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    Wednesday, July 31, 2019

    PWR Live: Championship Spirit—The Official Smark Henry Review

    Streamers for everyone! Another month, another explosive offering from the country's premiere wrestling promotion, PWR. Which means it's also time for yet another review from yours truly, #NitPickRick. And this time, we're dissecting everything that went down last Sunday at PWR Live: Championship Spirit. No time for another rambling intro, let's just get down to business. Trust me, this show's a doozy.

    Tier 1: Raptors Trade for Kawhi Leonard and a Ticket to Victory

    For our tier system, it's only appropriate to revisit some of the most notable trades in NBA history. The top tier goes to one of the most successful trades in NBA history, Kawhi Leonard moving to Toronto last year. Despite trading one of their best players in DeMar DeRozan, the risk Raptors took bagged them their first NBA title ever in 2019.

    And you should all know it by now—the top tier always goes to the best of the best. These were the matches and segments that made everyone cheer, gasp, boo, and leap out of their seats, sometimes at the same time. Why am I explaining, you've seen these types of reviews way too many times.

    Women's Wrestling is Alive and Well

    Of course we’re kicking things off with the historic all-women main event. Are you kidding me? I’m glad something great happened in PWR right before my birthday month ends. Arguably the biggest international haul of the company before TJP comes to Manila in October, Riho was everything her hype made her out to be. She’s a freakin’ rockstar from the moment she entered the arena to the moment she started kicking the heads off everyone. I’m a Riho fan now!

    If Riho was somehow not enough, we got Thailand’s powerhouse, Jibzy, plowing through the competition like they’re just a bunch of lightweights. And representing our side of the fence were Jaye Sera and the Queen of Philippine Wrestling, Crystal. It couldn’t get any better than that. The match went into overdrive real quick that they didn’t even get the chance to soak it in. No time for pleasantries, it’s your standard blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of bizniz. 

    What prevented it from nabbing Match of the Night was that once again, a PWR match ended just like that, right when people were just about to jump out of their seats. After giving a taste of what women’s wrestling truly is, they left everyone wanting more. But you know what, that’s a rather small complaint for a historic match. It can’t all be perfect all the time, right? Despite the slightly anticlimactic main event, I can’t really complain after seeing Riho live in the flesh.

    Everyone could’ve easily disregarded Jaye Sera in this match but I’m glad they didn’t because on this night, the ring belonged to her. Surrounded by three world-class performers, she grabbed the spotlight and placed it on her by nailing an impressive Best Moonsault Ever. If Cali Nueva was the breakout star of Wrevolution X, Sera is easily PWR Live: Championship Spirit’s. Things are looking great for the gal who’s mission in PWR is to simplify things. We're just living in Jaye's Era, that's all.

    Jhemherlhynn may have been the first woman to headline a PWR event, but Jaye Sera won the lottery when it comes to historic firsts. I can’t help but compare these two since they both started their in-ring careers together. Since their debut seven months ago, both women have already made noticeable dents in PWR. But this time, Sera won big time despite not winning. I know it’s not a competition between the two, but it’s just a fascinating thing to note, you know?

    The Naughty Boys are Definitely Not Fine

    Is it a coincidence that the Naughty Boys and MSG always find themselves in the middle of the best storylines in PWR? Because here we are again with another killer storyline. Fresh from converting the once angelic Chris Panzer, Mr. Sy is once again pushing his luck on signing his real-life friend GrabCamus to his already stacked faction. And coincidentally, GrabCamus is himself at odds with his friends-slash-employers. Two storylines intertwining seamlessly.

    Who knew this storyline inspired by NBA trade offers would end up producing one of the most scathing promos in PWR history? It’s so criminal that Mr. Sy’s bullying promo was placed on the pre-show. I guess it’s a great incentive to arrive early for any PWR show, because epic moments can happen even on the pre-show. Imagine being late for the show and missing Mr. Sy tear his childhood bully a new one. Look, I’ll do you a solid and embed it for you.

