Damian Priest

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Damian Priest
Punishment Martinez 2017 crop.jpg
Priest in February 2017
Birth nameLuis Martínez[1]
Born (1982-09-26) September 26, 1982 (age 38)
New York City, U.S.
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Damian Martinez[1]
Damian Priest
Luis Martinez[1]
Punisher Martinez[1]
Punishment Martinez[1]
Billed height6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)[2]
Billed weight249 lb (113 kg)[2]
Billed fromNew York City
Trained byMonster Factory[1]
Debut2004[3]

Luis Martínez[1] (born September 26, 1982)[4] is a Puerto Rican-American professional wrestler currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the RAW brand under the ring name Damian Priest. In WWE, he is a former one-time NXT North American Champion.

He is also known for his work in Ring of Honor (ROH) under the ring name Punishment Martinez, where he is a former one-time ROH World Television Champion. Through ROH's working relationship with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), he has also worked in Japan as Punisher Martinez.[5]

Early life[edit]

Martínez was born within the Puerto Rican diaspora of New York, but raised in the municipality of Dorado, Puerto Rico.[6] While living in Dorado he saw the World Wrestling Council on television and got the interest to become a pro wrestler.[6] He learned Japanese Gōjū-ryū karate from his martial artist father. After winning two national championships in full-contact martial arts, Martínez decided to embark on a career in professional wrestling.[1] When he returned to the states, Spanish was still his first language and he underwent a period of adaptation.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Martínez trained at the Monster Factory and went on to win several titles in Monster Factory Pro Wrestling. In 2014, Martínez attended a Ring of Honor (ROH) training camp and went on to train at the ROH dojo.

Ring of Honor (2015–2018)[edit]

His first appearance at a ROH show was in 2015 under his real name, Luis Martínez, where he competed in two dark matches, losing the first to The Romantic Touch and winning the second alongside Shaheem Ali against Hellcat and Mattick.[7]

Martínez made his return in Ring of Honor, billed as "Punisher Martinez", at the ROH Top Prospect Tournament where he defeated Colby Corino in the first round.[8] Martinez lost to Lio Rush in the semifinals; however, in spite of the loss, Martinez was signed to a contract by Ring of Honor. He subsequently established himself as a villain when he aligned himself with BJ Whitmer and Kevin Sullivan, entering a rivalry with their adversary Steve Corino. On September 16, 2016, Martinez took part in the 2016 Honor Rumble, where he had an impressive showing before ultimately being eliminated.[9] In early November he participated in the 2016 Survival of the Fittest, where he ended up being eliminated in the final Six Man Mayhem match. Martinez and Whitmer went on to briefly feud with the former ROH World Tag Team Champions War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe), first wrestling them to a no contest and then defeating them in an anything goes match.[10]

Through ROH's working relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Martinez appeared at the two-day Honor Rising: Japan 2017 event. On the first night, Martinez teamed up with Los Ingobernables de Japon members Hiromu Takahashi and Tetsuya Naito to defeat Dalton Castle, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Ryusuke Taguchi, with Martinez picking up the win for his team. On the second night, Martinez unsuccessfully challenged Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight Championship.[11][12][13][14] Using the name Damian Martinez, he returned to ROH to unsuccessfully compete in a Manhattan Mayhem Battle Royal for the #1 Contendership to the ROH World Championship. Martinez also entered a Battle Royal for the #1 Contendership to the ROH World Television Championship, which he also lost.[10] On February 11, Martinez and B.J. Whitmer defeated War Machine, but after the match Martinez turned on Whitmer by hitting him with his South of Heaven finishing maneuver.

Martinez won his first championship in ROH on June 16, 2018, defeating Silas Young for the World Television Championship at night two of the Promotion's "State of the Art" event in Dallas, Texas. Martinez had qualified for an opportunity at said championship earlier that same evening by pinning Cheeseburger in a six-way Proving Ground match.[15] At Death Before Dishonor XVI, he successfully defended the title against Chris Sabin. After the match, he attacked Sabin, until Jeff Cobb made the save.[16] On September 29, his contract with Ring of Honor expired and he opted out of a contract offer. In his final appearance for the promotion, Martinez dropped the Television Championship against Cobb.[17]

WWE[edit]

Beginnings (2018–2020)[edit]

On October 12, 2018, it was reported that Martinez had signed a contract with WWE, six days later he was formally introduced, among other new members to the NXT brand.[18] On November 28, at an NXT TV taping in Winter Park, Florida, Martinez made his debut as a heel, losing to Matt Riddle.[19] While on April 15, 2019, it was reported that Martinez would be repackaged and go by the new ring name "Damian Priest",[20] he was still wrestling under the "Punishment Martinez" name on NXT house shows during April and May.[21][22] Vignettes began airing starting at NXT TakeOver: XXV in June, reintroducing Martinez under this new character of Damian Priest.[23][24] Debuting as Damian Priest, he defeated Raul Mendoza[25] and then defeated Keith Lee in his second appearance.[26]

