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    Tuesday, August 20, 2019

    The Smark Henry Hip Toast: Jaye Sera

    Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and dog
    Photo by Fight Sport Manila

    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.

    From her wrestling debut half a year ago to becoming part of the first all women's main event in Philippine wrestling history, Jaye Sera joins us to talk about her wrestling journey so far!


    Earlier in the year, we had a Hip Toast feature on Jhemherlhynn and the road to her in-ring wrestling debut. In that very same debut match at PWR Live: New Year's Wrestle-ution, she took on an up-and-coming star no one had heard of before: a young, brash female wrestler by the name of Jaye Sera.

    At that point, many fans (including myself) had many questions in mind. Who was she? What were her motivations? Why did she look like she was angry at the world?

    Who would have thought that in the months that followed, she would not only grow into a bonafide wrestling star in her own right, but also arguably steal the entire show in the main event of a PWR Live that featured a Queen, a badass from Gatoh Move, and an All Elite Wrestling star who's defending her Queen of Asia Championship in said main event?

    Indeed, Jaye Sera has had a very interesting career thus far, among wrestlers of any gender. In less than a year, the rookie slowly navigated her way through the relatively young yet blossoming wrestling scene, one that has yet to reach its full potential as far as the establishment of a women's division is concerned. Yet in her short time, not only has she proven herself to be worthy of the spotlight in the women's division, but she also made an immediate impact as she made it to the main event just a few short months after her debut. When it comes to leaving a lasting impression, she's definitely done that in spades.

    This kind of dedication and passion to the craft does not develop overnight, and true enough, the Angas of PWR's love for pro wrestling can be traced back to her younger years.

    "It was during one Christmas vacation at my grandmother's house when I was eight years old," Jaye Sera recalled. "I was influenced by my cousins who were older boys. I mostly joined the boys because the girls at that time were already in their teens, and I couldn't relate to half the stuff they did. So I was just on the PlayStation with the boys most of the time. And then one day they introduced wrestling to me through a couple of WWF VHS tapes."

    Image may contain: 1 person, shoes
    Photo from Jaye Sera's Facebook Page

    Now this is usually the part where we ask our interviewees how he or she got interested in wrestling for real, and how they got their foot in the door, and you would be correct. However, as it turns out, there's more to her than just being the main event breakout star. As a matter of fact, in many ways, much like Jake de Leon and Ken Warren, she is in fact one of the O.G.'s of the local wrestling scene!

    "You've probably asked the other O.G.'s about how PWR started and got the 'We started as a Facebook group' response. That's completely true," Sera recounts. "I got into PWR when Kuya Borman, another PWR O.G. who was my partner in filming a few of our early stuff and collaborating on creating PWR montage materials for online posting, recruited me into the group after he saw me often commenting on a WWE PH fan page on Facebook."

    From there, she made her presence felt in the early days of PWR Bootcamp to learn the ropes. Unfortunately, life can be full of surprises, and sometimes, things just don't go the way you want it to be.

    "In 2014, I started training after we held our first practice show in the same place where we train for Bootcamp," she shared. "Within a span of three months, I was only able to go to training three times because I really wasn't allowed by my parents to do it.

    "When I was told by the president at that time that he was thinking I should be in a match together with my other fellow female trainee, I felt like I had to tell my parents that I was going to wrestle for a show for real."

    Jaye Sera recalls trying to tell her parents just that. "I told my mom, and it was a very sad and dramatic story," she opens up. "I was in tears as I tried to defend my pure desire to become a wrestler with every word my weak 19-year-old self could mutter, which my mom countered with a hard NO. So there. I knew I had to stop, and I stopped for real.

    Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
    Photo by Mike Yap

    "Learning that I had to stop chasing my dreams was like a bitter pill to swallow. But it was my reality at that time. I started to slowly turn away from wrestling after that day."

    Time has a funny way of changing things. Even when life goes on, things just happen for a reason even if they didn't turn out well the first time. These circumstances may have been the best thing to happen to her.

