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    Wednesday, September 25, 2019

    PWR Live: Beautiful—The Official Smark Henry Review

    Photo from Fight Sport Manila

    It’s a beautiful day for a swell review! How’s it going, Revo-Nation? It’s-a me, #NitPickRick, Smark Henry’s resident asshole and failed bootcamper. You really think you can chop me away from existence? Well, here I am, stronger and weaker than ever at the same time, go figure. 

    We’re two weeks away from the biggest event in Philippine wrestling, so PWR decided to make a quick stop at 500 Shaw for a PWR Special: Homecoming go-home show—again, go figure—PWR Live: Beautiful. As usual, we’re unpacking a lot of stuff, so let’s just get down to it.

    Tier 1

    Jake de Leon and Ken Warren: Victors of the OG War

    Photo from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

    It’s my first time hearing the #PWOGs' theme song live, and it instantly became my favorite theme music ever, removing Quatro’s tiwniwniw earworm from the top of my list. It’s also the first time to see the newly-formed #PWOGs in action. No offense to the YOLO Twins, but I’m glad I got to see them take on Onslaught first. Because holy heck, what a match!

    Unsurprisingly, the Singaporean OGs brought their A-game with a capital A. We all knew Andreuw Tang as the beast that he is, but no one prepared me for the colossal Trexxus, the literal embodiment of intensity. I could be wrong as always, but Trexxus has to be the biggest competitor PWR has ever had. He’s tall, he’s beefy, and he almost drove Ken Warren through the canvas with a glorious Trexxus Bomb. That’s a bump that would have definitely killed me.

    But in the end, Jake de Leon and Ken Warren survived the onslaught from Singapore, punctuating their victory with a double Wi-Fi to the back of Andreuw Tang’s head. They may have lost this one, but Onslaught gained a new fan in me. I’ll be adding Trexxus to my already extensive list of wrestlers to watch out for. And as for Jake de Leon, let’s just say he looks more than ready to take on TJP. Go get ‘em, JDL! Not that big on TJP anyway.

    Billy Suede: Worth the Price of Admission Alone

    Photo from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

    As some of you know, I’m not a day one-ish PWR fan. One of my regrets was not seeing Billy Suede work his magic live. Suede and Jake de Leon’s Bayanihan Center classic is still one of my favorite PWR matches of all time. So when they announced that he was returning to the Philippines and that they’re naming this show after him, I couldn't possibly miss it for anything. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed one bit. 

    Pairing Billy Suede with the equally charismatic Mike Madrigal was a good call, because man, did they gel well. They were out there entertaining everyone in just the first few minutes. And when the action picked up, no one looked back as both men hit their best moves. I enjoy these types of matches because I literally don’t have to say anything. It was simply that good. Just wait until they release this match on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.

    In the end, Billy Suede picked up the win. While I’m a Kupal fan, I can’t really stay mad after the awesome match I just saw. At least Mike Madrigal still looked golden in defeat. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Beautiful One challenged the Blessed One for the latter’s PHX Championship at PWR Special: Homecoming. A string of great matches for my boy Chino? Don’t mind if I do. 

    Chino Guinto: Riding High as the PHX Champion

    Photo from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

    Speaking of Chino Guinto, his title defense against Cali Nueva was one of the two highlights of the show’s first half. Finally, Chino Guinto found an opponent that brought out the best in him in the form of the crafty highflyer. The clash of styles forced Chino to elevate his game and keep up with Cali, eventually conquering his foul-mouthed challenger with a well-placed Curb Stomp. I miss seeing these hard-fought matches from the Blessed One.

    Even though Cali Nueva came up short, this match served as hard proof of how over the former Artie 2.0 really is among the Revo-Nation, thanks to the flashy arsenal he dished out to try and unseat the PHX Champion. His natural charisma and him being an easy target for mockery helped pull the dead crowd from their slumber. I never knew you could get bullied for not having a significant other, but if it ain’t broke, amirite?

    Rederick Mahaba and Imabayashi: Love Wins

    Photo from Wrestling PH

    IMABAYASHI's redemption tour came to a fruitful end at PWR Live: Beautiful, and let me tell you, it was… uh, beautiful. Considering the number of enemies the former PWR Champion had, you’d think he still had more wrestlers to appease. But who cares, MTNH is all that matters. I still remember the emotional end to last year’s PWR Vendetta when IMABAYASHI decided to dump the last friend he had in exchange for glory. Seeing them struggle to reunite was a roller coaster of emotions.

    Rederick Mahaba being brainwashed by the YOLO Twins might seem like a stretch, but I’m glad they made it work by relying on the equally ridiculous trope of curing amnesia and other memory-related conditions with a good blow to the head. And hey, we did get a good handicap match out of it, but they probably didn’t even need to have that match. This could’ve easily been a regular segment that eventually led to what everyone wanted: the reunion of MTNH. 

