In 2006, Rodriguez began training at Windy City Pro Wrestling's (WCPW) professional wrestling school in Chicago, where he was trained in not only American professional wrestling, but also lucha libre by a former AAAluchador. Rodriguez has later noted that his trainers were extremely strict on account of his youth, leading him to contemplate quitting the school. Rodriguez made his debut for WCPW after only three weeks of training. Combining his Mexican and Japanese influences, he adopted the ring name Samuray del Sol, choosing to use the spelling "Samuray" in order to differentiate himself from several other workers using the name Samurai. Much like his childhood idols, Rodriguez also began wrestling under a mask. During his first few years, Samuray began making a name for himself around the Midwestern United States independent circuit.
In 2010, Samuray began branching out of the Midwest, making his debuts for Pennsylvania-based International Wrestling Cartel (IWC) and New York-based East Coast Lucha Libre (ECLL). On September 25, 2010, Samuray worked in a dark match put together by Berwyn, Illinois-based AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined for Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA), where he unsuccessfully challenged Silas Young for the AAW Heavyweight Championship in a three-way match, which also included Gran Akuma. During 2010, Samuray made his first wrestling tour of Mexico. During another tour of Mexico in April 2011, Rodriguez suffered a serious injury at an event held by independent promotion Desastre Total Ultraviolento (DTU), when he landed on the concrete floor and hit his head on a guardrail after diving out of the ring onto his opponents. In the aftermath of the injury, Rodriguez began suffering from post-concussion syndrome and fell into depression and contemplated retiring from professional wrestling before receiving a call to take part in a three-day tryout camp for WWE. Though he was not offered a contract, knowing that he was on WWE's radar reinvigorated Rodriguez to continue his career and return to the independent circuit.
Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide (2011–2013)
During mid-2011, Mexican luchadorCrazy Boy, who saw Samuray during his Mexican debut, got him a spot in AAA's reality television program ¿Quién Pinta Para La Corona?. While taking part in the program, Samuray also returned to Crazy Boy's DTU promotion. During the taping of the program, he also underwent further training under veteran luchadorGran Apache, whom he crs with "perfecting [his] career". Although he did not earn a contract with AAA through the program, Samuray was able to make his AAA main card debut on August 19, 2012, when he teamed with Joe Líder and Juventud Guerrera in a six-man tag team match, where they were defeated by the villainousLa Sociedad trio of Daga, Dark Dragon and Psicosis. During September, Samuray worked several multi-man tag team matches against Los Inferno Rockers (Devil Rocker, Machine Rocker, Soul Rocker and Uro Rocker), losing all of them.
While training with Teddy Hart in Canada, Samuray received a call from AAA bookerKonnan, who offered him a regular spot on the promotion's roster. On October 7, 2012, at Héroes Inmortales, Samuray was placed in his first storyline in AAA, when he (was not identified, referred to only as a "mysterious fighter") approached Octagón backstage after a match. Shortly afterwards, AAA revealed that the fighter had been Samuray del Sol and that he had requested for Octagón to train him, which Octagón accepted after being impressed since seeing him on ¿Quién Pinta Para La Corona? On November 15, Octagón was ambushed during an in-ring interview by El Consejo members Silver King and Toscano, who were quickly chased out of the ring by Samuray del Sol. Afterwards, Octagón gave Samuray a new mask similar to the one he was wearing himself and officially adopted him as his protégé, renaming him "Octagón Jr." Prior to making his in-ring debut as Octagón Jr., Samuray wrestled one final AAA match under his old name and mask, when on November 18 he teamed with AAA Mega ChampionEl Mesías to defeat El Consejo members El Texano Jr. and Silver King via disqualification. Octagón Jr. made his in-ring debut on December 2 at Guerra de Titanes, where he, Octagón and La Parka defeated his debuting storyline nemesis, Pentagón Jr., La Parka Negra and Silver King in a six-man tag team match. In May 2013, it was reported that AAA was looking to replace Samuray del Sol as Octagón Jr. due to his busy independent schedule preventing him from appearing for the promotion.