    "Bumalik ako sa training after three years, noong October 1, 2017," says Sera. "And luckily, when I had attempted to tell my mom about it again, in hopes of resurrecting what I'd already declared as a shattered dream, she still didn't fully approve of it, and neither did my dad.

    "But this time, they did not stop me anymore. So, ayun. Nagtuloy-tuloy na. Super grateful for that whole rollercoaster."

    As heartbreaking as the initial rejection was, this became the perfect catalyst as she returned to pro wrestling training at the best possible time: with a revitalized PWR producing shows in the current Power Mac Center Spotlight era, with a more experienced roster compared to a few years back, and a more prominent presence than ever. It was a perfect storm and it was one that she was able to capitalize on.

    Returning to Bootcamp during a different era in the company and with a different group, she maximized her time learning from the best and made up for lost time. She credited a lot of people for her development and learning experiences thus far.

    "Numero uno, si JD (JDL)," she proudly says. "I think lahat naman ng wrestler na meron kami sa main roster are grateful to JD because he is our head trainer. Everything I know—everything we know—it's all because of JD. And even during the first day of training ko pa lang noong 2014, he was one of the two guys na talagang nag-alalay sa akin.

    "The other one was Bombay Suarez," she recalls fondly. "Perhaps he doesn't remember anymore, but on my third day—and unbeknownst to me, my last day—of training in 2014, Bombay postponed his yosi break so he could teach me the headscissor takedown move (he only had a few hours in the gym because he had other plans). So big thanks to those two guys."

    If you think the love and appreciation Sera has for her fellow PWR wrestlers stops there, you couldn't be more wrong.

    "My Bootcamp batchmates: batch 8! Those people have always always been helpful," Sera mentioned. "Kami-kami ang nagdadamayan at nagtutulungan and there is a genuinely strong support system within our batch. But I think every PWR individual you meet naturally has that supportive character in them.

    And I really, really, really want to thank Zayden Trudeau endlessly for putting springs into my legs and specifically teaching me how to do the moonsault! I owe that guy so big, I can’t thank him enough! He is genuinely so helpful to everyone he’s like everyone’s high-flying coach."

    Timing seems to be everything in the world of pro wrestling in general, and for Jaye Sera, this has been a recurring theme in her wrestling life so far. So it seems to be no coincidence when her return to training coincided with one of her wrestling character's most prominent trait thus far. You know, one word, five letters, one defining characteristic. And how did that come about? Well...

    Image may contain: 1 person
    Photo by Mark Jesalva

    "Honestly, sila-sila lang nagtawag sa akin nun," she shrugs. "It started with one wrestler describing my in-ring mannerisms as 'maangas'. This was before my debut. When I finally debuted, a group of guys on the roster started sending me photos of my face looking 'maangas.' Then yun na, it kind of didn't stop! I would always come across people saying na 'maangas' daw yung kung anuman ko.

    "I'd often see photos of me in the ring being shared with these 'Angas' captions. They'd always find something to pick out and declare na maangas daw kahit na I honestly didn't feel like maangas ako doon sa mga bagay na iyon. It feels like a joke already sometimes because minsan nasa point na sila na ultimo kahit di ako magsalita, may magsasabing "Ang angas mo ah!" So sila yan. Sila may kagagawan pati siguro yung ilan sa Revo-nation na sumali sa pagsasabi 'non."

    Jaye Sera's debut match with Jhemherlhynn was the culmination of her long journey from being denied her dream to finally chasing it. And in many ways, this match signaled a new era in PWR's women's division, a sign of brighter things to come. So when asked about how she felt when the match was announced and looking back on her debut, she had mixed feelings.

    "Two specific, big feelings at that moment," she points out. "Excitement and extreme nervousness.
    In retrospect, I probably should have tried to be a bit more relaxed as I went on with the match. But yeah, it turned out fine. And I was, still am, and forever will be extremely grateful for the opportunity."

    Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling
    Photo by Fight Sport Manila

    And just like that, her career was in full swing and the rookie was featured in different matches and angles since then, involving the likes of the Naughty Boys, Robynn, and Cali Nueva. She actually has a few memorable moments since her debut.

    "Top of mind: my debut match against Jhemherlhynn at New Year's Wrestle-ution and my first ever Wrevolution X—a pre-show battle royale match with the boys. Chaotic, hot crowd, SO MUCH FUN. Sobrang solid," she recalls.

    Of all her big moments thus far in her wrestling career, nothing could have prepared her for her biggest opportunity yet: a main event Queen of Asia Championship match at PWR Live: Championship Spirit against Crystal, Gatoh Move's Jibzy, and the reigning champion, Stardom and All Elite Wrestling's Riho. Imagine being in this kind of high-pressure situation just months into your career, much less a historic moment in Philippine wrestling in the first all women's main event involving three of the top female wrestlers in the game.

    "I had honestly put so much pressure on myself heading into that main event match at Championship Spirit," she admits. "In a lot of ways, I felt as though I wasn't too prepared for it. I'd doubted myself countless times and spent a whole month endlessly worrying since the day I'd been informed that I would be part of that main event.

    "You were putting three big names who have been wrestling for years with a no-name who's only wrestled for half a year. And it was for the Queen of Asia Championship. It was my first main event, my first championship match, and my first encounter with some of the brightest international wrestling stars in our region. I had every reason to doubt myself and second-guess things. But I was also extremely excited, happy, and blessed that I'd been given this really big and special opportunity so, nervous or not, I'd try to tell myself many times, deal with it, do it big, and maybe try to make even just a few people proud. Minsan lang 'to boi."

    Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing
    Photo from Jaye Sera's Facebook Page

    Now that Championship Spirit has come and gone, Jaye Sera is feeling a different kind of pressure in terms of how some might expect something bigger than this as she moves forward. "After literally the biggest match of my wrestling journey so far, I'm feeling nervous already for what might be next," she sighs. "You're right, it (being in the main event match) was too early. I feel it was a bit too early for that to happen.

    "In all honesty, I think if this would have happened three years from now, I might have been taking this just a bit more lightly. But yes, it was so surreal. It's been almost three weeks, and sometimes I ask myself if that main event match really happened—if I really was in the ring with Riho, Jibzy, and Crystal. Unbelievable. And the noise the crowd made for us four girls in that ring that night was truly astounding beyond belief."

    At PWR Renaissance, she will be competing against Crystal in what will be one of the biggest matches in her career. And with the way things are going, her career trajectory is on the up and up, with bigger and brighter things on the horizon. With so much upside now, comparing to where she was when she started, what are her plans and goals when it comes to her wrestling career in the immediate future?

    "More matches!" Jaye exclaimed. "Para mahasa pa ako nang mahasa. To learn more is the goal for each new day because there's still so much for me to learn. And hopefully a women's title match one day?

    But for now, I just really want to be better in a lot of areas in wrestling so that I can be of help to the PWR brand and my co-workers in achieving our common goal of continuously upping our game—to deliver great quality of work every single time. Much like everyone in the company, I truly want us to get more recognition and for pro wrestling to be more celebrated as a sport here in our country, to be able to show that our homegrown talents here are competent and can vie with other talents across the globe."

    Jaye Sera's story is proof that with perseverance and dedication, one's dreams are attainable. Being told that you can't do this or that is something of a recurring theme in many real-life stories these days, which you might have encountered at some point in time. But if you soldier on and work through it, with a little bit of help and a little bit of timing, things will turn out okay no matter how things get difficult. Just ask the woman who main evented a major wrestling show half a year after her wrestling debut and made believers out of everyone!


    Photos from Fight Sport ManilaJaye Sera'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 Renaissance takes place on Sunday, February 17, 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: Jaye Sera Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Lance Tan Ong
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