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    Sunday, December 31, 2017

    Basic Smarkometrics: The 2017 Year-End MWF Power Rankings

    As the Manila Wrestling Federation puts its rookie campaign to a close, it seems like the right time to ask a fair question about the country's second active pro wrestling promotion:

    "Who's the best wrestler they've got?"

    That's a deceptively tough question. On the one hand, it should be obvious—after all, not everyone can dish out 450 splashes like Robin Sane. But then, as a pre-determined sport, we all know it isn't just the best athletes who win all the time. And even as a "fake" product, wins have got to count for something, right?

    Good thing we've got a model in place to throw some metrics into the debate: the science of Smarkometrics 2.0, our proprietary model to assign some sort of real-world logic to the scripted melodrama of pro wrestling, and based on how the WWE itself determines its own power rankings:

    WWE.com, in conjunction with the Academy of Wrestling Arts & Sciences (AWAS), ranks the Top 25 Superstars in WWE each week with Power Rankings. The rankings are based on victories, quality of opponents, momentum and overall in-ring dominance, as well as intangibles.

    Sure, it's a model that won't please everybody—hey, we get it, wrestling is a totally subjective thing—but treat this as a helpful conversation-starter when it comes to putting some order into Commissioner Mike Shannon's carefully-curated chaos.

    We'll get into some detail on how our Smarkometrics system works in a bit, but fair warning: it involves tons of math. Fun.

    Caveat: This is just our own personal way of making sense of the made-up world of pro wrestling. If you happen to rank wrestlers your own way, we're completely on board with that too! But in the meantime, humor us a bit as we go on this little journey of ours.


    The Science of Smarkometrics 2.0

    These power rankings consider performances from each of MWF's 2017 shows:

    Four main criteria go into our assessment of each wrestler, which we then add up to come up with our actual rankings.

    • Panalo Factor. What's the absolute win-loss record of each wrestler? This covers every official match he or she participated in, whether a one-on-one, tag, or multi-wrestler matches. Take note: In multi-wrestler matches, a wrestler doesn't have to actually take the pin or submission to be credited with a loss; in the words of Ricky Bobby, "If you ain't first, you're last."
    • Puso Factor. Why reward a wrestler who only fights weak competition? We've added up the composite win-loss records of every opponent each talent has faced into one number. Anything above .467 (the median win-loss record of a MWF wrestler) means a performer has consistently been matched up against above-average competition, while a number below it means below-par competition.
    • Pasok Factor. You can't be the best if you don't show up for work. That's why we're counting what percentage of shows each wrestler competed in—meaning an actual match. Just showing up for moral support or to cut a promo doesn't earn any points.
    • Puri Factor. Generally, we like to assign points based on championship wins or defenses. Unfortunately, MWF doesn't have any championships of its own yet, so we're assigning an arbitrary number of +.100 points for every main event wrestled.

    So basically, it's this: the best wrestler is the one who shows up to do his job, fights for the highest stakes, and wins his matches more often than not—especially against quality opposition.

    Clear? It better be. Put on your thinking hats, and let's get to it!


    Panalo Factor

    A total of 17 men and women have made an appearance in an MWF match, counting two cameo appearances by Hong Kong-based star Ho Ho Lun and former PWR Champion John Sebastian. Including these gentlemen, we see four undefeated wrestlers this year.

    The "Backstreet Bully" Fabio Makisig may be an incorrigible jerk, but he's certainly been bringing it in the ring with his pristine 5-0 slate.

    Mr. Lucha is right behind him at 4-0, only because he didn't actually wrestle at the year-ending Noche Buena show, preferring instead to stay on the sidelines to host his open challenge, while venting some bitterness against some of the promotion's younger talents, according to GMA News, who may have been outshining the company's more-established vets in recent months.

    Who's Hot, Who's Cold?

    You may not find Rex Lawin's .600 winning percentage all that impressive, but he's been nearly as red-hot as Makisig and Lucha; his recent three-match win streak after his career-opening 0-2 slate makes him one of the company's more formidable threats.

