I had the privilege of conducting an interview with the Impact & House Of Glory Tag Team Champions, EYFBO/LAX. I sat down with Santana and Ortiz after their match at Beyond Wrestling in Somerset, MA on May 20th 2017. Their body of work include IMPACT Wrestling, Beyond Wrestling, C4 Wrestling, Game Changer Wrestling, House of Glory, 2KW Pro and AIW. They were kind enough to make some time in their schedule for an interview after the show.
Thanks guys for your time. So tell me , where did you guys grow up?
Ortiz: New York City. Born and Raised. I was born in Manhattan. Not the gritty part though. I grew up on the Upper West side. You know? The nice neighborhood. But I was always in Brooklyn when I was growing up. I got my street cred from hanging out with my cousin in Brownsville. And this guy here though? He grew up all over NYC.
Santana: Originally I was born and raised in the lower east side. I grew up in a single mom household, so we moved a lot. From there we moved to the Bronx, then to Harlem and Staten Island. But through all that, I always went back to the lower east side. I was there every weekend with my grandparents. It’s where my childhood friends lived. My first girlfriend was from there. So I was all over. But The Lower East Side is home.
How old are you guys?
Santana: You should kayfabe that.
How long have you guys have been wrestling?
Ortiz: This is a wildly debated question. We go back and forth. (Laughs) But we started at different times. I started wrestling in 2008. No wait, I got out of the military in 2008. I started training in 2008 and had my first match that year.
You were in the military?
Ortiz: Yeah baby. I served three years in the United States Navy.
Santana: I started training in November of 2007. Had my first match at the end of 2008.
How long have you guys been tagging together?
Santana: About 6 years. We started tagging together in 2011. After working with each other about a year, we decided to become a tag team.
Where did you guys train?
Ortiz: Well he (Santana) started training in Staten Island with Magic, The Godfather of New York/New Jersey wrestling. Anybody who was somebody back in the early days of the NY NJ independent scene or early Ring Of Honor was touched by Magic. The Low-Ki’s, The Homicide’s, The Hit Squad. He trained in Staten Island alongside Chris Dickinson, TJ Marconi and Darius Carter. I trained in Long Island with Earl Cooter (FTW) for about a year or two. We also had some training under the SAT’s at the Ludus School. But we also still train with Amazing Red to this day. I also had some training under Dan Barry.
What was it that got you hooked on Pro Wrestling, what are those early memories, maybe like a Saturday morning memory?
Santana: Wow. Saturday Morning. Haven’t heard that term in a while. Those don’t exist anymore…. But my earliest memory was Wrestlemania 7. And the first match I remember watching was probably The Nasty Boys vs The Hart Foundation. That’s when the Hart Foundation lost the tag team titles. It was seeing that, that made me fall in love with wrestling and Bret Hart. I think that was the year they wore all pink. So probably going back to 91-92.
Ortiz: For me it was watching All Japan tapes in 2000 with my cousin and seeing Misawa wrestle.
What wrestler(s) would you say influenced your tag team style?
Ortiz: I would definitely say very early on in our career, The SAT’s. Definitely. They influenced us a lot taking us under their wing and training with them. But you know just learning the lucha style from them and learning the different ways of looking at things.
Unfortunately, were not on speaking terms with Joel Maximo at the moment. We had a falling out. Shit happens in wrestling. Whatever. But I can say this about the man. The best advice he’s ever given me was “It doesn’t matter how you look. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin. Black, White, Spanish. It doesn’t matter. No one can take anything away from you as long as you kill it every time you step between those ropes.” So that’s why we’re always looking to try new things and innovate.
But we’re both really big fans of that Japanese style, strong style of wrestling. So being influenced by the Hit Squad early in our career. Like strong style thugs. Those New York cats. And they’re also watching those All Japan tag matches. Matches with Marafuji and Kenta going at it. Those style of matches where you just build with a such a big crescendo at the end. Those style of matches just draw you in and you forget everything. For that second the veil is lifted. Or there is no veil there. It’s like watching a really good movie.
Santana: It just makes you believe.
Ortiz: Especially when you watch somebody get hit and you’re like “Damn!” Even to this day, we watch everything. But just recently, I was on this kick where I was watching nothing but Esse Rios. For real. Esse Rios was the man. People just don’t understand. I watch some pretty obscure mid card early 90’s wresting. Like Taka Michinoku back in the day was the man too. And Christopher Daniels back when he had hair.
Santana: Christopher Daniel’s is probably his favorite wrestler of all time. That’s his idol.
Ortiz: That’s because he’s the master of all around wrestling. He can wrestle any style.
Have you ever worked with him?
Ortiz: I’ve met him but never had the privilege.
The question that everyone wants to know. What does EYFBO stand for?
Santana: (Laughs) It stands for “Entertain Your Fucking Balls Off.”
Ortiz: The PG terms is “Entertain Your Freakin Butt Off”. We had a PG term. We realized you couldn’t use that name with kids around. (Laughing) We had to.
How’d you guys come up with that?
Santana: This was the corniest thing ever. At the point we started tagging, LMFAO. They were hot. We needed a gimmick. It was something different. And no one back then was really doing the party gimmick.
Ortiz: That’s why you’d see us wearing the zebra prints and party glasses.
What match(es) to this day could you pull up on the network, YouTube, VHS or DVD that you could watch on repeat?
Ortiz: For me it’s definitely watching Marafuji and Kenta. It used to be on YouTube. It was Marafuji’s Fantastic Voyage. It’s when he was going around wrestling all the top dogs. They had a video to Mother Superior by Coheed and Cambria. It was dope. Youtube took it down because of the music copyright laws. But anything with Kenta and Misawa. Or Misawa and Kawada. Anything All Japan honestly. I’m such an All Japan mark.
