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    Thursday, May 2, 2019

    PWR Live: Destino 2019 — The Official Smark Henry Review

    Not a single Destino sighted. 0/10 won’t watch again.

    The lack of Destinos aside, PWR Live: Destino served as a prelude to the company’s biggest show of the year and dubbed by fans as the WrestleMania of Philippine Wrestling, Wrevolution X. And if you read the byline of this review, you already know that this show will once again receive the #NitPickRick treatment. Yeah, I know, it's not that exciting.

    For today's tier system, I chose to pay tribute to the brave souls who participated in a fundraiser PWR did during the early intermission entitled "Chops for a Cause," where the Revo-Nation donated money to chop or get chopped by the wrestler of their choosing. The proceeds went to funding the treatment of ten-year-old Kody, who was recently diagnosed with a cancerous disease.

    Aside from helping a cause, the chopping segment also told a cautionary tale about how to act accordingly during events like these. I chose three participants as tiers that most represent the spectrum, from the most pleasant to the cringiest fan moment. So with that out of the way, let's get started!

    Quick side note: if you were too chicken to get chopped by the likes of JDL but still want to help, you can still do so by buying the limited edition "Stay Strong Kody" shirts here or donating directly to his fundraising page. Any amount will certainly help.

    Tier 1: George Pastor

    Be like our homeboy George. He was game from start to finish. He had no problem taking his shirt off to show everyone his gorgeous body. He picked a not-so-in-demand wrestler to put that wrestler over. And when he was done, he went back to his seat and behaved like a true fan should. He understood that the entire event wasn’t about him, it was about helping out a little kid with big dreams. Be like George.

    “NICEBringers, assemble!”

    Sometimes, you don’t need a technical masterpiece for a main event. Sometimes, all you need is just balls-to-the-wall chaotic fun. 

    Case in point: PWR Live: Destino’s massive 10-man tag team match. In this one match alone, Creative was tasked to weave a lot of storylines into one cohesive main event. And just like Avengers: Endgame, they did so with flying colors. They even found some dirt from the past when Ralph Imabayashi threw some verbal jabs against the guest ring announcer, Nina. Man, this main event works harder than the devil.

    You have these zany and topical references both obvious and subtle, starting with the NICEBringer’s entrance inspired by the classic Chicago Bulls intro. That was fun and all, but they missed the opportunity to make Trian dela Torre the center. Then there were some JoJo references, the KakaiBros acting like fools, and they made Camus the waterboy! Watching him struggle to open a folding chair for a good three minutes should definitely be a mood.

    Interesting fact: this was Evan Carleaux’s fourth consecutive time competing in a PWR main event. I believe he’s the first non-PWR Champion to do so. Man, the Naughty Boys are rocking 2019 despite losing the PWR Tag Team Championships. That’s cool and all, but their Naughty Boy intern did something more impressive. 

    Jhemherlhynn officially became the first female wrestler to compete in a PWR main event. Mind you, she’s not part of this match just because she’s a member of the Naughty Boys. She happens to be part of an interesting love triangle between KakaiBros’ Kh3ndrick and YOLO Twins’ Yohann Ollores (or Blue YOLO if you can’t tell them apart).

    The interactions between the three received some great reactions from the crowd. Not really my cup of tea, but it’s compelling enough to launch Jhemherlhynn even further as a star. I hope her back is strong because she’ll carry the entire company one day, mark my words.

    And of course, the headline of this clusterfuck was none other than QUATRO slugging it out with the PWR Champion, Ralph Imabayashi. I initially thought they gave away too much of the Wrevolution X main event. But then Ralph made the match a 2-out-of-3 Falls match and I'm like, more please. The beatdown Quatro received during the closing moments of the match set the tone for their eventual showdown on May 26.

    I believe the champion said it best, "How can you beat me twice when you can't even beat me once?" To be fair, Ralph had the YOLO Twins assisting him with the impressive Three Night Stand and the sickest Super Senketsu there was, all in the longest tag break in PWR history. So come Wrevolution X, it's anybody's ballgame. Get hyped!

