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Luis Martínez (born September 26, 1982) is an American-Puerto Rican professional wrestler currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the NXT brand under the ring name Damian Priest, where 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.

Early life

Martínez was born within the Puerto Rican diaspora of New York, but raised in the municipality of Dorado, Puerto Rico. While living in Dorado he saw the World Wrestling Council on television and got the interest to become a pro wrestler. 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. When he returned to the states, Spanish was still his first language and he underwent a period of adaptation.

Professional wrestling career

Early career

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)

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.

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. 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 aligned 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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.


NXT (2018–Present)

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. On November 28, at an NXT TV taping in Winter Park, Florida, Martinez made his debut as a heel, losing to Matt Riddle. On April 15, 2019, it was reported that Martinez would be repackaged and go by the new ring name “Damian Priest”. However, throughout April and May he was still wrestling under the “Punishment Martinez” name on NXT house shows. Vignettes began airing starting at NXT TakeOver: XXV in June, reintroducing Martinez under this new character of Damian Priest. Debuting as Damian Priest, he defeated Raul Mendoza. His next match was against Keith Lee, which he also won.

On the October 2 episode of NXT, Priest would start a feud with former WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne when he attacked Dunne after his match. This led to a match between both of them on October 16 episode of NXT, which was won by Priest. A rematch was held between Dunne and Priest where Dunne defeated Priest, however after the match, Killian Dain attacked both men. On the November 13th episode of NXT, a match between Dunne and Dain was scheduled on the night. However, Priest attacked Dain and subsequently, a brawl occurred between the three. This eventually led to a triple threat match at NXT TakeOver: War Games (2019) for #1 contendership for the NXT Championship. Priest and Dain were both defeated by Dunne in that match. 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 when Randy Orton pinned him after countering Priest’s finishing move “The Reckoning” and then executing an RKO on him. Priest was nominated for NXT Year-End Awards 2019 under the category “Breakout Star of the Year Award” which was won by Keith Lee.

On January 8, Damian Priest competed in a Fatal 4-Way match to determine the number one contender for NXT North American Championship, with Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic and Cameron Grimes as the other 3 competitors, which was won by Lee. On 29 January episode of NXT, Damian Priest interrupted the then NXT North American Champion Keith Lee, saying that “he liked taking things”, and expressed his wish to take the NXT North American Championship from Lee. However, Dominik Dijakovic also interrupted and subsequently a match was held between the two, where Priest lost to Dijakovic. Priest then attacked Dijakovic using a nightstick during his match against Cameron Grimes, continuing their rivalry. On 11 March 2020, Priest attacked Keith Lee after his match against Grimes using the same nightstick and then got away through the crowd the same way he got away when he attacked Dijakovic previously. This led to a triple threat match for the North American Championship, where Priest lost. Priest once again attacked Keith Lee between his match with Velveteen Dream vs The Undisputed Era with a nightstick and challenged Keith Lee for a singles match for the NXT North American Championship one more time. A match was held between the two for the title, where Priest lost.

On 22 April 2020 episode of NXT, Finn Bálor got attacked backstage by an unknown attacker, which resulted in his removal from his scheduled match against Velveteen Dream. The next week, a video footage was shown of Bálor’s locker room looking disheveled and he was gone. After he issued a warning to the attacker, Bálor was scheduled to be in a match against Cameron Grimes on 13 May 2020. During their match, Damian Priest distracted and attacked Finn Bálor using a nightstick, resulting in Grimes defeating Bálor. After this match, Priest revealed that he was the unknown attacker. Priest then challenged Bálor for a match at NXT TakeOver: In Your House, which Bálor accepted. In that match, Priest was defeated by Bálor. Despite the loss, Priest’s in-ring performance in this match was highly appreciated by Triple H and also by the fans. After that match, Priest praised Finn Bálor in a backstage interview and accepted that he was humiliated, no excuses, and also said that it was just the next step for Priest’s name to live forever, turning face for the first time his WWE career. 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, 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.

NXT North American Championship Reign (2020)

Damian Priest then again started to pursue the vacant NXT North American Championship and he was scheduled to be in a triple threat match involving himself, Oney Lorcan and the returning Ridge Holland, the winner of which would be given a spot to win the title in a ladder match at NXT TakeOver: XXX. Priest won the qualifier match the next week and he was added to the ladder match at NXT TakeOver XXX, as one of the 5 competitors. During this time, Priest also started a small rivalry with Bronson Reed. At NXT TakeOver: XXX, Damian Priest won the ladder match for the North American Title, thus earning his first championship in WWE. Priest then had a successful title defense against Timothy Thatcher and then another successful defense against Johnny Gargano at NXT: TakeOver 31. On October 14 episode of NXT, Priest then successfully defended his title against Dexter Lumis, but after the match, he got attacked by Gargano by a steel chair, leading to a rematch for the title between the two at NXT: Halloween Havoc, the stipulation of which would be decided by a wheelspin on the spot. During their Devil’s Playground match, Priest got attacked by an unknown masked character by a steel pipe. As a result, Priest lost the title to Gargano, ending his reign at 67 days.