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    Wednesday, November 28, 2018

    PWR Vendetta 2018: The Official Smark Henry Review

    Fresh off Sunday’s PWR’s year-end show, it's me, The Migz, and I'm back to give you the deets and review of 2018’s final show, PWR Vendetta.

    If you haven’t had the time to look into the show preview, please check out our official Smark Henry Preview before reading this in-depth review, and check out which matches we got right and which matches we got wrong.

    Now, to be frank with all of you, this PWR Vendetta show actually exceeded my expectations and I’m glad it did. If you asked me a few years back what I thought about the product, I definitely thought it had potential but it was a little rough around the edges. Fast forward to now and we’ve got what I think is one of the best shows that the promotion has done to date.

    Sadly, if you missed this show, then please continue reading as I’ll try my best to bring your consciousness back into the event by providing an in-depth review of what the great moments of the show were like and we’ll do that by setting up our traditional tiers list.

    In line with the Yuletide holiday season, we’re setting up the tiers as inspired by everybody’s most recognizable Filipino Christmas icon: Jose Mari Chan! We’re grading matches based on what I will now officially call the JMC Scale, with the following songs being based off famous Jose Mari Chan songs.

    Here we go with the review!

    Tier 1: Christmas In Our Hearts

    It’s the most famous JMC song there is. Ever. It’s something you know by heart. It’s literally his BEST. SONG. EVER.

    This tier is for the ones which will remain forever in my heart as a good memory of what wrestling should and could be. A positive step. A step in the right direction for Philippine wrestling. These matches will remain in my head for a very very very very long time, hence, the longer reviews for this part.

    6-Way Survival PHX Championship Match: John Sebastian def. Jake De Leon (c), Andruew Tang, Chris Panzer, Crystal and Ken Warren

    Never have I ever watched an event where the opener stole the whole show. Sure, all matches from the night were definitely must-see and deserving of high praise, but if I had to pick one match to define the whole night, this was it. This set the standards for the type of matches produced in PWR’s year-end outing, and while I think everybody expected the show to start with a bang, I didn’t think they’d bring the whole place down.

    The first of its kind, the 6-Way Survival match did everything I hoped it would and gave more than what I expected, but I have to get one nitpick out of the way: WHY DID PEOPLE TRY TO BREAK UP THE PINS? It was an elimination match, therefore, wouldn’t it be smart to let other opponents be eliminated in the match to up the chances in winning?

    Now that that’s out of the way, let’s start by dissecting the match from its first combatants, Jake De Leon and Andruew Tang, both of who actually had the same smart idea to start the match by getting a few potshots to the handcuffed individuals on the outside before proceeding to duke it out in the middle of the ring.

    “The Statement” Andruew Tang, true to his name, made a statement—a strong one at that—by holding his own with the other five competitors in the match. With dominant spots all throughout the match, one of the memorable spots involved him having a chop-fest with Ken Warren where the Social Media Sinister had no effect on the buff and muscular Tang. Truly, a strong statement which helped build credibility and made Tang look strong even with the eventual loss. Tang’s loss would lead to him beating the life out of JDL which would come into play for the eventual winner.

    Now, Jake De Leon, we know his style, we know his galawan, we knew he could hold his own in this match. Boy, did he hold his own by almost outlasting everybody. Watching JDL work and last almost half an hour in this match amazes me and he didn’t show signs of stopping or slowing down. He gave his all for this match although ending up on the losing side due to an agitated and angry Andruew Tang. Maybe down the line, a singles match is in place for these two.

    Ken Warren was the first individual to get released and join the fray. He didn’t waste time by letting all the people know he wanted his one-on-one rematch for the PHX title and it was fun to watch him try to beat everybody while ranting about his rematch. As I mentioned previously, his chop-fest spot with Andruew Tang was a memorable exchange but something that will probably appear in a future #SGQ is his choice of attire for the event. The onesie wrestling tights looked like something Chris Panzer wore a few months back, and the colors made him look like X-Pac (well, to me at least). Sadly, he was eventually eliminated by The Statement; the first to be eliminated, in fact.

