’s episode of Friday Night Smackdown. One weekend later, he was in Puerto Rico working the WWC show. A vdeo of the match has been posted on YouTube.com and he looks completely different.