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    Saturday, April 21, 2018

    The Smark Henry Hip Toast: Main Maxx

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    Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Smark Henry Hip Toast—our happy place where we interview various personalities in pro wrestling, shoot from the hip, and raise them a toast. We will be looking at the men behind the personas and giving you an intimate look at the wrestlers who are helping build this wonderful sport and turn it into something really special in this country.

    Today, we take a look at local professional wrestling's biggest comeback story by far, and for the first time ever, Main Maxx tells us of the year that was and what his future holds.


    To say that Main Maxx has had a successful wrestling career in a blossoming industry thus far is an understatement.

    Since his debut in Renaissance 2014, he has carved a path of Maxxcellence en route to becoming the third ever PHX Champion, and redefining what it means to be a champion in the division of hybrid workhorses with his natural strength and God-given athleticism. In the process, he has also become a marquee player in his own right, becoming involved in main event matches and storyline angles of importance, proving to be a valuable asset within the PWR landscape. It definitely was not surprising, then, when fans continued to cheer for the big man, eventually prompting a natural face turn that further expanded the dynamic of his character. For all intents and purposes, Maxx was on top of the world.

    But in one fateful show, with one unfortunate accident, his world came crumbling down.

    A year ago, at PWR Live: Mainit, a routine stomp by the Ilocos Norte Hybrid to John Sebastian in a PWR Championship main event match resulted in a freak knee injury that stunned the crowd. Nobody knew what to make of this scene of Maxx's urgency to look after his knee, seeing as this was the first time in Philippine wrestling history that a main event had to end in such a fashion. It was a reminder for fans in attendance and every professional wrestler out there that there will always be an innate risk in a profession as demanding as pro wrestling.

    His mindset during that day tells quite the story, as Maxx would say himself.

    "First of all, I felt like I didn't deserve that title shot [for the PWR Championship]. Natalo ako sa last two matches ko before that at pakiramdam ko hindi na ako yung dating Main Maxx na naging PHX Champion. My cardio was bad at the time at parang hindi na ako makatagal sa ring dahil nagkasakit ako prior to PWR Live: Bagong Yugto."

    "But since John Sebastian had always been one of my dream opponents, kinuha ko na iyung opportunity na makalaban siya. The first minutes of the match were fine and with one simple mistake, while just doing a routine stomp, I dislocated my knee. That was the worst experience of my life. Pero nagpapasalamat na rin ako at hindi fracture dahil iyun ang una kong naisip nung bumagsak ako."

    To any competitive athlete, one of their greatest fears is injury due to the expected inability to compete for a prolonged period of time. It's as good as taking away something anyone loves to do in life, and for Maxx on that very day, that was the reality he had to contend with.

    This would only be the beginning of a long and arduous journey back to doing what he loves. And to say the least, things could have been worse, evident as he would continue his story.

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    "Dinala nila ako sa hospital, kung saan ako nagpa-X-ray at doon nga nakunpirma na dislocated iyung patella ko. They were able to put it back in place at akala ko, within four weeks okay na siya."

    "Kaso sobrang sakit pa rin ng tuhod ko after four weeks, and I really felt that there was something wrong, so sinuggest ng doctor na magpa-MRI. Doon naman nakita na I tore my PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) at may partial tears sa MCL (medial collateral ligament) at ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) ko. Siyempre nag-alala ang family ko because I actually have an injury history prior to this one. I fractured my left elbow in 2014 and even before that, nung 2005, I got hit by a car and I broke my right leg. So sa madaling salita, malapit talaga ako sa disgrasya."

    As the old saying goes, "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone." And one good thing that came from this otherwise unfortunate experience was being able to appreciate the harvest on his efforts in some form or another. In this case, it was the love and appreciation of the fans and peers who sent their well wishes immediately following what happened.

    "After the injury, ang daming nag-message among my friends in the wrestling community, kasama na sina Chilly Willy, Robin Sane, and the rest of the PWR roster. When my family first found out that I was wrestling, sabi ng partner ko pag na-injure daw ako, dapat titigil na ako. But after the injury, siya pa iyung nag-motivate sakin na gagaling ako at makakapag-wrestle ulit ako. Yes, nandoon na rin ako sa point na tumigil na ako. Pero dahil sa suporta ng family and friends ko, nag-pursigi akong bumalik."

    It was inevitable that Maxx's road to recovery would be long and winding, as to be expected given the nature of the injury. But thankfully, he understood how his body works and was able to take a slow and steady route in an effort to come back to the ring. Of course, a little help does come a long way.

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    "There was no official rehab with the doctors, pero nung nakakalakad na ako nang maayos, I started doing physical activities. Buti may bike ako sa bahay na nakatulong talaga sa recovery. Nakatulong din siguro iyung paglalakad ko going to work—imagine the distance between Ali Mall and Gateway Mall, ganoon ang nilalakad ko araw-araw. Shout-out na rin to one of the members of the Revo-Nation na si Anthony Carlo Silva, na nagmessage sa akin kung paano ko mapapagaling ang tuhod ko."

