Former WWE Superstar Gabbi Tuft (fka Tyler Reks) was on a recent episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast to discuss the news of her gender transition as well as to dispel misconceptions about her gender transition. Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman asked Tuft about how she broke into the wrestling business.
“It literally fell in my lap, and I know there’s a lot of people, when they hear my story, they tend to go, ‘This goofball. He wasn’t even interested in wrestling at the time,’ and I wasn’t,” Tuft admitted. “I had no interest, but a really good friend of mine is Rick Bassman, and he was an agent for [John] Cena, Sting [and] Ultimate Warrior. He was the owner of Ultimate Pro Wrestling. Rick’s a great guy. We were just talking days ago.
“He’s a phenomenal guy, and we were great friends. We lived in Southern California. For a year, we were hanging out with guys that were former WWE stars, and I had no idea. There was just these big, giant guys around all the time we go party with, and so one day, Rick calls me. And he says, ‘Hey Gabe, I know you’re not into wrestling, but I’ve got some people at the dojo.’ It was mixed martial arts, and he had a wrestling ring in there too for UPW.
“And he said, ‘Why don’t you come on down and let them have a look. There’s some scouts, worst thing that could happen is that nothing happens. The best thing that happens is you walk with a contract.’ I didn’t know what I was walking into, but I walked into 40 guys in their boots and underwear, full gear [and] bumping around in the ring, and I was just like, ‘Oh my God, what is going on?’ But I talked to Bucci and Johnny ‘Ace’ Laurinaitis, and they both were like, ‘Hey, look, you got the look. We want to see what you can do.’ So they put me in the ring, gave me a tryout and the rest was history.”
Hausman and Tuft agreed that the wrestling business is a hyper-masculine environment. Tuft noted that, at the time, she didn’t struggle with how masculine the industry was nor of the perception of the women’s division pre-Women’s Revolution.
“2007, and then my first day in FCW was February 1, 2008,” Tuft recalled. “At that time, I was fully embracing being a male, and I had no problem with that. Maybe that’s something, just very quickly, I never have really talked about is there was a portion of my life, I don’t regret it. And I embraced being a male. There was just always this part of me in the back of my head that just would wonder. I got along great with the guys. I was very masculine.
“That never bothered me. From my perspective, the women’s division or just the Divas in general, they are as much of a part of wrestling as we were, and it was necessary for the draw for the crowds to build the business. So I fully understood that, and it was more or less a newer aspect. We had been through the Attitude Era with the Divas back then, but they were really trying to build something new and different, and it’s understandable that there’s a smaller pool of females there. Of course, it looked different for the guys.
“A lot of us were like, ‘Man, the measuring stick for them is this big (small), and the measuring stick for the guys was this big.’ Honestly, how does that affect me? It doesn’t. They’re going to get their air time no matter what, and they’re going to build a division. It’s going to be a draw for WWE. It’s gonna be great, and then for us, there may have been 60 guys who we’re competing with, but that’s what it always had been, so I didn’t look down on it at all. Didn’t bother me one bit.”
Tuft spent a few years in Florida Championship Wrestling before being called up to WWE TV on ECW. She talked about how she found out about her call-up.
“It was amazing. It was wonderful,” Tuft stated. “The funny part is I had been on the road for months with a couple of the other guys like Sheamus and Yoshi [Tatsu]. We were all on the road, and one night, [Mark] Carano — we’ve been doing this for months.
“Just go practice before the show and then sit around and watch and just get to know everybody. Carano calls us into his office, and he goes, ‘Alright guys, you guys are all debuting on ECW as part of the new talent initiative. So here’s the ball, don’t drop it.’ We’re like, ‘Oh, okay.’ I never had a dark match. I never had a promo in front of a crowd. They were just like, go ahead. Your debut is tonight.”
Tuft then discussed the research she did while in UPW and FCW that helped make her a fan of the product. She said that after that work, the call-up to ECW made it more exciting.
“Not before I got into FCW. Let me back up, when I got into UPW, I started really studying everything, the history, because I wasn’t a fan, and I didn’t watch ECW when I was younger,” Tuft admitted. “So I wasn’t familiar with it, but in FCW, I watched a ton of tape, and I became a very very big fan of ECW. So to know that we had a chance to be on that show, before it was gone, be a part of history, was absolutely amazing.”
For more information about Gabbi’s “Body Spartan” fitness app please visit www.BodySpartan.com
Tuft’s full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here. You can find the full audio from today’s show, as well as the video from Nick’s interview with Tuft, below.