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    Thursday, September 20, 2018

    MWF 4: Road to Fate: The Official Smark Henry Review

    Photo by Miggy Hilario

    At the end of MWF 3: Republika, fans wondered why Mr. Lucha would attack his apprentice Robin Sane and they did so loudly with “Why, Lucha, Why?” chants. For better or worse, Road to Fate had the answers we needed and it made for a somewhat entertaining show.

    I’ll admit that the wrestling quality of this show wasn’t as strong as that of Republika, but it did have a lot of storyline progression for the aforementioned Mr. Lucha. There were also a number of fun video packages throughout the night, though one of them affected a match in a slightly negative manner. Still, I appreciate the emphasis on building stories, even if the wrestling itself could have been better.

    The second round of the MWF Championship Tournament also continued here. Unfortunately, the matches here weren’t as good as last time, which I’ll get into later.

    So, without further ado, on with the show!

    Bad Lucha Things: The Rise of Heel Lucha

    Photo from When in Manila and Martin Vicencio

    One of the show’s goals was to have Mr. Lucha be the promotion’s top villain and for the most part, it worked. His pre-taped interview, in which he explained his motivations, was great since he claimed that the attack on Robin Sane at Republika was a message to the entire locker room. Another nice addition to his heel persona was claiming that he never betrayed Sane and that the latter was in the unfortunate position of being in his way. This was simple and effective.

    Lucha attacking Ashura during the pre-show was also good. Ashura slapped Lucha back at Republika so it made sense to have him Chokeslam his former student. He threatened to do the same to his other former protegé Khayl Sison, who ran for the hills. Later on, Lucha ran into Robin Sane backstage. Sane tried to talk to Lucha but the latter ignored him and went away. This was okay and it was nice to see a babyface try to get answers without being a victim of violence immediately afterward.

    Mr. Lucha then interrupted PWR’s Philippine Excellence Champion, Jake De Leon. He cut a (worked) shoot promo and claimed that JDL tried to drive himself, Robin Sane, and other MWF wrestlers away from the business. Lucha then attacked JDL, who did fight back but was eventually taken out by a low blow. This actually got a lot of heat on Lucha and showed just how over JDL is as a babyface.

    We then got to his main event match with the Eurasian Dragon, which was given a No Holds Barred stipulation for some reason. Dragon said that he talked to MWF Commissioner Mike Shannon about it, but I feel that the match didn’t need it. Sure, we saw Lucha get thrown towards chairs and hit with a Singapore Cane, but the stipulation didn’t make the match feel more personal or emotional. Lucha winning after two Chokeslams also felt anticlimactic since the match never really got into second gear and ended abruptly.

    JDL then appeared and beat the hell out of Lucha after the match. Maybe they’re setting up a match for the October show, but it felt odd establishing Lucha as a dominant heel, only to get his comeuppance in the end. Not helping was Lucha forgetting to sell the Superkick from JDL the first time he was hit with it. Christ.

    GIF by @miyannb
    Overall, it was cool seeing a show-long storyline focused on Mr. Lucha and it was mostly good. Seeing Lucha get built up throughout the night really made him feel like the show's biggest heel. He did start to feel overexposed by the end and his lackluster match with Eurasian Dragon didn’t help but it was a solid attempt.

    Sad Lucha Things: Robin Sane def. Ninja Ryujin in a 2 Out Of 3 Falls Match to advance to the semi-finals of the MWF Championship Tournament

    Photo by Martin Vicencio

    This match was interesting since it had both wrestlers depressed over Mr. Lucha’s actions. Having both wrestlers share their grief in the ring was a brave move and it did lead to some great moments. I liked seeing these two respect each other during and after the match, particularly when the two bowed to one another.

    While I can appreciate the storytelling, the match itself felt overly long. Matches with the 2 Out Of 3 Falls stipulation should be long, but the pacing on this one wasn’t great and often dragged the match down until the end. This was because the story had both wrestlers reeling from Lucha’s betrayal and having a hard time concentrating, but it made for a sloppy match. There were also some comedy spots early on that felt out of place since 1) these two should be depressed over Lucha and 2) these two should be gunning for the MWF Championship and bringing their A-game.

    Another gripe I had was how Ryujin and Sane got pins on each other. For the first fall, Ryujin surprised Sane with an inverted crucifix after getting hit by a 450 Splash. Sane managed to pin Ryujin after getting hit by his opponent's beautiful Asai DDT to get the second one. It made their finishers feel less impactful. These moves are supposed to end matches, so seeing them turned into pinning positions after being executed hurts their credibility.

    Not helping the match was the number of spots repeated near the end due to some mistakes. I'm pretty sure I saw Robin Sane attempt the same handspring maneuver twice when I should have only seen it once.

    Despite all this, I feel like this match should have been the main event. It had a decent story with Sane and Ryujin being former students of Mr. Lucha and had mostly okay wrestling, despite the pacing; plus the audience seemed to like the match more than I did. The fact that Eurasian Dragon and Mr. Lucha ended up being in that position was surprising.

    Rex Lawin ended up attacking Sane after the match since these two will be taking each other on in the next MWF show during the semi-finals for the MWF Championship Tournament.

    Speaking of Rex Lawin….

