In the second ever edition of Independent Wrestling Spotlight, I got the chance to speak with Gabby Ortiz about starting out in the world of professional wrestling, working at Ring of Honor, All Elite Wrestling, and more.
The Beginning of Gabby Ortiz
Growing up Ortiz didn’t really have a choice in getting into professional wrestling. “It was just something that always was at home with my dad and brother watching it all the time,” Ortiz tells PWMania. “My great Aunt dated Pedro Morales and around the time in the 70s when bars closed before the shows would end, the wrestlers would come over to the house and hang out in the basement.”
Gabby Ortiz recalls stories her dad would tell her about when he was growing up. He would see all these wrestlers in the basement drinking and hanging out. “My family has always been a family of wrestling fans,” says Ortiz.
Growing up, Ortiz loved the big stars and the women around at that time. However, she noticed that she didn’t look like them. “I was never going to look like them,” states Ortiz. “I shied away from women’s wrestling in the beginning.”
However, when Ortiz got older, she started seeing the likes of AJ Lee and Paige break into the business. “Those were the girls who were more like me,” says Ortiz. “I related to them more and that’s what stuck out for me.” Seth Rollins also had a huge influence on Ortiz as well.
When Ortiz started training in 2016, that was the year where we saw a huge turning point for women’s wrestling. “I didn’t know when I started training that all of this was going to happen,” says Ortiz. “I got into it at an amazing time for women’s wrestling.”
Ortiz wanted to get into it because of the likes of AJ Lee. “She was a big reason why there was a big shift,” says Ortiz. “I’m thankful for that because there are so much more opportunities to be given out. We’ve come a long way but there’s still such a long way to go. I’m proud to be in the crop of women a part of making wrestling a better place for us.”
Ortiz was thinking of training for a while. She recalled speaking with some friends about it and one of her co-worbeforeOctober 2015, prior to when she started training. In February of the following year, she officially started to train.
“The day I thought I had to do this was when I did a meet and greet with Seth Rollins,” states Ortiz. “It was in January in Vorhees, NJ and I remember just waiting in line and that made me realize I belong on the other side of the table signing the autographs. I always wanted to create and perform for people. Right after, I messaged Danny Cage, owner of Monster Factory, about a tryout.”
Gabby Ortiz’s first day was unlike many others. “I walk in and my tryout is done by Damian Priest and Matt Riddle. LSG and Ian Riccaboni were also there as well from Ring of Honor, and QT Marshall was there as well,” says Ortiz.
After her tryout, Ortiz recalls Danny Cage taking her and her dad into his office and telling them the next steps on what she had to do. “There was a girl, Miranda Vionette, who recently came back and Cage said if she hadn’t started he didn’t know if he would let me train here because of my size,” says Ortiz.
“I have to thank her for this because she proved to someone who didn’t believe a smaller girl could do it, could do it,” states Ortiz. On her first official day in training, X-Pac was there and he taught Ortiz how to do a lock-up.
Gabby Ortiz had her first match against Riley Shepard. “She was one of my training partners who started a little bit after me,” says Ortiz. “We were each other’s first singles match. I recently went back and watched back the match and it wasn’t too bad.”
Working with Ring of Honor
“It was incredible working there. One of the first things I heard about them was that was where serious wrestlers went,” says Ortiz. “You had to be on your game. You couldn’t just be a character. I remember thinking I’ll never work there because I thought my character work was amazing but I wasn’t athletic enough.”
“About a year later I was working there. It was a good way to prove to myself that I was good enough to work here,” states Ortiz. “Working with the women there, like Sumi Sakai, and Mandy Leon, they were so inspiring. Deonna Purrazzo, Karen Q, and Tasha Steelz as well, just amazing women. I wish I had more time and more matches with them. The opportunity I got there, I wouldn’t have anything in my career if it weren’t for ROH.”
One of Ortiz’s favorite matches was the qualifying match she had for the Women of Honor Women’s Championship Tournament against Bonesaw Brooks. “I loved that match,” says Ortiz. “It was my first big match back from working and training Japan. It was really me getting to show all that I learned from my time in Japan.”Ortiz also loved her first match where she teamed up with Sumie Sakai, and when she teamed with Riley Shepard in the Hammerstein Ballroom.
Working with All Elite Wrestling
“It was so fun,” says Ortiz. “I’ve known Thunder for a while. We’ve never wrestled each other so this was very exciting. We worked with Dustin Rhodes as well which was cool. Paul Turner was our ref, and he was my ref for almost all of my ROH matches.”
“Eddie Kingston did commentary, and, here’s a little secret, he does like me,” says Ortiz. “It was truly the coolest experience ever. I got a huge following because of that meme photo that came out of that match.”
“It was Thunder Rosa’s birthday so I shared it to wish her a Happy Birthday. It was fun to play with and I made a lot of great fans and new friends I would say because of that meme,” states Ortiz.
Happy Birthday @thunderrosa22!! 😉 🎂 pic.twitter.com/GRuuCr0dQ4
— Gabby Quesadelphia (@Gabbity) July 22, 2022
Gabby Ortiz on Working With Nyla Rose and Willow Nightingale
“Two of my favorite people, not just in wrestling, but in general,” says Ortiz. Ortiz faced off with Nyla Rose at Synergy in 2019. “That was the first time Nyla and I met.” Gabby Ortiz says she would hang out with Nyla every day outside of wrestling if she could.
“She’s hysterical and was down to do anything in the match,” says Ortiz. “It was so exciting to work with her and someone who was about to be on TV. She let me have a say in what I wanted to do and how I wanted to present myself in the ring. She’s very collaborative and so wonderful.”
Willow Nightingale and Gabby Ortiz have worked together a lot of time on the indies. “Willow and I have known each other for a while,” says Ortiz. “Everything she’s worked for and everything that she’ll continue to work for, she deserves. She deserves everything and more.”
Working with Hana Kimura in Stardom
Wrestling in Stardom was an incredible experience for Gabby Ortiz. “Ring of Honor put me in the position to have that experience so thank you to them again,” says Ortiz. “My first singles match in Stardom was against Hana.”
“To this day, even more, it’s my favorite singles match I’ve ever had,” says Ortiz. “Besides her being a great wrestler, she was a great friend. She was truly one of the most stunning women I’ve met in my entire life.”
“When I found out we were wrestling each other, she came over and said that she’s honored to have this match with me,” states Ortiz. “I was like I’m honored to have this match with you. We wrestled in a few more tag matches after that. She helped me come up with some moves and I’m just so thankful for the time I had with her. I miss her very much.”
Gabby Ortiz has an upcoming show on July 30th at Monster Factory. “The promoter just opened up intergender wrestling on the main shows,” says Ortiz. “It opens up my opponent pool a lot.”
“There’s a championship called the Supersonic Champion there that I’ve always had my eyes on,” says Ortiz. “It’s currently held by a wrestler named Twitch, but it won’t be held by him much longer if I have anything to do with it.”
In the future, Gabby Ortiz would love to wrestle Lana one day. “I would love to work for Impact or NWA as well,” says Ortiz. “I think I’d be a good fit for either of those companies. My 2022 new year’s resolution was just to have fun with it. This has been my most successful year so far, and I’m excited about the future.”
If you’d like to follow Gabby Ortiz on Twitter or Instagram, you can find her @Gabbity on both. She also is selling merchandise at this link.