Santana & Ortiz explain the origins of their name, and more.
One of the biggest signings in the Wednesday Night Wars was AEW scoring Santana & Ortiz (formerly LAX in IMPACT Wrestling) in free agency. The duo had offers from multiple companies, including WWE. Speaking to Fightful at Starrcast, Santana & Ortiz revealed why they decided to join AEW over everyone else.
"The tag team division was a big factor in it. Look who they have. There's people we need to prove ourselves against. We know, deep down inside, we're on the level if not above the level of a lot of people in the tag division. That says a lot. We want to prove ourselves to be the best tag team in the world. Being that AEW is going to spotlight tag team wrestling, we were like, 'This is where we have to be," said Ortiz. "We look at the Attitude Era very nostalgically and we thought to ourselves, 'We want to be those people.' When AEW has been going on for 20 years and people look back, they'll think to themselves, 'Santana & Ortiz, those were them boys.'"
Santana added, "The opportunity to be apart of something from the ground up and creating a legacy instead of joining something that is already concrete and has a foundation. Being apart of something from the ground up is something we take serious and we want to be part of it. All Elite has also given us the opportunity to still be dads and family men and not have to kill our asses on the road. I get it, it's apart of the game and the culture of pro wrestling, but at the same time, being dads is something that is our top priority. The fact that they gave us the opportunity to continue living our dream and supporting our families, who wouldn't jump at that?"
Santana & Ortiz also revealed that working with Chris Jericho, which was pitched to them before they signed, also played a factor in their decision.
On working with Jericho, Santana said, "Being able to sit under that learning tree and take everything in and be side-by-side with one of the greats is definitely awesome."
While Ortiz noted, "Real recognize real. He recognized we are the real deal and we're under his wing. We're learning from The GOAT."
With Santana & Ortiz being unable to use the LAX name as it is IMPACT property, the two had to come up with a new team name in AEW. They chose Proud-N-Powerful, which has received mixed reviews from fans. But as they tell it, the name means more than just what you see on a graphic.
"It's a collection," said Santana when asked who came up with the name. "It was us and Bodega Bamz, who did our entrance, and he has a crew called The Tanboys. We all represent the same thing; hard dudes coming from New York City representing our Latino culture. It was a collection of ideas."
Ortiz elaborated, adding, "We want to bring a positive light to Latino culture and not just Latino culture. Proud and Powerful, we want to make it more than just Latinos or Puerto Ricans. It's everyone that doesn't feel represented. You should represent yourself. Us representing ourselves and our culture is a huge part of our success. That's what we want to do show people. Because we are proud, we became powerful. And now we're living our dreams."
Proud-N-Powerful scored a big victory at AEW Full Gear, defeating The Young Bucks in the opening contest. To add insult to injury, the duo attacked the Bucks on the following episode of AEW Dynamite, putting Matt Jackson on the shelf and hobbling Nick Jackson.