    And the moment they hugged it out, the place roared in celebration. It’s been a while since we heard Rederick Mahaba’s passionate declaration of who his partner is, and it’s definitely music to everyone’s ears. This segment was one of the few moments that woke up 500 Shaw’s tired crowd. I can’t wait to see these two in action again. Maybe they should chase for the PWR Tag Team Championships, a goal they originally had before they broke up.

    Kapitan Tutan: You Evil Son of a Bitch

    Photo from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

    Kapitan Tutan betraying the Naughty Boys is definitely one of the best swerves in PWR history. Before it happened, I was so sure this storyline was a vehicle for GrabCamus to finally break free and forge his own path to stardom. I completely forgot about Tutan and his increasingly arrogant behavior. Challenging anyone to a match? Claiming he’s the only one who thinks about wrestling 24/7? Tutan is a dick, and I should’ve spotted that from a mile away.

    But I didn’t, and that’s why it was a great twist. PWR did a great job reinventing the heel Tutan as a self-righteous egomaniac who still thinks he’s the purest wrestler on the roster. He’s still the high-pitched muscle man we all know and love, only this time, he’s more sinister and aggressive. And the irony is that he now resorts to dirty tactics to gain an advantage, just like what Bayley is currently doing in WWE. Great character work from Tutan, of all people.

    I would argue that Kapitan Tutan vs. Jhemherlhynn didn’t need to be a match, but it made sense for the Naughty Boys’ former enforcer to pick up a dominant win. I think he said it best in his social media post: he now knows the true meaning of a surefire win, and all he had to do was give up the friends who helped him along the way. Jhemherlhynn just happened to be in the way. It sucks that she had to eat another big loss, but it sent the message across.

    And as if that wasn’t enough, Kapitan Tutan dialed up the villainy by slapping around his former employer, the catatonic Train Dela Torre. For a minute there, I thought he was slapping around Jhemherlhynn’s real-life dad or grandpa. Jesus, I need glasses. It prompted a heroic comeback from Evan Carleaux, perfectly setting up their grudge match next month. I can’t wait for Tutan to get choked out by a Tech Noir. Seriously, fuck that guy.

    KakaiBros: Creating Siopao Distrust Since 2019

    Photo from Wrestling PH

    So much for #MSGAllBelts. After the giant ball of momentum they created for last month, the tag team unit of MSG once again failed to capture the PWR Tag Team Championships. MSG really isn’t the same without their mouthpiece Mr. Sy, who apparently got food poisoning from eating a “special” siopao from the KakaiBros. I won’t tell you what made that siopao, just go search for it. Let’s just say I won’t be ordering siopao anytime soon. 

    I would’ve placed this match under the second tier since I didn’t get a Mr. Sy rant and I was denied a KakaiBros intro, but the match was just so entertaining. MSG interrupting the KakaiBros' intro was a great heel move. It really felt like they took away something from me. Even without the usual promos, they still delivered a fun tag team opener with the usual ingredients: fun banter, wacky antics, and nipple twists. Still top-tier material.

    Tier 2

    Quatro and Chris Panzer: How to Get Away with a Dusty Finish

    Photo from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

    You have no idea how hyped I was for this match. That Quatro vs. Chris Panzer video package they released a few weeks ago is probably the best one PWR has ever produced. Quatro lacked a little intensity back there but who cares, I still love that promo and I doubt they’ll ever match its quality before the year ends. Or maybe there’s a better one in store for PWR Special: Homecoming, so prove me wrong. I like it when my expectations get blown away.

    Sadly, the actual match was nowhere near the hype its promo was trying to generate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Quatro vs. Chris Panzer was terrible. In fact, they were doing great until the shenanigans happened. Of course, it’s always the shenanigans that ruin a great Quatro match. As I’m writing this, I’m seeing flashbacks from PWR Live: Championship Spirit, when they decided to ruin the historic triple threat match with a stupid shenanigan. Urgh.

    But this time around, the shenanigans were necessary. I was actually expecting a dusty finish because just like everyone else, I’d like to see Jeff Cobb take on these two. And besides, in a venue as dead as 500 Shaw, a decisive win from either one of them wouldn't have felt satisfying. So yeah, dusty finish it is. And I was right, they went with a double pin predicament. But did they really have to make the whole ordeal more confusing than it already is?

    For starters, after referee Jayce Chua got knocked out, Main Maxx just stood at ringside watching his MSG partner get his ass kicked while the referee was clearly down. He could’ve just stormed to the ring and helped beat up Quatro, only for the champion to overcome the odds and have Maxx thrown out of the ring. Maxx would still be in time to make the crucial distraction he did, only in this version, he wouldn’t look like an inefficient teammate. 

