Penta El Zero M, Rey Fenix, And The Desire For More
The Lucha Bros speak on work ethic, leaving their initial home of AAA, and taking their love for lucha libre around the world.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY ADAM SCHWARTZ & KEVIN QUIROZ
When Lucha Underground debuted in 2014, it was a major leap for Mexico's AAA in their quest to expose their product to an American audience, something they had been attempting for years. The program, featuring a variety of AAA talent, introduced a slew of luchadors to a new world of fans, many of whom latched on to Lucha Underground's unique take on wrestling storytelling and rapidly embraced the unfamiliar members of its roster as part of a needed expansion of the American wrestling landscape. Several years later, few have managed to expand beyond that platform in the way that brothers Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero M have.
Shortly after they became common names in the mouths of wrestling fans during the first season of Lucha Underground, Penta and Rey Fenix, took advantage of lenient AAA contracts that allowed them to accept bookings from independent companies worldwide. Driven by an intense passion for lucha libre and the drive to break any barriers that hold them back, they went out on the road with something to prove, delivering matches that ultimately elevated them beyond the scope of those companies and cemented them as mainstays on the global wrestling scene.
In the lucha tradition of secrecy, there is little information available about the pair, and the information that does exist often appears to come from unconfirmed sources. When asked about some of the more basic bits out there, the brothers were aware that their backstory is widely misunderstood. Their father was not a luchador, nor were they trained by Teddy Hart, despite his claims. As the conversation progresses, however, comes the thought that perhaps this kind of detail is not necessary to the narrative of the Lucha Bros as much as their known accomplishments, their unbridled desire for success, and the building blocks it took to get here.
This interview was conducted primarily in Spanish and has been translated.
You just had one of the most anticipated matches of PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles weekend in which you teamed with Flamita against The Elite. You've wrestled the Young Bucks many times, but never crossed paths with Kenny Omega, right?
REY FENIX: No, never. First time. I feel good. I’m proud of myself. I know The Elite are three of the best in the world. I think we had a great match. I feel comfortable with my work. I feel good about my team, my brother, and Flamita. Flamita is a fucking amazing guy. I feel so proud of my team. I don’t think it was an easy match for the Bucks and Kenny Omega. It’s always a pleasure to wrestle the Young Bucks, and now with Kenny... I feel now, after last night, that I can hang with the best in the world.
PENTA EL ZERO M: This match was one that all the fans were excited for, one that all the wrestlers were excited for, and one that we, of course, were excited for. I think that this is what lucha and wrestling needs: matches that are interesting between guys like them and guys like us. Challenges like this are great for us, and bring a mash-up of styles that attract the fans into wanting more.
PWG is considered by many to be the Mecca of American indie wrestling, with fans traveling from all over the world for the BOLA weekend. How does the experience there compare to working in other companies, both in America and in other countries?
PENTA: They are all special. All the promotions in the US are special and unique, like AAW, PCW, etc. PWG seems to have the most tradition. Wrestlers all over the world dream of being at Battle Of Los Angeles, or even working one PWG show in their careers. In Mexico, there are thousands of wrestlers we know who would kill to work any show at PWG, let alone BOLA. We have been very fortunate to have worked for the best promotions in America, and I have always felt I need to give the fans my very best when we’re up against the best in the world, and we’ll continue to do that everywhere.
REY FENIX: Like my brother said, every company is special in its own way.
PENTA: We love them all very much, sorry to interrupt, but I want to make it clear that we have always been very grateful to anyone who has ever booked us, and all the promotions who have ever opened their doors to us. They are all different, too, even if the same wrestlers are at AAW and PWG, they each bring something different.
FENIX: PWG is very special to us. They have given us a lot of opportunities. This is our third BOLA, and we’ve done other shows like Head Like a Cole and Only Kings Understand Each Other. They have a big place in my heart. We love wrestling and lucha. It’s our passion. It’s real life. We don’t care what company we’re working for, or what opponent we may have the moment. In the ring is what’s special. PWG has given us a lot of those moments, and we’ve had some incredible fucking matches, and we are very happy for that.
You guys made a name for yourself by facing each other all over the world, but now you’re frequently performing as a tag team. What do you find to be the main differences between the two scenarios?
FENIX: We started training on the same day. We debuted on the same day.
When was that?
