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    Wednesday, July 31, 2019

    MWF 10: Republika—The Official Smark Henry Review

    It's been a great weekend for local pro-wrestling, and the first of two shows occurred in Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo, within Manila proper. In what is perhaps the best show that the Manila Wrestling Federation has produced so far, the promotion has once again leaned heavily into our cultural anxieties. This time, the foreigner heels leaned heavily into their own perspective of Filipino stereotypes to mock us, and while we jeered them before, it cannot be denied that Republika as an event was a Chinese victory, overall.

    Let's dive right in!

    Quick Match Results and Verdict

    • Shaukat defeats Rex Lawin via pinfall in a highly physical matchup. Bitman and Michael Su arrive post-match to beat up both competitors. Verdict: Like
    • Fabio Makisig and Khayl Sison defeat Bitman and Michael Su after a low blow and Buzzsaw Kick combination from Khayl and Fabio, respectively. Verdict: Like
    • Frankie versus Jomar ends in a no-contest after Morgan Vaughn and Moises Liwanag both interfere. Verdict: Like
    • Lukas Buhawi defeats Morgan Vaughn. The tambays and the Youngblxxd were mocking each other at ringside, bringing Morgan out of his game and allowing Lukas to capitalize. Verdict: Like
    • PAC RG and Classical Bryan Leo defeat Mr. Lucha and Kanto Kilabot Terror. RG choked out Kanto Terror with his necktie, threatening the ref that he'll be fired if he disqualifies him for using a foreign object. Verdict: Like
    • Moises Liwanag defeats Nigel San Jose (white shirt) via submission. Verdict: Like
    • Nor "Phoenix" Diana (c) defeats Luchadonna to retain the MyPW Wrestlecon Championship. Verdict: Dislike
    • Ho Ho Lun defeats Robin Sane (c) to become the new MWF Champion. Late in the match, Ho Ho Lun dodged a dropkick from Sane, hitting the referee instead. This prompted CoCo Gus to bring out Ho Ho Lun's personal referee, stacking the odds against Sane. Verdict: Like

    The Pieces are in Place

    Since we are mid-season, so to speak, most of the stories are left unresolved, and that's fine. The chips are down, the Philippine fighting spirit has been outsmarted by dubious tactics, and various factions are fighting for control. "Control" is the word here because at the top of the mountain stands Ho Ho Lun, with the Philippine map on the championship belt covered with a Cantonese sticker that says "control." The storyline, as a whole, gets you invested, and it's almost impossible to wait for Ho Ho Lun and Gus Queens to get their comeuppance. For this, the storyline gets an overall like.

    I must say, though, that I am still of two minds about the strongly satirical theme. So far, MWF has been handling it very well, and the move to make Ho Ho Lun champion is surely a gutsy one. But it is a precarious situation that can go incredibly wrong with a few booking mistakes. Even in the best-case scenario where they plot this story properly, there's that possibility of getting some unwanted attention from actual trapos. I'm just worried for them, I guess.

    Pacing has Greatly Improved

    One of the issues I talked about from MWF 9: Oras ng Liwanag was that they went for too long and that they relied too heavily on promos that dragged on and on. Republika did not suffer from that, and it was a tight, two and a half-hour show, with promos that were entertaining without outstaying their welcome. Michael Su's promo was particularly inspired, as he talked about how the crowd reminded him of his maids, clearly made in an attempt to mock, but all the while emphasizing how his character saw things from a position of privilege.

    The video packages, too, were a great way to integrate longer-form promos into a form in ways that weren't boring. Since these were likely pre-taped, they also served to each advance the storylines in one form or another. One example of this is how CoCo Gus and PAC RG mocked Tala and told her to go out and "do work." And then later on, while interviewing the Fabio and Khayl's group about Lukas Buhawi's win, she got invited to join them in their post-match drinking session, sparking a potential additional member for the group. It also explains away why Fabio and Khayl didn't come out when the Hong Kong wrestlers began to beat down the local wrestlers - they were already away, enjoying themselves!

