Pentagon Jr.: From Zero Fear to Zero Equals
Who is the best in the world? It’s a question wrestling fans all over the world love, and I mean LOVE, to ask, along with “who should be the guy?”, “why is TNA still around?” and “when is John Cena going to turn heel?!”. The more time goes on, I find it to be a fundamentally flawed question; not because there isn’t a best in the world out there (I’m sure there is if someone took a great deal of time to find out), but because there’s just so many great ones these days. Seriously, can you remember a time when there were so many candidates for a best wrestler alive? From America to Mexico to Japan to anywhere, the talent pool is flooded with great performers. Over in Japan, guys like Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika Okada have wowed audiences so much that they’ve become stars both in Japan and here in the states. For WWE, guys like the always underappreciated Cesaro and the current WWE Champion Seth Rollins are recognized as amazing present and future talent, with some even saying Rollins may already be one of the best ever (this person’s name is Plan. Swell dude, decent writer, even if he lost a Grand Prix to someone once!). Hell, the WWE’s best performer for my money isn’t even a man; it’s Sasha Banks, the 23 year old phenom who for my money is the best performer alive today. That’s just the tip of the iceberg too; the U.S. indies, Mexico, England, and other countries have great stars in their own right, people you could eventually see being labeled the best for years to come.
And then, there’s Pentagon Jr., a Mexican luchador based in AAA, who may not be the best wrestler alive but is most definitely the best wrestler you haven’t heard of. Which, compared to where he was a year ago at this time, is a huge leap for the young star. Back in October of 2014, Pentagon was a mid level cruiserweight wrestler for Mexico’s biggest promotion, lagging behind names like Fenix, El Hijo del Fantasma and numerous others. No longer; a month later, he would join the stables Los Perros del Mal and quickly become one half of the AAA Tag Team Champions with Joe Lider (they held the titles until this last Sunday), all while securing himself a position as a rising AAA star. Most importantly though, Pentagon Jr. was brought onboard to Lucha Underground, where he quickly went from a borderline lower card wrestler to potentially being the top star and most important wrestler in regards to LU’s future. It was a climb that revealed the ability of a young man who hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can do. And like most things in wrestling, it appears to have happened almost entirely by accident.
The rise of Pentagon Jr. all begins with another lucha libre legend; a luchador known as Octagon. Created by AAA founder Antonio Pena all the way back in the late 80s (back when Pena still worked for CMLL), Octagon would go on to become one of the most beloved luchadores in modern day lucha libre, selling out countless shows, setting merchandise records (at one point, Octagon’s mask was the most popular in Mexico) and competing in several big matches, most notably being El Hijo del Santo’s partner in the famous When Worlds Collide tag team match featuring Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr. While never a massive star outside of Mexico, Octagon was certainly someone people in the states would have a vague idea of. What most people don’t know however is that his biggest storyline ever involved something of an evil twin. Looking to create the perfect villain for his hero, Pena came up with the concept of Pentagon, a dark reflection on the Octagon gimmick (the dark Link in the Water Temple to regular Link if you will). Debuting in 1996 for AAA, the Pentagon gimmick would feud with Octagon on and off for the next several years to varying success, with several different men appearing under the mask. By 2000 however, the feud had run its course and the Pentagon character was retired.
Then, almost a decade later, something interesting occurred. Octagon, still in AAA at this point, took on an apprentice under his wing, leading to the creation of an Octagon Jr. Well, what would an Octagon Jr. be without his own Pentagon to feud with? Thus, Pentagon Jr. was born, with the intention of being the arch rival for what AAA hoped to be a successor to Octagon. As fate would have it, that would never come to pass; Octagon Jr. would disappear from AAA only a few months later, allowing Pentagon Jr. to eventually escape from the Octagon/Pentagon shadow and start his own legacy. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of that turn of events is the fact that you know who Octagon Jr. is; in fact, some of you may see him almost every week. As it turns out, the young man picked to be Octagon’s successor was one Samuray del Sol, who has since gone on to find fame in WWE as Kalisto. That’s right; Pentagon Jr. was originally created strictly to be an opponent for one half of the Lucha Dragons. You cannot make that stuff up.
