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    Tuesday, June 26, 2018

    PWR Live: RE5PETO—The Official Smark Henry Review

    It’s about goddamn time! Yes, you’re reading the headline right. SmackDown Live! didn’t come early. #NitPickRick is in charge of this month's PWR review, which means I actually forced my lazy bum to go out and watch the show in person. And let me tell you—it was the best decision I made that weekend. While this was my first live PWR event, I didn't watch the show completely blind. I’ve been following the events of PWR for years now, which begs the question: why did it took me years to finally watch a wrestling promotion I claim to be a big fan of?

    Well, for one, I’m lazy by nature. I think I’m too lazy for my own good, really. I know I say that a lot jokingly, but after watching PWR Live: RE5PETO, I realized how lazy I am and it made me feel bad. I missed out on years’ worth of fun just because I didn’t want to go out on a Sunday afternoon?

    My personal shortcomings and social failures aside, here I am experiencing PWR for the first time. And since this might be the only time I’m allowed to do this, you can bet I’ll be as critical as I am when I’m reviewing SmackDown Live! every week.

    Tier 1: Snape and Lily

    To honor RE5PETO's most revealing bombshell, I’ll be rating the matches and moments of the show based on famous friendzone romances in film and TV. The top tier obviously belongs to the tragic tale of Severus Snape and Lily Potter, a story of unrequited love so well-written that will always sting your heart. I bet you’re crying right now just from reading this intro.

    Ken Warren vs. Mike Madrgial: A Death Match to Die For

    Ken Warren shoved a handful of thumb tacks inside Mike Madrigal’s mouth.

    That statement alone is enough to describe the madness of this match. My tongue hurts just thinking about it. Let’s kick things off with the show’s main event because it truly deserves the spotlight as one of the finest hardcore matches I’ve ever seen. The first stage of hell already had a chaotic start as the action spilled to the outside (more on that later). After Warren scored the first fall via roll up, the violence shifted to high gear as Madrigal introduced a bunch of weapons, including a screwdriver and Catherine, his signature boxing glove riddled with thumbtacks, as you do.

    Things started to get crazy from there on. Everyone including myself was on their feet cheering, cringing, and wishing no one lands on the sea of thumbtacks. I was stressed out of my pants that I decided right then and there that I will never be a freaking wrestler. I could probably describe more spots that happened but I just don’t want to cringe again, you know?

    All you have to know is that Madrigal won the second stage of hell via submission after locking Warren’s face with the lovely boxing glove. Warren beat the living crap out of Madrigal with a flurry of kendo stick shots to the head and sealed the victory with a Wi-Fi while the PHX Title rested on Madrigal’s neck to remain the last man standing. That finish was so well done. Mamma mia, that’s a spicy finish. *kisses tip of fingers like an Italian chef*

    If you missed RE5PETO last Sunday, I recommend waiting for the full version on YouTube. Even if you’re not a fan of gore matches like I am, you’ll appreciate how elegant the violence was.

    A few months ago, I wouldn’t be on board with a Ken Warren face turn, but Madrigal is so hateable as the kupal villain, you’ll have no choice but to root for the guy fighting him. He’s so hateable, he received a “You deserved it!” chant after getting face-planted on a ladder. He’s so hateable, even the KakaiBros didn’t bother helping him! Mad props to Mike Madrigal and madder props to Ken Warren for surviving one hell of a match.

    It’s Rederick Mahaba’s Time, Dammit!

    Unfortunately for Ken Warren, his night didn’t end with the grueling main event. Rederick Mahaba came out one last time to challenge the groggy Warren for his title at the next event and as soon as Warren accepted, the dastardly Mahaba laid him out with his brand new Alab ng Puso elevated reverse DDT finisher. “Nothing personal, you just happen to be in my way,” as Mahaba put it. It’s as cold-blooded as you can get from the former love guru. And that new finisher of his is a beauty. You have to be live to see and hear its impact.

    They can just rename this show “Respect Rederick Mahaba” and I’ll be fine with it because Mahaba’s presence dominated the key moments of the show. From squashing newcomers and their shitty gimmicks to imposing his weight around everyone as he deliver scathing promos whenever he gets a hold of a microphone, Mahaba made sure you never forgot his name. And with a new weapon in his arsenal, Mahaba will probably end the season with the PHX Championship bolted firmly on his shoulders. The MTNH Dynasty is upon us, people.

