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    Wednesday, February 20, 2019

    PWR Live: NICE—The Official Smark Henry Review

    God, I love wrestling.

    I do have other passions in life, but I always find my way back to wrestling. I don’t really know anything else that could evoke these emotions in me other than the sight of seeing great performers slug it out in a wrestling ring. I love everything about it: the performers, the entrance, the music, the atmosphere, everything. And I’m so goddamn thankful that people more passionate than me made local wrestling happen here in the Philippines.

    I’m not really sure why I’m so overly dramatic all of a sudden. I wrote this intro 20 minutes before the show started and this is just the general feeling I had sitting here and staring at the empty venue. I don’t know. I’m weird, remember? So yeah, I’m #NitPickRick, I’m the only one available, yadda yadda, self deprecating humor, yadda yadda, joke about you already sick of me. Let’s start doing the thing.

    The Naughty Boys Performances—Ranked!

    Since PWR Live: NICE is named after the catchphrase of these people, it’s only appropriate to put the Naughty Boys center stage and talk about their individual performances.

    1. Evan Carleaux

    For a minute there, Evan Carleaux made us believe the end of Ralph Imabayashi’s reign as PWR Champion was upon us. This automatically makes him the best performing Naughty Boy of the night. From the moment his awesome tron video hit to the beautiful closing image of him surrounded by his friends, ECX solidified his future as a main event-calibre talent. The roars of the crowd during ECX’s second Tech Noir attempt matched the roars Quatro received when he almost became champion last year at PWR Live: Homefront. That’s saying something. 

    Ralph Imabayashi was no slouch, either. He came out laser-focused and all business and indeed, Ralph gave ECX the business. The no-nonsense champion gave his challenger a taste of the big leagues and it resulted in another main event full of great storytelling and even greater wrestling. Even Kapitan Tutan's balls got involved at one point. Don't ask me how. 

    Both men kicked out and escaped each other’s biggest moves which left everyone at the edge of their seats. In the end, Ralph checked off another name as he tightens his grip on PWR’s most coveted prize. 

    2. Kapitan Tutan

    In a surprising turn of events, the Naughty Boy enforcer inched closer to the top by delivering the best pre-show match I've ever seen with El Guapo himself, Carlos Zamora. Both of them had great chemistry, both in personality and wrestling ability. And the match itself was just under ten freaking minutes. And the chops, the hard-hitting chops! I hope Tutan’s lungs are okay. 

    Side note, El Guapo should really work on his taunt. One minute he’s making fun of his opponent’s height, the next he’s telling him to suck it. Just pick a catchphrase and stick to it.

    3. Jhemherlhynn and Trian dela Torre

    Everyone's favorite intern is so over, she got bumped to the main show immediately and she took Jaye Sera with her. Together with her employer Trian dela Torre, Jhemherlhynn raised some hell on her rival Sera and the very punchable Cali Nueva. 

    Their match had a rough start with Nueva failing to command the crowd. He was eaten alive by the sea of boos that Sera had to save him with a quip and a beatdown. Next time, simplehan na lang natin. Now that’s angas.

    And from there, the action got too messy. They tried to cram some great spots and combos but the moving parts were just too hard to follow. I did enjoy Jhemherlhynn unleashing her rage after losing to Sera’s dirty tactics for the second time. 

    Jhemherlhynn and Sera are such a great pair that I won’t mind seeing them fight for the rest of the year. I’m telling you, Jhemherlhynn’s first win is going to be epic. Also, Trian forcing the pretentious Nueva to wear a NICE shirt was a… uhh, nice touch.

    4. GrabCamus

    While I’m putting GrabCamus at the bottom, that doesn’t mean his match with Revo Ranger was bad. If anything, it gave us a sneak peek into what a Camus solo run could look like. And you know what, he looked good out there. But alas, their match will go down in PWR history as the "dick pic match." Compared to the night his bosses had, his match wasn’t that eventful. I did love Ranger’s Falcon Arrow finisher, though.


    Really? Do I really need to explain why we only have two tiers in this review? It’s just NICE and NOT NICE. C’mon, people. This isn’t rocket science.