    See what I mean? Mr. Sy outdid himself once again with his self-righteous brand of villainy, and his anti-bullying promo had to be his finest work. Unlike his previous ones, this one felt more personal, more sinister, and more relatable than ever. That last part is basically what makes Mr. Sy, and MSG by extension, the best stable in PWR right now. When a heel can make you question your values in life, he's a good one.

    And to add to the shootiness of it all, Mr. Sy broke kayfabe and called out GrabCamus by his real name. I wasn't on board with this angle at first since I know nothing about NBA trades, but I couldn't complain when they do negotiations as dramatic as this. It even introduced us to the future Hall of Famer Boyet, together with the MSG choir (who are now canon NPCs, apparently). Why was this segment on the pre-show again? 

    As expected, GrabCamus stayed loyal to the Naughty Boys, despite the boiling tension from his recent screw-ups. His streak of bad luck continued at PWR Live: Championship Spirit after accidentally taking out the returning ECX in their pre-show tag match. And possibly the last nail in the coffin was when he accidentally caused a distraction that led to Trian dela Torre losing his Championship Chase Semifinals match in a matter of seconds. I might be wrong here, but the writing is on the wall for the Naughty Boys. And honestly, I’m not even mad or sad about it.

    Before they eventually implode and go their separate ways, let me commend them for giving their members a chance to shine on their own. ECX and TDT are no doubt certified singles talents, with the former receiving two star-making matches in early 2019 alone. Kapitan Tutan doesn’t even need to be part of the team to get over—he has already turned his joke of a character into someone worth rooting for. And as for Jhemherlhynn, we’ll talk about her later.

    And now, it’s GrabCamus’ time to shine in his own star-making storyline, the final piece of the Naughty Boys' descent. I’m almost certain Camus will eventually betray his bosses and join MSG at PWR Renaissance after being overlooked for so long. But even if he decides to stick with the Naughty Boys after all of this, his potential as a solo act won’t be affected. Hell, he can even swerve everyone by not aligning with anyone and just being his own man. Now that’s baller.

    GrabCamus’ performance last Sunday is enough to solidify himself as a singles competitor. I remember saying this not long ago and now that he can dish out huracarranas like it’s no big deal, the sky's the limit for this big hoss. But if he does join MSG and Mr. Sy ends up swerving Camus like he did to Chris Panzer the first time he signed with him, I’d be so pissed. All this #Indecision2019 hoopla for another terrible twist? Don’t even think about it.

    The Real Southeast Asia's Best Stands Tall

    When you put the Philippines’ best wrestler against Malaysia’s best, you know you’re in for a great time. Jake de Leon and Shaukat pushed each other to their limits to find out who’s the best in all of Southeast Asia and the two put the Revo-Nation through a high-octane rollercoaster ride. I mean, I don’t really have anything more to say since I stopped taking notes while watching this instant classic. Just wait for the YouTube upload and experience it yourself. 

    I’ll just end up bowing down to this match so let me just throw in some stray thoughts. 

    • JDL debuted his new tights and I love it. 
    • Someone tell Joel Torre to give our golden boy a JT’s Manukan sponsorship already. 
    • Meanwhile, Shaukat looked like a proper monster in the ring and his dominating presence made for a great foil opposite JDL’s never-say-die attitude. If ever he comes back for another PWR match, he should face Vlad Sinnsyk next. Grunt battle, anyone?

    And now that JDL proved that he’s the best wrestler in all of Southeast Asia, he now has to defend his title of Mr. Philippine Wrestling against the Fil-Am Flash, former WWE Cruiserweight Champion TJP. To close off the first half of PWR Live: Championship Spirit, TJP appeared via satellite to formally challenge JDL to a match at PWR Specials: Homecoming in October. If that’s not enough incentive to never miss a show, I don’t know what is.

    Three Flippy Bois Entered a PWR Ring...

    ...and they ended up setting the tone for the rest of the main show. I already accepted the fact that my boy Cali Nueva will have to sit this show out. Thank heavens announcer and co-GM Poch can now make matches on the fly because it gave us this high-flying classic. Once again, the Renaissance Man proved why he deserves to be called the Breakout Star of PWR as he wasted no time schooling his rival Zayden Trudeau and Singapore’s Alex Cuevas.

