PWR Renaissance: Breaking down the revival of Pinoy wrestling

Nissi Icasiano

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PWR Renaissance: Breaking down the revival of Pinoy wrestling
Rappler reviews the first show of local pro wrestling outfit Philippine Wrestling Revolution

To satiate the unabated hunger of Filipino fans for a local wrestling scene in the country, Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR) held its maiden event dubbed as “PWR: Renaissance” on September 27 at the Makati Cinema Square Arena in Makati City.

Founded in 2012 as an online group for the purpose of establishing a wrestling federation, PWR bannered a six-match card that was headlined by a showdown between “The Senyorito” Jake De Leon and “Classical” Bryan Leo.

Professional wrestling had its home in 1989 and was billed as “Pinoy Wrestling,” but the promotion was short-lived as it evolved into a local rip-off of the World Wrestling Federation, recognized today as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

After years of anxious tarrying, sports-entertainment or otherwise known as fight art finally returns to Philippine soil, sending a message that entrenches its pegs as PWR’s curtain-raiser affair showcased a night of vigorous action that attests to its will to stay.

The Mayhem Brannigan surprise

The night kicked off with an opening promo from Bryan Leo, who resembles the flamboyant and classy look of Ring of Honor’s Nigel McGuinness. While thinking aloud alongside his cohorts Scarlett and Robin Sane, which form the heel stable Royal Flush, on everything that is wrong about being in a third-world nation, Mayhem Brannigan cut him short. 

As a result of the masked crowd-favorite’s interruption, he faced Robin Sane, who was knocked out by Mayhem’s finisher Rock ‘N Roll and had to be taken out of the ring on a stretcher.

Comments: Although the surprise appearance of Mayhem Brannigan brought the crowd to its feet, sports editor Ryan Songalia had the opinion that the two promos were not such great ideas as it slowed down the show’s pace.

Snags notwithstanding, there was no denying that the amazing works of gab and character portrayal on the microphone by Bryan Leo easily stirred the crowd.

Ken Warren vs. Chris Panzer

In the second match of the night, two brilliant up-and-comers battled each other as “Human Trending Topic” Ken Warren locked horns with Filipino-American sensation from Detroit, Michigan Chris Panzer.

It was a see-saw battle as both men exchanged near-fall finishes to lashing foot-strikes, but in the end, Warren walked away triumphant as he pinned Panzer courtesy of a flashy kick to the head known as Wi-Fi.

Comments: Ken Warren and Chris Panzer are foreseen to be the future headliner of PWR for their in-ring passion. This match deserved the Match of the Night award for the outstanding performance. Warren glowed in playing his role as the overconfident young gun, but he had the mat skills to support his charisma. Meanwhile, Panzer is the baby face that fans would totally cheer for, not only for his good looks, but also for the exceptional wares that he struts every time he is inside the squared-circle.

Beware of Main Maxx

Mike Vargas encountered tough opposition in Main Maxx, who had put up a serious threat before eventually yielding to the 5-foot-9 hipster via pinfall.

Main Maxx’s (reported) 260-pound frame did not hamper him as he pounced on Mike Vargas as he wore down his counterpart with a smacking big boot, jumping leg lariat, and double rolling senton. 

At one point, both men even exchanged earsplitting chest slaps that put the crowd into raucous frenzy.

Mike Vargas managed to put himself in the driver’s seat with flying shoulder blocks before hitting the Mug Shot maneuver to claim the 1-2-3.

Comments: A wrestling advocate not confined to WWE will easily identify Main Maxx as the Filipino version of Samoa Joe. Many have speculated that his massive physique would impede his movement, but he proved critics wrong and defied odds with a jaw-dropping performance. Given more time to polish his skills and adding moves such as corner forearm smash, sunset flip powerbomb and bridging northern lights suplex, he will be a force to reckon with.

On the other hand, the similarity of Mike Vargas’ persona with that of John Cena, with the toss of JTG’s swag, is disconcerting. It is also mediocre that Vargas won the match with Main Maxx in similar John Cena fashion.

The wrath of Kanto Terror

Beer-drinking figure Kanto Terror found a way to topple two in-ring competitors and have his hand raised in victory in his Kanto Kaos Klassic Open-Challenge.

Kanto Terror was not able to shrug his hangover from the get-go and passed out before starting the bout. Nelson Borman Jr. seized the moment to get the leverage as he walloped Epitaph with a tumbling corner elbow before pacifying his foe with a spike DDT.

Sensing the urgency in the rear-end of the match, Kanto Terror regained his wits and went back to the ring to finish the job with the Sumpak (spear) and Lakas Tama (high-impact elbow smash).