    “You’re Not On Our Level, Zayden!”

    Meanwhile, Mahaba’s partner and PWR Champion Ralph Imabayashi had a very interesting night. For starters, he breezed through the highflyer Zayden Trudeau after capitalizing on the mistakes of the “Canadyan” young ’un.

    What I loved about this match was its clear storytelling. The champion, with his partner by his side, constantly reminded Trudeau about not belonging on their level. This completely messed with the challenger’s head as he completely fudged almost every flying move he dished out, including a historic 630 Splash.

    The botched moves didn’t ruin the match at all. On the contrary, they fit the narrative so well, I actually thought they were intentional. It was a great match overall sprinkled with the right amount of action and storytelling. Trudeau gave it his all but came up short, a fact even the champion had to respect.

    This perfectly sets up Zayden’s road to redemption as he eventually climbs his way back to the top, so we definitely haven’t seen the last from the Canadian Dragon. As for Imabayashi, he has bigger things to worry about in the form of another foreigner.

    Who’s Next? Ask Nina

    Shortly after giving his opponent some praise, Ralph Imabayashi switched back to his cocky persona by issuing another open challenge for the next event. Out came… Nina? I totally marked out for this one.

    For starters, Nina would be the first proper female contender for the PWR Championship. That’s a groundbreaking match if you ask me. It will probably feel undeserved since Nina only had one match in PWR—on the pre-show, no less—but that’s why it’s an open challenge: it’s free for everyone. She can be a mean bitch if she wants to, you know.

    Sadly, she’s still banned from wrestling and only came out to issue her best friend (calm down, Red) a challenge. Who was the challenger? None other than Koto Hiro, international indie luchador and Nina’s IRL boyfriend. 

    This segment got personal real quick as the now former best friends aired their dirty laundry for everyone to hear, from Nina’s “shit taste in men” to Imabayashi’s “fake Japanese heritage,” and even a shocking revelation that the two had an unrequited romance. Nina’s temporary return and the use of personal jabs did a great job generating hype for the next main event, and the challenger wasn’t even in the building.

    PWR Title Tourney: Panzer and JDL Advance

    It’s no secret that I enjoy tournaments in my wrestling. And sure enough, the first round of this year’s PWR Championship tournament was an exciting way to start the tourney fever.

    First up was Jake De Leon vs. Alexander Belmonte III. I finally got to see JDL live in action and I can confirm that the hype around this man is real. Despite the crowd giving him some love, he can easily work the crowd up to turn against him. 

    My favorite JDL move from this match was his cat-like spear from the second rope. Man, that shit was dope! Don’t get me wrong, AB3 didn’t just stand there and took the fall. The Warlord lived up to his moniker by bringing the war to JDL despite hurting his left arm earlier. But alas, the crafty haciendero outsmarted AB3 with a quick La Magistral for the win. The handshake after the match put the cherry on top in what was a great first round match. I almost made this match of the night if it wasn’t so bitin.

    Next up was another solid first round match between resident creep Vlad Sinnsyk and that guy from the burger commercial Chris Panzer. 

    Sinnsyk’s character work is just superb. He gives out this creepy vibe by simply grunting, mumbling to himself, and even shrieking when he gets hurt. Meanwhile, is everyone going to expect Panzer to kiss his opponents from now on? I did enjoy the callback to last event’s controversial kiss. This was probably the longest first round match and rightfully so. After dodging a massive moonsault from Sinnsyk, Panzer advanced by nailing a picture-perfect Eagle Splash for the hard-fought victory. I wish all the first round matches were as hard fought as these two matches to further cement the idea that the tournament is a big deal. They’re gunning for a PWR Championship match, after all.

    Tier 2: Ted and Robin

    Now we reached the #NitPickRick territory. Just like the over-complicated story of how Ted and Robin got in and out of the friendzone needed some ironing out, these tier contains the matches and moments that I thought needed some tweaking in order to produce a better show where no one dies and Ted gets to have a wonderful ending with the Mother. How dare you kill her off!

    PWR Title Tourney: The Big Men Advance

    The other half of the tournament was still enjoyable and the results still made sense to some extent. I just feel like they wasted two good spots by putting PWR’s power trip couple in it.