    And speaking of Jayce Chua, why did he need a replacement? He was completely fine! It’s not like he was taken down by an accidental finishing move. I’ve seen him take bumps like those and still have enough to gingerly make the three count. This is the same referee who started the KakaiBros vs. MSG match without checking on Mh4rck1e—who got decked in the balls right in his goddamn face. Sometimes, it’s just hard to love you, Jayce Chua.

    And by the way, the referee was healthy enough to make the three count before Main Maxx distracted him and he got dragged away. What’s the thought process here, that a new referee’s going to make things better? It didn’t, as referee Joey Bax just acted confused the entire time, completely foreshadowing the incoming confusion. They decided to end the show this way, saved only by the announcement of the PWR Special: Homecoming card. What a downer.

    Endgame: “Oh No! It’s the Apocalypse Belmonte The Third!”

    Photo from Wrestling PH

    AB3 continues to adjust to his new life as the Endgame’s whipping boy, this time against Robynn and All Out War Champion Martivo. I’m definitely loving the fact that the former Warlord is staying true to his promise of breaking the Endgame from the inside. First, it was the Apocalypse, and perhaps his next target is Jan Evander. Or I could be wrong and this can go another direction. I’m just glad AB3 is the central focus of the storyline. 

    As for the match itself, it was okay. Martivo was great as always, pumping up the crowd with his unique offense and undeniable charm. Robynn didn’t really do much, though. For some reason, I’m still waiting for her to turn on Martivo, but that probably won’t happen anytime soon. The bulkier than before Jan Evander also looked good in this, but for some reason, the tag match never really picked up and before you know it, it was over. Not really sure why.

    Revo Ranger: Give This Man Some Goddamn Exposure

    Photo from Wrestling PH Facebook Page

    This was by no means a bad match. I’m only putting this here because it was placed on the pre-show when it deserved at least a slightly higher position on the main card. I haven’t seen Revo Ranger in a while since going full instinct against John Sebastian, and seeing him in probably the best shape of his life brought me joy. The way he dominantly schooled Sam Baltazar was also great. I mean, did you see that Revo-Swing? Exquisite. 

    And as for Sam Baltazar, he’s good as advertised, but I can't find a reason to care for him other than the fact that he’s a Network protégé. Being a Baguio resident isn’t really a gimmick, so he better look for something that will make him stand out more. I’m not in any way denying his in-ring skills. High-flyers are obviously more than welcome in PWR. I just want him to develop a personality, a character, or anything that will make everyone say, “Yeah, that’s Sam Baltazar.”

    Tier 3

    Nina and Jaye Sera: The Future of the Women’s Division Looks Bleak

    Photo from Wrestling PH

    Nina vs. Jaye Sera wasn’t a bad match, but it wasn’t a good match either. It was just a match, plain and simple. You know how some actors just say their lines correctly and you can’t really fault them because they didn’t screw up? That’s what this match was, more specifically Nina. She nailed the moves, great! But Jaye Sera, the supposed heel, had to be the one pumping up the crowd, probably because Nina was too busy planning her next move.

    But I could easily forget this one if not for the bone-headed decision to hand the red-hot Jaye Sera a loss over Nina. Let me repeat that: Jaye Sera, PWR Live: Championship Spirit show-stealer and currently on the verge of a winning streak, fell flat on her face against Nina. For some reason, PWR doesn’t know how to build momentum for its female stars. 

    Remember when Jhemherlhynn debuted and how she was poised to be the centerpiece of the women’s division? She got a few wins here and there, only to be saddled with a by-the-way love triangle storyline and a lackluster feud with Robynn. And speaking of Robynn, remember how they handled her heel turn? I can’t because she literally did nothing with it. It got so stale, she had to team up with Martivo again just to elevate her stock a little. 

    And now they created an accidental star out of Jaye Sera. Whether they expected it or not, Sera captivated the Revo-Nation with her performance. PWR should capitalize on that by legitimizing Sera as either a badass brawler or a crafty escape artist. How? By giving her a string of victories, either tainted or dominant. They were doing so well on the last show when she pinned homegrown superstar Crystal. Why stop now?

    These four women are set to face each other next month at PWR Special: Homecoming. Gee, I wonder who I should root for: the one-trick pony who can’t keep a winning streak, the former star who can’t seem to win a match despite her impressive moveset, the former fan favorite who had a disappointing heel turn, or the one who’s clearly still rough around the edges? And we’re supposed to build an entire division around these four directionless women?

    Imagine if Jaye Sera won her match against Nina via shenanigans. Sera’s stock gets raised, and Nina gets the sympathy of the people. Now everyone’s going to root for Nina the next time she competes (as long as she improves her theatrics, of course). Imagine if Jhemmherlhyn got the upper hand in her segment with Tutan instead of tapping out. Imagine if Robynn did something impressive during her tag match against Endgame. Momentum, do you even.