    The match pretty much refused to slow down from start to finish. It even featured the highest missile dropkick in PWR history courtesy of Cuevas. But in the end, it was the Canadian Dragon who scored the pin with an equally impressive Springboard 450 Splash. It’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of Zayden Trudeau and Cali Nueva. If their three-way already earned the first “sulit bayad” chants of the night, imagine what these two can do when it’s just them.

    The Kupal One Overcomes The Educated One

    Unlike Chris Panzer, who easily breezed through his Championship Chase Semifinals match, Mike Madrigal had to fight tooth and nail to keep Jan Evander from advancing to the finals. Surprisingly, Jan Evander didn’t employ the services of his cohorts for this one, maybe out of sheer confidence that he can topple the Kupal One with his efforts alone. But he underestimated the sheer tenacity of a Mike Madrigal with #PUSO. 

    One nasty Package Piledriver later, Madrigal punched his ticket to the Championship Chase Finals. The rest of the Endgame never interfered in the match, which was weird as hell. They made their presence known after the fact when they could've helped their boss win the whole thing. But at least we got a nice reunion out of it. I almost forgot about Mike Madrigal being the KakaiBros' bh0sz Mh1ke. I miss reading their riveting PWR reviews.

    Mike Madrigal making amends with his former cohorts—who are now two of the biggest babyfaces around—was perhaps the biggest leap towards him becoming a proper babyface, especially now that he's up against an evil Chris Panzer in the Championship Chase finals. What I'm trying to say is that at PWR Renaissance, it's Kupal vs. Dimunyu, the ultimate battle of PWR's bad boys. Oddly enough, we all know the bad boy to root for.

    Tier 2: OKC Thunder Trades Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul

    Normally, this is where I thrive as #NitPickRick, mercilessly picking apart matches and segments until there's nothing left of them. But this time, that won't be the case. I'm reserving the second tier for the moments that were just good. They're not necessarily bad; they just didn't stand out compared to the matches above. C'mon, they can't all be winners. 

    And the trade that immediately comes to mind is the Oklahoma City Thunder trading their ace player Russell Westbrook for Houston Rockets' Chris Paul just recently. Everyone's divided on this one, but most are just excited to see Westbrook reunite with his former teammate and Houston's current star, James Harden. It's the perfect middle ground to kick off the second tier.

    KakaiBros Ace Their 2th Title Defense

    I never doubted the fact that The KakaiBros would retain their titles on their 2th defense. That’s pretty much why I placed them here in the second tier. While completely predictable, a KakaiBros match is never boring and this one was no exception. It was a fun affair, thanks to AB3 stealing the show with his antics as a reluctant competitor who got roped into the match. And he wrestled in his street clothes! This was the same guy who wrestled with handcuffs on from two shows prior. Can you even prevent this guy from competing?

    I said in previous reviews how AB3 joining the Endgame didn't really make sense and that they should do something to make it more interesting. They did just that when Super Vintendo helped out AB3 after their losing effort instead of joining The Apocalypse in punishing their reluctant teammate. Whatever direction they end up taking, expect me to go along with it because—and I might as well reveal this now—I’m a low-key fan of Super Vintendo’s heel work. Also, the lesson here is that complaining really works.

    John Sebastian Keeps it Short and Sweet 

    After taking the spotlight off T-Hawk last month, John Sebastian learned his lesson and opted not to eat up too much time with his surprise attack against his biggest nuisance, Vlad Sinnsyk. I’m pretty sure no one figured out that the Wrestling Lord and Savior was hiding among the crowd, adding to the shock factor of the gesture. They kept it short and sweet and that's what I'm going to do as well. Good job, everyone!

    Starring Rederick Mahaba as Red YOLO

    I didn't know Rederick Mahaba reverted back to his actor gimmick, as he just played his most daring role yet: the Red YOLO Twin, Logan. I guess he's now embracing his role as the third YOLO triplet and his little existential crisis from the previous show was a one-time deal. I was actually hoping he'd start debuting a brand new gimmick unannounced at every show before breaking down and dramatically running away to reflect on who Rederick Mahaba truly is. Oh well, a boy can dream.