    Tinatawag niya kayong alipin! Alipin ba kayo?

    I didn’t realize I was a big fan of MSG until I saw their new shirt at the merch stand. That’s why I was also pumped that Mr. Sy, doing his best impression of Shane McMahon, kicked off the show with another scathing promo.

    He brought up an interesting point about JDL calling his detractors ‘alipin' and him being a babyface haciendero character with literal alipins working for him. I found that weird as well when I first heard about JDL as PWR's top guy; I guess I never thought much of it ever since. But hey, that’s why Mr. Sy promos are always fire. He makes perfect sense most of the time, too bad he’s always an asshole about it.

    Also, they didn’t tell me MSG was up against All Might and Deku—finally, an anime reference I’m familiar with. JDL and Bolt channeling their inner weaboos (actually, this show had way too many anime references now that I think about it) received one of the biggest pops of the night. And this was just the first match, mind you. This effectively pumped the crowd up for a tag match that featured Bolt of all people.

    Bolt could barely keep up with JDL’s pace but he still held his own against three of PWR’s top talents. Also, Bolt is the newest wrestler to receive an endorsement from JDL himself. Is Bolt in for an anime-zing push? They did update him in the OBB and he looked awesome.

    The tag match was solid from start to finish—so solid, in fact, that the top turnbuckle gave out when JDL attempted one of his patented reversals. Fortunately, no one got hurt and the broken ring didn’t stop them from continuing the match.

    The Mike Madrigal video interference also caught me by surprise. I completely forgot about his feud with JDL about pouring your heart out in the ring. So as a kupal would do, Madrigal went out of his way to beat out the heart of PWR in Bombay Suarez. This allowed MSG to pick up a major win against a former PWR Champion.

    See, this is the only match that had a sensible dusty finish and that instantly earns them the match of the night. Plus Ultra!

    “I want that etits, man! Give me the etits!”

    Who knew Kapitan Tutan’s dick pick would become the most sought after McGuffin in PWR? 

    Thanks to an unbooked Rederick Mahaba, PWR Live: Destino gave us a peek on how wrestlers spitball ideas to the higher-ups in the funniest promo of the year. I’d pay to see the first ever Hell in a Cell match in PWR!

    But alas, John Sebastian (who was channeling Vince McMahon at Royal Rumble 2005) shot down these great ideas one by one and instead booked the first ever Dick Pick Battle Royale at Wrevolution X. Hey, the man just broke up with his former best friend. Give Mahaba the etits, goddamnit!

    If this segment opened the show, the crowd probably wouldn't be as tired as they were that night. After all, this show should be segment-heavy to properly set up Wrevolution X. Nonetheless, this segment woke the crowd up with its hilarious premise and the interactions between wrestlers we never thought would interact in the first place.

    Thank heavens John Sebastian added the All Out War Championship opportunity stipulation. It’ll be weird for guys like Joey Bax and Jaye Sera to fight over some phallic photographs. And hey, Brad Cruz is back! Where have you been, you sexy beast?

    This segment wasn't without its flaws. Cali Nueva still struggles on the mic as his own damn person. His live dick pick uploading shtick could’ve been a great moment if only he had the charisma to generate the reaction he wanted without someone like a certain leader of the Basted Club assisting him. Instead, he got eaten alive by Mahaba’s overwhelming mic skills.

    Actually, everyone else couldn’t keep up with Mahaba when it was supposed to be their chance to put themselves over. But these issues are nothing compared to how much I enjoyed this seemingly thrown together segment. After all, it’s a Rederick Mahaba vehicle. He’s going to come out the star in the end.

    “Young boys, lend me your power!”

    That’s just one of many taunts from the ever-cocky PHX Champion against his challenger Revo Ranger. It was a great moment, too, because the PWR young bloods ended up catching Sebastian outside the ring and safely returned him back to safety.

    This match had great comedic moments like this, mostly consisting of Sebastian making fun of the super sentai genre that inspired the Revo Ranger character. He even tried to remove Ranger’s phony costume, leading to a cool moment where Ranger achieved the state of Ultra Instinct. See, I know my anime too. That’s from Naruto, right?

