After trials by fire from an early age, Vandal Ortagun’s determination and skills have made him a respect and sought-after talent all over the world.
By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
It took Vandal Ortagun a scant three years from pro wrestling taking a hold of him to becoming a champion.
“I was 12 years old and flipping through channels and all of a sudden I see the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre [from February of 1999],” Ortagun said during an interview with The Gorilla Position. “It was [Vince] McMahon and Stone Cold [Steve Austin] in the cage match and the story they had built for it was unbelievable. It just stuck – I couldn’t change the channel when I started watching it. I was in awee not only of the athleticism but of the spectacle, the fireworks – for me, that was the most entertaining thing as a 12-year old – and I didn’t even know what wrestling was.”
Ortagun had to be involved in pro wrestling and wasted no time doing so. With his parents’ permission, Ortagun began training at age 15. Being much smaller and younger than the rest of his peers, Ortagun had to survive a “weaning out” process.
“At 16 years old and 110 pounds, I was the ‘bump dummy’ – the guy that gets killed for a year,” Ortagun said. “I think everyone’s mindframe was, ‘Let’s kill this kid every night so he doesn’t come back here.’ I think they looked at me as someone who shouldn’t be in the business at that time because I was too young. But what I did every night was kept coming back. I earned a lot of those guys’ respect.”
After persevering through a hellacious training period, that resilience has helped carry Ortagun through a 17-year career that has seen travel the world over. It was in Japan that Ortagun feels his talent and tenacity came together for one of his bigger opportunities yet.
“In 2012 I got an invitation to wrestle for Zero One in Japan,” said Ortagun. “That really changed everything because I got to wrestle alongside guys like Jonathan Gresham and Joe Coffey. It was absolutely amazing but it also tested you. The way they wrestled, the psychology was different and the training – three hours of cardio before you enter the ring for another two hours at the dojo. That tested me to the limit and put me in the best shape of my life”
Upon returning to the states, Ortagun was contacted by WWE to do some work for NXT – a relationship that has continued to this day. He is also a mainstay in MLW and all over the world.
After 17 years pro, Ortagun’s determination and skills have made him a respect and sought-after talent all over the world. And he has no plans to change any of that.
“What’s great is, with me being able to start at 16, I’m only 32 years old. I’ve been a lot of places and done a lot, but I’m just getting started. I’m still in my prime and I’m still passionate. I want to wrestle in all 50 states and on every continent.”
17 years of hardwork, blood, sweat, and tears. Sleeping in my car, sacrificing relationships, missing weddings, missing birthdays, missing funerals, traveling the world, getting fired from jobs for using my sick days to wrestle – all for a chance to live out my dream. #WWE pic.twitter.com/0nLchEegYx
— Vandal(Ortagun)🇹🇷 (@JVandal1) February 28, 2019
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Viral Pro Wrestling: Survival
April 13, 2019 – 6:30 PM
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Vandal Ortagun faces Kotto Brazil in a Garden City Classic qualifying match!