Gabbi Tuft | X/West Coast Pro Wrestling

Former WWE star Gabbi Tuft’s promised return to the wrestling ring after coming out as trans back in 2021 finally came to pass Tuesday evening.

Tuft traded graps with rising California independent wrestler J-Rod in the main event of West Coast Pro Wrestling and United Wrestling Network’s joint-promoted “Killin’ Them Softly” event. It was Tuft’s first match since retiring from pro wrestling following a 2014 match in the now-defunct New Jersey-based promotion Pro Wrestling Syndicate.

The event itself is yet to air, but hearing Tuft describe her return match builds plenty of excitement for what is in store.

“[J-Rod] and I went 19 minutes in the main event and tore the house down with ‘This is awesome’ chants,” she said via Instagram. “Thank you West Coast Pro Wrestling and United Wrestling Network for giving us the match time and the separate 10 min promo segment to light the room on fire.”

In an Instagram post, Tuft also thanked her support team for helping bring “Mother” to life.

Tuft initially rose to wrestling stardom in WWE under the name Tyler Reks. Known for being one of the few wrestlers to utilize any version of the devastating Burning Hammer finisher in a WWE ring, Tuft wrestled for the company from 2008 to 2012.

Her coming out as trans in 2021 was huge news as she became the first former WWE wrestler to do so. She rose to fame on TikTok and Instagram during her time away from wrestling, but the question of whether she would return to the ring after more than a decade of regularly being in a wrestling ring wouldn’t receive an answer until 2023. 

She began teasing a return after a visit to All Elite Wrestling star Dustin Rhodes’ Rhodes Wrestling Academy in Texas in Oct. 2023 after attending a WWE “Smackdown!” event last summer where her former employer gave her the cold shoulder.

“When I first went by, it was just to touch base with Dustin and some of his trainers who I knew from WWE, just to chat,” Tuft told the Orlando Sentinel. “When the students were taking a break, I put one foot in the ring and had this overwhelming sense of nostalgia. These were old friends I’d been in many matches with before, and that day I started to ask questions: If I want to start training, what does that look like?”

Tuft began in-ring training again in January, working with AEW’s Katelyn Borden and WWE’s Natalya and TJ Wilson to get back into the habit. She started re-engaging the wrestling world more during that period as well, attending AEW and NXT events

Tuft’s return also marked the debut of a new “Mother” character that packs a dark, dominating aura complete with her own “children.” West Coast Pro Wrestling’s official social media accounts teased the debut of this new version of Tuft on June 24 with striking imagery.

Pro wrestling’s newest “Mother” continued teasing the debut of her return match on social media in the following days, saying “Two nights ago, my children were redeemed, and our enemies were reborn through fire. You are patiently waiting. Mother sees you, and will deliver as promised. Full promo and match will be up soon.”

The air date of the “Killin’ Them Softly” event hasn’t been announced, but the anticipation for seeing Tuft in the ring as her true, authentic self shows little sign of diminishing. As Tuft herself put it, “Mother is here.”