AEW’s Ortiz: Proud-n-Powerful and Here to Show the World

(Photo by Sul Larokko)

All Elite Wrestling’s Wednesday Night Dynamite debuted during prime time on TNT, Wednesday, October 2, 2019. 1.4 million viewers tuned in during its two-hour runtime, making it TNT’s most successful pilot ever. The main event of the evening was an incredible Six-Man Tag Team Match, featuring Chris Jericho, who is considered an all-time great in the industry. A partner of his for the evening, and now stablemate, was New York City native, Angel Ortiz, who goes by Ortiz in AEW. Ortiz and his tag-team partner Mike “Santana” Sanchez have recently coined the moniker, “proud-n-powerful” to represent who they are as Professional Wrestlers.

And also as people.  

“Proud-n-powerful is just a way of life. That comes from us growing up Latino. And I think it goes through all cultures and all racial barriers. Everyone generally is proud of who they are as an individual and where they come from and their family background. And that’s what we’re trying to get across…we’re just proud and powerful individuals,” said Ortiz. 

New York City has deep ties to the history of the wrestling business. Growing up there, Ortiz would spend his youth watching local promotions such as Jersey All-Pro Wrestling. A company based out of northern New Jersey. A mainstay of JAPW, Frankie Kazarian, is now in the same tag-team division as Santana and Ortiz in AEW, alongside Scorpio Sky and Christopher Daniels as SoCal Uncensored.  

Now a seasoned veteran of 22 years, Kazarian is highly respected in the wrestling world. His stablemate, “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels has been wrestling for 26 years and was on WCW’s Monday Nitro in 2000. Scorpio Sky is the baby of the group with 17 years of experience. The trio of veterans bring a combined 65 years of knowledge to the table and are an invaluable asset to any locker room. 

“When I was a teenager, most of the guys I grew up watching were doing the innovative stuff back in the early 2000s. And actually, Christopher Daniels is my favorite wrestler,” said Ortiz. “Frankie Kazarian being his partner for so many years, with that influence, it’s just awesome to be under that learning tree. I’ve gotten to the point in my career where I can be under that learning tree, and wrestle, and be looked at on the same level as those guys; it’s awesome.”

Now they’ll be rubbing elbows with these veterans every week for the foreseeable future. But it’s not the first time Santana and Ortiz have crossed paths with SoCal Uncensored. They teamed with fellow NYC native Chris Dickinson to take on SCU in April of 2019.

“We got to wrestle them for Beyond Wrestling, which was really cool, and we felt the chemistry with them in the ring. We just can’t wait to tear it up with them. SCU, especially Scorpio Sky as well, they’re an awesome trio,” said Ortiz.

Santana and Ortiz are part of a faction with Chris Jericho as well as Sammy Guevara, and former WWE Superstar, Jake Hager, then known as Jack Swagger. This faction, known as Inner Circle, has only been together for a short time. But they’ve already made massive waves in AEW. With Jericho as their leader, who is known for his memorable debuts and returns, it should come as no surprise that the Brooklyn boys followed suit at AEW: All Out.

Santana and Ortiz bring over a decade of tagging together to AEW (Photo by Sul Larokko)

It was at the Sears Center in Chicago, Illinois, that Santana and Ortiz made their debut for All Elite Wrestling. They Attacked the teams of The Young Bucks: Nick and Matt Jackson, and the Lucha Bros: Rey Fenix and Pentagon Jr. Both the Young Bucks and the Lucha Bros are in the conversation for the best Tag Team in the world. When they made their debut, Santana wore a Bill Clinton mask, and Ortiz wore John F. Kennedy. The masks were more than a disguise. They were inspired by a love of 80’s movies and an homage to their mentors.

“Well, honestly, we were on a Patrick Swayze kick (at the time), so of course Point Break. And also mentors of ours, Eddie Kingston and Homicide,” said Ortiz. “When they were Outlaw Inc., they came out with President masks. So it was a combination of those things.”

This young and infinitely-talented tag-team has all the potential in the world to do great things in AEW. They’ve already made a connection with the fans. Their debut at All Out made one of the most memorable moments in a night where they crowned the first-ever AEW World Champion. 

Santana and Ortiz have become a household name in the indie circuit. They’ve wrestled all over the country for tons of promotions. However, they’ve never had a stage quite as significant and as far-reaching as All Elite Wrestling. It’s a cliche story now in the wrestling business; going from bingo halls and high-school gymnasiums, wrestling in front of fifty people— to performing in front of a sold-out arena with over 14,000 in attendance. There is some incredible talent in the indie scene, and the Professional Wrestlers that give their blood, sweat, and tears to it deserve all the respect in the world.

However, none of those promotions have a prime-time television deal with a national network like TNT. Santana and Ortiz knew they had to seize the spotlight to make a name for themselves, now that they’re swimming in an ocean with sharks like Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley. And no louder statement could be made than one at the expense of two of the top teams in the game.

“Both teams call themselves the best tag teams in the world, and we were getting sick and tired of that. So we had to bring them down a notch because those two teams are always in the conversation. The Lucha Bros are unlike any other act to come before. They’re super over everywhere they go. They do phenomenal stuff in the ring,” said Ortiz. “Penta has this charisma to him that people just connect with. Fenix is like a superhero. He does things that not a lot of human beings can do. But they’ve only been tagging for a short time. They grew up in wrestling together, they’ve been wrestling a long time, but as a unit, they’ve just recently gained that notoriety. So we’re just a little sick and tired of hearing that, man.

“I feel like we were in the trenches in IMPACT. And some people would take notice of us, we have our core fans, but now it’s time for the world to realize what we can do. So message sent. They call themselves the best tag team, but guess who was standing over them at the end of the night.”

About Matt Hirsch 235 Articles
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Matt Hirsch discovered his love for video games when his father brought home a Nintendo GameCube, along with Luigi’s Mansion when he was five years old. Since then, his passion for games, as well as professional wrestling, music, anime and movies has inspired him to pursue a career in media and journalism. He graduated from Midwood High School in 2014 and spent three of those years as captain of the varsity Bowling team. These days you’ll be able to find him in comp queue in Overwatch, or Squadding up with some friends in Fortnite.

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