Damian Priest has no problem admitting it. He still feels like a child when he talks about his work as a wrestler in WWE, involved in one of the most important angles of the company heading to WrestleMania 37.
And he does it in style, capturing the front pages alongside his compatriot, Grammy-winning artist Bad Bunny.
Priest, whose first name is Luis Martínez, born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, is scheduled to compete in a tag team match with the Puerto Rican ragman at WrestleMania 37 against The Miz and John Morrison, fulfilling the greatest dream he must have. a person who is about to try his luck in the world of wrestling, according to the wrestler himself.
“Our business is WrestleMania. If you don’t want to be a part of WrestleMania, you have no right to be in this business, ”Priest said recently in an interview with ESPN. “WrestleMania is everything.”
SEE: WrestleMania makes its debut on March 31, 1985
It has been a long journey for Priest to reach the top of wrestling. The lanky fighter began his journey into the world of combat sports in martial arts before pursuing his childhood dream of working in WWE professional wrestling.
“Martial arts were my life, they were my future. But at that time it wasn’t that big, for example, the UFC was just starting. There was no future in that. So what am I going to do with my life? ”Priest recalled. “A friend told me, ‘hey we always talk about doing that wrestling thing,’ but how? I had no idea how to start. “
“So my friend told me we have to go to a school and train. We went to a school in New Jersey and I spoke to them there. I just saw the ring, and I said ‘here is my money’. What little I had at that time I gave away because the important thing was that dream, and I had it in front of me ”.
Damian Priest’s journey from martial arts to WrestleMania
Puerto Rican wrestler Luis Martínez, better known as Damian Priest, explains his transition from martial arts to wrestling and how he began his path to stardom in WWE.
It was 2003 when Priest began training at the Monster Factory school in New Jersey, where wrestling luminaries such as Big Show, Sheamus and Raven, among others, passed through. A year later, Priest would be making his first fights, setting the stage for a path that would take him from New Jersey to work in world-renowned companies such as Ring of Honor and New Japan Wrestling (mostly as ‘Punisher Martínez’), before reach the ‘big leagues’ of WWE.
“It is like a child learning to live. When I got there (to ROH, New Japan) it was something much bigger. Now you have to do television, work for the cameras, you have to talk perhaps more than fight. Lots of other things that I had never done, ”Priest said of his early days in the business. “I had my eyes open, watching over everything, trying to learn and emulate the greatest, but in my own way.”
“The experience was cool, especially Japan. It is one of the favorite things that I have done in my life, to make my dream there ”.
Of course, Priest’s dream was ultimately destined for WWE, and after signing with the company at the end of 2018 and spending the next two years in NXT (where he captured gold in the form of the North American Championship), the nicknamed ‘Archer of Infamy ‘finally made that dream come true in January 2021 when he was a surprise entrant at the Royal Rumble.
“I can tell you how I felt afterwards, because at the moment I don’t remember anything. My mind exploded there, because the moment is incredible. The Royal Rumble is my favorite event of the year since I was a kid. Then start my career on Raw, at the Rumble, wow, ”confessed Priest. “And then eliminating someone like Kane, it’s something I can’t explain. I don’t know what I did to get where I am ”.
Since then, Priest is a regular on Monday Night Raw, sharing the scene with Bad Bunny – even helping him win the championship 24/7 – in one of the most prominent stories on the way to WrestleMania 37, which comes to life in two nights on Saturday 10 April and Sunday, April 11 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The fight involving the Puerto Ricans against Miz and Morrison is scheduled to take place on Saturday, the first night of the event.
Bad Bunny is the new 24/7 WWE Champion!
With the help of Damian Priest, international music superstar Bad Bunny ironed Akira Tozawa and became the new 24/7 WWE Champion.
“Now yes, now I can say ok, now I have arrived. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted, where I wanted to be. I’m in the clouds, “said Priest, not without first emphasizing what he likes most about his work in WWE.
“Many ask me what is the best thing about working in WWE? Fame? The struggles? For me it is always the same, the legends and the people with whom you forge a friendship ”, confessed Priest. “I talk to Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Edge, on a daily basis, like this. I can call them, send a text. That’s amazing to me, something I still can’t believe. Many people when they achieve this dream, reach the company and feel the same, but not me.
“Shawn hugged me when he saw me recently. And in my mind the first thing I thought is, ‘what do you do? You’re Shawn Michaels, what are you doing hugging me. ‘ That is still my favorite part, the people that I have been able to meet, the friendships that I have made with the legends and the people that I saw on television. Is incredible”.
“I don’t know how to change that. I don’t know how to leave that part of being a child and behave like an adult now that I’m here, ”he emphasized.
And facing the biggest event of the year, and also of his career, Priest does not skimp on looking back from that time in 2003 when he gave all the money he had to work on the mission of making his dream come true.
“It took me a while to get there and it wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Since I was a child, the dream was WWE, and I really appreciate all the time I’ve been here. “
ESPN Digital’s Héctor Cruz contributed to this report