    The second individual to insert herself in the match was Crystal and she immediately went on a rampage by attacking former(?) flame John Sebastian before getting in on the action. If anybody had doubts before, I’ll say it now: Crystal can go toe-to-toe with anybody in the ring. She can definitely hold her own and even best other wrestlers in a one-on-one match. Sad to say, amid the chaos that ensued inside the ring, she was also eliminated by an enraged Andruew Tang.

    Crowd favorite Chris Panzer was next to come in and while Papa Panzer did his best and went out guns ablaze, even performing a sick top rope Rock Bottom on Andruew Tang to the outside, but it barely made a difference because the dominant Tang was the one to eliminate him alongside Crystal via a sick top-rope double chokeslam.

    Last but not the least, John Sebastian came in as the sixth competitor, and one has to wonder if this was a ploy by the GM to keep him fresh in whatever outcome the match would come to. Sebastian chose his attacks carefully and capitalized on the most important moment—after The Statement’s post-elimination beatdown of JDL—to win the PHX Championship.

    If this all sounded too much to you, then maybe it is. To me, it sounded about right for something as prestigious as the PHX championship, and with it being the last show of the year, I’m sure everybody had tons of fun in this match and were also surprised by how it ended.

    4-Way PWR Championship Match: Ralph Imabayashi (c) def. Mike Madrigal, Vlad Sinnsyk and Rederick Mahaba

    The match in itself is a testament to how storytelling is best executed especially when partnered with good wrestling. We all knew the background of the match (see: PWR Vendetta preview), but we didn’t really know how it would all come to play at the actual event. Would Red turn on Ralph? Would Vlad and Mike coexist to balance the odds? How would Ralph get out of this one?

    It all started with Mainstream Mahaba and hiiiiiiiiis partner Ralph Imabayashi sliding out of the ring to let former partners Vlad Sinnsyk and Mike Madrigal settle their business. From the onset, it seemed like the best friends had a plan that they brainstormed to keep the title in the MTNH court. And by that, they actually did.

    The plan was to have Ralph pin Mahaba to keep the title, but it wasn’t meant to be as both Mike and Vlad got wind of this plan early on in the match after several attempts. Shades of Road Dogg and Billy Gunn were present as this was a tactic the New Age Outlaws once used to keep the belts, albeit the tag title ones, in their position.

    The match then continued on in a brutal manner with weapons such as baking pans and kendo sticks making an appearance. This was brutal and it was able to knock the champion out for a few seconds. With Mahaba knocking both Mike and Vlad out with weapons as well, the Mainstream one proceeded to pull Ralph’s dead weight on top of either man (or at least tried to) as he seemed a little tired as well. That, or maybe he realized it was an opportunity to steal the championship (or keep the championship in MTNH’s hands, as he so eloquently put it.)

    This is where the drama began to unfold with Ralph realizing that his partner was trying to take advantage of him. The gloves were off after this with all four men beating each other senseless with lots of huge moves and locking in lots of submissions. Eventually, Ralph and Mahaba got into another argument following another failed pin attempt by Red on their fallen opponents, with Ralph asking his friend to lay down one more time so the match can end.

    Alas, it was not meant to be, as Mahaba kicked out of the pinfall and all hell broke loose afterward. There were no more friendships in play, no more training wheels. The gloves were off and all inhibitions were let go which took the match to a whole new level. By this time, around 25 minutes had already passed and the show might have well gone into overtime but the crowd was extra hot seeing the break-up in full fruition.

    In the end, it would be Ralph Imabayashi, still victorious, slipping out a win while an unconscious Vlad Sinnsyk laid down in the corner and bodies elsewhere in the ring.

    Post-match, in a surprise turn of events, Mahaba got on the mic to apologize to Ralph for his actions during the match, and another tension-filled break-up was teased. This time, Ralph stood near his friend and uttered the words “I’m sorry,” getting the crowd to clap in awe as it seemed the friends were okay again after hitting a rough patch. After a long speech and a hug, the champion then hit his now-former friend in the nether regions to cement the fact that this friendship was over. The fallen Mahaba even uttered the words “I’m not giving up on you yet,” but no, it was a done deal as Imabayashi finished the job and destroyed Mahaba after coming back to the ring once again.