FENIX: 2007. We debuted when I was 15 or 16. We have had a lot of the same opportunities. We started training the same day, we debuted on Lucha Underground the same day, we debuted at PWG the same day. It’s really special that we started out as a team. I respect my brother, and I respect his work, and he respects my work and me. When we’re inside that ring, we’re not brothers. If he’s in my corner, then sure, he’s my partner, but other times, someone else is in my corner, and I know I need to kick his ass because that’s my job. That’s lucha. After that, I can go backstage and kiss him and say “I love you, and thank you for kicking my ass.” I think that’s just lucha culture. The gimmick and the character is all in the ring. So, maybe one night, Penta is my partner, but maybe the next night, he’s my rival. I say this all the time: my brother is my best partner because, really, I can do all the fucking crazy tag team moves, but he’s also my best rival because he knows me, and I know him. So, anytime we are in the ring, whether it’s as partners or opponents, I’m 100% sure we can crush it.
Throughout history with tag teams, there tends to be one partner who seems to get more praise than the other, but I feel like that isn’t the case with you guys. You both can stand on your own, and each of you has the ability to be in the main event, or have the crowd in your hand without overshadowing one another. Why do think that is?
PENTA: You know why? Because we are very different people, and we wrestle different styles. I watch some things he does and just think “Fuck, I would never do that.” Never in my life, I couldn’t do it. I know my limits. I always tell him he’s crazy. I wrestle a different style so I think that’s why we’re one of the best tag teams. We do a good job of combining our styles. If I was also a high-flyer, I would want to do all the stuff he does and do it better, but that’s not the case so there’s no competition. That’s why we work well together. We know what each of us is capable of doing and we just go out there and put it together the best we can. That’s what we’re always working on because I think it makes us stronger as a tag team.
FENIX: The other part is that our personalities are different. Outside of the ring, my brother is always the rude guy in the family. He’s always the heel. I’m always the babyface. It always comes out in the ring too. Watch our matches and you’ll see Penta is always talking shit and spitting on people, and I’m always calm and hanging back in our corner. It’s our real life personalities. He’s always fucking rude like [mimicking Penta] “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, I hate this. Fuck.” On the other hand, I take my time. I have no worries. He’s just always mad, so I have to tell him to relax. Our personalities complete the team. The characters in the ring are just an extension of ourselves, and it’s a perfect fit.
You said you debuted in 2007. How did you decide, back then, that this is what you wanted to do, and how did you get started with your training?
FENIX: We have always loved lucha. When we were kids, we always played on my mom’s bed. We broke four beds. We used our underwear as masks, my mom’s bra was the belt, and the towels were the capes. Every fucking Sunday, my parents would go to my grandma’s house. We stayed alone in the house, and it was 100% playing lucha. We knew of a gym, and went to start training. I remember, in training, my brother asked me if this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I said “Of course,” because we loved lucha when we were kids. It’s very special when you’re such big fan of lucha and you step in the ring for the first time, so when he asked me that when we were standing in that ring, I knew for sure this was what I wanted for the rest of my life. Penta has always been the motivator and the mind of this team. After our debut, he asked me if I wanted to be one of these guys who trains once a week, only wrestles on Sundays, and never wrestles anywhere but his hometown, or if I wanted to be a real luchador who wrestles the very best around the world. I knew for sure I wanted to be the best in the world.
PENTA: These days in Mexico, it’s very easy to be a luchador. You train for one month, and all of a sudden, you’re a wrestler. That wasn’t the case with us. It took us four years of training all day every single day, and whether we were sick, tired, or hurt, it never crossed our minds to take a day off. It was the opposite, actually. If some reason, we didn’t train that day we would be pacing in the house all day, anxious to get out. We would train on the bed. He would walk by and just grab me and practice holds like “Hang on, let me try this out.” Today in Mexico, it’s too easy to be a luchador. There are guys everywhere who call themselves teachers that try and get people to train and waste their money. People who really know lucha libre, not wrestling, but lucha libre, go to some places to watch in Mexico, and these guys don’t look like luchadors. Their gear looks ridiculous, their masks look absolutely ridiculous, and you know they’re phony. They don’t have even the slightest idea what it means to be a professional luchador.
FENIX: The problem is that when things are easy, your actions are also easy. So if you train for a month, and you see how easy it is to debut, you really start to think that it’s easy to be a luchador, and all of a sudden you think you’re the best in the world. Of course, that’s not the case. We had to train so hard every day for four years, and I remember when we finished our training with Skayde.
PENTA: The best teacher in the world.
FENIX: He’s trained all of Dragon Gate. He trained Kota Ibushi, Sara Del Rey, Eddie Kingston, Kalisto, Chris Hero, and so many others. He’s a legend. When class was done, my brother and I were the only ones still in the ring training long after class was over. This is difference between us and other wrestlers. People who like lucha think it’s easy, but people who love lucha know better. This is my passion. It’s in our blood and in our hearts.
