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    Thursday, December 31, 2015

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/31/15): Ralph Imabayashi Wins the PWR Championship

    Here we are. Day 31 of our 31 Days of Wrestling. Throughout the course of the month, we here at Smark Henry have been looking back at matches that not only have defined 2015, but have reminded us of why we’ve stayed invested in this (often ridiculous) form of storytelling/sport for as long as we have.

    After looking back at everything from New Japan Pro Wrestling (#16: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura), WWE (#27: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins) + NXT (#3: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley), ROH (#9: Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal), and the eccentric indie-favorite Lucha Underground (#15: Pentagon, Jr. vs. Vampiro), let’s end this year by looking back no further than two weeks ago at the iAcademy Auditorium—and by extension, looking at the future of Philippine professional wrestling.

    #31: Ralph Imabayashi vs. “Classical” Bryan Leo (c) for the PWR Championship at PWR: Terminus

    And here we thought moving from the ever-sold out Makati Cinema Square to the more intimate (AND AIRCONDITIONED!) iAcademy Auditorium was the last “big change” PWR had in store for us before 2015 came to a close.

    After losing the inaugural PHX Championship match to Ken Warren at Renaissance back in September, the proud Filipino-Japanese sensation Ralph Imabayashi regained his momentum for PWR gold just a few months later at PWR Live in November. He went on to defeat long-time rival John Sebastian, becoming the #1 contender for “Classical” Bryan Leo’s long-held PWR Championship. Everyone knew he was fit for the title. Who in their right mind wouldn’t think so even after seeing his match against Peter Versoza in PWR Live in August?

    On the other hand, we have the King of The Royal Flush, “Classical” Bryan Leo, who’s been able to defend his championship time and time again, albeit via shenanigans, against other crowd favorites like Jake De Leon and Mark D. Manalo. Most PWR fans assumed this would just be another match that’d end in CBL retaining the title and then [insert post-match plot twist here]. But with a Sonic Crusher outta nowhere followed by the 1-2-3, we were all proven wrong.

    And your NEWWWW PWR Champion, Ralph Imabayashi!!! #PWRTerminus
    Posted by Philippine Wrestling Revolution on Saturday, December 19, 2015

    It’s a shame that Terminus fell on both the Star Wars and Typhoon Nona weekend, since a lot of people were unable to go. Judging by how loud the Revo-nation was at that moment however, it didn’t seem to matter. We cheered the miracle kid on, even chanting “You deserve it!” over and over just so the new champ knew how well he performed this year. The same respect goes to Bryan Leo, delivering quality main event matches while being unmatched on the mic. We were all ecstatic and filled with the same kind of giddy excitement that overcame us watching our favorite matches growing up.

    Ralph Imabayashi vs. “Classical” Bryan Leo not only wrapped up PWR’s best year yet, but opened up infinite possibilities for the promotion’s already bright future. Can the spunky new champ keep his place at the top of the roster? How long before “Classical” Bryan Leo and The Royal Flush obliterate Imabayashi and get revenge for ending the King’s 210-day streak? And how will inaugural Path of Gold winner Jake De Leon fit into the picture when he gets his title shot at Wrevolution X in May?

    At this point, PWR in 2016 is one giant fuse waiting to be lit. When it does blow up, it’ll be one beautiful, chaotic mess.

    Photo taken by Renzo Magnaye


    31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2015.

    Read our previous entries:

    #1: Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania
    #2: Kazuchika Okada faces Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 9
    #3: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Respect
    #4: Fenix vs. Mil Muertes, Grave Consequences
    #5: The Rise of Kevin Owens
    #6: Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma, All Night Long
    #7: Jake de Leon vs. Bombay Suarez for the PWR Championship, Wrevolution X
    #8: Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Lashley for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship on Impact Wrestling
    #9: Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal in the Battle of the Belts, Best in the World
    #10: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Wrestle Kingdom 9
    #11 Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE World Title at Royal Rumble
    #12: Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship, NXT TakeOver: Rival
    #13: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma, The New Beginning in Sendai
    #14: Seth Rollins vs. John Cena, Champion vs. Champion, SummerSlam
    #15: Vampiro vs. Pentagon, Jr., Cero Miedo
    #16: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, G1 Climax 25 Finals
    #17: Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship, Beast in the East
    #18: Peter Versoza vs. Ralph Imabayashi Quarterfinal Match for the PHX Championship, PWR Live
    #19: John Cena vs. Cesaro for the United States Championship, RAW July 6, 2015
    #20: The Grado vs. Drew Galloway Saga, ICW
    #21: The Lucha Underground Trios Championship Finals
    #22: The All-Champion Tag Match, SmackDown April 16, 2015
    #23: Kurt Angle vs. Ethan Carter III for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Impact Wrestling, July 1, 2015
    #24: Kenny Omega vs. KUSHIDA, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, Dominion
    #25: Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Roderick Strong, EVOLVE 45
    #26: Rey Mysterio vs. Myzteziz: The Lucha Libre Dream Match, Triple Mania XXIII
    #27: Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins, Ladder Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Money in the Bank
    #28: Roderick Strong vs. Jay Lethal for the ROH World Television Championship, Glory By Honor XIV
    #29: Ethan Carter III vs. Matt Hardy vs. Drew Galloway for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, Bound For Glory
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