Santana: For me it had to be Bret and Shawn at Wrestlemania 12. And random, but I’m going to say Chris Benoit vs Eddie Guerrero at the first One Night Stand, ECW.
Ortiz: Really? That one? I would’ve said maybe Pegasus Kid and Black Tiger.
Santana: Yesss. But no go back and watch that match. Just watch that.
Larry Legend made note to me your tag team match against All Money Is Legal, Pusha and Murda, what was the significance of that?
Ortiz: Well that was the first time we tagged as a team. Big UP to “All Money Is Legal.” Pusha and Murda. Those dudes didn’t really know us from a hole in the wall. Pusher only really knew Draztic (Santana) at the time. They really hadn’t seen my work. And they were willing to do the match. He (Santana) called me and asked if we were going do this tag match. And I tried giving him every excuse in the world.
Santana: He was probably 350 pounds at the time.
Ortiz: I was a little bit bigger at the time. I kind of let myself go. But he was like “we’re going to do this match.” And we did it. Respect to them. They took us seriously. They were down for whatever. They didn’t shoot down anything we wanted to do. We went back and forth. And they gave us that respect in the ring. It was the first time I had wrestled in a while. Like I said, I gained weight. I was kind of wasting away. But it happened and wound up being a good match. It showed we had chemistry. It had a lot of rough patches. And it took a long time for us to really get on point with each other. I would probably say around the 4th year is when we started clicking as a tag team. But “All Money Is Legal” is the reason why these two men are on every Thursday at 8 o’clock. Big shout out.
How’d you guys get connected with Team Pazuzu?
Ortiz: Pinky Sanchez. Pinky Sanchez is the reason why Team Pazuzu exists. Pinky is a New York guy. Jaka. Dickinson. New York guys also. Pinky was in Beyond way before we were. Pinky knew us from other places. And it just kind of all came together. Pinky was one of the first people to see something in us. Along with “All Money Is Legal” and the people that gave us a shot early on as a tag team. Pinky said “These kids are good. They’re gonna be something.” Pinky said it from day one.
Santana: Yo. It’s crazy. To even think about. Pinky Sanchez said it day one. I heard it just now as he said it. It took me back. It’s crazy.
Ortiz: Yeah. 100 percent. Dickinson and Jaka knew Draztik (Santana) from training with Magic. They had their Pazuzu thing but it wasn’t a wrestling thing. It was their crew. But yeah. We hooked up and we all genuinely clicked. We didn’t force it. We started riding together. We liked the same music. We liked the same wrestling. The car rides just brought us together and then we started doing it in Beyond.
Speaking of Jaka. Who’s uncle is he really?
Santana: (Laughs) Tio? He’s everybody’s uncle. He’s the world’s uncle.
Ortiz: To anybody who’s reading this, he’s everybody’s Tio. He’s your Tio. He’s my Tio. Let’s hashtag that and get it trending. He’s everybody’s Tio. Where’s the marketing team?
How would you say your styles have changed in shifting gears from EYFBO to LAX?
Ortiz: EYFBO has a more laid back vibe. More into the fun and crazy, party thing. But now with LAX, our style is definitely ,more aggressive.
Santana: Definitely more aggressive. Straight violence in your face.
Ortiz: Beating our opponents down. And not letting them back up. If they do, they pay.
What’s it been like working with Konnan and Homicide?
Ortiz: It’s just dope. This guy still gets giddy. Real talk. He’ll have those surreal moments in the car. When we were at the tapings and Konnan sat us down and said “watch this” and “what’s going on here?” He’s sat down with us and picked out the little things. We get it. Because wrestling that TV style is a different. And Homicide is just always there. He’s like a pitbull. He’s constantly reminding us to be the specialists. To not forget the little things. Reminding us to connect with the crowd and not forget the details.
How did you guys hook up with LAX?
Santana: Hooking up with LAX? We had a history with Homicide . Homicide has known us since we were young in the business. We’ve known him for a while. He’d seen us progress and get better. He was always talking about getting something together with us. And it’s crazy that years later, building the bonds and building the trust and relationships with those guys got us to this point. I remember Konnan calling me that first day and we just spoke for 45 minutes on the phone. And after seeing some of our work, he emphasized being specialists. You know? Being the best.
Ortiz: The first set of tapings everyone was cool. But it was still something new. We were treading lightly and feeling it out. But the last set of tapings we could just see he had the confidence in us. Because if he didn’t we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing.
Any chance we’re going to see you guys in the Crash?
Santana: Eventually. Right place. Right time. And patience.
Is there anything you currently want to add to your body of work? Anyone you want to work with?
Ortiz: We were just asked this by Paul Crockett for PW Insider. He asked us the same question. And I’ll say it again. We want to work the Briscoes. 100%. A lot of people ask us about wrestling The Young Bucks or other tag teams out there. But we want to work the Briscoes. I think they’re the best. They’ could do it all. The Briscoes do it all. They’ve stood relevant. They’re still nasty.
Santana: Yeah. That’s one thing. Those guys since day one. Seeing them in 2002 when they were 18-19 years old, they were still putting in a lot of work. Those are dudes that never slowed down. They kept going. They’ve elevated themselves every year. They’re the epitomy of tag team wrestling. We want to get that level. We want to be able to do it with anyone anywhere at any time.
Ortiz: If anyone can make that happen, I’ll mow your lawn.