    Rederick Mahaba Brings Sexy Back to PWR

    Ralph Imabayashi may have retained his title, but he didn’t walk out of the ring with a smile on his face. As he was celebrating his latest win, out came a ghost from his past. And it was none other than Rederick Mahaba, the OG lovable horndog version. The Founder of Basted Club is back, you guys! But this time, he didn’t come out to give some love. He came out to challenge Ralph for the PWR Championship, something he should’ve done a long time ago.

    No, really, he said so himself. Mahaba gave everyone the very first live PWR Aftershock hosted by Poch 2.0 and from there, we were reminded why PWR needs Rederick Mahaba in every show. He gave Ralph the beating of a lifetime without even lifting a finger—by revealing to everyone how wretched the PWR Champion really is. He even revealed that Ralph is not from Japan. Clutch my pearls! We’re getting a rivalry for the ages and I can’t be more excited than I am right now. It’s time we give Mahaba some goddamn respect and some goddamn gold.

    Vlad Sinnsyk Conquers a Departing Jake de Leon

    Part of my motivation to complete all PWR shows from now on is so that I don’t miss out on storylines. If I had started going to the live shows earlier, I would’ve known about the history between Jake de Leon and Vlad Sinnsyk. Another candidate for Match of the Night, the battle between these two juggernauts didn’t wait for the crowd to settle at all. It started right in your face with a massive Alipin Drop and from there, the match never slowed down. JDL really looked like a man facing the darkness, hitting it with his best moves until it relents.

    But alas, the darkness didn’t. Instead, Sinnsyk fought back with the same intensity as JDL. He even targeted JDL’s back, the same back he injured two years ago. In short, this match was a total slugfest full of earth-shattering blows and exciting nearfalls. I love how this match made Sinnsyk more sinister because every time he set up for a Muscle Buster, the crowd gasps in horror. Imagine the grunts we’ll hear when he finally wins the PHX Championship. 

    After the match, JDL gave Sinnsyk the seal of approval and instructed him to give John Sebastian hell. It did catch me off-guard that JDL gave Vlad Sinnsyk the rub before saying his future with PWR is unclear. What does that mean? Where are you going, JDL? PWR won’t be the same with the Senyorito, but just like him, I’m also confident that the future of Philippine Wrestling has never been brighter. So all we can do as fans is to wish Jake de Leon the best in his next venture. I hope it’s still related to wrestling.

    Ken Warren Earns His Third PHX Title Shot by Dumb Luck

    While I really enjoyed the main event, my pick for Match of the Night goes to Ken Warren, Chino Guinto, and Jan Evander’s instant classic of a 3-Way Dance. You had Guinto’s much-awaited return to the ring, Warren’s undying request for a one-on-one PHX Championship match, and Evander being an annoying little runt. 

    This fantastic triple threat match all came down to a clever ending with Guinto stomping the lights out of Evander, only for Warren to unconsciously cover the lifeless body next to him. It’s a kiss-my-fingertips-like-a-stereotypical-chef type of match and I loved it.

    But just like Ken Warren, I’m starting to wonder why he had to go through hoops for a title shot. Even if you say his automatic rematch clause was already invoked in the JDL/Panzer/Warren match at PWR Live: Shake, Rassle, and Roll, he still had another shot when he beat Crystal at Homefront. And even if you say that his shot was already used in the first ever Six-Man Survival Match at last year’s Vendetta, then that’s just unfair because Crystal, who lost her title shot, was also part of that match. 

    And if you argue that he’s not earning title shots but instead just defending the current title shot he has, then that’s just absurd. So at best, Warren has two legitimate claims for a PHX title shot. Here’s hoping that there’s an actual payoff for Warren’s convoluted title chase.

    And “batang hamog” chants aside, you are obligated to give Jan Evander the nod for his performance. He certainly didn’t look like a saling kitkit during this fast-paced encounter. Instead, he showed everyone why he deserved to be booked in this match despite a losing effort at PWR Live: New Year’s Wrestle-ution. I’m hyped to see him finally give The Endgame a meaningful win soon, or better yet, chase glory on his own. But yeah, his mom’s probably still looking for him.

    Kupal Pa Rin, Mga Ulol!

