To pro wrestling fans, Santana and Ortiz are best known for their time in Impact where they held the Tag Team Championships longer than any other tag team in the promotion’s history. But after two-and-a-half years in Impact, the duo joined AEW last summer and quickly linked up with Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle faction.
Santana and Ortiz reflected on spending the last year in AEW when they joined the Bused Open Podcast with Bully Ray.
“I think the best word to describe it is a roller coaster. Man, [it’s been] a roller coaster in every sense of the word, not just professionally, but personally in my life. And it’s been one for the ages; I guarantee you that,” said Santana.
“Yeah, to go with what he said, it’s been amazing and a great learning experience. We’ve been challenged, and I love it,” stated Ortiz. “Every time we got a challenge in our career, we’ve become better performers and become better athletes. And I think, especially after last night, we’ve been gifted opportunities to run with the ball in Stadium Stampede and doing all these types of matches and events.
“It’s amazing, man, and I love it. I just want more. I’m like, ‘Just keep giving us more’ because I just want to keep elevating our game, and you want to be remembered. That’s always our goal and I think we are constantly getting the opportunity to do so, and it’s been great. It’s been fun and I love it. I really think we made the best decision about coming to AEW.”
When Santana is in the ring, he has an uncanny ferocity that adds a layer of realism to his matches. He discussed where that channeled fury came from, and how he’s able to harness it in the ring.
“A lot of it has to do with my own personal mental health, and also, news about my dad in January. That’s something I’m still continuously dealing with every single day, and I’m still learning this new person that I am after dealing with that; dealing with my mental health, and my depression, and anxiety. It has just been, like I said, a roller coaster of a year, and it’s taking a lot to not explode in a negative way. And thankfully we had this outlet and this opportunity for me to channel all of this frustration and all of this energy I had pent up for so long,” said Santana.
“It’s a lot of everything. It’s personal, it’s professional, as you said, we had a chip in our shoulder. We wanted to prove that we were the best. We want to prove that we belong in the main event and we’ll stop at nothing to do exactly that, and I’m thankful that I had this sort of system in place. Not just at home but on the road with the company. Since my dad has passed, they’ve been the biggest support system I can ask for, and there’s a lot of times where you feel like you’re not at a place where you want to be, and your mind starts messing with you and starts playing games with you, and sometimes, you need to take a step back and look at the overall big picture, and check yourself pretty much. And I’ve been able to do that, and then again, thankfully I was able to channel that energy in this kind of way.”
Before Santana’s father passed away, he did get to see his son succeed in the pro wrestling world, and Santana talked about how thankful he is of that.
“I will forever be thankful for the fact that he not only got to see me make it and got to see me live out my dreams, but also got to see the man I became after dealing with the life that I was dealt with,” said Santana. “I say this all the time and Ortiz is a testament ? he’s known me since I was a kid ? I ain’t supposed to be here. I ain’t supposed to have done what I’m doing today, and I take this s–t to heart. This s–t is my life.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.