Reigning Lucha Underground champion Marty "The Moth" Martinez is no overnight success. Prior to being shown winning the title from Pentagon Dark for the title on the September 19th episode of the fourth season of the El Ray Network's Lucha Underground, the 33-year-old may be best remembered previously for his stint on WWE's Tough Enough hosted by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
It was surreal experience that the aspiring wrestler and actor, Martin Casaus, has never forgotten.
"I see Trish Status, Steve Austin, Bill DeMott, Booker T. and, of course, immediately those 'holy crap, it's these people pops up,'" Casaus told Wrestling Inc. President, Raj Giri, following the airing of his championship win. "I had to compartmentalize it. OK, that's my coach, that's the girl's coach. I had to take that part and put it aside and they're just my coaches.
"I think I did that in most of the competition, until after the competition and was like 'holy crap, that just actually happened.' It's a giant trip because it's a guys you watch on TV for so many years and now he's telling you and explaining to you what you need to do to be a better wrestler."
For the 6-foot-1, 245-pounder, the relationship with the "Texas Rattlesnake" went beyond the confines of the show even after Casaus was forced to leave the series on the seventh episode due to an ankle injury.
"I think the biggest thing from Tough Enough was my relationship with Steve after, because he was kind enough to give me his cellphone number and keep in contact, and critique matches. He had me send me send him matches to critique. He spent hours on the phone with me because if you ask him one question, he loves to tell stories and that's why he's so good at his job because he loves to tell stories.
"Honestly, if you ask him a few questions, you can just sit back and listen to 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin talk and I can do that all day."
Prior to his appearance on the fifth season of Tough Enough, the Utah native who claims Aztec heritage had two previous WWE tryouts, one in 2007 and the other in 2014 with the former being from a door opened by "The Big Show" Paul Wight.
"2007 actually happened because of the The Big Show,'" Casaus explained . "WWE never comes to Utah to shoot Raw or shoot any TV here, they just do their house shows and in the house shows they don't need any extra help. When I was trying to get into the WWE they'd never come around here.
"So I had to fly myself to California, fly myself to Texas, fly myself to Colorado," he continued. "Get to all these places around my state but never in my state. So there was this one year where they usually do a loop, they go to California, they do a house show in Salt Lake [City], they do Denver and they do Texas and I flew myself to that whole loop and Big Show noticed me."
After introducing himself to Wight over the span of several dates during the loop including Summerslam, Big Show asked him where Casaus lived. Casaus explained he was flying on his own dime to be noticed, so the "world's largest athlete" immediately introduced the aspiring wrestler to John Laurinaitis, who was senior vice president of talent operations at WWE at the time.
"He walked me in to Laurinaitis and said: 'Give this man a tryout, he flew himself all these places and deserves a tryout.'"
After spending a few days at the WWE Performance Center in 2014 which led to more "talks," Casaus shortly signed with Lucha Underground after being called by Tough Enough executive producer Eric van Wagenen, who believed Casaus was entertaining on the show and signed him as one of the first talent's to the co-creation of Mark Burnett and Robert Rodriquez before it even had a name.
"I wanted to see where this Lucha Underground would take me and I'm very glad I trusted my gut," he admitted. "The first day at Lucha Underground it felt like a family and that to me was something I'd take time to invest and trust in … I'm glad it worked out."