Various promotions (2012–2013)
Samuray del Sol in May 2012
After returning from his ¿Quién Pinta Para La Corona? stint in Mexico, Samuray, looking to showcase the "new Samuray del Sol", made his debut for Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) on February 4, 2012, in a match, where he was defeated by AR Fox. Samuray crs the match with opening doors for him to bigger promotions, including Dragon Gate USA. On March 10, Samuray and Uhaa Nation survived an eight-man elimination match to qualify for the Best of the Best 11 tournament. The tournament took place on internet pay-per-view on April 14 and saw Samuray defeat Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano in a three-way first round match. Later that same event, Samuray was defeated in his semifinal match by AR Fox.
In March 2012, Dragon Gate USA announced that the promotion had signed a "mystery luchador" to a contract. On March 29, Samuray made his Dragon Gate USA main card debut at an event co-promoted by DGUSA and CZW, appearing as Masato Yoshino's surprise opponent and defeating him in the following singles match. The following day, Samuray made his pay-per-view debut at Open the Ultimate Gate 2012, defeating Johnny Vandal. On the third and final day of the triple shot weekend, Samuray wrestled in a six-way match at Mercury Rising 2012, which was won by El Generico. On April 13, Samuray made his debut for Evolve, a promotion closely affiliated with Dragon Gate USA, losing to Chuck Taylor in a three-way match, which also included Johnny Gargano. Samuray then had two singles matches against El Generico; the first on June 28 at Evolve 14 was won by El Generico and the rematch the following day at Evolve 15 was won by Samuray. Samuray returned to Dragon Gate USA on July 28, when he and El Generico were defeated in a tag team match by AR Fox and Cima. Samuray and El Generico finished their trilogy of matches against each other on September 8 at Evolve 17, where Samuray was defeated in a main event. On November 4 at Dragon Gate USA's Freedom Fight 2012, Samuray teamed with El Generico in a tag team match, where they defeated Genki Horiguchi and Ryo Saito. The two continued their winning ways on December 8 at Evolve 18, where they defeated the Super Smash Bros. (Player Uno and Stupefied). Samuray then qualified for the Evolve Championshiptournament, but was eliminated by Sami Callihan in his first round four-way match, which also included Jigsaw and Rich Swann. On June 2 at Evolve 22, Samuray unsuccessfully challenged Johnny Gargano for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship, submitting after being unmasked by the champion.
On the July 17, 2014 episode of NXT, Kalisto announced he and El Local had parted ways and the following week revealed Sin Cara as his new partner. Over the next weeks, Kalisto and Sin Cara won a tournament to become the number one contenders to the NXT Tag Team Championship. On September 11 at NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way, Kalisto and Sin Cara, now billed together as "The Lucha Dragons", defeated The Ascension to become the new NXT Tag Team Champions. They lost the title to Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy on January 15, 2015. The duo later failed to regain the title at NXT TakeOver: Rival.
After Sin Cara had been sidelined with a shoulder injury, Kalisto defeated United States Champion Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match with John Cena in his corner on the January 7 episode of SmackDown. Four days later on Raw, Kalisto defeated Del Rio in a rematch to win the United States Championship, his first championship on the main roster and his first singles title in WWE. However, Kalisto lost the title back to Del Rio on the January 14 episode of SmackDown, following a distraction from King Barrett. Kalisto regained the title from Del Rio on January 24 at Royal Rumble, making him a two-time United States Champion. On the January 28 episode of SmackDown, Kalisto made his first televised title defense against Neville, where he was successful in retaining the championship. On February 21, Kalisto defeated Del Rio two falls to one in a two-out-of-three falls match on the Fastlane pre-show to retain the United States Championship. Kalisto then accepted a challenge from Ryback for a title match at WrestleMania 32 over the question of whether a "good little man" could beat a "good big man". The match ended up taking place on the WrestleMania 32 pre-show with Kalisto retaining the title. On the April 11 episode of Raw, Kalisto and Sin Cara entered a tournament to determine number one contenders to the WWE Tag Team Championship, but were eliminated in the first round by The Dudley Boyz. On the April 21 episode of SmackDown, Kalisto was defeated by Ryback in a non-title rematch. With Ryback's win, a United States Championship match was set between the two, taking place on May 1 at the Payback pre-show, where Kalisto retained the title. On May 22 at Extreme Rules, Kalisto lost the title to Rusev ending his reign at 119 days. Kalisto received a rematch for the title on the May 26 episode of SmackDown, but was again defeated by Rusev. On July 18, Kalisto and Sin Cara announced they were done as a tag team and entering the 2016 WWE draft as singles competitors.