    Watch out for this guy in 2018. He may just be peaking at the right time.

    Conversely, both Robin Sane and Hanzello Shilva have been in free-fall the past few months. Both men are on live three-match losing streaks—the worst we've seen yet in the company's young history.

    Can the pair turn things around in 2018? We sure hope so. They're both brimming with talent, and should have no problem tightening the screws here and there and actually putting together a winning run.

    Pasok Factor

    There have been just five shows, so every little bit of presence counts. Only seven wrestlers own perfect attendance records, with company latecomers like Kyle Sison and Brother Jomar suffering greatly in this metric.

    Do we expect to see Ho Ho Lun and Sebastian wrestle again in MWF? Probably not, and that's why you won't be seeing these dudes ranking highly in this edition of the MWF Power Rankings and beyond.

    Puso Factor

    Here's our favorite bit of the Power Rankings—measuring the quality of opponents a wrestler has been up against. A lot of win-loss narratives get turned upside-down once an actual evaluation of who they've faced happens, and that's precisely what's happening here.

    Robin Sane's win-loss record may absolutely suck at the moment—sorry, buddy, we love you but it's true—but the numbers explain why. He's been handed the fifth-toughest run of opponents this year, including his main event foray against Ho Ho Lun, the undefeated Mr. Lucha, and the surging Rex Lawin. And let's not forget—his Road to Fate upset loss against Morgan Vaughn came on a pair of badly-sprained ankles he suffered just two weeks before the show.

    Frankly, we aren't surprised he's been losing so much. The boy never backs down from a challenge.

    It's the same story for Gigz Stryker; his 2-3 record reeks of mediocrity, but that includes a tough split against Lawin, as well as his recent loss to the undefeated Fabio Makisig. Don't write the 90s Action Star yet—he's got great things coming for him in 2018, we're betting on it.

    On the other end of the spectrum, it becomes clear why Fabio and Lucha have yet to be beaten. The quality of opponents they've been facing hasn't exactly been the top performers of 2017! With the exception of Stryker, Fabio has been mostly squashing the company's young lions like Aldrin Richards and Hanzello Shilva, while the average record of Lucha's foes is at a laughable 1-3.

    So take their undefeated records with a grain of salt. We can't rightly say that either man has been truly, consistently tested by the best MWF has to offer.

    Puri Factor

    Let's give credit where credit is due.

    Robin Sane is the man as far as MWF's booking is concerned. Out of the five cards the company has put on, he's main-evented four of them, allowing him to rack up a tidy +.400 bonus. That's twice as many shows as either Gigz Stryker or Rex Lawin has headlined, and shows the confidence the company has in him to steal the show.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Lucha and Ho Ho Lun have one main event appearance each, earning just a +.100 performance bonus.

    Remember how people called Shawn Michaels "Mr. WrestleMania" despite his abysmal win-loss record at the WWE's premier annual show? That's what's going on for Mr. Sane. He's fallen in defeat tons of times, but he'll always be one of the biggest names the audience will go home remembering.

    Here's to Robin Sane, Mr. Main Event of MWF.


    Alright, enough with the damn math. It's time to get to the meat of the discussion!

    Honorable Mentions

    Not everyone can be a winner, and unfortunately somebody's gotta bring up the rear. Here are the bottom feeders for 2017 based on composite performance.

    #17 RG the Tech Guy (0.600 points)

    Was his battle against Gigz Stryker a one-off, or will MWF's resident tech be a full-time performer in the future? Abangan.

    #16 Kyle Sison (1.150)

    He looked impressive in his last outing against Ashura, but got absolutely mauled by Fabio Makisig before that. Time will tell whether he actually has long-term potential.

    #14 (Tie) Brother Jomar Liwanag (1.200) and John Sebastian (1.200)

    Welp. Now we know what happens when a blind man takes on a Wrestling Lord & Savior. It was good fun though.

    #13 Ho Ho Lun (1.500)

    HKWF's "Cool Star" put on a ridiculously tight showing at Noche Buena. We know we wouldn't mind seeing this one-time match lead to bigger things for MWF in 2018.

