Santana and Ortiz are both in-ring veterans that have been teaming since 2012, but you can never have enough advice in the pro wrestling industry, and Chris Jericho has taken them under his wing as part of AEW’s Inner Circle.
The tag team spoke about Jericho mentoring them when they joined Bused Open Podcast w/Bully Ray.
“Seeing Jericho’s confidence in us, and our abilities, and our talents has been something that’s humbling, man, because he lets us rock. He lets us do us and he trusts that we know what we want to do, how we want to do it, and what we want to portray in,” said Santana.
“He, of course, steps in when he feels like something can be better or something can be improved, but for the most part, he’s been so gracious with just letting us rock and trusting us. And not just him, but everyone there. We were brought in for a reason. Everyone there was brought for a reason, and the fact that they trust in that reason to let us rock and let us do our thing is pretty dope.”
“Yeah, and even at times, he’ll even ask our advice on something,” revealed Ortiz. “‘Hey, how does that sound’ or whatever, and it’s mind-boggling to us. You ask for our advice and you’ve been doing this for how long and making money out of it? But it’s very humbling, it’s very awesome. Yeah man, we couldn’t have asked for a better mentor at this level.”
Santana and Ortiz made their names as part of the LAX faction in Impact where they were four-time Tag Team Champions. Another former LAX member who is now in AEW is Eddie Kingston, and Ortiz talked about his presence.
“What Eddie could do on the mic is a lost art, or there’s a handful of people that can do it currently in our business. And yeah, I think that’s a testament to him always putting himself as it’s real. He likes to say ? he said in our interviews, everything he says about himself is a shoot, about his opponents sometimes is a shoot, but nine times out of ten, he’s shooting the s**t. But I think that’s what honestly brings so much realism to when he talks on the mic because he’s not lying,” stated Ortiz. “You can see it in his eyes, and the way he delivers the lines, he’s not lying.”
Ortiz said he and Santana joined AEW after being noticed on Chris Jericho’s Cruise. At that time, they made a great impression on the man they would eventually align with in The Inner Circle. But Kingston’s specific rode to AEW was a bit different.
“Eddie came in for a one-show deal. His mentality was, ‘Hey, I’m going to get that paycheck.’ He had to sell his wrestling gear because he was doing independents. He just came off of a tour in England, I believe, and he was supposed to go back for another six months,” said Ortiz. “But then everything shut down because of COVID-19, and he was at a point in his life where he was just like, ‘Alright. Well, what’s the paycheck like? I got to come and make money. I got to pay my mortgage.’ And he earned himself a spot because they gave him that mic in the beginning, and I think that’s what made him for that spot. Plus, he backed it up in the match and it looked like a fight, and Cody looked like a bada– at the end of the day, and I think that’s a testament to him being, as he would like to say, ’18 years’.
After months of performing in front of essentially only the AEW locker room, the company has begun letting in a small number of fans to events. It’s a welcome addition to all of the talent, and Santana and Ortiz discussed how it feels to wrestle in front of fans again.
“Wrestling in front of the crowd is like the best drug in the world,” said Ortiz. “There’s something about it – getting that instant gratification of when you put something together, or you go on the fly and you change something and it gets the reaction out of people and you can tell. I mean, it’s a testament to the guys sitting at the front row, the guys and the girls, trying to make noise for us and stuff like that, but it’s not very organic. They’re trying to do their best. Sometimes it is organic, but getting a crowd and knowing that you’re getting an organic reaction whether it’s good or bad, it’s the best thing in the world.
“Even having 200 fans or even after having 15 fans. I mean, we came up in the indies circuit; we’re not strangers to wrestling in front of 20 people. It’s just in a bigger arena, but it’s great, man. I love it. I can’t wait until it’s getting back to some sense of normality, and we can wrestle in front of packed arenas again, if that’s even a future for the civil. But yeah, man, it’s great.”
“Yeah, to go with Ortiz, if there’s one thing that we’ve realized for the last few months, it’s how much of the audience is a part of the magic that we make,” stated Santana. “Having them back has been a great feeling, and just being able to come out and look up in the rafters and actually see people there now, it’s a good feeling man.”
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.