There’s many things that set Pentagon Jr. apart from his humble origins and a lot of his peers. As per usual, it starts with the in ring work. While not as flashy as his contemporaries like Fenix, Aerostar and numerous others, Pentagon can certainly fly around in the ring with ease, an impressive feat considering he’s a bigger guy (215 lbs) than most luchadores. He’s also proven to be someone who can adapt to any situation, something many of his peers arguably cannot do. If you want a traditional lucha libre bout, Pentagon is more than capable of pulling it off. If you’re looking for a submission style, technically refined bout, Pentagon is more than adequate, as seen by his impressive battle with Zack Sabre Jr. at PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles. Quietly, he’s built up a solid set of power moves, and can actually do a package powerbomb just as well (if not better) than the master of it himself, Kevin Owens. And unless you’re the one person who hasn’t seen his match with Vampiro from Ultima Lucha, you know damn well Pentagon can do hardcore bouts with little to no problem. Really, any style you ask, Pentagon Jr. can do well, and there’s still some room for improvement to. It’s safe to say that Pentagon can only become a better wrestler the longer he moves forward practicing his craft.
What sets him apart though, what made him such a diamond in the rough for Lucha Underground, is just the simple fact of Pentagon getting it. He has the sort of understanding for what makes a wrestler work that even some of the best today don’t have. And I’m not just talking in ring. One only needs to take a look at Pentagon to know that he’s a unique individual. Sporting a ninja warrior mask with hyena like face paint and looking like he just walked out of the world’s most dangerous dojo, Pentagon Jr. looks like a bad motherfucker. It’s part of what made him so interesting and intimidating as he went on to break arm after arm during the course of season one (more on that in a moment) and part of what began to draw the crowd towards his in ring work. More important than that though is how he handled himself on the microphone. This right here is the most important part, because Pentagon works with a disadvantage on the mic, due to him still learning the English language. The fact is that it doesn’t matter; the audience doesn’t need to know Spanish and doesn’t need to read subtitles to know what Pentagon is trying to convey in his promos. He can tell a story on the mic simply through the tone of his voice, a flicker of violence in his eye, a body twitch, a lick of the lips, a stare. Often we think promos come down to how good a speaker someone is, how coherent a speaker they are. In Pentagon’s case, it’s more than just saying words, it’s about tone, mood, feeling. There’s certainly a place in wrestling still for passionate, thoughtful promos, but it’s certainly refreshing to see one man showing that sometimes, a “Cero Miedo” works better than a pipebomb.
Alas, all the talent in the world means nothing if you’re not given the opportunity to produce, and more than anything, that’s what has allowed Pentagon Jr. to rise up the wrestling ranks. Even the most skeptical wrestling fan will acknowledge that Lucha Underground has a great strength in storytelling; well, no story was told better (with the exception of Mil Muertes’ rise to glory) than Pentagon Jr. coming of age. He started the season as a supporting player, before slowly building credibility and a following by breaking arms for the approval of an unseen Master (all while screaming his catchphrase, Cero Miedo. For those unaware, that’s Spanish for “zero fear”.). It was that last subtle point that helped humanize Pentagon; sure, he was a devilish soul for wrecking poor bastards like Vinnie Massaro and Famous B, but it was less a cry of evil than a cry for acceptance, a young man looking for guidance and purpose by sinking to the lowest depths of hell. It made Pentagon both horrifying and sympathetic, two things that would build and build until he came face to face with Vampiro. I won’t go into details about it as a) most people reading this probably already know and b) those that don’t should find out for themselves because, for my money, there hasn’t been many stories told better than the one those two told leading up to and during their match at Ultima Lucha (still my Match of the Year, for those wondering). In the end, Pentagon Jr. found everything he was looking for; his acceptance, his Master, his place. It was a fitting conclusion to a wonderful first season for him, and a set up for much, much bigger things to come going forward.
And make no mistake; big things are coming for Pentagon. No wrestler will enter the Temple for season two with more momentum, no wrestler will enter the Temple with more interest and no wrestler will enter with as much promise. That’s saying something, because aside from WWE and New Japan, LU boasts perhaps the most top level talent on the planet. Certainly you can never see the future entirely, but I fail to see anyway (barring serious injury) that season two of Lucha Underground doesn’t end with Pentagon Jr. rising all the way to the top. He has it all; the look, the skills, the presence, the charisma, the crowd in the palm of his hand. He is Paul Heyman in ninja garb, Sasha Banks with a mask, Seth Rollins drenched in sorrow. And he’s someone that, if you truly love wrestling, you cannot afford to miss. For whether it’s in Lucha Underground, AAA or somewhere else, Pentagon Jr. is going to soon lay his claim to being one of the best in the world. A man with zero fear; a man with zero equals.
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