Fans can tell who really loves this business and those are the wrestlers they really love.
PENTA: Exactly. Something that was very special and difficult for me when I was training is that I already had a daughter. I constantly had to think about whether I go out and work and support my family, or keep training and wrestling to be the best that I could be. In Mexico, you can’t charge when you wrestle. You wrestle for maybe five dollars sometimes.
FENIX: What? Five dollars? More like a dollar. Shit, sometimes less than that.
PENTA: Well, let’s just say five. Fine, maybe one to five dollars. The only reason you do that is to get experience and get a feel for crowds. You really learn what it’s like to perform in front of a big crowd, a small crowd, or nobody at all. We went through that process, and it was difficult because we weren’t getting paid, and we had to spend our money to do this when we weren’t making any money. We had to invest in ourselves. It was a difficult time, and we know just how hard we worked for this, and how much we struggled. That’s why we defend lucha and wrestling so much. It’s cost us a lot to be where we are. You are a witness to how many Mexicans have come to LA to wrestle, but just how many of us have made it to BOLA? How many of us have made it to PWG? PCW? AAW? My brother is the Heavyweight Champ at AAW. I’m the AAW Heritage Champ. I’ve been Heavyweight Champ there before. Right now, we’re sort of the faces of AAW, a promotion we love very much that has always opened its doors to us, just like [Super Dragon] here at PWG. We’re the first Mexicans to debut at PWG, we’re the first Mexicans to come to the States and had the fans throw money throw into the ring as a sign of respect, we’re the first Mexicans to win the tag team titles at PWG, and we’re talking about titles that only the best in the world have held. We’re the first Mexicans to beat the Young Bucks. We’ve gotten some great things in this business, and we can only enjoy them because we know how much it cost us to get here. We know just how much we went through to earn the little that we have in this business. We’re so grateful that we get to go to places like England, and have fans know who we are, [and] to see people in Japan wearing our shirts. We go to Chile, and people know who we are. We’re going to Australia and Peru soon, and this is only possible thanks to wrestling and lucha libre. Thank you to the fans who have followed us from the beginning. You’re why we do this. We have left our families. We have missed Christmases, my parent’s birthdays, and my kid’s birthdays so we can wrestle for everyone around the world. We really do eat, sleep, and breathe lucha libre.
You’ve both left AAA within the last year, with Penta publicly citing feelings of being held back by the company. You’ve since began appearing regularly for The Crash, a promotion based in Tijuana. What makes The Crash a better fit for you?
FENIX: Basically, we can only do what we know how to do. We spent six long years in AAA, and we never, never had a one on one match. Penta vs. Fenix never happened, and everyone wanted to see that. People in Mexico know us, and if they [were to see] Penta vs. Fenix on a card, people would be excited, but the company never did it. Why? I don’t understand. AAA knows we were a team, but they never let us team together. AAA never gave us the opportunity. The difference with The Crash is that they’ll say “Okay, Fenix, what do you want?” “I want to team with my brother.” “OK, you can team with your brother.” That’s how we feel comfortable. We have more freedom. We serve the company, but still have some freedom. That’s the difference between The Crash and AAA. AAA... um, OK. I don’t want to remember that, but it is special for us to do The Crash. One more thing: The Crash is not a company, The Crash is a family. Every wrestler in The Crash loves [lucha]. Everyone is patient, everyone feels lucha. In AAA, you can’t do that, when the boss doesn’t love lucha, when the big heads don’t know lucha, when the booker doesn’t feel lucha. That is the difference. I hope AAA people hear me in this interview. That is the problem. You can’t do that. When you’re the big head, and you don’t like, you don’t feel, you don’t love [lucha], how can you expect everyone else who works for you to feel that way? Same thing in any family. When the parents don’t like books, how could you want your son to take a book and read when you’re not setting the example for them? I can tell you that in 6 years [with] AAA, I’m only happy [with] one, and it’s the first one because we were living the dream. “Wow I’m on TV! Wow, I’m traveling everywhere!” But after that, it was just the same thing everyday. That’s the best way to describe the difference between The Crash and AAA.
The passion comes back too, surely?
FENIX: Oh, for sure. When I left AAA, I felt like a kid again, brother. OK, [imagine] tomorrow, I have a match with Ricochet. One night before, I’m in my house trying on my gear. I put my mask on, and I’m like “Hell yeah, you are Fenix motherfucker!” In my own house! I’m very excited before my match again. The passion is back with me, and when I was in AAA, I tell you, it’s “Ugh, OK... Tomorrow... one more time... wrestle with La Parka. Ugh, OK. Please don’t wake me up. I want to sleep. I don’t want to go to work. Sorry. It’s the same shit, always. I’m tired.”