    #12 Ashura (1.533)

    Looks like her mentoring from Mr. Lucha and her pilgrimage to Japan paid off; MWF's first and only active female wrestler finally picked up her maiden win after back-to-back flops.

    #11 Aldrin Richards (1.567)

    The "Bae City Bruiser" is Smark Henry's vote for 2018 breakout star of the year, and is fast becoming a favorite among local fan communities. Remember those screams when he first unleashed his Rose Goddess Slayer (One Winged Angel)? Expect that to be a more frequent occurrence in the months to come.

    The Middle Class

    #10 Moises Liwanag (1.668)

    Sumalangit na daw si Moises Liwanag, and we're damn pissed. The "Son of Light" has been a legitimate bright spot (heh) for MWF since his debut, and for what he lacks in physique, he more than makes up for in skill, charisma, and one of the best damn gimmicks in Philippine wrestling today.

    But really, MWF, bakit ninyo pinatay si Moises!?

    #9 Frankie Thurteen (1.819)

    The "Grunge Grappler" faltered midyear after getting completely crushed by Liwanag in a loss that left him reeling for a couple of months. But he bounced back nicely in a Balikbayan Box hardcore match against him, and got to strut his stuff against MWF's other young lions in a nifty four-way match to end the year.

    With a bit more consistency, Thurteen is gonna be a playa.

    #8 Morgan Vaughn (1.824)

    That damn Son of a Glitch is infuriating, annoying, and just all-around exasperating, but you can't deny he gets the job done. His year hasn't exactly been remarkable, but he's riding high off of a pulsating win in his Noche Buena four-way against Richards, Thurteen, and Shilva.

    Go ahead, Morgan. We wanna see something cool.

    #7 Hanzello Shilva (1.869)

    The "Howling Hunt" has had a tough year both personally and professionally, but we've got to give him props for being a fighter. From the brutal beating he took at the hands of Fabio Makisig to the tragic loss of his mother, Shilva has been taking life's licks like a man, and rising to the occasion over and over again.

    Let's wish Shilva a happier 2018.

    #6 Ninja Ryujin (1.911)

    We were ready to write the dude an epitaph after his embarrassing career-opening loss to Fabio Makisig, but the masked "Urban Ninja" has quietly rebounded to put together a decent end to 2017.

    We were actually shocked to see him place this high after such a non-descript year, but that's math for you.

    The Cream of the Crop

    #5 Gigz Stryker (2.171)

    Gigz my liiiiiiiiife!

    The best overall showman in MWF takes the #5 spot only because of his less-than-great .400 winning record, but other than that, he's been a star. As mentioned above, he's been faced with one of the tougher schedules in 2017—a pair of matches against the dangerous Rex Lawin, and a heartbreaker of a loss against his unbeaten BFF Makisig.

    He's going to need to finally shake off the needling of Coach Gus Queens and his stable of attack dogs to rise even higher, but we have a very strong feeling Gigz has what it takes.

    #4 Robin Sane (2.200)

    Mr. Main Event leapfrogs five huge spots to the #4 position despite his 1-4 slate thanks to the four shows he's bannered this year. Know that you can count on Robin Sane to end any show on a high note, win or lose.

    If there's one thing we would wish for the "Tracer, Trailblazer, Speed Chaser" in 2018, it would be for him to change up his pace once in a while. He ultimately crashed and burned against Ho Ho Lun due to one risk too many; once he gets his high-octane style under control, he should be ripe for more actual wins.

    #3 Rex Lawin (2.278)

    MWF's crossover star may dabble in both professional wrestling and mixed martial arts, but he brings one signature asset to both games: pure danger. We're pretty sure he could kick the ass of any Filipino wrestler today IRL.

    As the crown jewel of Gus Queens' mini-empire, Lawin didn't exactly get off to the best start in 2017. But just like in basketball, it's not how you start that counts, but how you finish. Considering the brewing momentum building up behind him, including his recent "collaboration" with PWR Tag Team Champions The Network, and an impending clash with Australian star Greg Bownds for AWF gold, we won't be surprised to see Rex own 2018.

