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    Sunday, December 15, 2019

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/15/19): Manila Has Fallen (Robin Sane vs. Ho Ho Lun, MWF 10: Republika)


    Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies, and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2019 produced for us.

    The scene was bleak. Ho Ho Lun's personal referee has replaced the injured MWF referee, and Robin Sane was laid out in the middle of the ring. He has barely kicked out of Ho Ho Lun's second German Beijing suplex, but he was already being lined up for a third. The crowd at Lucky Chinatown Mall booed heavily: they knew what was about to happen, and they hated it, but the course was set. #PinoyPride will not win in MWF 10: Republika.



    Ever since MWF's relaunch in 2017, the promotion has distinguished itself by leaning heavily into the Metro Manila zeitgeist. We've seen white lady urban legends coming to life, we've indulged our Southeast Asian weaboo identities, and we've had wannabe Fliptop fuccbois running amok on the roster. But an indelible part of the Manileño identity is our tendency to be armchair politicos. And herein lies the problem. Pro wrestling is entertainment, and the modern entertainment industry likes to appear to be centrist in matters of politics. Would adapting this stance, in turn, be true to the Filipino psyche?

    For Manila Wrestling Federation, the course was clear. There would be no centrism here: The event itself signals a sort of irony, being titled Republika while being held in Chinatown. The night will end with three of the top wrestlers falling to the invasion. Their tough-talking heel authority figures would kowtow to foreign influence. And even as the Hong Kong wrestlers play the role of aggressive Chinese imperialists, Ho Ho Lun at one point uses a black umbrella as a weapon in a nudge-nudge wink-wink of their city's own issues with the mainland. Wrestling has dared to be sexy-edgy in past "eras" to great effect. In 2019, MWF shows us that wrestling can be edgy in other ways.

    In retrospect, MWF 10: Republika has become significant in ways they didn't expect, as well. The main event will turn out to be Robin Sane's last match pre-retirement, signalling the end if an era and ensuring that it won't be him who seeks comeuppance from Ho Ho Lun. It also sets up HSSL as the group who will clash against Hong Kong, being the only group who won their match against the visiting foreigners on this card. Malaysian talent also visited during Republika, and in being presented as faces it sent a message: camaraderie among our neighbors is good, and it was imperialism that was being critiqued by the storylines.

    MWF arguably still has a lot of lessons to learn. It still needs to grow into its full potential. But by making decisive creative decisions like these, it tells us that it knows exactly what it wants to be, and it for sure isn't towing the line.

    *****

    31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2019. Read our previous entries:

    1. The Man Stands Tall at WrestleMania (Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey, WrestleMania 35)
    2. The Game Changes (Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega, AEW Double or Nothing)
    3. Still the Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega, Wrestle Kingdom 13)
    4. #KofiMania (Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan, WrestleMania 35)
    5. Starting With A Bang (The Premiere of AEW Dynamite)
    6. Let's Start A War (The Premiere of NXT On The USA Network)
    7. For You And Me! For All Of Us! (Jake De Leon vs. TJP, PWR Homecoming)
    8. It Takes a Bird and a Villain (G1 Climax Finals: Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White)
    9. The Fall of Bray Wyatt and the Rise of the Fiend
    10. Johnny Champion (Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano, NXT TakeOver: New York)
    11. Do You Wanna Yeet a Four-Man? (QUATRO vs. Chris Panzer vs. Jeff Cobb, PWR Homecoming)
    12. From Purveyor Of Violence To Death Rider (Jon Moxley in NJPW)
    13. We Will Rock You! (Crystal vs. Emi Sakura, PWR Path of Gold 2019)
    14. Revolutionary (QUATRO vs. IMABAYASHI, PWR Wrevolution X 2019) 
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    Item Reviewed: 31 Days of Wrestling (12/15/19): Manila Has Fallen (Robin Sane vs. Ho Ho Lun, MWF 10: Republika) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: BJ Recio
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