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Transgender WWE star Gabbi Tuft wants to be bigger than John Cena and The Rock: "I want to own the house"

Transgender WWE star Gabbi Tuft wants to be bigger than John Cena and The Rock: "I want to own the house"

She wants to return to the ring.

The world of wrestling entertainment has never quite had a jolt like the one Gabbi Tuft is proposing.

Assigned male at birth, Tuft has promised to return to competitive wrestling 12 years after being released from the WWE and three years since coming out as a transgender woman. But the 45-year-old does not merely want to take part; she wants to take over.

Tuft has stated an ambition to be more famous than John Cena; more prominent than Chyna; to be immortalised like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. She vowed to surpass the career of every superstar I proposed with the conviction of someone who has faced immense suffering and lived to tell the tale.

“My goal would be to own the house.” Tuft told SPORTbible. “My goal would be to have all eyes on me as much as possible and to take my entire following, which is tens of millions, with me.

“If I graced that stage, whether it's AEW or WWE, that's history being written. This is entertainment. My goal is to get views for whoever takes me on and to bring them the most entertaining segments they have ever seen.

“If you are going to be in this business and you're going to break your body, you're going to spend time away from your family and you're going to give everything that your body, mind and soul have, why would anyone shoot for anything less than that very top spot?”

If Tuft’s ambitions are actualised she would become more than an athlete. She would be a social revolutionary.

Between 2008 and 2012 Tuft “embraced” her masculinity as WWE superstar Tyler Reks. Competing in the men’s division of the sport, she donned a Herculean 280-pound (128kg) frame that required a daily 10,000 calorie intake to maintain.

Her muscularity, first constructed as a teenager to stave off school bullies, saw her compared to ‘Game of Thrones’ strong man The Mountain.

But at 36, a year after retirement, Tuft’s repressed childhood feelings resurfaced with such severity that a transition felt like a case of “live or die”.

Upon coming out to her then-wife Priscilla Tuft in 2020 and going public with the news the following February, she shed 190 pounds (86kg) of weight and muscle mass while medically transitioning into a woman. She has likened the experience elsewhere to a second puberty.

Tuft competed in the WWE as Tyler Reks between 2008 and 2012 (WWE)
Tuft competed in the WWE as Tyler Reks between 2008 and 2012 (WWE)

“I don't have an answer as to why it happened,” Tuft admitted. “A lot of people will ask me, ‘Why do you think it happened so late in life?' I look back to that moment and all I know is it was ‘live or die’ for me. I couldn't go another day.

“I started having feelings resurface where I felt the need to start presenting female in private when nobody was around. I was very secretive about that.

“Once my wife was aware of the desires, then it started to progress a little bit more because I felt more free to express who I was and knew it was safe.”

She added: “I'm Gen X and for a male to present female anywhere, and act feminine does not go over well with that generation.

“And [in coming out] you break every rule that's been embedded in your mind since you were a child. It's scary. You live and die by your masculinity as an alpha male and so to break that in private is very, very scary.”

A trip to Smackdown at Maddison Square Garden a few years ago then stirred something else in Tuft - a desire to return to wrestling.

She has since been training at former WWF superstar Dustin Rhodes’ eponymous wrestling academy, with an eye on becoming the second trans wrestler to sign a full-time contract with an American promotion, after Nyla Rose in 2019.

Should Tuft re-sign with WWE, she would become the company’s first-ever trans wrestler.

Tuft has been training for a pioneering return to wrestling entertainment (
Gabbi Tuft)

The last few years have seen much debate about the inclusion of trans people in sports activities.

World Athletics, World Aquatics and the International Cycling Union have all enacted policies that bar trans women from women's elite competition if they did not medically transition before puberty. Such bans were imposed to, according to the respective bodies, protect the integrity of their female categories.

Of course, the WWE and its variations are manufactured performance theatre rather than sport, so integrity is less of a concern. Tuft, however, recognises that her size compared to her competitors may be a source of apprehension for some fans.

She said: “I'm not out to take women's spots. And being who I am and what I am, I am expecting people to talk about it and I am not afraid of what they're going to say.

“I am not delusional about what I am. I recognise that my bone structure is different to the females that are in any of these organisations.

“I've been training with them. I'm training with Sting's daughter-in-law, Caitlin. I was in the ring with Liv Morgan and all these female superstars. I am much bigger than them, I have much more muscle mass and when I work with them, I have to work differently than if I work with a 260-pound (117kg) guy.

“Of course, there's going to be people talking and saying it's not fair, but there’s a storyline and it's entertainment. It's how we position that storyline that is going to be the most critical part of this.

“If I go in there and just destroy a female in my first match ever have probably won't be well received by the world. But if we set it up as entertainment, maybe we do something a little different than what the world's expecting, God forbid I tell you what that is, I guarantee it'll be a whole different cup of tea.”

Criticism is also likely to extend beyond the world of sport. In the past few years, the trans community has on several occasions found itself at the centre of the political discourse, with its members often unfairly used as lightning rods for populists on both sides of the Atlantic.

But no politician, critic or obstacle will deter Tuft from returning to the public sphere.

“There's no fear left in me,” she stressed. “I've been through open heart surgery. I've had five gender-transitioning or gender-affirming surgeries over the years.

“There's nothing you could do to me. I've been hated by the world. I've been loved by the world. There is nothing that you can throw at me that will make me fearful. There is excitement and there are moments that must be seized. But fear is not a part of that.”

Gabbi Tuft is an online personal fitness and nutrition coach. She has coached over 1,500 clients to success over the past 13 years. She specialises in helping women break cyclical behavioural patterns for long-lasting, sustainable weight loss and physique changes. For more information, visit

Featured Image Credit: Getty/Gabbi Tuft

Topics: WWE, Wrestling