    If the other multi-man match of the night was full of explosive action and an athletic showcase, then this match had the best storytelling as the performers had the audience in their hand with every ooh and ahh, playing with their hearts and attention on what might happen next.

    2019 will definitely kick off with Ralph Imabayashi having no friends to watch his back, and bounties being placed on his head.

    Tier 2: A Perfect Christmas

    Here’s a portion of the lyrics so you can understand why I chose this as the basis of my tier 2:
    Celebrating the yuletide season always lights up our lives / Simple pleasures are made special too when they’re shared with you
    And by you, I mean all of you Smarkadas, Smarkistas and fans of wrestling in general. The year-end show is truly a great show and to be able to experience these matches will light us all on fire.

    In terms of numbers, I’d exaggerate tier 1 to be 12/10 so these matches from tier 2 would still be a perfect 10/10. So, get it? A Perfect “10” Christmas. Thanks JMC!

    Quatro def. Dr. Gore

    Quatro matches are the kind of matches which you expect to always be action-packed, fun, and entertaining, and this match with Dr. Gore definitely fit the criteria. It seems that the Lightbringer is slowly becoming the gatekeeper of PWR by working out the best matches with foreign talent, and he definitely doesn’t disappoint in this role.

    The match was fast-paced, action-packed, hard-hitting and entertaining to say the least—with both Quatro and Dr. Gore putting out a fair amount of offense on each other. They did not skip the entertainment part either as both men tried to one-up each other by doing (what I assume is) a Dr. Gore spot, with each men checking each other’s pulses and ending with a cheap shot at the end: a tongue pull from Dr. Gore and a hard hit from Quatro.

    The exchanges were balanced and frequent with neither man really getting full control of the match. It looked like Dr. Gore was gaining the upper hand towards the end of the match, but as always, Quatro was able to pull out a victory via the Destino, and both competitors shared the spotlight in a show of respect.

    Thank you Quatro! Salamat Dok!

    PWR Tag Team Championship Match: TDTxECX (c) w/ Jhemherlhynn def. MSG w/ Mr. Sy

    Prior to the bout, Mr. Sy came out and delivered the best promo he has ever cut in PWR. The guy looked comfortable dishing out the disses and insults, and he generated real heat with a kid even giving him a DX chop. I’ll say this now, MSG has a bright future ahead of them and while I’m sad about the results of this match, I’m sure they’ll bounce back with their newfound attitude.

    With that out of the way, if you asked me to pick a match in the card which I thought generated a lot of controversy and media attention, I would absolutely pick this title match as this probably had the most fun and brutal build-up. With both teams taking potshots at each other through social media, everybody had high expectations for this match and it did not let us down.

    I loved the fact that this was literally a tag team match—two-on-two—with only one manager per team, as it gives an old-school wrestling match vibe to it. Sure, I miss Kapitan Tutan and GrabCamus on the side, but they held their own during the preshow, and this, in turn, allowed the match to be told in an organic manner.

    It was a classic tag team match, an in-sync Pagbasag (sa Itlog) to TDTxECX, a (surprise) Mr. Sy top rope dive to the outside, Jhemherlhynn giving Mr. Sy his comeuppance, and the champs standing their ground and doing what they said they would do to #DefendTheDivision.

    While I admittedly supported MSG starting from the heel turn, I’m not mad nor sad that TDTxECX won. Sure, it might’ve killed a little heat, but it does get us excited on what the future of tag team wrestling in PWR will hold for 2019. Surely, MSG will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming year and TDTxECX will have more targets on their back as well.

    Also, wasn't Kap Tutan entertaining with his Freddie Mercury-inspired post-celebration?

    Speaking of Kap...

    Kapitan Tutan w/ GrabCamus def. Artie 2.0

    Surprise, surprise! A pre-show match that we’ll be putting on a higher tier.

    This was Kap’s first singles match and Artie 2.0’s first officially announced match (his previous match was impromptu), and boy did they entertain the hell out of me as I literally surprised by how good a match these two put on.

