TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida resident and Puerto Rico native Damian Priest is gearing up for WWE WrestleMania, but he’s not going in to his match alone.
The current WWE Superstar, whose real name Luis Martinez, will be teaming with Latin rap star Bad Bunny to take on a pair of villains at the show, which will take place over two nights on Saturday and Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
The show will be the first WrestleMania for the pair. Priest entered the main stream WWE scene in Feb. 2020, mid-pandemic, as WWE continued their “ThunderDome” at Tropicana Field with fans only in attendance virtually.
Priest is excited to make his main roster debut in front of fans, calling it the “first step to normalcy.”
“Our business is based on live interaction. We need to know how people are reacting to what we’re doing to see what emotions we can go with the flow with. Without it, it’s odd,” he said. “Being in the ThunderDome – it’s cool, not going to lie, it’s cool. It’s cool looking. They do their best to simulate a cool atmosphere… but man, the faces, they’re missed – by not just myself – by everyone.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Priest’s family won’t be able to make it to Tampa, where Raymond James will host around 25,000 fans per night for the shows. Priest said his family, including his martial artist father, will be watching.
“Speaking to family in Puerto Rico, the island is on fire right now over us. And I was like, ‘really?’ They were like, ‘yeah, you come back here and you’re going to be treated like royalty!’ I started laughing, I said, ‘let me get my flight planned, because that sounds good to me!’” Priest laughed.
For his big step into the “Showcase of the Immortals,” Priest will be teaming with Bad Bunny, which has become a popular storyline on WWE television. He told 8 On Your Side it’s something many non-wrestling and converted wrestling fans are recognizing him for.
“The other day I was pumping gas and somebody came up to me. It’s not uncommon to have fans coming up to you, but what he said was different, which was ‘thank you,’” Priest said.
He said the man wasn’t a wrestling fan, but someone who had tuned in just because of a Bad Bunny appearance, and has now started watching wrestling.
“He thanked me for showing light on our community, our Hispanic community. He was like, ‘thanks, you do a lot of us proud. It’s cool that you guys are speaking Spanish on TV and wearing the flag and just making the world know of our culture, putting more eyes on us.’ I thought that was cool. By that same token, I look forward to, especially at WrestleMania, is to have those eyes stay with us,” Priest explained.
Priest said Bad Bunny has been in the ring training with him ahead of their match, which will take place on Saturday. The rapper is apparently not a one-and-done celebrity appearance…Priest said he’s serious about WWE.
“Every week, multiple days a week, we’re in the ring together. I’ll tell you what, come WrestleMania, he’s going to surprise some people, he’s taking it seriously,” he said. “The one thing he’s been adamant about is making sure he got everybody’s respect, he earned everybody’s respect.”
WWE WrestleMania will take place both nights this weekend beginning at 8 p.m. If you don’t have tickets, the events will be streamed exclusively on NBC’s Peacock service.