Comments: The wrestling world will not be complete without neurotic and bizarre characters because they provide comic relief to the high-testosterone action that happens in the ring.

It is characteristic of a wrestling show to have an opening that provides for a bathroom break. But the Kanto Kaos Klassic segment did not because Kanto Terror kept all fans glued on their seats. The character was interesting in that it personified the typical Filipino bum and alcoholic. He had to be led by hand towards the ring, after which, Kanto Terror celebrated with his opponents cum cans of Red Horse beers.

No holds barred

Backyard wrestling icon Bombay Suarez came out on top against the six-foot leviathan Apocalypse in grueling no holds barred match.

Although he is in a familiar territory, it is not a walk in the park for Suarez as Apocalypse capitalized with the anything-goes rule and punished the 5-foot-8 stalwart outside the ring.

Apocalypse power bombs Bombay Suarez through a steal chair propped up by two plastic chairs. Photo by Mags Icasiano

Following a well-timed suicide dive, Apocalypse exploited Suarez with a thunderous suplex to the floor and slammed his sturdy foe through a stack of chairs with a powerbomb.

Both men returned inside the squared-circle after exchanging blows all over the arena, but Suarez was able to shift the momentum back on his side with a flying head-scissors.

Suarez made a tribute to Eddie Guerrero as he executed the Three Amigos suplex before leaping from the top rope for a frog splash.

Apocalypse tried to reclaim the upper hand in the tussle by smacking a big boot to the face and putting Suarez on a table.

As Apocalypse went to the top turnbuckle for a high-risk dive, Suarez blinded the masked monster with a green mist and then clobbered with an enzugiri kick to get the cover for the three-count.

Comments: It was Bombay Suarez who carried Apocalypse throughout the match. He did a spectacular job in putting his body on the line to make his opponent appear dominant and indestructible.

On the opposite end, Apocalypse has been urged to have an image reboot. His character and style have strong congruence to Kane’s persona. He was also seen doing to chokeslam and the signature deadman get-up that were distinct to The Undertaker and Kane.

Main Event

Super heel Bryan Leo overcame the high-flying Jake De Leon to get the 1-2-3 in the main event of PWR: Renaissance.

Along the sweet-tasting triumph, the man from Hacienda De Leon, Negros Occidental received a terrible beating in the hands of Leo as the “Classical One” manhandled the right leg of De Leon to acquire full control of the match.

Jake De Leon splashes down on Bryan Leo in the main event. Photo by Mags Icasiano

Leo utilized different versions of a figure-four leg lock with the intention to coerce De Leon to wave the white flag.

As the bout progressed, JDL was able to find his groove, rallying back with a snapping clothesline and an unsympathetic body slam.

Seeing a good opening to mount another offense, De Leon moved in with a rolling sent and then lifted Leo for the Alipin Drop.

However, Scarlett sneakily placed Leo’s leg on the bottom rope after the count of three, prompting the referee to restart the contest.

Not wasting a single second, De Leon put his 5-foot-8 rival on his shoulders for another ride of his finisher to seal the deal.

Unfortunately, De Leon’s celebration was short-lived as Leo came back to the ring and issued a rematch, which “The Senyorito” accepted with no other choice.

Leo immediately kicked De Leon’s injured leg before finishing it off with a belly-to-back inverted mat slam branded as “The Royal Flushdown.”

Comments: The stirring dramatic element, coupled with the back-and-forth battle on the mat, truly made a successful delivery of the main event. Even in its infancy, PWR has much promise of a top heel in Bryan Leo. In a display of versatility, he can simultaneously elicit emotion and show his technical prowess inside the ring.

On a personal note, Jake De Leon’s stature as an aristocratic haciendero from Negros Occidental somehow disqualifies him from being a face. Aggravating it is his use of the term “Alipin,” which is Tagalog for slave. If we are going to look at other elitists figures such as John Bradshaw Layfield and Albert Del Rio, the character is more suitable as an antagonist in a storyline and can easily play a role in Bryan Leo’s Royal Flush group. In terms of skillset, the chap is admirable. He is able to unbelievably execute moves with ease despite his size and bulk.

Overall verdict

PWR’s inaugural event was a big bold step for professional wrestling in the Philippines.The management knew what they wanted, proficiently delivered their craft, and ran the system with precision. There certainly is still room for improvement, but the level of competence has exceeded expectations.

The company’s passion in resurrecting the fight arts has kept them going. Every endeavor must be accompanied by passion for it to succeed. Passion lights the way, ignites desire, and births achievement. It translates dreams into reality. –

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