    As the match progressed, Sebastian started treating him like a threat and figured he needed to end him before Ranger could get some power from the crowd. This is ultimately what I loved about this match. After this, you can’t really count out Revo Ranger anymore as a cheesy character.

    I think it’s fair to say that this is where Ranger finally arrived as a legit competitor. Sure, he’s still the cartoony hero we all know and love, but this match gave him an edge that will take him to the next level. It’s time to explore the Revo Ranger character some more and I hope this match generated enough interest for the Hero from Planetang Earth.

    “Tumayo ka na, tayong-tayo na ako dito!”

    And stand up he did as Martivo bounced back from a pre-match beatdown and pinned Dax Xaviera in record time—15 seconds!—to become the new All Out War Champion. I have so many problems with this and you all know my M.O. is to shit on everything I find problematic.

    But this time, I’m not gonna be that asshole. I did say in my previous reviews that Martivo needs to win a title by the end of the year and finally, I got my wish. Besides, I’m not going to argue with someone who received the biggest pop of the night. Congratulations, Man-Doll! Make that title relevant, will ya?

    Tier 2: Froilan

    Be like Froilan, but only to some extent. He was game about the challenge and he was respectful to the wrestlers. He’s a good sport and all, but the way he entered and exited the ring was just weird. C’mon, people, this isn’t rocket science. Just enter through the second rope like everyone else. But still, Froilan’s a cool dude. No disrespect intended.

    “None of you can take my PHX Title away!”

    Or so John Sebastian thought after yet another screwy finish. I was initially hyped to see Chino Guinto slug it out with Vlad Sinnsyk, but somehow, both men struggled to find their groove in this match. I could easily forgive this match for being underwhelming if they weren’t too on the nose about the finish.

    The referee kept saying, "There must be a clear winner in the match," which was weird because why would a referee be concerned about having a clear winner? Is there an incentive for the referees if the match they are officiating ended with a definitive winner? It’s not a clever foreshadowing when it’s not subtle.

    The double count-out finish wasn’t convincing either because Guinto could have easily jumped to the ring from where he was standing. To make matters worse, Vlad Sinnsyk pretty much no-sold the brutal chair spot he took, which resulted in that double count-out. I guess being thrown into a sea of chairs doesn’t hurt that much, so why do it in the first place?

    To cap everything off, it was revealed that good ol’ ring announcer Poch is the new co-GM of PWR. It was a great swerve undercut by the least exciting way to announce it: FaceTime. Not even a proper promo? Fine, at least he booked Sebastian to defend his title in a triple threat, effectively establishing him as the good guy authority figure. Regardless of how it was revealed, Poch as the co-GM should be great.

    “Let’s finish them, together!”

    Ken Warren vs. Chris Panzer is a great match on paper, but this one ain’t it. For starters, the stakes are way too low for a main event-caliber match like this. Who wants to see Mr. Sy wrestle anyway? I just want him to preach, man!

    Second, it’s really hard to care for another dusty finish when you already saw three matches end the same way. Warren and Panzer did deliver one of the best matches of the night and the MSG interruption was also fun with Main Maxx and SANDATA wearing the masks of Kapitan PWR and Revo Ranger, respectively. The series of one-upmanship between Warren and Panzer was mesmerizing, to say the least.

    “Hindi ko kailangan ng tulong mo!”

    Robynn taking out her anger on Jhemmherlhyn seemingly came out of nowhere. Her eventual heel turn got lost in the shuffle during the chaotic 10-man main event, but the shift in attitude was front and center during the only pre-show match. Another rivalry that started with them bumping into each other at a hallway, Robynn and Jaye Sera simply didn’t click, just like the Guinto vs. Sinnsyk match. 

    Maybe it’s because they don't have a compelling beef with each other? The lack of reaction from the crowd further highlights the lack of chemistry. Robynn did get the win with an impressive Dragon Sleeper. Maybe that’s her new finisher as a heel?