    Since they're technically the opening act, the hybrid YOLO Twins and The Network were the ones who actually set the tone for the rest of the show by delivering a well-paced and equally entertaining match. Sam Baltazar—or as Mahaba calls him, Ube Jam (hey, that should be his name, Jam Baltazar!)—easily made the match his own after proving himself worthy of being downlined by The Network. That Senton Bomb was so scary, he almost didn’t flip in time for the landing. Don’t freak us out like that, Ube Jam. Hey, it sticks!

    WLAIK Turns Into An Imabayashi Showcase

    Who else voted for the WLAIK Dating Game? That would've been a fun pre-show segment to hype up Kapitan Tutan's next storyline. But alas, we got the WLAIK Challenge, which was basically just an open challenge. That's fine, I guess, especially when the one who answered the call was the former PWR Champion, Imabayashi. Tutan found himself biting off more than he could chew, a recurring theme for his character lately. 

    And as you can expect, Imabayashi got the better of Tutan with a clever roll-up. I love Kapitan Tutan as much as the next guy, but he can sometimes get way in over his head. I'm not sure if it's intentional or not, but his character has started to become more annoying show after show. And by the way, his whole "Wrestling lang ang iniisip ko" schtick reeks of arrogance. For someone who thinks of wrestling a lot, he's the one always losing. And he's out here challenging anyone who can supposedly match his passion for wrestling? Where did that even come from?

    Anyway, after picking up the win, Imabayashi was then confronted by one of his past rivals, the returning Nina. Since Imabayashi is seemingly completing a redemption arc, it's interesting that we're re-igniting a rivalry that started when the former champion was still the egomaniac he was. The reformed paying for the sins of his past? That’s a potentially great storyline right there. I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled for this one.

    Tier 3: Nets Trade Their Future For The Past

    This show didn't really have that many down moments, but that doesn't mean it was squeaky clean. So I decided to move the #NitPickRick zone to the third tier because man oh man, when PWR goes down, they go down hard. These are the moments that made me hate wrestling just a little bit more. Okay, that's a bit harsh, but you get the idea. They just failed to keep up with everything else.

    And to close off our tier list, it’s only appropriate to talk about that time the then-blossoming Brooklyn Nets gave up crucial draft picks from 2014 to 2018 to acquire aging stars Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry in 2013. Not only did this trade fall flat, it set the team back for years. The Nets could've picked the next LeBron James or Kobe Bryant with the draft picks they traded.

    The Winner-Take-All Clusterfuck

    The match may have been a winner-take-all, but we ended up not going home with anything because holy jabroni, PWR Live: Championship Spirit's co-main event sucked butts. 

    From the moment they announced that this match was a winner-take-all, I knew it could only end one of two ways: either they book themselves into a corner by giving one man all the belts or they escape their predicament with a cop-out finish—both of which would have instantly earned a spot here at the danger zone anyway. At first, I wasn't sure which direction they would choose. After all, PWR has swerved us loads of times in the past so I decided to trust the process, as Mr. Sy would say.

    They chose to go with the cop-out, which was the only logical way to go. I actually thought they made the opening match a three-way to ease us into the idea that a count-out can end a three-way match. How can they even organically reach the conclusion that the three of them beat each other up so bad that they all couldn't answer the te-c count, anyway? It would make the champions look bad when they should be the top three wrestlers of the company.  

    But compared to what we got, I'd prefer that kind of cop-out because at least that's more conclusive. Instead, they turned an instant classic into cheap theater play, thanks to the “shocking” arrival of the Boyet Club (or whatever they want to call themselves), a bunch of masked stooges that stormed the ring and ruined the match for everyone. And even though a three-way match automatically has no DQ rules, Poch declared the match a no contest. Good save, I guess?

