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    Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    Can Martivo Find Gold At The End Of The Rainbow?

    If you've been following the Philippine Wrestling Revolution the past couple of years, then you've almost certainly noticed a certain colorful character making waves with his flamboyant mannerisms, leopard-print accessories, sequin-and-sparkle gear, and trademark pride flag: Martivo, this generation of Filipino pro wrestling's first openly-gay crusader.

    If so, then you may have noticed that this loud and proud talent has rarely gotten the opportunity to bust through to the next level, continually falling short in the multiple championship opportunities he's had, or coming out on the losing side in his lesser feuds—a point that's been a huge cause of frustration for the volatile Man-Doll, who generally doesn't allow himself to fall into negativity.

    "I don’t normally get frustrated," he confided to Smark Henry in an exclusive interview at the Bombay Suarez Performance Center. "So when that happens, it means that I’m real close to losing hope. It’s frustrating to realize that I just can’t seem to make the cut.  No matter what I do, no matter what people think of me, it just doesn't seem to happen."

    Lesser men would have folded in the face of this adversity, but not Martivo. It's easy to recall several flash-in-the-pan stars in PWR's history who walked away when things didn't go their way. But like a true warrior, he's been funneling his frustration to keep grinding away in the ring and elevating his skills—even making a surprise appearance in the MWF Championship Tournament!

    Count on him to turn his back on frustration, and find inspiration from within to find that daylight at the end of the tunnel.

    "I believe that getting frustrated is a waste of time," Martivo tells us matter-of-factly. "It ain't gon' do you any good. So, what do you do instead? Turn that frustration upside down and use it to your advantage."

    Martivo Goes To War

    And it certainly looks like Martivo is taking his own advice to heart. All his ceaseless hustling has gotten him noticed by one particularly imposing titleholder in PWR: "The Warlord" Alexander Belmonte III, the reigning All Out War Champion, who issued a challenge to the Rainbow Warrior to try to take his prized gold this Sunday at PWR Live: Way of the Champion.

    That's not to say that finally getting another singles championship shot means Martivo is taking anything for granted; he's not even guaranteeing he'll be taking the title away from a man who both outweighs and outpowers him by a huge margin. AB3 is battle-tested after having gone through numerous championship wars against all sorts of competition, including the deranged Vlad Sinnsyk  and the hyper-talented YOLO Twins.

    "Not saying it's gon' happen right away or it's gon' be easy, hell no!" Martivo chirps animatedly when asked about his prospects this Sunday. "But that's how life was designed. You just gotta keep going."

    Most wrestlers would be cowed by the thought of even competing for this particular championship—a belt that's been defined by brutal hardcore matches, bloody brawls, and foreign objects galore. Not Martivo though! He's heading into this match with one thing in mind: to keep on keeping on.

    "For me, winning this match will definitely prove that if you stop, you lose," he says with a determined glint in his eyes. "If you give up, you fail."

    More than just fighting for a championship, Martivo understands he carries a second burden: that of being an icon and inspiration for his personal advocacies and beliefs.

    "First off, icon? Love it," he explodes, when told of the standing he owns in so many fans' hearts. "I have always been grateful for every title match I’ve been given: PWR Championship, PHX Championship, PWR Tag Team Championship, and now, the AOW Championship. It means that some people still consider me as a viable contender. But that’s just one side of it."

    Don't make the mistake of thinking he's just glad to be here. Contending for championships is a blessing indeed, but the Man-Doll knows that his story won't truly be complete until he actually gets to wrap some proper gold around his waist to complete his fabulous in-ring ensembles.

    "Winning an actual title match is what completes the picture," he asserts. "Until I get that picture on my desk, on my phone, and on social media, I won’t stop fighting—even if it’s in the most dangerous match of all. And when the day comes that I finally win gold, it would only mean that dreams do come true regardless of your sexual orientation, race, gender, wealth, physical looks, or social status. The list goes on! Cliché, but true story."

    "I may not have won any gold just yet, but winning the heart of many is definitely worth more than just gold."

    The Man-Doll's Transformation

    One thing that's been especially glaring in the past year is the fantastic physical transformation he's undergone; gone is the somewhat-pudgy bear who would find himself out of breath after a particularly intense sequence. Martivo has always dazzled with his strength, particularly in the way he muscles unfortunate opponents up into his trademark Grabe 'Tey finisher—a double-underhook seated tailbone drop. But now he's showing off some new-found flexibility and cardiovascular endurance too. The 2018 version of Martivo is a hell of a lot sleeker and more mobile in the ring—a fact that's caught the eye of the Revo-Nation.

    "I'm so glad that a handful of people have already noticed the difference in my performance before and after," he beams with pride. "I have been both naughty and nice to my body these past few years, and it's because of the same thing: I fed it literally whatever it wanted. Then one day, it hit me:  I am not getting any younger. I have to keep my health at its optimum level as much as I can."

    Look out, PWR roster. Martivo is ready to go at it even harder than before, and prove once and for all that he's more than just a pretty face.

    "Have I been consistent in doing it? No, guilty as charged," he admits candidly. "But my body is a work in progress. It doesn't happen overnight. Furthermore, it's best not just for my health, but for my career as a sports entertainer, too."

    Gold At The End Of The Rainbow

    Martivo clearly has huge ambitions for 2018 after a career littered with failed feuds and championship disappointments. But he has an especially interesting motivation to down AB3 for the All Out War Championship: The historic all-women All Out War clash between his Punk Dolls beshie Robynn and current PWR Tag Team Co-Champion Crystal that showed that top-flight risk-taking isn't just a domain for dudes.

    "Oh, that match was inspiring as freak," he exclaims. "Those ladies beat the hell outta each other like it’s nobody’s biz!"

    Should he find some way to become All Out War Champion, would an all-out collision between the Punk Dolls be in the works?

    "I’m itching to raise the bar even higher, and I would love to do it with Robynn," he says without batting an eye. "I know deep in my heart that we’ll face each other in the future. As for the outcome, who cares? As long as we bring out the best in each other and it turns out to be the most memorable match we’ve ever done, that should be more than rewarding."

    2018 certainly sounds like it will be a year of pride for "The Man-Doll" Martivo and his hopes of proving he belongs in the top tier of Philippine pro wrestling. There's nothing more dangerous than a man on a mission, and that's certainly what he is.

    "I do have a mission this year: to make the entire LGBTQ+ Community proud of me for being the first-ever Filipino Rainbow Champion."

    Take that, AB3. Your war may be nothing compared to the one Martivo is waging.


    PWR Live: Way of the Champion is happening on Sunday, July 22, at the Power Mac Center Spotlight in Circuit Makati. Gates open at 2 PM. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for P400, but you can avail of pre-selling discounts by contacting PWR directly on their official Facebook page, or on Ticket2Me.

    Disclosure: Smark Henry is owned and operated by a group of independent Filipino pro wrestling fans, but includes members affiliated with the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.

    Photos by "Well-Hung" Hub Pacheco, TCHuang Productions, "Mrs. Ruthless" Jacky Rosales, WhenInManila.com, and the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.
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