Santana and Ortiz are ready for an emotionally and physically draining night when they battle The Pinnacle in AEW’s first-ever “Blood & Guts” match on Wednesday night.
Collectively known as Proud and Powerful, Santana and Ortiz spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard ahead of Wednesday’s “Blood & Guts” edition of AEW Dynamite. Both members of The Inner Circle, the duo talked about how they’re preparing for the titular match. Both men said there’s definitely a focus on being in shape physically as a wrestler, but this match is going to test everyone mentally as well.
Ortiz: “Man, I’ve been upping my training in the gym and I’ve been focusing on this match. So, really I’ve had tunnel vision these past two weeks. I mean, even before the match was announced and we got to this point that we’re at now, I was already kind of ramping up my physical training. But this match just gave me a new fire, for the lack of a better term, gave me a new fire under my ass. I mean there’s been tunnel vision this whole week for me, so literally, after we’re finished with this interview I’m gonna jump back into the gym and ready to go because I know that this isn’t gonna be an easy match to get through and I know all five men that we’re going to face are tough individuals in their own right. I’m anxious more than anything. I’m anxious, I’m afraid in a sense, because I’m always afraid to go to the place mentally that matches like this takes us and I’m going to keep my guts in my body. So, yeah, I’m excited, anxious, afraid—all those emotions balled up into one.”
Santana: “And to add to what Ortiz just said, he had mentioned the mental part. I think that’s, for me, personally, it’s not just getting myself ready physically, but also mentally. We’ve had these kinds of matches before and I always tried to take myself to a very dark place mentally and know that this is about survival more than anything. So, it’s definitely put me into a different state of mind these past few weeks.”
The two are very familiar with unique match stipulations in their careers, but Blood & Guts is a different concept and a new scenario for everyone involved in the match. When asked how they can make this match stand out from some of their other work, Santana said this one all comes down to making sure they walk out of the match instead of being carried out. Ortiz agreed, explaining that some of their matches allowed some more fun and freedom, but this will see all ten men locked in a cage and it will force them to work together in a confined space—and that’s when their experience will come into play.
Santana: “With Stadium Stampede, it was pretty much faction versus faction but if you go back and look at that match it was very—let’s just say we had more fun than anything with that match. But this one, our main focus and our main goal is to make sure that we’re the team walking out of there and The Pinnacle isn’t. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I refuse to go out of that match on my back. There’s no way that my pride is going to let me do that and with this level of violence, the good thing and the bad thing is that all ten of us are going in with pretty much the same intentions. We’re walking out. There’s no way any of us are being carried out on our shield, ya know what I mean?”
Ortiz: “Yeah, to go off of what Santana said—with the exception of maybe a few in-ring [matches] that we’ve been in together as a unit and in Stadium Stampede—we got separated as a unit. In this match, we can’t get separated. We’ll have each other’s back because we’ll be locked up in a cage and there’s not many places to go and there’s nowhere to run. I think that in itself is what’s gonna make it unique. Our prior matches that were like this, at least at far as the level of violence, have calloused us and prepared us for this endeavor.”
– #thePinnacle v. #InnerCircle: 2 Rings / 1 Giant Covered Cage
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–@KennyOmegamanX+ @MichaelNakazawa v. @JonMoxley + @MadKing1981
– #1 Ranked @RealBrittBaker is in action
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— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) May 5, 2021
The Blood & Guts match itself presents a new dynamic, forcing each team to work within the confines of the cage, but another shift comes in the form of having Inner Circle working as the de facto babyfaces. The Inner Circle stable had been a heel group since their debut in 2019, but Santana and Ortiz are familiar with being cheered so this is just a natural transition for them.
Ortiz: “For the majority of our careers, especially since we’ve been doing television, we’ve generally been babyfaces, we’ve been the good guys, so for us, it’s very comfortable. Going into AEW and when we started The Inner Circle, we were put in a situation where we weren’t so comfortable and we had to learn how to do things a bit differently.”
“It’s really fun to be the bad guy, it’s fun to be the jerk and the scumbag sometimes, but in reality, us as individuals, we try to just be good human beings. It’s a natural fit to be the good guys. Like you said, we were typically the heel faction since the infancy of AEW and it just adds a different dynamic. It gives us a different way to develop different stories, our characters. It’s a natural transition.”
Blood & Guts takes place live on AEW Dynamite at 8 pm EST on TNT. Follow WrestleZone for full coverage of tonight’s show and check out our full interview with Santana and Ortiz at the top of this page.