    It’s a damn shame, too, because the match lived up to the hype. Despite the potential problems it would bring, having the winner-take-all stipulation heightened the tension of the match. Every nearfall earned a gasp from the crowd. Every big move put everyone at the edge of their seats. But even if this was just an exhibition match, we would probably get the same reaction and we would end up witnessing a great match with a satisfyingly definitive ending. 

    They would have answered the question they posed last month: Who’s the best champion in PWR? And the winner would have raised the stock of the championship he holds and the guys at the back would definitely pine to get a shot for that title. Imagine the potential matches they could’ve squeezed from that premise. But no, PWR decided to raise the stakes too high and end up falling flat on their faces. To think that all they had to do was not put the titles on the line. 

    And at this point, who gives a shit about The Foundation? With the way they were introduced, I don’t see why I should care. Why would they need the help of masked henchmen, anyway? They already have like five people on their team! What kind of faction sends in a bunch of useless buffoons to make their presence known? The goons didn’t even finish the job! They got beat up easily by the champions plus the KakaiBros and the Network. No contest, my ass.     

    And now they’re trying to save it by running with the wrestling equivalent of "the true treasure is the friends we make along the way" angle. If only I can roll my eyes far off my ass.

    The Star of PWR Continues to Fade

    As Jaye Sera's stock continues to rise, Jhemherlhynn's once-promising luster continues to fade. As the first woman to ever headline a PWR show, the Naughty Boy intern seems to be in some sort of limbo where her wins and losses don’t really get her anywhere. And being dragged along with her is none other than Robynn, whose gimmick change has yet to move needles in PWR. The only thing edgy about her is her revamped entrance theme and that's about it. 

    If we're going to see a match for the nth time, it should have proper justification. I can vaguely recall that these two are indeed feuding, but why, exactly? The last thing I remember about this storyline was Robynn stealing Jhemherlhynn's tutu. Where else can you go after that? It's not enough that we're pitting the bubbly girl against the angsty lady. This one should've been a talk show or interview segment to hype everyone up for a rubber match, possibly at PWR Renaissance.

    Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of their lackluster rivalry so they could pursue other things. Robynn definitely needs to give her heel character some edge and she could’ve done it two months ago by gunning for her former Punk Doll partner Martivo instead of randomly starting a feud with the Star of PWR. And as for Jhemherlhynn, whatever happened to her storyline with Kh3ndrick? We literally never heard of it after the love triangle storyline. Maybe revisit that again?

    Overall Thoughts

    Despite its uninspired name, PWR Live: Championship Spirit is one of the tightest shows they've ever produced and definitely a strong contender for Show of the Year. The downsides be damned, I can't ignore the fact that PWR made history with their July outing by delivering the first-ever all-women's main event. That's some WrestleMania 35 shit right there.   

    Plus, the show didn't drag at all and every match were given enough time to tell their truths. And don't even get me started on those fire promos. I can’t remember the last time I watched a PWR show and not end up wanting to choke myself out of fatigue. Great job on pacing the show right and giving us a lengthy intermission this time. I was able to pee! It's a kiss-the-tip-of-my-fingers-like-an-Italian-chef type of booking and I love it. 

    Show Grade: A

    Match of the Night: Jake de Leon vs. Shaukat
    Star of the Night: Is it cheating if I pick Riho?
    Holy Shit! Moment of the Night: Jaye Sera nailing an impressive BME! 
    Promo of the Night: Mr. Sy's bullying advice
    Surprise of the Night: TJP challenging JDL at PWR Homecoming

    Championship Spirit CutDown

    • It's been two months since Poch took on the co-GM role, and only now are they using to make matches on the spot? They should've done this a long time ago!
    • No One: …… JDL: Yaaahoooo!
    • I like how people in a wrestling show lose their collective minds when they see the wrestlers kiss in the ring. Progress.
    • I can confirm that Nor "Phoenix" Diana is a Jaye Sera stan.
    • Make Cali Nueva the poster boy for PWR Renaissance, you cowards.
    Photos from Hub Pacheco Photography and PWR Official FB Page


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

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    Item Reviewed: PWR Live: Championship Spirit—The Official Smark Henry Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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