Childhood & Early Life
Kalisto was born on 14 November,1986 in Pilsen, Chicago. Though born in the U.S., he spent his formative years in Mexico City. He attended the Curie Metropolitan High School.
He is of Mexican-American descent and was enamored of Mexican professional wrestling (Lucha Libre) even when he was a child. The masks, style and physique of the wrestlers arrested his attention.
When young, he would purchase replica masks of Octagon and Tinieblas. Once his family moved to the United States, he developed an interest in watching World Wrestling Foundation, World Championship Wrestling, and Extreme Championship Wrestling.
He was heavily influenced by Rob Van Dam, Sabu, and Rey Mysterio. He started watching numerous independent promotions. He was naturally drawn to sports and regularly participated in Jiu-Jitsu, gymnastics, amateur wrestling, and football.
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He began training in 2006 at Windy City Pro Wrestling school in Chicago and learnt both American professional wrestling and Lucha Libre. He soon made his debut within three weeks of training. He took on the ring name ‘Samuray del Sol’.
He started wrestling under masks as he was heavily influenced by this form of wrestling when he was a child. He soon made himself well-known in the Midwestern United States circuit.
He started expanding his career by making his debuts for International Wrestling Cartel (ICW) and East Coast Lucha Libre (ECLL) around 2010. He also travelled on his first wrestling tour of Mexico in the same year.
In his second tour of Mexico in 2011, he encountered a serious injury when he fell on the concrete floor and his head hit on a guardrail. As a result of this, he was agonized by post-concussion syndrome and depression. He had contemplated retiring before he received a call from WWE.
WWE offered Rodriguez a part in a three-day tryout camp. Even though there was no contract, he knew that being a part of WWE in any way could boost his morale and career. He returned to the independent circuit soon after this.
He earned a spot in Lucha Libre AAA’s TV program in 2011. He was trained under luchador veterans during this period, most notably Gran Apache.
He was a part of Dragon Gate USA in 2012. He also made his debut for Evolve, a promotion closely tied with Dragon Gate USA. He teamed with El Generico in a tag team match to defeat Genki Horiguchi and Ryo Saito and continued winning until they qualified for the Evolve Championship tournament. They failed to proceed.
At Evolve 22, he challenged Johnny Gargano for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship. He lost this fight and was unmasked by Gargano.
In August 2012, he made his AAA main debut when he was paired with Joe Lider and Juventud Guerrera in a tag team match. Later in the year, he worked in several multi tag team matches against Los Inferno Rockers.
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He was offered a regular spot in the AAA roster in October 2012. The storyline that announced his entry involved him and Octagon pairing. Soon, Octagon presented him a new mask and took him under his wing as his protégé. He was given the name ‘Octagon Jr.’
He entered the Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup in December 2012. He went on to progressively defeat Eddie Rios, Jonathan Gresham, Jon Davisin, and AR Fox and was crowned the winner of the tournament.
He was a part of Hart Legacy Wrestling (HLW) promotion’s inaugural event in Canada in 2013. He teamed up with El Generico to win the match. They earned a spot in the main event but were defeated.
He unsuccessfully challenged Jon Davis for the FIP World Heavyweight Championship when he made his debut for Full Impact Pro (FIP). He later made his Southern California-based Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) debut along with AR Fox.
He defeated Paul London, AR Fox, and Ricochet in a single-elimination tournament to be crowned as the King of Flight in 2013.
It was at this juncture he saw a rise in his career. He signed a developmental deal with WWE in 2013. His ring name Kalisto was unveiled on August 29, 2013. He made his NXT debut when he defeated Baron Corbin.
He made his TV debut in the tag team match when he formed the team with El Local. El Local was replaced by Sin Cara. They were called 'The Lucha Dragons' and won the Tag Team Championship in 2014.
He made his main roster debut in February 2015 when The Lucha Dragons defeated Curtis Axel and Heath Slater. He attempted a shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship but was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Kalisto's big moment arrived when he defeated Alberto Del Rio, the United States Champion, in 2015. On Raw, he defeated Del Rio to win the United States Championship, which was his first main event win. He regained the title later and this made him a two-time United States Champion.
He was assigned the SmackDown brand in 2016, where attempted the WWE Cruiserweight Championship at the Survivor Series. The match ended in a disqualification favoring Kendrick.
He was next moved to Raw to be included in the Superstar Shake-up. Here, he emerged as the newest member of the cruiserweight division.
In 2017, he proceeded to challenge the WWE Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore. In the fight, he defeated Amore to be crowned the new Cruiserweight Champion. He lost the title back to Amore at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, within a few days.