    Tier 3: "Blackheart"

    Please, don’t be like “Blackheart.” You paid for a chop, not a WrestleMania Axxess perk. Don’t try to outshine the performers with your cringy-ass wrestling personas and poorly constructed promos. And if you’re going to do all that talking, at least chop like you don’t lick your fingers after eating an entire party pack of Cheetos while watching Game of Thrones. And please, for the love of everything holy, don’t attempt to fight a goddamn wrestler who trained for years to beat punks like you. Just be a fan and enjoy the show from where you’re seated. You got that?

    “Wes Anderson is a god!”

    Cali Nueva shouts to the crowd in response to that one guy who insulted the acclaimed Hollywood director. Surprisingly, Cali Nueva played off with the crowd better during his match with Crystal. Yet somehow, he failed to carry that swagger over to the Mahabang Usapan segment moments later? Anyway, that’s not even my main gripe with this match.

    My problem is that Crystal lost just when she needed a win the most. Seriously, how could they screw this one up? Nueva didn't even have a clear direction for Wrevolution X prior to this match. Remember, Crystal wrestled a Japanese legend in Emi Sakura just last month at Path of Gold, and she received a standing ovation for it despite losing. Creative should have naturally carried this momentum and given Crystal a decisive win at the next event to raise her stock higher.

    But for some reason, the former Artie 2.0 had to go over. What’s the point of giving him the rub if you’re just going to make him continue his dick pick feud with Kap Tutan in a throwaway battle royale? Why not let Crystal overcome the Alexis Lee interruption to make her look good for their eventual showdown?

    “Wag kayong ano, trio kami!”

    Starting the match with another screwy twist after seeing a sea of them is already tiring as hell, but Network vs. Endgame takes the cake. They started the match with a video showing how they incapacitated AB3 before the show. They didn’t even bother cutting the video properly so it looked like it was staged.

    I mean, of course everything in wrestling is staged, but imagine if the infamous segment where Stone Cold got hit by a car started with the director counting down to three before he was hit. The entire segment would look cheap, right? I get that it’s a small mistake, but that’s a mistake that you literally can fix if you really cared about what you were doing. It’s annoying as hell.

    That completely threw me out of what they’re trying to do in this match. James "IDOL" Martinez fought the Endgame valiantly, I guess. AB3 coming to the rescue with the cuffs still on was great, I guess. IDOL fighting Endgame alone is a callback to that time AB3 had to defend the tag titles alone at Path of Gold 2018 after Idol himself got kidnapped by Peter Versoza, I guess. The Network challenged them to a six-man tag match at Wrevolution X despite Chino Guinto being booked already, I guess.

    I’m sure I’ll be able to appreciate this angle at the next show but for now, all I can give them is an “I guess” type of attitude.

    Overall Thoughts

    Maybe it’s the top rope breaking and the lack of intermission in the middle, but PWR Live: Destino felt like a drag to sit through. That’s not to say that the show was bad because there were some stellar moments. It’s just that seeing matches with dirty or controversial finishes back-to-back can get old really quickly. Still, the show did a great job hyping everyone up for Wrevolution X. I guess it’s also a training ground for those planning to watch Avengers: Endgame after the show. Let’s just hope they give us two intermission breaks at the next show.

    Event Grade: C+

    Match of the Night: MSG vs. All Might and Deku
    Star of the Night: Revo Ranger
    OMG! Moment of the Night: Martivo winning the AOW Title
    Promo of the Night: Rederick Mahaba “spitballing” to the PWR co-GM
    "Aw Bah Gawd!" Moment: NICEBringers’ simultaneous suplex to everyone
    Fan Quip of the Night: (to Bolt) “Okay lang yan, bawi ka na lang sa next story arc!”

    And if you're itching for more wrestling, you definitely won't want to miss PWR's biggest show of the year. Catch the fifth annual Wrevolution on May 26, 2019, 2 PM, at the Power Mac Center Spotlight in Circuit Makati. Click here for more details.

    Photos from Hub Pacheco Photography 


    Smark Henry is independently owned and managed by a group of Filipino pro wrestling fans but includes members affiliated with the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.
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    Item Reviewed: PWR Live: Destino 2019 — The Official Smark Henry Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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