    Vlad Sinnsyk: The Hand of Judgment Doesn’t Like Music 

    Photo from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

    Why you gotta do my boy Vlad Sinnsyk dirty like that? After banishing John Sebastian from PWR, the Hand of Judgment should handle jobbers with relative ease. Yet for some reason, it took him a good three minutes to dispose of PWR’s newest star, Distinct. Why is this even a match? This could’ve easily been a simple segment where Vlad decks the new guy with a Muscle Buster. That could’ve easily cut the show’s running time. 

    And for someone named Distinct, he certainly looks like a bland dude. We get it, you’re a parody of Unique, but the keyword here is parody. You’re supposed to be more outlandish than the former IV of Spades frontman. For f*ck’s sake, your name is Distinct! 

    I did enjoy the sassiness and the chicken shit antics. At least you got that one right. I just hope you loosen up next time and not let your nerves get you. You can do it, man!

    Gatilyo and Brad Cruz: Caramelized Banana Spring Roll

    Photo from Wrestling PH Facebook Page

    Did you know what the English of turon is? I do now. Thanks, Brad Cruz! I wasn’t able to taste your turon, but I bet it was good. The match, not so much. 

    Future PWR Hall of Famer Gatilyo did his flippy things and after a good minute, the match was over. Gatilyo probably deserved more minutes than that. Maybe next time, he’ll get more minutes with someone like Sam Baltazar or Revo Ranger. His gun finger taunt looks hella gangster. Love it.  

    BEAUTIFUL RUNDOWN: Everything felt weird. That’s probably the best way to explain PWR Live: Beautiful. Those in attendance that night will probably get what I mean. Looking at the card, the show’s pretty solid. The show itself was good. But for some reason, the atmosphere was dead. I mean, not exactly dead since some high spots warranted reactions, but the crowd’s energy was sucked out from them by an unknown entity. I have some theories to explain whatever happened last Sunday. 

    1. After back-to-back shows at the Power Mac Center Spotlight, the Revo-Nation probably just wasn’t ready to go back to an inferior venue like Shaw 500. No comfy seating and intimate lighting, just bright lights and a narrow ringside area.

    2. The 20+ minute-delay probably didn’t help things, as the crowd had to wait in line outside the venue in a sweltering hallway. So when PWR finally opened their doors, everyone got too close for comfort, which greatly affected their enthusiasm for the silly wrestling show. 

    3. 500 Shaw is cursed. That’s pretty much it.

    I don’t think I can blame anyone for this (except for the ghost who cursed the place), so I’ll disregard them in my overall rating of the show. So with that being said, PWR Live: Beautiful was a good appetizer for PWR Special: Homecoming, but it could’ve been better as a standalone PPV. They could’ve achieved yet another near-perfect pacing if they cut the number of impromptu matches and just staged some regular promos and segments.

    For instance, Kapitan Tutan and Jhemmherlhyn’s confrontation didn’t have to be a match. Tutan didn’t have to explain, but we could’ve at least heard Jhemherlhynn cut an emotional promo that could reel the crowd in. And as great as the MTNH reunion was, we didn’t really need to see the YOLO Twins take on Imabayashi. Just a simple segment would’ve been enough. And don’t even get me started on the Vlad Sinnsyk vs. Distinct match.

    But other than that, the show gave us some strong MOTY candidates. You should definitely check out Chino Guinto vs. Cali Nueva, Mike Madrigal vs. Billy Suede, and #PWOGs vs. Onslaught once they are up on YouTube. All things considered, I’d say this was still a fairly good show that did a great job setting things up for their early October extravaganza. But please come back to the Power Mac Center Spotlight for your November show. Please.

    Show Grade: C+

    Match of the Night: #PWOGs vs The Onslaught
    Star of the Night: Billy Suede, Cali Nueva a close second
    OMG Moment: Andreuw Tang with possibly the highest dive ever
    PI Ka! Moment: Kapitan Tutan as a human being
    Kilig Moment ng Taon: "MMMYYYY PAAAAAARTNNEER!"
    Surprise of the Night: PWR Special: Homecoming card reveal

    RunDown CutDown

    • There were way too many leg sweeps in this show that the November show could be titled PWR Live: Leg Sweep and I’ll be like, “Huh, makes sense.”
    • Here’s a wild theory: what if AB3 was the Apocalypse all along? I mean, have we ever seen the two of them appear at the same time? What’s that? They did? Several times already? Damn, it was a long shot anyway. 
    • Here’s a fashion critique: I wish Revo Ranger kept still kept his suit tied to his waist as if he took it off a la Kurt Angle. That look definitely gives him a more sinister vibe, like shit’s about to go down courtesy of this masked dude.
    Photos from Philippine Wrestling Revolution and Wrestling PH. Cover photo from Fight Sport Manila.


    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: Beautiful—The Official Smark Henry Review Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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