On October 2, 2019 episode of NXT, Priest started a feud with Pete Dunne and Killian Dain, culminating in a triple threat match at NXT TakeOver: War Games (2019) for #1 contendership for the NXT Championship, where Dunne was victorious.[27][28] Priest would also become a part of 5-on-5-on-5 Survivor Series pay-per-view match, representing Team NXT in a losing effort to Team SmackDown also involving Team Raw, where he was eliminated by Randy Orton.[29] On January, Priest was included in a storyline around the NXT North American Championship with Keith Lee and Dominik Dijajkovic. Priest would have an opportunity for the title against Lee and Dijakovic on April 1, 2020,[30] and a singles match against Lee on April 22, being defeated both times.[31][32]

NXT North American Champion (2020–2021)[edit]

His next storyline started when, on 22 April 2020 episode of NXT, Finn Bálor got attacked backstage by an unknown attacker.[33][34] On May 13, 2020, Priest was revealed as the unknown attacker[35] and both face each other at NXT TakeOver: In Your House, where Priest was defeated by Bálor.[36] Despite the loss, Priest's in-ring performance in this match was highly appreciated by Triple H and also by the fans, followed by Priest turning face in a backstage interview where he praised Bálor.[37][38] On 10 June 2020 episode of NXT, Cameron Grimes flaunted his previous victory over Finn Bálor and deemed Priest as a "loser" in a backstage interview, leading Priest to attack him,[39] confirming Priest's face turn. This ignited a small rivalry between Grimes and Priest, which concluded just before the tournament held for the vacated NXT North American Championship.[40][41][42]

After defeating Oney Lorcan and Ridge Holland,[43][44] Priest qualified to a ladder match at NXT TakeOver: XXX for the NXT North American Championship,[45] where he won the title, thus earning his first championship in WWE.[46] Priest held the title for 67 days and defended against Timothy Thatcher, Johnny Gargano at NXT: TakeOver 31,[47][48] and Dexter Lumis,[49][50][51][52] but lost it against Gargano at NXT: Halloween Havoc in a Devil's Playground match.[53]

Gargano however, lost the title to Leon Ruff just two weeks later, due to a distraction during the title match by Priest.[54][55] Ruff retained the championship in a rematch against Gargano the next week by disqualification, when Priest punched Ruff during the match, thus disabling Gargano to win the championship.[56] This soon transitioned into a triple threat match for the NXT North American Championship which would take place at NXT TakeOver: WarGames (2020).[57][58][59][60] During the match, Damian Priest again got attacked by the same masked character and its gang that attacked him previously at Halloween Havoc, who was revealed to be Austin Theory.[61] As a result of that, Priest lost the match, with Gargano winning the title by pinning Ruff.[62]

On the December 9 episode of NXT, Priest looked forward to take revenge from Austin Theory following his attack at WarGames, however, he got viscously attacked by a returning Karrion Kross from behind,[63] after which Priest had to be helped out of the arena.[64] The next week, Kross challenged Priest to a match at NXT: New Year's Evil, which Priest accepted.[65][66][67] In that match, Priest lost to Kross, thus making it his final match in NXT.[68]

Move to Raw and teaming with Bad Bunny (2021–present)[edit]

Priest made his next appearance in the 2021 Royal Rumble match as a surprise entrant, entering at #14. He eliminated John Morrison, The Miz, Elias and Kane before being eliminated by Bobby Lashley.[69] The following night, Priest made his debut on Raw after being introduced by Bad Bunny during a Miz TV segment. He would proceed to defeat The Miz in a singles match, marking his first win on the main roster.[70] The next week on RAW, he defeated Angel Garza in another singles match. On the February 15 edition of RAW, Priest helped Bad Bunny win the 24/7 Championship by knocking out Akira Tozawa, who pinned R-Truth moments ago.

Professional wrestling style and persona[edit]

Martinez is known to have a deep voice, which has helped him in his promos to maintain the menacing, dark character while working as Punishment Martinez in ROH Wrestling.[71][72][73] In WWE, "Damian Priest" was previously intended to be a similar but darker, more intense character than the characters that Martinez has represented previously in other promotions,[74] however, his character has gradually evolved and developed a more machismo, rockstar-like attitude that pursues more fame, recognition and success, and the character is further emphasized by portraying bars, parties and women frequently with him in backstage segments. Therefore, he is referred to as "The Archer of Infamy".[75][76][77][78]

His wrestling style involves various power moves as well as high flying moves, and his striking is heavily influenced by his background in martial arts.[79] He uses the Razor's Edge (a crucifix drop powerbomb which was inherited from Razor Ramon, his childhood wrestling idol),[80] and also a Falcon Arrow which has been dubbed Broken Arrow. His finisher is an inverted swinging cutter, called The Reckoning. Ever since the 2021 Royal Rumble it has been renamed Hit The Lights.[81] He also used a sit-out chokeslam called the South of Heaven as his finisher, when he was working with ROH,[82] which he still uses in the WWE as one of his signature moves, but not as a finisher.[83][84]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]