    Also, it's worth noting that the tambays currently have all the cards. They're the only ones who won against the foreign wrestlers at Republika, and Khayl Sison is still, technically, #1 Contender. Meanwhile, the popular sentiment at the moment is that Fabio Makisig will be the one to chase after Ho Ho Lun in case Robin Sane cannot. How will that all work? Can they maintain their momentum? Verdict: Like

    Engaged Crowd

    Lucky Chinatown Mall gave MWF the atrium for Republika. Since it was smack in the middle of the mall, it was pretty easy for passersby to stop and watch from the second and third floors. Not only would they stop to watch the match, but they would, in several cases, be engaged enough to cheer. The video promos did make some of them lose interest, but then they would always be replaced by new people, which means that there were actually even more who were able to watch the show. The main event, in particular, had a very engaged crowd. The chorus of boos after Ho Ho Lun won was very loud across three floors.

    This is, overall, the best scenario for a free show. Get people interested, and hopefully get them to return. If they keep this up, casual interest in local pro-wrestling will increase, which will benefit niche entertainment as a whole. Verdict: Like

    Now, I'm obviously high on this event, but it won't be a proper review if I didn't talk about things that I disliked. So prepare for nitpicking!

    The Stage Layout Was Awful

    The atrium of Lucky Chinatown Mall isn't the largest space, so it feels suitably cramped to actually sit in the designated crowd area. The screen was behind the audience, so whenever they showed video packages, they had to stand and look back. In hindsight, I think the most ideal place to watch the event was on the second floor! But then you won't have seats, so you'd have to stand up the entire time. Verdict: Dislike

    MWF Women's Division is Too Thin

    In fact, I'm not sure if you can call it a division at all. MyPW's Nor Diana faced Luchadonna for the event, but Luchadonna is their newest female wrestler, and currently, she doesn't have any kind of heat, yet. There just isn't any character in her yet to either cheer or boo. Meanwhile, the Malaysians were presented as faces, the friendly neighbors, in contrast with the Hong Kong heels. Nor Diana is also Internet viral right now, so there's no way she'd be booed. I think, as a result, the match suffered.

    Unfortunately, Luchadonna is all they've got. Ashura is still out of the country, and she would have been great in this role. Jorelle meanwhile is being protected and cannot take a pinfall yet. Hopefully, we get more female MWF Factory graduates, soon.

    (This is a dislike, but since I disliked the actual match already I won't double-count this.)

    Wala pa ring Tag Team Titles

    'Nuff said. Verdict: Dislike.

    Total Likes: 10
    Total Dislikes: 3

    Other Comments, Unranked

    • CoCo Gus was dressed like a Buddhist monk, giving away/selling bracelets to the crowd. Why?
    • Gigz Stryker through the ongoing movie Ikasa Mo, Ipuputok Ko, is still trying to find out what happened to RG. He now believes that RG's memory loss may not be due to the Liwanags, after all. He feels a little behind in storyline, isn't he?
    • Speaking of PAC RG, the albularyo who threw eggs at him returned. PAC RG was being interviewed by Senior Analyst Tarek in a video vignette when the albularyo showed up. He talked about how RG betrayed the principles of freedom and sovereignty to sell out to CoCo Gus. Sh** then got real when angry voices stormed in and shut down the interview. 
    • Since joining Youngblxxd, Tristan Creed has lost five pounds. He's quite proud of it.
    • Frankie Thurteen's King of Manila gimmick used to be meh, but now it's slowly growing on me.
    Photo from MWF

    Disclaimer: BJ Recio is personal friends with the wrestler who plays the Fabio Makisig character. He is otherwise unaffiliated with the Manila Wrestling Federation in any way, shape, or form.
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    Item Reviewed: MWF 10: Republika—The Official Smark Henry Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: BJ Recio
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