Former WWE star Gabbi Tuft, famously known by her ring name Tyler Reks, recently sat down with Chris Jericho on “Talk is Jericho” to delve into her remarkable and deeply transformative journey from her wrestling career to embracing her true identity as a transgender woman. The conversation began with Jericho acknowledging the stark contrast between Tuft’s past life as the formidable Tyler Reks and her present identity. Tuft candidly shared, “I don’t feel like that guy exists anymore,” expressing the profound disconnect she feels from her former self.
While many members of the transgender community do not view transitioning as the “death” of their prior selves, Tuft’s perspective is a poignant reminder of the complexity of personal transformation. She revealed, “I can’t even imagine I was that person at that time.” Yet, in her case, this emotional distance doesn’t translate into resentment or a desire to distance herself from her wrestling past. Quite the contrary, Tuft occasionally shares videos of her wrestling days with her daughter, allowing her child to witness this significant chapter of her life.
Tuft’s journey into the wrestling world is a fascinating tale in itself. She disclosed that she wasn’t a dedicated wrestling fan before joining WWE, with her only prior exposure to the sport being during her childhood, which she eventually outgrew. Her entry into the wrestling business was unconventional, as it began in Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) after being discovered by Rick Bassman in Southern California.
Her initial foray into FCW was fraught with challenges. She recalled that she was met with resistance from her fellow trainees, describing herself as “the person everyone hated” on her first day. Many wrestlers resented her because she hadn’t paid her dues on the independent wrestling circuit before securing a contract with WWE. Nevertheless, WWE officials, including John Laurinaitis, saw the potential in her as a marketable talent, leading to her eventual signing with the company.
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Gabbi Tuft’s WWE career spanned from 2008 to 2012, and she made her debut in the now-defunct ECW in 2009. Despite her time in the WWE, her Tyler Reks character struggled to gain the necessary traction to become a household name, ultimately resulting in her release from the company in 2012. Reflecting on her tenure in WWE, Tuft admitted to her struggles in fully grasping her character and battling confidence issues during that period. While she believes that WWE could have provided more support in terms of character development and self-assurance, she ultimately takes full responsibility, saying, “I don’t blame anybody. I blame myself.”
Gabbi Tuft’s appearance on “Talk is Jericho” serves as an invaluable window into her unique journey from a professional wrestler to a transgender woman. Her story underscores the importance of self-acceptance and highlights the multifaceted nature of identity, both personal and professional. In sharing her experiences, Tuft provides a compelling narrative that resonates with individuals navigating similar paths of self-discovery and transformation.