Gabby Ortiz reflects on working in Japan for STARDOM very early on in her career.
Japanese wrestling, especially Joshi wrestling, continues to grow in popularity every year. For wrestling fans who eventually break into the business, the opportunity to go to Japan and ply your trade is a dream come true. For Gabby Ortiz, that dream came very early on in her career when she had less than a dozen matches under her belt.
Speaking with Fightful Overbooked’s Lillie, Gabby says that perhaps she was too inexperienced for such an opportunity and wishes that she was a bit older when she got the chance to tour Japan.
“As amazing as the opportunity was, I wish I was a little bit older and I wish I had known a little bit more about the business,” Gabby began. "When I went in there I was still BRAND NEW. I, maybe, had 10 matches in the United States when I went and they knew, me coming in, that I was very inexperienced and those girls take their job so serious — we all do, but they don't want to waste one of their matches on like someone that doesn't know what they're doing and I think they were nervous about that because there have been girls that have gone over there from America that have trained for years and years and they just they couldn't keep up so they were like, ‘This girl doesn't know anything like no way she's keeping up with us.’ But I could and I had good training. So, on the first day, the first match, Konami kicked me really hard in the head and left a huge bruise on my face…she did that on purpose.
“Because we practiced it so that I could protect myself but she just went for it and I kind of lost it for a little bit,” she continued. “I blacked out for a bit and came to a couple of seconds later, went to the back and was like, ‘Hey don’t do that again.’ She looked all confused and I was just like, ‘We are not playing that game,’ and she understood what I meant after all, after that we were cool. Everyone was cool with me. It was just a point of me sticking up for myself and also just showing that I was there to work hard."
Gabby says that if she could, she would go back in a heartbeat and really enjoyed her time there.
“I tried really hard to just make everything I did clean and good so they could respect me, and they did and when I left everyone gave me a big group hug,” she recalled. “It was really nice. I miss it. I would go back in a heartbeat. I really do miss it. It’s probably a very different company now [STARDOM] and a lot of my good friends aren't wrestling anymore and, you know, Hana's passed away and she was probably one of [my closest friends] there, so it'd be a little bittersweet going back. I don't have too many crazy stories. I'm not a partier or anything like I don't really do that but I did spend a lot of time just going on the trains and exploring what the city had to offer, going shopping, and just kind of enjoyed getting lost and finding my way back. I always did! So yeah, it was a good time. Good food.”
During her time there, Gabby was roommates with AEW’s Toni Storm and WWE Superstar Doudrop, while there were no crazy stories, she did give the meaning behind Toni Storm's signature move, Strong Zero.
“My roommates were Toni Storm and Doudrop,” she revealed. “I mean Toni Storm’s signature was Strong Zero, which is an alcoholic beverage. Toni's Toni's finisher out there and I think it still might be but I think it's they changed the name of it but her finisher was actually kind of like Thunder Rosa’s. It was called Strong Zero and that’s a low-calorie carbonated beverage out there. It’s quite delicious and we understand why she would call it that.”