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    Monday, June 24, 2019

    The Smark Henry Hip Toast: Poch

    Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Smark Henry's recurring series, a little something we call 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 and women behind the personas and giving you an intimate look at the people who are helping build this wonderful sport and turning it into something really special in this country.

    Fresh from his successful debut as PWR Co-General Manager at Wrevolution X, the man who's #RunningTheShow, Poch, joins us for this month's installment!


    For as long as PWR has been around, fans can probably think of some constants in the five-yea-rold promotion.

    Jake de Leon rarely ever has a bad match, if at all.

    Chris Panzer will always be a papa in our hearts, even if he did become the devil incarnate.

    Crystal will always be a revolutionary force in the rise of women's wrestling in PWR and the Philippine wrestling scene.

    The Naughty Boys will always be Nice.

    And when it comes to being the undisputed voice of PWR, there's really no one else who can lay claim to the distinction than Pocholo Estrada, more affectionately known as Poch to the Revo-Nation.

    Since 2015, Poch has been PWR's long-time ring announcer, possessing a voice that fills fans with excitement every time he steps in the ring to announce the next match or to make announcements. His is a voice that fans old and new can continue to distinctly associate with his promotion even after how many years, in the same manner that Sig Pecho of MWF has become its defining voice during its relaunch in 2018.

    But even though he's already entered one door in his life as the most recognizable voice in PWR, he has developed a penchant for entering other doors over the last number of years, being involved in the growing e-Sports scene as well as becoming the new Co-General Manager of the very same promotion he lends his voice to. To say that he has a lot going on these days is quite the understatement.

    But of course, as the old Milo ad would tell us, "great things come from small beginnings." And his love for pro wrestling is no exception, albeit in a way you may not have expected it.

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    "Growing up, my first memory of watching wrestling was WCW back on TNT, when Cartoon Network was not a 24/7 channel," Poch fondly remembers. "I thought it was really cool seeing Scott Hall flicking the toothpick. Made me want to do it as well!

    But I really started to get into it when my uncle introduced me to the WWF (at the time) and we also got our first SmackDown game for the PS1! My brother and I played that game so much but we could never catch the show itself until Solar (and later) Jack TV started offering it. From then on, my brother and I were consistent wrestling fans."

    It was that same love for professional wrestling that, like most of those involved in the wrestling scene these days, managed to push him into being involved with the sport he loves through some form or another. Thankfully, just like how he started watching WCW on TNT, this very same degree of fandom led him to being involved in PWR.

    As the current co-GM recounted, "I actually started as a fan! I saw their promotion on social media and attended the first PWR Vendetta. I attended two shows, and told myself that I needed to be part of this in some way."

    But life can be very unpredictable, as he would eventually find out once he put his foot through the door. "My friend introduced me to Stan Sy, and he connected me to the PWR Board. I was actually applying to help out with their social media, but they noticed that I had a good voice and asked if I was open to being the ring announcer. I immediately said yes, and the first PWR Live (in August 2015) was my debut."

    The rest, as they say, is history.  As Poch became acclimated to the role of ring announcer, it was only natural to ask how he got to learn the ropes and become who he is today. Thankfully, he got some great advice from some very helpful faces, and it helped him become more accustomed to the role as the months went on.

    " I really enjoy what I do and look forward to it every month, so I just decided to keep at it. (Grab)Camus was the original ring announcer and he taught me the ropes. PWR Creative Director Ouel Babasa also gave me guidance on how to present the show. I also ask the wrestlers about how they want to be announced or if they want to do anything special, so it was a collaborative way of learning on the job."

    With all these in mind, I somehow got curious about whether or not he would have wanted to be a wrestler at some point. So I had to ask Poch if he ever had any intentions to live another kind of dream, one of being a wrestler. His answer was as gracious as his demeanor.

    "I think every wrestling fan dreamt at one point in their life to be a wrestler. So yeah, I did think about it and I did try to train with the guys," he says. "Much respect to all of them and I appreciate how they allowed me to train with them. They are athletes, and they put their bodies and lives on the line to entertain everyone. I honestly think I have the best seat in the house, and the least I could do for them is to hype everyone up to the spectacle."