    For one, John Sebastian can insert himself and/or Crystal in any match they want, especially if it’s for a shot at the PWR Championship. I guess that’s why their respective matches were just okay by comparison. Maybe they know they can manipulate the system to their will so they didn’t really bother doing their best, which then begs the question: Why did they enter the tournament in the first place? And my other problem was how clean they took their Ls. 

    Apocalypse and Main Maxx both obliterated the supposedly top heels of the company in relatively short matches. If they were planning to have Main Maxx and Apocalypse collide in the semis, they should’ve used two men who can both lose and it would still make sense.

    The two guys I have in mind? SANDATA and Dax Xaviera. Dax will lose against Apocalypse because SANDATA will distract him somehow and SANDATA will then lose against Main Maxx because Dax will snap on him. That way, Dax’s turn (and the tournament as a whole) becomes more dramatic, Maxx and Apocalypse advance as planned, and Sebastian and Crystal can just swoop in during the finals because that’s what they do best.

    That’s pretty much how they got their tag titles anyway. I don’t really get lessening Sebastian and Crystal’s stock just to see two giants renew their rivalry in the semi-finals.

    Dax Javiera Finally Snaps on SANDATA

    Since I already mentioned Dax and SANDATA, let’s talk about the six-man tag. 

    Quatro definitely stole the show once again with his athleticism and his patented Hyper Bomb finisher (how is Bolt still alive?). But it was also the match where finally Dax turned on his friend SANDATA... after accidentally getting bumped. That’s it? This is what I meant when I said the turn could’ve been more dramatic.

    It also didn’t make sense because it’s not like they got physical against each other in a triple threat match last April. If Dax was sensitive about SANDATA hurting him, he should’ve turned right there and then. Why now, in a random six-man tag? At least if Dax felt like SANDATA cost him a title shot, his attack would’ve been more emotional.

    Another element that stood out was the booking of Bolt in the heel team. It didn’t really make sense, but I’m glad his teammates acknowledged the fact that yes, it is weird you’re with us, so we’ll push you around because you have no idea what you’re doing out there. And in some parts of the match, it felt like that was the case. He was just standing in a corner, waiting to be powerbombed by Quatro. C’mon, Bolt, do something!

    After the living foreign object took the pin for his team, Vintendo and Jan Evander unsurprisingly took their frustration out by beating Bolt senseless. Fortunately, Revo-Ranger saved the day and probably formed the most cartoon-y team in PWR with Bolt. A new interesting tag team has entered the fray.

    The Tag Team Division Takes Center Stage

    I like how the Tier 2 paragraphs are interconnected because Revo-Ranger was also part of the 16-man tag team battle royale as… the YOLO Ranger? I didn’t know Revo-Ranger was the Mang Jose type of hero. And he got eliminated too, so yeah, we won’t be seeing our favorite masked ranger in the coming weeks because he’ll be dealing with a YOLO lawsuit.

    It’s really not worth it to soil Ranger’s heroic persona just so Logan can still compete in the match. Why not have Logan mockingly call for help which will prompt Ranger to come out expecting someone in distress, only to be guilted into participating by a conniving Logan without lawyering up. “I thought you always helped those who beckon,” or something similar. That way, Ranger can easily get out of this temporary storyline without any loose threads, Logan still gets to be part of the match, and we get to know more about Revo Ranger and his hero code.

    But perhaps Logan created a more dangerous enemy in the form of a raging Robynn. Eliminating the Punk Princess was probably the biggest mistake Logan made in the entire match because she did not take it well. She went berserk and started hitting not only Logan but everyone who tried to calm her down—even Martivo.

    Robynn’s shocking outburst opens up new possibilities for her team or perhaps on her solo career. Will she continue focusing her rage on the YOLO Twins, or will the frustration overflow and spill on her partner?

    And while I’m not saying the Naughty Boys didn’t deserve the win, I just thought it was time for the KakaiBros to get a proper title shot. The crowd was hot for these two lovable jejemons anyway. Pulling the trigger on these two would’ve brought the house down. And their apparent face turn during the main event would make more sense because now, the crowd will root for the Bros to become champions even more. I thought PWR was all about creating moments and providing shocks. Sadly, choosing the most predictable team to win the battle royale wasn’t one of those moments.