    "My family didn’t want me to have surgery so I asked help from him at sobrang laki ng naitulong niya since nung mga time na iyun, wala akong idea kung paano mapapagaling ang tuhod ko. Eto iyung ‘di nakikita ng mga fans—na I trained almost every week para makabalik ako sa wrestling."

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    If one needed further proof in regards to Maxx's dedication to the local pro wrestling scene (as if proof was necessary in the first place), look no further than with his constant presence in every PWR show since his continued recovery process, contributing to the show in any way he can.

    "After nung injury, I really wanted to do something para makatulong sa PWR, lalo na sa shows. So I decided to sit at the officials table during the shows, at doon ko na-master ang pag-ring ng bell. At naging part din ako ng Creative Team, na talagang isa sa mga gusto kong gawin kung di na ako makakapag-wrestle."

    Thankfully, he didn't have to think about retirement this early in his career as his recovery would be doing splendid by that point. And it was at this point where Mr. Maxxcellence got to think about all the lessons he learned during this much needed downtime. When asked about who came to support Maxx during the entire process and what those lessons were:

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    "My family, the PWR Locker Room, and the fans. Ang sarap ng feeling noong lagi nila akong tinatanong kung kailan ba ako makakabalik, so it means na ‘di pa rin nila ako nakakalimutan at na-miss din nila ako. Madami talaga akong natutunan. Narealize ko na ‘di ko kailangan ng maraming moves at kailangan natin, as wrestlers, ingatan ang mga sarili at pati na rin ang opponent mo while wrestling. Importante rin ‘to: do not do stupid things. Tanggap ko na na ‘di ako magiging high-flyer so I’ll stick to power-based wrestling na lang."

    And true enough, this became his new mantra as soon as he managed to start training again, a true mark of a veteran in a relatively young industry, adjusting to what is needed in order to prolong his career. Soon, plans were in place for Maxx to make his much anticipated comeback a year after his injury, a promise Maxx wanted to keep to the fans after so long. But of course, Maxx would be coming back to an entirely different PWR landscape, and like all things in life, sometimes, plans change.

    "July 2017 was when I first tried to bump again. It was a slow process na kahit feeling ko na kaya ko na, I decided to come back after a year talaga, like I promised."

    "The original plan was for me to come back in the Path of Gold Match itself. Pero wala na kaming makita na magiging opponent ni Mike Madrigal sa Path of Gold for the PHX Championship, so the Creative Team decided na ilagay na lang ako sa PHX Championship Match."

    "Talagang pinag-isipan ko kung gagawin ko ba and nag-suggest ako ng ibang wrestlers pero wala na raw available, according to the Creative Team. So once again, I grabbed the opportunity because it was a match for the Championship that I love so much. And Mike Madrigal is also one of my dream opponents. That guy is one of the best workers in PWR, so I had no problem getting in the ring with him and helping him become a bigger star."

    "Kung mapapansin niyo sa return match ko, marami akong binago sa moveset ko. Nakakalungkot din na ‘di ko muna magamit yung signature spinning back kick ko. So more on strikes and power moves na lang muna talaga. So right now, ang inspiration ko sa mga moves ay si Kassius Ohno."

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    After an unfortunate injury that took an entire year of competition out of his life, the proud son of Ilocos Norte finally made his comeback and keep his promise to the fans under very different circumstances. With Mr. Sy now serving as his manager and spokesperson, it marked a new beginning for the Original Hybrid as he was part of arguably PWR's best show thus far, Path of Gold 2018, against a red hot Mike Madrigal for the PHX Championship. And in one instant, everything was right in the world again for a man who lost a year of doing what he loved the most.

    And now, Maxx has some new goals in mind as he embarks on a new chapter of his career.

    "Ang goal ko is to get back to where I was before the injury and to have top-caliber matches na parang ginagawa ko dati—at higitan pa ‘yun. I would love to have a match with Ralph Imabayashi because I feel that we can deliver a good bout together. I also want to wrestle the rising stars like Zayden Trudeau and Quatro. I also want to compete outside of PWR, so if there's a chance, I would love to have a match with my long-time friend Robin Sane—or even my former stablemate, 'Classical' Bryan Leo for his newly-won championship."

    If there's any takeaway from Main Maxx's year-long experience, it's that, as much a cheesy trope as it is these days, perseverance and dedication will always reap rewards later down the road, no matter how long and winding said road is. It's really something we keep hearing multiple times through various forms of media, but it's quite a different story when you have the living embodiment of such dedication prove that there is light at the end of the road.

    And while the local wrestling scene is relatively young, it's good to know that no matter what happens, there will always be ways to fulfill their dreams despite any setbacks.

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    PWR Live: Trapik is happening on Sunday, April 22, at the 500 Shaw Zentrum Events Pavilion along Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong. Gates open at 2 PM. Tickets sell for P400 and can be purchased at the gate, but you may contact PWR directly on their official Facebook page for pre-selling discounts and promos.

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

    Photos by the Philippine Wrestling Revolution and Main Maxx Facebook pages
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Hip Toast: Main Maxx Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Lance Tan Ong
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