Ring of Honor wrestler Punishment Martinez says he lives up to his name as he looks forward to Edinburgh show

Punishment Martinez (Ring of Honor)
Punishment Martinez (Ring of Honor)

RING of Honor wrestler Punishment Martinez has an frightening look and an intimidating name to go along with it.

And he insists it’s not all just character work – he really loves the physicality that comes with the business of fighting.

“Of course, I’m exaggerating myself a little bit but that’s pretty close to who I am,” he explains, as he looks ahead to the wrestling promotion’s show in Edinburgh next week. “I like the physicality, fighting –  that’s how I grew up, that’s how I was raised.”

Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, the demonic destroyer says his ring name is a monicker earned, not chosen.

“The name Punishment wasn’t a name I chose to call myself. That’s something that since I was a teenager I’ve been called – either Punishment or Punisher — for obvious reasons in the street.

“A lot of it is realistic to who I am. I won’t taking nothing from nobody. That’s just my attitude.

“The horror and darkness is just because I’m into different things than most people are. It’s going to stand out.”

Punishment Martinez (Ring of Honor / James Musselwhite)

With pro-wrestling being, at its core, a performance art, it’s a fitting time for the show to be coming to Edinburgh, with the festival season in full swing.

Martinez was part of Ring of Honor’s previous show in the city’s Corn Exchange back in May, and can’t wait to return.

He says: “I had a great time the last time I was there. When you go anywhere where there’s a lot of activity going on and big events, it’s definitely a plus for us.

“It’s my favourite part of this business, getting to interact with so many different people from different places, seeing different landmarks and just places in the world that a lot of people don’t have the luxury to see. But by the same token, it’s a little painful for guys my size to travel!”

Standing at six feet seven tall, Martinez started out in martial arts but reached a crossroads in his career where he wasn’t sure what to do next.

As a child, he and a friend had talked about one day becoming wrestlers, so his pal suggested they finally give it a go.

“I only knew how to be a fan, I had no idea how to go about it – should we just show up and say we want to wrestle?” he recalls.

“He found some schools and at the time I lived in New Jersey. There’s a school there called the Monster Factory and they’ve trained guys like Bam Bam Bigelow and the Big Show.  I tried out and they told me I was trainable and the rest was history.”

Taking to the air (Ring of Honor / Rich Wade)

The biggest milestone in his wrestling career so far is becoming Ring of Honor’s Television Champion, a title he’ll be taking into the Edinburgh shows.

And Martinez admits it was a surreal moment when he finally lifted the gold – even if it took a while to sink in.

“I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am,” he says. “When you actually achieve moments like that that you’ve set out as goals it feels even more special.

“It didn’t hit me until I was back in the hotel room and I was sitting there by myself holding the belt. That’s when it really hit me that this was real life. It was a life changing moment and I was humbled and taken aback by it.”

Martinez has no intentions of slowing down, and aims to continue on his journey and increase his stock within Ring of Honor and the business of professional wrestling.

He insists: “I want to get in there with the best wrestlers in the world, the dream opponents, and prove myself that I’m not just an average big guy that only got a job because of my size or look or whatever. I can go and I work hard for it and I’m proud of myself for that.

“There was a time that I didn’t and that I was very lazy and coasted on my size and I was a failure. I turned my life around and started working hard for my dream and now I feel like I’m on a roll and I can’t be stopped at the moment. This is what I always wanted to do, so if I’m going to do it I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities.”

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His dream would be to get in the ring with the superstar that got him to fall in love with wrestling –  The Undertaker.

While that dream may not be realised with WWE’s legendary Deadman at the end of his career, Martinez has a few more names he’d love to face.

“I go by who is at the top of the mountain,” he says. “I’ve had matches with Jay Lethal – he’s the champion and he’s the man, and I love getting in the ring with him.

“In New Japan, I’d say Kenny Omega. He’s the man there, that’s who I want to work with. In WWE, I think AJ Styles amazing and lives up to his moniker The Phenomenal One. That’d be a dream match.”

Punishment Martinez is the current TV Champion (Ring of Honor / Melissa Woodruff)

Some future opponents are likely to come from these shores, with the British scene flourishing at present.

As well as independent promotions such as Progress and Glasgow-based Insane Championship Wrestling, WWE has introduced a developmental brand for the UK and ITV’s WOS is captivating fans on Saturday night TV with a legion of top talent.

And Martinez reckons that many outsiders are coming to the UK, not just for a payday but to be elevated by working with the vast array of talent.

He says: “The UK scene is unbelievable. I feel like it is so much more deserving of even what they’re getting now, the talent is unreal.

“You see the amount of people who are heading over to the UK to perform there, outsiders from New Japan style, American style, guys from Mexico.

“People from all over the world are going there, it’s an actual destination that guys want to work. They know that working with the talent coming from these places is going to elevate you.”

Ring of Honor’s latest tour includes dates in Doncaster and London as well as Edinburgh.

A number of Scottish wrestlers will be taking to the ring, including WOS and ICW’s Joe Hendry, who represented Scotland at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Female stars Viper and Kay Lee Ray, trailblazers across the world, are also involved in the Edinburgh show.

Martinez reckons it’s a great time to be working with the company, thanks mainly to the dedication shown by the talent.

He says: “Every company has talent, guys that want to become bigger stars and improve the company. But I feel like sometimes certain talents worry too much about themselves because this is an individual business and not a team sport, but when you have a common goal it changes the game.

“In Ring of Honor everybody is working hard to make the product the best it can be. Working hard to make fans feel that every dollar they spend was worth it.

“Every match whether we’re on first or last, we go out there and try to put on the best performance we can for our fans, our company and that’s what we want to do.”

Ring of Honor: ReUnited Tour, Edinburgh Corn Exchange, August 16

For those who can’t attend the show live, ROH Honor Re-United Tour will be available exclusively on the FITE TV platform. Visit www.FITE.tv for more information.