Wrestler Gabbi Tuft came out to the world as transgender in 2021. It was a scary yet liberating moment for the former WWE superstar who used to perform under the name Tyler Reks. Through the support of friends and family, including her wife of almost 20 years, she has continued to share her story in the hope that it helps others.
It’s Tuft’s transparency that has brought her a strong connection with followers on social media. Now after almost a decade since stepping away from pro wrestling, the health and fitness coach is looking at potentially staging a comeback. Here, Tuft gets candid about her journey and trailblazing aspirations.
It has been a few years since you came out publicly, yet your story has gained some more steam recently thanks to several mainstream TV appearances. What’s your frame of mind today?
Gabbi Tuft: It’s interesting being this farther down the road. There is an initial spike in emotions when you come out, especially in the way I did where I was able to come out to the world and share my story. It’s wonderful to ride that emotional high. Now that I’m a little more leveled out with everything and had a chance to integrate more into society, socially and in business, it has been an amazing shift. It’s an incredible life I’m experiencing right now, but my head is now into business, opportunities, and helping people. I love doing that.
I have a coaching business online, a fitness and nutrition coaching business. I coach 99 percent of biological females. They come to me for help, which is incredible. I never once thought that the bulk of my clients would be biological females and here they are coming to me for assistance. It speaks volumes about society’s perception on the whole bridging the gap between the transgender community and the rest of the world. I’m honored to be part of that. The fact media outlets are picking up on my story and seeing the follow-up has been amazing. I first started with my $15 Amazon wig on, trying to make the outside match the inside. To be farther down the road and look at the transition years later, it’s an incredible feeling I can share with the world.
Caitlyn Jenner made headlines with her story. Did you pull any inspiration from her in terms of finding your way?
I don’t always agree with everything Caitlyn puts out in the media. However, I do commend her for following through with her transition. It was something she needed to do for herself, which is kind of all of our journeys. I do look up to her in that way. She was a trailblazer. As far as other people I look up to in the community and my transition, there really isn’t anyone. I don’t want this to come across as arrogant in any way, but I look at where I want to be. I’m a big subscriber to visualizing the outcome you want. I had a vision of what I wanted when I started this transition. I hold tightly to that. The physical, emotional, and financial business.
Sometimes because we are such a small percentage of the population, the trailblazers are just getting started and paving the way. Outside the community, I look at Alex Hormozi and Mel Robbins. Alex, I draw for business and Mel for life. I’m hoping I can take that information, use it, learn from it, and help my community. I want to have it trickled down where I’m trailblazing the trail. Showing you that, yes, everything is possible, and here is how I did it.
You stepped away from pro wrestling around a decade ago. What are your thoughts on the business today?
It has changed incredibly. I don’t watch whole episodes just because I’m so busy, but I do keep up with it. To see the creative evolution happen has been such an incredible process. When I left, Triple H was moving up to what would be head of the creative department. The way he takes talent and nurtures their creative side rather than just having this machine where talent comes in and tries to figure it out. Then if you fumbled, you were let go.
It felt like this big conveyor belt. I watched when I left and Hunter came in and nurtured the talent. He helped them develop their characters and personalities, telling a story and pulling out those emotions with the audience. We saw, out of that, Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins rise to the top, The Usos. These are guys I was in there with and my friends and were shot to the top. Moment of silence for Bray Wyatt of course, but the emotional connection the viewers have to the characters there. I see it as so much more powerful. That is what is driving this new interest in the business.
What are your thoughts on what you’ve seen or heard from what Nyla Rose is doing in AEW and Gisele Shaw at TNA Wrestling? They are showing what is possible.
It’s incredible. I love Nyla and Gisele. Speaking of trailblazers, it’s incredible to see them in the ring, but also being in the women’s division. It’s important to clarify that it’s entertainment. Personally, because I know how big I was, this monster of a male I was. Because of the muscle I still have, I wouldn’t participate in a women’s league for competitive sports. But for entertainment purposes, it’s a different story. It’s incredible to see them part of the women’s division. Wrestling is entertainment. It’s very athletic, but it’s entertainment. I love the representation in AEW and TNA. I feel like there is a spot there for WWE. You haven’t seen it there yet. It’s raising questions as to why. Are they waiting for the right opportunity? It’s definitely a question in my mind. Maybe someday there is someone who can fill that hole very soon.
I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I did put my foot back in the ring for the first time in 11 years recently. I went down to the Rhodes Wrestling Academy under Dustin Rhodes, Goldust. I texted him and said that I would love to come down and stick my foot in the ring. He said to come on down. It was an incredible feeling to be back in the ring. Since I did that there has been a huge resurgence and feeling for what I love. It has nothing to do with transitioning and then getting back in the ring to say I’m in the women’s division.
Nothing to do with that. It had everything to do with realizing how much I missed the business. I never thought I would wrestle again, but here I am. I had open-heart surgery in July 2019. I said to my doctor, “Hey, review my scans. Am I clear to go wrestle if I want?” I’m hoping to hear back from this week to see if I’m a hundred percent clear. If that’s the case, very shortly I may resume training.
If you do get cleared, where do you see yourself in the landscape of WWE or elsewhere?
We have Rhea Ripley right now, who is such a force in WWE. She is powerful. To be honest, when I look at her and her athleticism and tenacity, I see a phenomenal opponent. A phenomenal match in the making.
I read you attended a SmackDown Madison Square Garden show in August, and WWE allegedly wouldn’t let you behind the scenes to visit. Have they reached out since?
No. I’m not sure why they didn’t want me backstage or they wouldn’t let me backstage. WWE may have had reasons for production purposes or didn’t have the time to clarify what media I was interested in filming for my social media. I don’t have any answers to that. I have a good relationship with them….This is history though if I can step back in the ring, let alone a WWE ring. Former male WWE superstar coming back as who I am right now, it’s history waiting to be written.
Royal Rumble is coming up.
Wouldn’t that be something?
Have you stayed in touch with many in the business? Has anyone broken ties after you came out?
One of my fears has been exactly that, and I never had that happen. Everyone has been incredibly kind and supportive. There is so much fear when you transition because it’s such a controversial topic right now. It can create fear. How can such an alpha male that was doing great just suddenly, in other people’s eyes, want to become a female? It has been great. I’ve had conversations with Cody Rhodes. He is a phenomenal human being and totally supportive. Tyson Kidd, Nattie Neidhart, all extremely supportive. Fred Rosser, Sonny Kiss, Nyla Rose, Chris Jericho, Lance Hoyt, Fandango. Everybody has been incredibly supportive. Not a single negative comment or person that won’t return texts. I still talk to many of my friends.
Are you doing fan conventions at all?
I haven’t attended any yet, but I’m not saying I‘m not going to. It depends on where the wind blows with me getting cleared for wrestling.
Given your story, has there been any network interest in a reality TV show surrounding your life?
Let’s just say I would not be opposed if it did happen. I can’t comment on if there has or hasn’t, but I can say if the opportunity did come across my desk, I would seize the opportunity. I would love to be on a larger platform to tell my story and share how far I’ve come and the incredible work we’re doing. Using my platform to help bridge the gap between the transgender community and the rest of the world.