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    Wednesday, June 7, 2017

    Art of War Wrestling: Bringing 'Hard Style' to Philippine Wrestling

    The Philippine wrestling industry just keeps growing with Art of War Wrestling joining the ranks of the Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR) and the Manila Wrestling Federation (MWF) as an ambitious third player.

    Even without having staged a show of their own, the company already has the scene buzzing with ECW Original Chilly Willy announced as its Head Trainer—the only "legitimate" trainer in the country, if the PR is to be believed.

    AoW recently conducted its first round of tryouts at the sweltering Makati Square Arena, and Willy is clearly enthusiastic about the small but scrappy bunch of men and women who threw their names into the hat.

    "We feel very excited about the 13 Warriors who showed up," said Chilly Willy when we caught up with him after the session. "It was a first for both us and them, and we are very pleased so far. [But] Art of War is still scouting!"

    Rather than compete with the existing promotions in the country today, it seems that AoW has a different vision altogether: to be both the hook and the portal that gets global talents to wrestle in the Philippines.

    "When people from other countries come to wrestle in the Philippines and wrestle AoW Warriors they will understand they're in for a wrestling match, not a gimmick match," he continues, clearly making a case for an old-school purist sort of product.

    "We're in it to create strong, tough, hard, and very smart wrestlers that can carry a wrestling match with anyone, both internationally and here in the Philippines," he finishes emphatically.

    If you've been following the company on its official Facebook page, you may have seen it waving a singular banner about how #WrestlingIsReal. That seems to be the guiding principle behind the skills and types of matches the promotion aims to showcase—gritty, snug, high on fundamentals and low on the drama and theatrics that likely come to mind for casual fans raised on WWE-style product.

    "What's gonna set AoW Wrestling apart is that we will not be a comic wrestling organization," grins Willy. "We will be legit in every way possible."

    One of the long-time questions Smark Henry has had for all the wrestling promotions in the country is what kind of contribution they hope Philippine-style wrestling can make to the global wrestling vocabulary. In the same way that Japanese puroresu brings images of its hard-hitting Strong Style to mind, while Mexican wrestling has gifted the world with the fluid lucha libre style, what can we expect AoW to contribute?

    "Style isn't really important in pro wrestling," muses Willy. "But if we have to sum it up it would be this: Hard Style."

    The big man was mum as to what to actually expect from "Hard Style" wrestling, but bristles when compared to other independent international promotions like Ring of Honor.

    "To be honest AoW Wrestling can't be compared," he says knowingly. "We will entertain through our Hard Style of Wrestling."

    But don't expect AoW to be at the heart of any turf wars with PWR and MWF any time soon. The company prefers to take a diplomatic stance with the other promotions.

    "I really hope someday we can all work together and bring Philippine wrestling to the forefront," he says with a wide smile. "We need to let the world know pro wrestling is alive here in the Philippines."

    "I've only actually seen one other organization here in the Philippines, and that's PWR," asserts Willy. "And I have friends over there. Love them guys! But AoW Wrestling will be on another level. I will go to the MWF show this weekend too. I've met some cool people in their organization as well."

    So there you have it. Art of War Wrestling and Head Trainer Chilly Willy: innovative pioneers of "Hard Style" wrestling, and aspiring diplomats and statesmen of Filipino wrestling, both here and abroad.

    Sad that you missed out on the chance to sign up for their day one roster? Never fear. From the sound of it, AoW will continue to open more opportunities for hopeful candidates in the future.

    "We invite anyone who has the heart and the guts to come train," Willy tells us in closing. He even has a very close backer, someone who may be very familiar with keen observers of the Philippine wrestling scene the past three years.

    "Our coach is a true blessing to the Philippine pro wrestling scene," chimes in "Classical" Bryan Leo, himself a pioneer on the scene in his own right and a former Philippine pro wrestling champion who was spotted at the AoW tryouts. "There is no doubt that he is the most legitimate trainer in the country. Philippine pro wrestling is in very good hands."

    Still not sold? Check out the video below celebrating the first official day of company tryouts, and drop AoW a line if you change your mind.

    Photos courtesy of Art of War Wrestling.
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