You are both among the most featured stars on Lucha Underground, who is affiliated with AAA. With the third season coming to a close, what happens next? Will you still participate in Lucha Underground if it continues?
PENTA: Yeah, we’re waiting for them to call us so we can work. We’re ready. We’re waiting for tapings to start in October, supposedly, for Season 4. We’re ready. We’ve been in contact with people at Lucha Underground, not Dorian [Roldan, AAA Vice President], and they know we’re ready to go. Right now, we’re just waiting for a date. For now, we don’t know when, but we’re ready.
FENIX: [You’re] saying we’re top luchadors in Lucha Underground. I don’t feel that way. I’m just Fenix. I don’t think I’m best in the world. I don’t think I’m one of the top draws in lucha. This is my life. You can’t be smug or conceited. I used to think that way, that I was the best and baddest. You can’t feel that way when all you really know is what’s in your circle. I traveled the world. I met too many guys with many different styles, and there are so many better than me. I thank you for saying we are top guys in Lucha Underground, but I don’t say that.
2017 is the busiest year for you both so far, having wrestled in various countries for more companies than ever before. Is there anybody you haven’t had a chance to have match with yet that you want to? Is there a dream match you haven’t had yet that you want to have?
FENIX: I want to wrestle in Ring of Honor, I want to wrestle in New Japan, I want to wrestle in WWE and NXT, but I know it’s only a matter of time. When I started to wrestle in AAA, it was funny because in Mexico, guys would come in from America or other places, and the big stars in Mexico they would say “Who’s that?” because they only watch their circle. They say things like “I’m best the luchador in Mexico and the world.” No, bitch. How can you say that when you’ve never left your circle? They never left Mexico, so when some big name comes to Mexico, all the big stars say “Who’s that?” That’s not the case for us. We know outside of our circles because we want to be the best in the world. I don’t want to wrestle the best in my country; I want the best in the world. When I was in Mexico, I knew Ricochet, I knew Shawn Michaels. Now, I’ve wrestled Ricochet, I’ve wrestled Will Ospreay, I wrestled some of the best in the world, but I think my dream match is against my hero, Rey Mysterio. One on One. I think this is my dream match. I hope a company will do this match. He’s my hero. I followed him when I was a kid, when I became a luchador, and now he’s my friend. He’s the best person I know in the world. He’s a very good friend. He’s the best person. He’s my inspiration, so I think that’s my dream match.
PENTA: I don’t know. I’ve faced some of the best in the world. I’ve had matches with Rey Mysterio, Alberto El Patron, the Hardys, Ricochet, Will Ospreay. I don’t know. I think I’ve already faced the best in the world. Some, I lost. I don’t know. That’s hard. There’s a lot of names I can think of. Lots of people I want to wrestle, but I don’t know if I can label it a dream match.
FENIX: One day we said “I wish we could wrestle the Young Bucks one day,” and we’ve done that.
PENTA: That was the same thing with Rey. I mean, when Rey was in WWE, I would watch and would think “Wow imagine getting wrestle him.” [Or] not even wrestle him, just to see him in person! I never even imagined I would ever wrestle him, or be his partner, or even get to meet him. Then, maybe 3 years or so later, things worked out where I wrestled him in AAA for the first time. Later, in Lucha Underground, we tagged and were on teams. It’s crazy. [...] Like my brother said, he’s the best human being that exists, as a luchador, and as a friend. He is one of the very few people in the business who would give you the shirt off his back [just] to give it to you. He will take out of his own mouth, as we say in Mexico, to feed you. For being as [famous] as he is, he’s a simple man. He gives you life lessons without trying to. You know what Rey Mysterio means to people, to the world. You know he’s done very well for himself in any company he has ever worked. He doesn’t have to show off. He doesn’t need to ask anybody for anything, and yet he’s always there to help. He’s always there to give you what you need. He’s always trying to guide us and teach us the path that worked well for him.
FENIX: I love you, Rey!
PENTA: We have so much respect for him. He loves wrestling with us because he says we’re crazy just like him, but we learned it all watching him.
FENIX: Psicosis vs Rey is our inspiration, brother.
PENTA: We used to watch all the crazy shit he would do, and now he says we do crazier stuff than he does, but no way. As far as companies go, as a luchador, and from the business side of it, of course we want to wrestle in the best companies. You name it: from WWE to Ring of Honor, we’ll do any of them as long as it’s good business. We’re ready to work anywhere they’ll have us.