    It might sound cliché and basic, but these two put on a good old-fashioned wrestling clinic with the grapples, throws, switches and reversals. It was a showcase of great (mat) wrestling which I hope both wrestlers get to showcase more in the coming shows. We don’t often get to see these kind of back-and-forth moves in matches. It was a fun and impressive diversion and a sign of good things to come.

    As a footnote, GrabCamus’ presence was also a welcome addition to the match, albeit, only as a target for the guys from Hecklers’ Row. I did miss his presence on this show as it was minimal due to his current “condition.” MSG did come out after this match to put the boots to him and Kapitan Tutan and continue their assault to send a message to the Naughty Boys so that's also a plus.

    Tier 3: Little Christmas Tree

    Taking a few lines from the song, you’d understand why this is the third tier:
    Little Christmas Tree, No one to buy you, Give yourself to me, You’re worth your weight in precious gold
    You see, these are the matches that weren't really bad. In fact, I don’t think any of the matches were bad. All the matches of the night were great, but if you think about it, the matches in Tier 1 and Tier 2 were just great and so out of this world that the following matches were outshined.

    Coincidentally, three out of the four matches in this tier were part of the first half of the show and likely suffered from crowd burnout.

    Again, just reiterating that these matches are actually worth gold (as the song says), and being Tier 3 in this instance is not necessarily being in a bad position.

    Martivo def. Aysha

    I really wanted to love this match. Martivo has always been a solid worker, while Aysha brought something new to the table in terms of talent and a challenge. Those two workers gave out a match that would qualify as a solid bout that deserved so much praise, but—and this is a big but—it was hard to follow up the 6-Way Survival Match for the PHX Championship.

    The crowd burnout was prevalent as the crowd had difficulty starting chants all throughout the match. Who could blame them? It was difficult to follow the previous match. Both Martivo and Aysha had exciting spots all throughout with both getting the cheers they deserved, but not quite getting the traction to get the crowd on their feet.

    As a consolation, both brought their best game and it showed, but I hope and pray that Aysha continues to work the Philippine wrestling scene in the future so we can see more of her awesome in-ring talent. A Crystal vs. Aysha match would be awesome, right?

    Edi Sa Puso Mo Street Fight: YOLO Twins def. Kakaibros

    Another one of the night’s matches which I’ll give a lot of praise, but suffered from the epic opener. In itself, the match had a lot of potential and showed great promise with the mystery of the Edi Sa Puso Mo Street Fight stipulation, and it did what it was supposed to do—shock and awe the Revo-Nation.

    The match started with a brawl involving both teams and their respective entourages battling it out in the crowd, wiping out a portion of the media seats from one side of the venue. I’d like to say that the opening seconds and minutes of the match felt confusing because of so much action happening, and while it wasn’t as much of a bad thing, I felt that the craziness should’ve begun after a solid set-up first.

    It did pick up after the initial chaos with Mh4rcki3 getting a crimson mask mid-match, while Kh3ndrick and Yohann Ollores brawled backstage. I believe it was the first of its kind—with the live feed of the backstage brawl shown on the screen as well. However, after the video died, things started to go south again with all four competitors ending up back in the ring area.

    The spots were great, but it took the competitors some time to set up everything. Once all was in place though, it was like an orchestra of hardcore tropes. From the twins tying up Mh4rcki3 in the ropes, to the weapons thrown around, to the slams on the Gundam set and the eventual finish which saw a wooden board broken in half via a Two-Night Stand, all four competitors came through and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them get a title shot or in great spots on the card this coming 2019.

    Bolt, Revo-Ranger and Joey Bax def. The End Game (Jan Evander, PwD, Super Vintendo and The Apocalypse)

    As the crowd graciously chanted, “Welcome Bax!” To everyone’s surprise, Joey Bax did not miss a beat in his return to in-ring competition, immediately duking it out with a team as dangerous as The End Game. While the backstory for the Fighter-4-Hire was thin coming into this fight, he went out and hit hard as his opponents were definitely ones who would not go down without a fight.

    A lot of multi-man maneuvers were executed, and it makes you appreciate how original the tag team division of PWR is evolving into. Hopefully, with the original feud ending, and Joey Bax inserting himself in this rivalry, some new light will be shed on this feud and some new one-on-one matches will happen.