    Weird Lucha Things: Rex Lawin def. Frankie Thurteen in an I Quit Match to advance to the semi-finals of the MWF Championship Tournament

    Photo by @kathsabatin_

    Prior to the match, we witnessed a fairly entertaining video that had Martivo and Robynn lecture Rex Lawin about the gender spectrum. This was done after Lawin disrespected everyone at Republika by rubbing his crotch on the LGBTQ flag that Martivo brought with him. Truth be told, the video was really fun and seemingly turned Lawin into a face, who now has a better understanding of the various genders in the world. This video ended with Thurteen attacking Lawin with donuts.

    So, if it was entertaining, why did it end up being a detriment to the match? Because Lawin and Thurteen wrestled like they had a blood feud, so having a fairly comedic video before this match made for a jarring change in tone.

    Lawin also wrestled as a heel, seemingly putting all that good work in the video to waste. Sure, the gender video had nothing to do with his feud with Thurteen (aside from the end), but it made Rex a likable goof. Seeing him enlightened and learn to be better made his various heel tactics during the match a jarring watch.

    The match itself was okay. There were a few cool hardcore spots, but I wish the two combatants made their submission moves feel more important. This might be a nitpick, but seeing both men break out of submissions without much effort made these moves look weaker. You’d think these moves would be really useful in an I Quit Match.

    Lawin ended up making Thurteen quit by tearing up his painting. While the ending could be considered weak, the love he has shown for his painting in previous shows did add some sense to the finish. It also makes him pretty pretentious, but hey, it's part of his character.

    Other Lucha Things:

    • Fabio Makisig def. Jomar Liwanag in a Tsinelas on a Pole Match to advance to the semifinals of the MWF Championship Tournament: This was one hell of a match, showing how great both Makisig and Liwanag are. Granted, the tsinelas never felt important to the match, but we did get some great wrestling and plenty of power moves from Liwanag. Normally, it would be disappointing seeing an advertised stipulation like this go to waste, but the quality of the match saved it. I didn’t think much of Liwanag at Republika since he won with a backbreaker, but he stepped up here with a Go Home Driver and Package Piledriver. These moves made Makisig’s eventual win with a kick to the head feel weird, but it was still one hell of a match.
    • Morgan Vaughn def. Aldrin Richards in a No Holds Barred Match to advance to the semifinals of the MWF Championship Tournament: This was a fast-paced hardcore bout that I really liked. Vaughn wasn’t allowed to use his mask in the match after he used it as a distraction to squash RG in Republika, so he had to win this one on his own, so it boosted his credibility big time when he did. Both men looked great in this match, nailing each other with stiff umbrella strikes and a number of hard-hitting kicks. Seeing these guys throw each other to chairs and hitting one big move (Death Valley Driver) after another (Shining Wizard) made me feel giddy. In the end, Vaughn dropkicked Richards through a wooden plaque for the W.
    • Ashura def. Khayl Sison: I was shocked seeing this match in the pre-show. Sure, Mr. Lucha came out and chokeslammed Ashura afterward, but that could have been done on the main show. Plus, Ashura seems to be a fan favorite and Sison was the most over heel at Republika, so seeing them in this spot was pretty jarring. If the idea was to get an early reaction from the crowd, it worked since they were hot for this. Sison disgusted the audience with some of his antics, including dry-humping Ashura, so it was satisfying to see him lose. As an opener, it did its job.
    • Jorelle def. RG via submission: RG wore a Ghostbusters shirt, which was hilarious. This was basically a showcase for Jorelle, even though RG did get to hit a few moves of his own. Jorelle was in control for most of the match and eventually won with an awesome-looking Muta Lock. She’s now targeting Gigz Stryker, who helped Fabio Makisig beat her at Republika, so this should be a fun program.
    • Martivo def. Hanzello Shilva via submission: WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS?! Martivo will always be a good hand in the ring; but Shilva’s offense and general actions were just odd. Hanzello is a talented dude, but his weird werewolf character makes little sense in the world of wrestling. Yes, Jorelle is essentially a white lady, but at least she knows how to pin her opponent and win. Shilva actually hit his Spinning Complete Shot on Martivo during the match, but decided to act like a “wolf” with various theatrics instead of immediately covering his opponent for the victory. In the end, Martivo ended up winning and putting Shilva over, who seriously needs a makeover.

    Not gonna lie, this felt like a step down from what I saw at Republika. I know some people really enjoyed the show, but I thought it could have been better. We did get some good wrestling and a nice show-long storyline that put Mr. Lucha over as a heel. Sadly, we also got a sloppy match between Sane and Ryujin, and a really lackluster main event that soured the show's final hours.

    Rating: C+

    MWF Tournament Semi-Finals for the October Show:
    •  Rex Lawin vs. Robin Sane
    •  Fabio Makisig vs. Morgan Vaughn
    Match of the Night: Morgan Vaughn vs. Aldrin Richards

    Spot of the Night: Jomar Liwanag's PACKAGE PILEDRIVER

    Performer of the Night: Mr. Lucha

    Chant of the Night: "Bad Lucha Things!"

    Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments below!

    Nico Parungo is currently a writer at Epicstream and has previously worked for Flipgeeks and IBTimes Australia. Aside from watching wrestling, he also likes to read comic books, play video games, and is always curious about anything Spider-Man. He started watching WWE in 2004 and never looked back, even though he regrets being a fan of post-Evolution Randy Orton.
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    Item Reviewed: MWF 4: Road to Fate: The Official Smark Henry Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nico Parungo
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