    #2 Mr. Lucha (2.289)

    We don't actually know how to read the Mr. Lucha narrative, if we had to be honest. He headlined the company's first show and has been presented as one of its top faces, but has also been mired in matches against middling competition.

    Could he be feeling threatened by all the raves the company's young guns like Aldrin Richards and Frankie Thurteen have been getting on social media? We don't know for sure, but it's hard to argue against a man with a four-match winning streak and one of the prettiest offensive arsenals in the country today 

    #1 Fabio Makisig (2.350)

    Was there really any doubt who would end up on top of these charts? Congratulations to Fabio Makisig for nailing the #1 spot in our year-end rankings. Going 5-0 will do that for a guy—a feat nobody in even PWR has achieved.

    But let's not ignore facts. We're looking for him to really prove himself against elite competition and truly push himself to an even higher level. Up until his match against Gigz, he hadn't really been stretched to the limit. Fabio, please go nuts in 2018. Take down Mr. Lucha. Challenge Robin Sane. Heck, break down the walls and ask Mike Madrigal for a PHX Championship match in PWR. That's the sort of thing you need to be doing when you're #1.


    Here's the full breakdown of the points earned by each MWF wrestler for these Power Rankings.

    Competitive Map

    Before we close, let's take one last look at a map defining the four kinds of competitors found in MWF.

    • Warriors: Winning record against elite competition. 
    • Big Fish In Small Ponds: Winning records earned by fighting mostly jabronis. 
    • Fighting Spirit Award: Losing records, but against generally strong competition. 
    • Underachievers: Losing records against soft competition—chokers, if you will.

    The Big Fish quadrant shows exactly what we were talking about for the top two players in our Power Rankings—Fabio Makisig and Mr. Lucha have been just feasting on below-par performers thus far. Their undefeated records may look good on paper, but won't really be meaningful to us until they start squaring off against true A-grade competition.

    Rex Lawin is who they should pattern themselves after—the king of the Warriors quadrant who's been unafraid to venture into deeper waters. After all, if you want to be the best, you've got to fight the best.

    Men like Gigz Stryker and Aldrin Richards are the headliners for the Fighting Spirit segment, and we have to applaud them for at least taking on quality opponents, even if they can't always get the win.

    And as for Underachievers like Frankie Thurteen and Morgan Vaughn? Just keep hustling, boys. Success will come.



    They're raw, they're scrappy, but there's no contesting the fact that MWF and its talents are slowly building up some steam for a 2018 that hopefully sees the company truly break out. With talents like Aldrin Richards, Moises Liwanag, Gigz Stryker, Robin Sane, and Rex Lawin in their pocket, they certainly have the human capital to make it happen.

    We're excited about more collaboration and cross-promotion in their future; the AWF connection with Greg Bownds should help, as should the ties created with Ho Ho Lun's HKWF this year, and SPW/MyPW last year. We'd love to see some of their stars compete in the Asian super-promotion AWE (Asia Wrestling Entertainment) as well, the same way PWR stars John Sebastian, Jake De Leon, and Crystal have. Some championship gold would be nice too, to up the stakes a little, and give the roster something more tangible to fight for.

    Keep dreaming big, MWF. The Philippines needs you to succeed.


    Mark De Joya (@MDJSuperstaris an marketing professional and brand strategist by day, but dreams of being the Vince McMahon of the Philippines by night. He writes anything to do with numbers for Smark Henry: People Power (our weekly fan survey), Best For Business (our regular financial report), and Basic Smarkometrics (our local Power Rankings). With 19" arms and a 400-pound squat, he is also the official bouncer of the Smark Henry offices.

    Disclosure: Smark Henry is independently run and managed by a group of Filipino wrestling fans, but includes members affiliated with competing promotions and sponsors.

    Photos are by "Howling" Hub Pacheco and the Manila Wrestling Federation.
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