    Another candidate for Match of the Night was Mike Madrigal vs. Quatro, which was an exciting match with an equally exciting and satisfying conclusion. The match started with security personnel preventing them from fighting, but they instantly went at one another when the bell rang. That one’s weird. 

    But that’s just a small caveat to this intense battle that even spilled to the crowd. Both men traded high-risk move after high-risk move, but in the end, the Kupal One emerged victorious. Who knew Madrigal can be dangerous when he’s in full kupal mode?

    PWR’s Tag Team Division Continues to Shine

    Find a wrestling fan who believes that tag team wrestling is dead, invite them to a PWR show, and watch them be proven wrong because PWR’s got great tag teams in spades. NICE did a great job of showcasing these teams, starting with the hot rivalry between MSG and the KakaiBros.

    MSG trolled the crowd by handing out some empty tikoy boxes and ang pao (red envelope) with tissues inside before their mouthpiece, Mr. Sy, berated them for being ungrateful little fuckers. He then lectured the bobotantes about their dumb political choices. It’s not as rousing as last month’s promo, but Mr. Sy’s promo still killed it with his great he-has-a-point discourse. 

    Meanwhile, the KakaiBros rehashed their promo last month to a still amused crowd. It was funny and all, but maybe reference a different song next time to keep the comedy schtick fresh?

    These polar opposites have such great chemistry together. The Bros’ cheeky personality is the perfect foil for MSG’s intimidating presence and this mixture produced an entertaining tag match. You won’t find any dull moment when these two teams clash, even if you tried hard enough. I really hope we haven’t seen the last of these two now that Mr. Sy’s out there gunning for bigger fish to fry in the form of Chris Panzer. Also, I hope Main Maxx’s nipples are still functional. 

    At one point, the Bros almost became part of a Naughty Boys expansion when Trian dela Torre and Jhemherlhynn came out to save them from a post-match beatdown from MSG. So should we call them KakaiBoys now? Or was that some sort of pamamanhikan with Trian almost giving his blessings to the blossoming romance between Jhemherlhynn and the B1g Dh4wG? In any case, that segment gave the KakaiBros some heat back after their losing effort.

    And delivering the best tag team match of the night were the tried and tested pairing of the YOLO Twins and the Punk Dolls. With a PWR Tag Team Championship opportunity on the line, these two teams brought their A-game and dazzled everyone with flashy tag team combos. The YOLOs landed their heads and necks awkwardly on those spike sells, you’d think they have a deathwish or something. Nevertheless, the match was just balls-to-the-walls fun, filled with high-octane action and Martivo being thrown into a sea of steel chairs. 

    But what bugs me is that Robynn was surprisingly chill about facing the YOLO Twins once again. Did she forget that Logan was the one who triggered her fiery emotions, causing her to destroy everyone in her path and eventually a suspension at PWR Live: RE5PETO? And I’m not mad the Punk Dolls didn’t implode, but it’s weird that they didn’t at least drop any hints of it. So are they staying as a team for now? What about Martivo’s winning streak? I guess we should wait for the next show to find out.


    The Plot Between Chris Panzer and Mr. Sy Thickens

    So let’s back up. At New Year’s Wrestle-ution, Chris Panzer decided to join MSG out of desperation. It was a weird sight but okay, let’s roll with it. Mr. Sy stayed true to his promise by weaseling Panzer into a PHX Championship match against his long-time rival, John Sebastian. After a grueling match that saw the two reignite their storied rivalry, a bloodied Panzer was inches away from the win. All of a sudden, Mr. Sy distracted the ref, allowed his client to lose, and low-blowed him for good measure. Are you still with me? Yeah, me neither.

    The way I’m seeing it, this whole Panzer joining the dark side ordeal was part of Mr. Sy’s revenge plan all along for whatever sin Chris Panzer has commited. So why pull the trigger now? I feel like they could’ve milked the tension between Panzer and Mr. Sy for a few more shows. Maybe have Mr. Sy cost Panzer more title matches just to make the betrayal more compelling? Sure, I’m relieved about Panzer being absolved from selling out, but it also cheapened the narrative of Panzer possibly turning full heel. You guys planted the idea into our heads. At least commit to it a little.