    New Season, New Faces

    Who else was in the battle royale, you ask? None other the than trusty security guard Kap Tutan and the lovable GrabCamus! That’s right, these dorks finally made their in-ring debut as the Naughty Boys' henchmen tandem and it was glorious.

    Without exaggeration, these two received the loudest, most deafening pop in the entire show. That’s how over these two were. And they took their sweet time impressing everyone with their literal ball-busting performance. They got eliminated shortly after and Tutan won’t be able to produce children, but hey, everything for a memorable debut, amirite?

    And as much as Rederick Mahaba shat on his pre-show opponents, let me dedicate a paragraph to these people. Sure, the two ninjas were pretty shitty, but I liked Samoan Papa. I wish he got a bit more offense because he certainly doesn’t look that weak. I bet the two ninjas would change their gimmick every pre-show and someone other than Mahaba would squash their asses every single time. That would be fun, but not enough to dethrone the superior Trabajadores storyline. As for Samoan Papa, he’s okay. Send him to the main show already.

    Tier 3: Jacob Black and Bella Swan

    We now reach the inferior tier where I put the bad aspects of the show. And who else deserve the bottom spot than these two Twilight dummies? Honestly, I only have one piece of criticism about the show. My nitpicks are just that, nitpicks, and I still enjoyed the Tier 2 matches. With this one, though, I have to call the company out.

    PWR Gets Another Strike on Safety

    This certainly looks bad for PWR. The last event already landed them in hot water but at least the wrestler in question caused damage to himself alone. This time, a fan was accidentally kicked in the face—in the comfort of her seat. There’s nothing wrong with doing spots outside the ring, but PWR staff should immediately alert the crowd and get in position minutes before a spot on the outside occurs. We came to watch and enjoy the show, now we have to worry about wrestlers accidentally kicking us in the face?

    I can’t really blame the poor woman for not moving because she probably trusted the performers way too much. We have no idea how every match will go or what spots you are planning to do, so crowd control should do better in making sure the violence is contained inside and outside the ring. To be fair, the staff were on high alert after the incident, warning the crowd before a dangerous spot ahead of time. It was a death match, after all, but death match or not, they should still do better next time. We’ll leave the violence to you guys.

    P.S. She's okay.

    [Editor's note: Wink wink.]

    Overall Thoughts

    RE5PETO wasn't just a clever name for the show, that’s exactly what the show was about—respect. Whether they asked for it or earned it, you’ll definitely respect what PWR achieved last Sunday. Despite some nitpicks here and there, the fifth season of PWR still started with a resounding bang. New storylines unfolded, rivalries imploded, and new challengers emerged. Plus, no one got hurt from performing dives! The curse is over! So for now, I’ll have to award PWR’s season premiere a massive A.

    • Match of the Night: Three Stages of Death
    • Star of the Night: Rederick Mahaba
    • Aw Bah Gawd Moment: Kapitan Tutan’s Codebreaker to the Balls
    • "That Was Awesome!" Moment: Zayden’s first-ever 630 Splash (runner up: Quatro’s thunderous Hyper Bomb)
    • Most Impactful Pipebomb: “It’s about goddamn time!”—Mahaba after laying out Warren 
    • Turn of the Night: KakakiBros refusing to help Madrigal
    • Hugot of the Night: “Sure ka na ba dyan?! Matagal na kitang kilala. Historically, you've always had shitty taste in men.”—Imabayashi on Nina's choice of boyfriend
    • Side Comment of the Night: “O, di ba masakit?!”—Sebastian after Warren hits Madrigal with a steel chair

    And as a final note, I want to invite everyone to come watch the next live shows. Trust me, social media snippets and YouTube videos don’t do these shows justice. Experience the show for yourselves and fall in love with pro-wrestling all over again.

    Some PWR Blues That Didn’t Make It

    I can’t help but include one schtick from my SmackDown Live! column. Sorry.
    • Wrestlers who count their own corner punches are the pro-wrestling equivalent of actors going “pew, pew, pew” when they shoot guns on set. 
    • Tutan’s Codebreaker to the balls is what the Shaina Lock wants to become. 
    • Get yourself a man who will support you like Mr. Sy supports Main Maxx. 
    • I got to shake hands with awesome wrestlers. Woooo! 
    Images from Michael Bueza of Rappler


    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: RE5PETO—The Official Smark Henry Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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