Brand switches and Cruiserweight Champion (2016–2018)
On July 19, Kalisto was drafted to the SmackDown brand in the 2016 WWE draft. On the August 2 episode of SmackDown, Kalisto participated in a three-way match to determine the number one contender to the WWE Intercontinental Championship, which was won by Apollo Crews and also included Baron Corbin. After being injured, he returned to the ring at a house show on October 22. On the November 8 episode of SmackDown, Kalisto faced the man who had injured him months earlier, Baron Corbin. Before the match, Corbin slipped on the ring apron and appeared to injure his leg, which led to Kalisto attacking the leg and the match being thrown out as a no contest. Afterwards, it was announced that Kalisto would face Raw's Brian Kendrick for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at Survivor Series with an added stipulation stating that should Kalisto capture the title, the entire cruiserweight division would move to SmackDown. The title match ended in a disqualification win for Kendrick due to him being attacked by Corbin, who afterwards also attacked Kalisto. A few nights later on SmackDown, Corbin cost Kalisto his match against The Miz for the WWE Intercontinental Championship by distracting him. This led to a chairs match on December 4 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, where Kalisto was defeated by Corbin. On January 29, 2017, at Royal Rumble, Kalisto took part in his first Royal Rumble match, entering as number three and being eliminated by Braun Strowman.
On April 10, 2017, Kalisto was moved to the Raw brand as part of the Superstar Shake-up. He was attacked the following week by Braun Strowman, who threw him inside a dumpster, setting up a dumpster match on the April 24 episode of Raw, which Kalisto won. Following the match, Strowman put Kalisto in the dumpster and then proceeded to push it off the entrance ramp, resulting in Kalisto suffering storyline "hip and cervical trauma". After returning, Kalisto engaged in a feud with Apollo Crews over Crews' involvement with Titus O'Neil's Titus Brand, which resulted in a match on June 4 at the Extreme Rules pre-show, where Kalisto defeated Crews.
After failing to regain the title, Kalisto would begin a partnership with fellow luchadors Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado, with the trio dubbing themselves "Lucha House Party". As part of their gimmick, the luchadors started to carry brightly colored noise makers and vuvuzela horns with them, using them to celebrate after a victory. They also carried a brightly colored Piñata donkey with them to the ring, which they referred to as "Penelope". Their first match as a full trio took place on January 23, 2018 episode of 205 Live, as they defeated Ariya Daivari, TJP, and Tony Nese. At the Royal Rumble, Lucha House Party defeated TJP, Drew Gulak, and Gentleman Jack Gallagher.
On the November 12 episode of Raw, Lucha House Party competed against a number of non-Cruiserweight teams for the first time since WWE put them together, as they competed in a battle royal against Raw tag teams such as Bobby Roode and Chad Gable, The B-Team (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel), Heath Slater and Rhyno, The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor), and The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson). At the Survivor Series, Lucha House Party was part of Team Raw in a five on five team elimination match, that was won by Team SmackDown. In subsequent weeks, Lucha House Party was part of a storyline with The Revival, where the latter claimed to be "tag team purists" and as such objected to Lucha House Party being allowed to compete as a tag team when there was three of them. In the following weeks, Lucha House Party defeated The Revival in various three-on-two, or three-on-one matches billed as "Lucha House Rules" matches as part of the storyline. On the February 4, 2019 episode of Raw, The Revival finally defeated Lucha House Party as part of a fatal four-way match to earn a match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship at a later date. In June, Lucha House Party began a feud with Lars Sullivan, with the trio losing to Sullivan via disqualification in a three-on-one handicap match at Super ShowDown. The following night on Raw, Lucha House Party was again defeated by Sullivan, this time in a three-on-one handicap elimination match.
On October 11, Lucha House Party was drafted to SmackDown brand as part of the 2019 WWE Draft.
^ abcdefghijklmnopqAlvarez, Bryan (host) (October 30, 2012). "Oct 30 Figure Four Daily: Bryan Alvarez interviews Samuray Del Sol about WWE aspirations, Dragon Gate USA, head injury that nearly ended his career, his masks, inside Teddy Hart's dojo, and so much more!". Figure Four Daily. Wrestling Observer Newsletter.