by Tony Quant
This coming Friday night at ROH Final Battle, Punishment Martinez gets the opportunity to compete for the ROH World Television Title in a four-way elimination match.
After paving his way with MFPW, Martinez burst onto the ROH scene as part of the ROH Top Prospect Tournament. He would go on to the semi-finals and eventually lose out to eventual winner, Lio Rush, but that was the first glimpse that the ROH fan base got to see of his all encompassing ability.
Martinez has been a keen sportsman for as long as he can remember and whilst he has only been wrestling since 2013, has some extremely fond memories of witnessing some awe inspiring performances at Madison Squared Gardens.
“I mean me and my Dad went to every WWF show when they used to run regularly in MSG. My Dad had a friend at the time who worked for a newspaper and they would do the adverts for the shows. In turn they would get tickets for the shows and my Dad would take me to every single event for about three years.”
“I was at Survivor Series 1996 and so many other memorable shows. I just remember though, The Undertaker coming down from the roof. That played a big part in me wanting to do this and I truly believed at that stage that I could do this.”
With his mind made up about pursuing a career in the wrestling business, Martinez and his friend come across legendary training school the Monster Factory.
“When I joined (The Monster Factory) it was owned by Larry Sharp. The place has such a prestige that you just know that you are going to get proper training in the business of professional wrestling. It was great because they were able to work with me with my background and allow me to maintain being me.”
“Because of my background in playing most of the major sports in America I was pretty athletic. But I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy and it was still a lot harder than I thought. I mean in my background of martial arts you are taught to not react to stuff and show that you are hurt. In the world of professional wrestling you have to show the other side. So that took a bit of learning.”
Something else which Martinez definitely had to put some work into was his microphone work and having never had to have cut promos in the past was a real test for him.
“Yeah that did not come naturally and it was really hard. I wasn’t used to being over the top and again going back to my martial arts days I was taught to be humble and keep my mouth shut. I was trying to portray a character something what wasn’t necessarily me. I had to learn how to believe in the words that I was saying.”
“It did take a lot of practice with me recording myself speaking for hours at a time. I used to do it in the shower and if you had happened to be standing outside my shower listening you would of thought I was a crazy man. But it has all paid off because I know that I can hold my own now and that only came through being relentless at practising it.”
With a background in martial arts it was always likely that Japan would hold a special place in his heart, but even Martinez was surprised when, in 2017 he got to share the ring with some of the very best talent that Japan has ever produced.
“Its hard to describe I mean I knew going in it was a big deal. I had always wanted to go to Japan and perform when i was younger in martial arts. But now I get to go and do it for another love. Getting paid to do what you love is whole other level of achievement and I never felt that type of gratification.”
“The in ring experience was amazing, I can’t speak highly enough of the talent they have there. Everything about the way that they carry themselves and way company is run from top to bottom is just awesome. Getting to work with Naito, Takahashi & Goto was incredible.”
“I was shocked to get a shot at Goto and his NEVER Openweight Title. If you look at the cards across those two days, a very limited number of people got singles matches. In fact I think I was the only person to have a Title shot. That was a big deal for me and I took that very seriously. I made sure I put in a lot of hard work and effort into that opportunity.”
“When I was lacing my boots yes there was some nerves. I mean you only have one shot at a first impression. When I’m home, I’m home and can get multiple opportunities but when you are in another country you don’t get that. But as soon as I stepped through the curtains I was fine, that is my comfort zone.”
Looking ahead to Friday night, Martinez has to overcome not just one man, but three others as they compete in a four-way elimination match for the ROH World Television Championship. With three other competitors in the match the chance of winning is reduced, but Martinez has a plan to deal with that.
“I’m going straight for the Champ. He is obviously on top of his game which is why he is the Champ but he is going to be my first target. After that it would be Silas Young because he would be the biggest threat for me after Kenny King. Thats not to take anything away from Shane Taylor, but I beat him a few weeks ago in Florida.”
“I have changed my training regime for this match and have been getting into the best shape possible so that I can perform at a whole other level. My performances of late speak for themselves and right now I feel like it will be a whole other coming out party. I’m going to shock everybody!”
Winning the ROH World Television Championship is a huge honor and for Martinez would certainly rank up there with the highlights of his career.
“It would def be one of top moments in career, right up there with performing in New Japan. I mean performing against Naito and main eventing for ROH World Title in three way with Christopher Daniels and Jay White was pretty awesome. But this would cap off my best year in professional wrestling. It would also put me in the position I want to be in and that is someone who loves competing in smash mouth, hard hitting action.”
With just a matter of days to go before he laces up his boots to take on one of his biggest challenges of 2017, Martinez has a message for what you can expect to see from him at ROH Final Battle.
“You can expect to see the perfect hybrid of every style from someone who is above average strength, above average size and has above average looks. I can go toe to toe with anybody and you can expect to see all the best of every style encompassed in one.”
UK fans make sure to watch ROH Final Battle 2017 live on ROHWrestling.com or the Fite.TV app at 2am on Saturday, December 16.