It’s been just over two weeks since Eddie Kingston made his debut with All Elite Wrestling, answering Cody Rhode’s open challenge for the TNT Championship after Kingston had called out Cody at an ICW No Holds Barred show. Since then, “The Mad King” has officially been announced as signing with AEW, and now the next chapter of his nearly 20-year career begins. But with the vast majority of AEW’s stars aligned together in factions such as The Elite, The Inner Circle, Best Friends, Death Triangle, Team Taz, Jurassic Express, SCU, and more, it would appear that Kingston is walking into a locker room full of cliques and brotherhoods with Kingston one of the company’s true loners. But while there are several stars on the roster that Kingston has had run-ins throughout his lengthy indie career, there are two names that stick out from recent history as names that Eddie Kingston could potentially target: The Inner Circle’s Santana and Ortiz.
Kingston and the Proud N’ Powerful tandem of Santana and Ortiz are all products of the tough New York/New Jersey indie scene. But when Kingston was “grinding it out” starting in 2002, Santana & Ortiz were still in grade school. Santana would make his debut in 2007 at 17 years old, while Ortiz would start in 2008. In 2012, the two united to form EYFBO (Entertain Your F**king Balls Off) and began to climb the ladders of tag team wrestling in the US indies with the likes of Beyond Wrestling, House of Glory, Game Changer Wrestling (GCW), and more. Kingston and EYFBO would first come into contact with each other in Beyond Wrestling in 2015, when EYFBO teamed with their fellow Team Pizuzu members (Chris Dickinson, Jaka, and Pinkie Sanchez) to defeat Kingston’s team with Nick Gage, Da Hit Squad (Dan Maff & Monsta Mack), and Shynron (now MLW’s Zenshi). A year later, Kingston would pair with Mia Yim to face EYFBO in New York City at 2KW Pro Wrestling.
In 2017, EYFBO joined IMPACT Wrestling, where the duo became the newest recruits in Konnan‘s rebooted Latin American Exchange (LAX), alongside original member Homicide and another new recruit, in Diamante. The team made an immediate mark in IMPACT, winning the Global Force Wrestling Tag Team titles that April before unifying them with the IMPACT World Tag Team titles several months later. But following a World tag team title loss to Eli Drake & Scott Steiner at IMPACT Redemption in April of 2018, the LAX duo entered a funk. Soon after, Konnan went missing after an attack, and on May 24, 2018, Eddie Kingston arrived in IMPACT Wrestling to assume leadership of LAX while Konnan recovered. During his stint as de facto leader of the unit, Kingston managed to instill back into Ortiz & Santana the hunger they’d had on the streets, and in June, guided them to their third IMPACT World Tag Team Championships, which they held for 261-days.
But Kingston’s stint on top in LAX was short-lived, as it was soon revealed that it was “The Mad King” himself who had “taken out the hit” on Konnan. And when Santana & Ortiz showed loyalty to Konnan, Kingston and his enforcers, Homicide & Hernandez, took out LAX and became The OGz. The two units would have a brutal gang war for several weeks, until Santana & Ortiz finally prevailed and Kingston departed IMPACT.
Since then, Santana & Ortiz made the jump to AEW last year at AEW All Out and soon aligned themselves with Chris Jericho and his burgeoning stable, The Inner Circle. For the remainder of 2019, the new unit, dubbed Proud N’ Powerful, picked up some big wins including one over The Young Bucks at AEW Full Gear, but in 2020, it’s been an entirely different ball game. For the most part, they’ve failed in most of their big matches, with wins only coming on episodes of AEW DARK on YouTube against mostly unknown indie wrestlers. While they did win a three-way on July 16, 2020, against SCU’s Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian and Private Party, the duo who was at one time regarded as one of the top tag teams in the world have still yet to have a shot at the AEW World Tag Team titles – they’ve failed three times in #1 Contenders matches and have remained static in the tag team rankings. More often than not, they’ve been a comedic foil for Inner Circle opponents, and even within their own stable, they’re not the go-to tag-team – it was Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara – aka Le Sex Gods – who got the only World Tag Team title shot for the stable last November.
With AEW’s tag team division only deepening, it seems like Santana & Ortiz’s worth is only diminishing in AEW. What they need is to get that fire back that drove them to become 4x IMPACT World Tag Team Champions in only three years, the team that collected gold around the world as 3x HOG Tag Team Champions, CZW World Tag Team Champions, AAW Tag Team Champions, WrestlePro Tag Team Champions, and Wrestling Revolver Tag Team Champions. They need to focus on their own careers and not worry about being lackeys for a near-50-year-old. And what better man to help them refind “the street” than the man who guided them to tag team gold in 2018 in IMPACT Wrestling, and AEW’s newest signee, Eddie Kingston?
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