    Look at That, The Endgame Actually Scores a Win

    In a shocking turn of events, The Endgame scored a win thanks to Bong Revilla… I mean, Super Vintendo. The show’s opener could'e been a great match but it should’ve ended early with a DQ. During the match, Evander was trying to distract AB3 by slapping the back of his head right in front of the damn referee. And get this, the referee did nothing. He didn’t even kick the Endgame out. Damn it, it’s so frustrating. So yeah, congrats to Vintendo and his new killer finisher and all that.

    The saving grace of this match was AB3’s incredible selling. He even landed with a sickening thud after Vintendo's STO on the apron. Okay, maybe I shouldn't commend him for that. 

    I’ve also noticed something about AB3. In almost every match I’ve seen him wrestle, he’s always the one selling a slight injury or bleeding profusely. When used sparingly, the win-or-die-trying narrative could boost the crowd’s fondness for a babyface. But if you’re always favoring a part of your body in every match you’re in, it doesn’t really help your legacy as a Warlord. Like, dominate a match once in a while. You’re big, you can do it.

    Dax Xaviera Engages Joey Bax in a Sling Blade War

    Remind me again why Dax Xaviera’s All Out War Championship wasn’t defended in an All Out War match? Seriously, it’s in the name of the title. It’s like defending the Hardcore Championship without all the crazy rules. Why should we care about this title then? And imagine winning the title in a standard match. How vanilla is that? Maybe don’t put the title on the line when you just want the champion to take it easy and wrestle a normal match.

    Meanwhile, props to Dax Xaviera for correcting his character work. Last month, he was pandering to the crowd. This time, he rambled like a drunk. I don’t get it, but at least it’s closer to what his gimmick is supposed to be. Also, it took him long enough to realize that he should deny the people of that one thing that made him over in the first place—his Sling Blades. That’s heeling 101 for ya. 

    Sling Blade Count: 3 and a half. That simultaneous Sling Blade attempt was pretty cool.

    Overall Thoughts: Nice One, PWR!

    Don’t think for one second that this month’s show was all an ego trip to boost the Naughty Boys’ stock. PWR Live: NICE was still a proper PWR show filled with great matches and explosive moments here and there. Hell, the Naughty Boys lost all their matches so you know this wasn't a power trip. 

    While NICE was a great show on its own, it also hyped everyone up for PWR Path of Gold, the company’s first big event of the calendar year. For their efforts, I’ll award them an A-, an improvement from their January offering. Go for the gold, you guys.

    Match of the Night: Ken Warren vs. Chino Guinto vs. Jan Evander
    Stars of the Night: The Naughty Boys, duh
    "Aw Bah Gawd!" Moment: Martivo being thrown into a sea of steel chairs
    Promo of the Night: OG Rederick Mahaba’s shoot-style promo against Ralph Imabayashi
    Surprise of the Night: Vlad Sinnsyk going over Jake de Leon

    Some NICE Thoughts That Didn’t Make It

    • Credit where credit is due. The referees definitely stepped up their game this month. They were more assertive and authoritative. At one point, they even kicked out Evander’s cohorts because they were being nuisances. Great job! Although there are a lot more areas they should definitely improve on, like spotting a rope break, counting the wrestlers out in observance of the five-second rule in tag matches, and calling a DQ when Evander slapped the head of AB3 right in front of the goddamn referee. Man, that one really got to me.

    • Everyone should really come early for the pre-show from now on. Instead of an overarching storyline, PWR opted to switch things up and sprinkle in some debuts here and there. And hey, we got an amazing Guapo/Tutan match out of it. So just come early, you lazy slobs.

    • Is calling El Guapo the Five-Minute Man a compliment or an insult?

    Images from Hub Pacheco Photography

    Smark Henry is independently owned and managed by a group of Filipino pro wrestling fans but includes members affiliated with the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.

    Ricky Jay Publico (@NitPickRick) is a wrestling fan who enjoys watching high flyers and brawlers battle it out in the ring. A frequent Botchamania binge-watcher, he claims to have memorized the chronological order of Royal Rumble winners, but fails to remember who won in 2004. He writes stories about life and nonsense.
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    Item Reviewed: PWR Live: NICE—The Official Smark Henry Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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