    Since that first PWR Live four years ago, he would slowly transition from a first-timer in a new job to becoming a staple at PWR shows, with fans affectionately humming along with Poch to a modified version of MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" to "Can't Poch This," as if it was a way for fans to show their appreciation for the fan favorite. And as we could surmise, the job of being a wrestling ring announcer can be one full of challenges, surprises, and fun memories along the way. Poch was kind enough to share a fun memory during his tenure.

    "I do remember a really funny memory and, to this day, it was the best and scariest moment of my life. It was the first time I was introducing "Beautiful" Billy Suede, and I was so nervous to even talk to him," Poch narrated.

    "I went up to him and introduced myself as the ring announcer. He's a very nice guy and had no ego whatsoever," he remembers. "So I was looking forward to working with him. He mentioned like three titles to his name and he wanted me to time how I introduced him with some theatrics he did. So cut to me introducing him, it was a long introduction, but I nailed the timing and everything. He goes inside the ring, grabs me by the tie and says, 'That was the best fucking intro, man! Now go over there and act scared!' in a mean way. I don't remember if that's what he said verbatim, but it was pretty funny looking back at it because I almost shit myself thinking I screwed up!"

    The experiences of being a ring announcer for PWR is certainly a highlight of Poch's life as the Billy Suede story would indicate, stating that he did have more funny stories of the sort in his pocket. And the thing about him is that when he sees something he likes, he'll be passionate about it in the same way he is passionate about pro wrestling. As it turns out, his other passion would lead to him being involved in another industry he's always been keen on—eSports. It turns out being involved in PWR would, in a way, also lead to his other passion.

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    "So I was just a filthy casual fan of Tekken before. I just played with my friends and watched videos online," Poch told us about his gaming experience.

    "I didn't really go to any events, even though I heard that we had a great scene here," he says. "It's actually a pretty long story, but the short version is that I messaged (PWR fan) Ron Muyot of PlayBook one day that I wanted to try out commentary for Tekken. And then he invited me to FGC Fridays at PlayBook (at Circuit Makati, where PWR also holds their shows). After that moment, I was hooked on to the scene and I always try to make it every Friday. From there, I kept practicing during casuals. Then Ron just approached me one Friday and asked if I was game to commentate a tournament with him, Pica, and (99.5 Play FM DJ and PWR fan) Billy Añonuevo. That was my first time casting a tournament, and from then on, I just tried to keep working at my craft."

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    With all these things on his plate, you'd think that he couldn't expand his resume even further during the same time frame, right? As fans would all find out at PWR Live: Destino, we were all dead wrong as Poch would eventually be named the new PWR Co-GM in a huge reveal—a major step up from being the longtime ring announcer. An announcement that was met with huge applause from the audience, he instantly became an integral element in PWR canon after years of loyalty with the promotion. And how exactly did he react when he found out all about this? His reaction was short and sweet, as is his proclamation for his plans for the future.

    "It was pretty shocking, to be honest," he shares. "I never thought I'd be given this role because I'm just the ring announcer. My reaction was shocked, excited, and scared at the same time. I really do want to merge the two worlds even more, and we do have plans down the road," Poch beams.

    It's amazing what being a passionate fan can do to one person, especially when one puts their minds on it. For Poch, his fandom has led to amazing opportunities he would never have dreamed of—being the voice of PWR, to becoming the authority figure of PWR, all the way to becoming a rising eSports personality in his own right.

    His career thus far just goes to show that when you have enough passion in you and are willing to put in the work, everything will go the way you want it to be.

    Photos from "Can't Hub This" Hub Pacheco and Poch's Facebook Page 

    Disclosure: Smark Henry is independently managed and operated by a group of local wrestling fans, but includes members affiliated with the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.

    PWR Live: Pak! Ganern! takes place on Sunday, June 30, 2019, at 2 PM, and will be held at the Power Mac Center Spotlight, Circuit Makati. 

    Tickets are at PhP 399 each and are also available at PhP 1099 for a barkada bundle of three (3) until Saturday, February 16. Tickets will be at PhP 450 at the door on Sunday.

    For ticket inquiries, visit ticket2me.net or email PWR at pwr.tickets@gmail.com.
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    Item Reviewed: The Smark Henry Hip Toast: Poch Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Lance Tan Ong
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