    Sadly, we saw this pattern emerge—this bout suffered the same fate as the other matches that happened during the first half of PWR Vendetta, which was the crowd getting burned out after the first match. Not that this was a bad match by any means. To be honest, all the matches in the show were top-notch and grade A, but with so many people involved in the matches that followed, this was definitely too much to take in.

    Something that bothered me with this match was Apocalypse eating the pin. The longer it goes, the more it seems like the monster is losing his edge. I don’t know if a reinvention seems proper or a different take on the character should happen, but somebody please show Apocalypse some love.

    AOW Championship Match: Dax Xaviera def. AB3 (c)

    With Dax Xaviera and his insane quest to be with his beloved AOWrora (All Out War Championship), you knew this match was inevitable. Truth be told, unhinged Dax has been entertaining even when it goes overboard sometimes. AB3 has always been fun to watch throughout his whole All Out War Championship run, and this opened up new facets to his character which I think he’ll be able to expound on in the coming year.

    As for the match, it wasn't bad per se, but more a matter of oversaturation. With everything ending up as a sling blade—or a variation thereof—it felt like a semi-lazy match in my opinion. I know that it’s Dax’s thing and I give props and respect to that, and the character himself is fun to watch but it did border on being a little uncreative. I wish the match had something unique to tell other than Dax chasing after the championship. This night had everybody’s expectations up by another level, and it was quite disappointing that this match failed to take the next step up.

    Also, I think we’ve said it before when we asked why these matches aren’t contested in All Out War rules. Why isn’t it? The way I see it, this is the Hardcore title and not putting it in a No DQ match makes it such a weird concept.

    Tier 4: Shopee Jingle

    As the most repetitive song on the list, it’s befitting of the lowest tier. It’s not that bad. It’s just… repetitive. That’s all. But it is damn catchy, so that’s that.

    NOTE: Smark Henry does not endorse the aforementioned retailer nor any related material. The song (and the retailer) are just being referred to for comparison in the review.

    Brad Cruz def. McKata

    I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I hope this is the last Brad Cruz vs. McKata match in a long time. Both wrestlers do have to move on and there’s only a number of times they can be on opposite ends in a match before it gets too repetitive.

    This was acceptable as a pre-show match and it did the job by getting Brad Cruz cheered and McKata booed. Otherwise, this was definitely a hype piece for the whole show.


    As always, we will end the article with a bunch of unofficial awards for the night to honor our hard-working PWR wrestlers.

    Wrestler of the Night: “The Statement” Andruew Tang
    Match of the Night: 6 Way Survival Match for the PHX Championship
    Spot of the Night: Tie between Mr. Sy dive and Jhemherlynn’s Meteora on Mr. Sy
    Surprise of the Night: Artie 2.0 vs Kapitan Tutan
    Promo of the Night: Mr. Sy’s pre-match promo (and that kid that told him to [two words])
    Show Grade: A

    After all was said and done, The Migz got five correct predictions, four wrong ones, and one which was too late to predict, giving a record of 5-4-1 for this show.

    With PWR’s 2018 ending with a great and successful show, it’s going to be exciting to look forward to what the future holds for all PWR talent come 2019. With teasers shown during the show for a PWR Versus collaboration with Playbook Gaming and some new champions which were crowned during the night, the Philippine wrestling scene and Philippine Wrestling Revolution, as a whole, will forever be changed from now on.

    With that being said, see you in 2019, Revo-Nation!


    Photos and Videos taken from PWR, Fight Sport Manila and Smark Henry.

    Disclosure: Smark Henry is independently managed and operated by a group of local wrestling fans, but includes members affiliated with the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.
    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your supposed fashion guru and semi-young boy at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of everything music, wrestling, videogames and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) and ‘gramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz) as he sets on his journey to completely do things spontaneously. You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your Fortnite or WWE2K19 skills. When not being a smark, he lives his life being (and trying to be) an awesome architect, musician extraordinaire and armchair fantasy booker.
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    Item Reviewed: PWR Vendetta 2018: The Official Smark Henry Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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