IN PHOTOS: Art of War Wrestling's debut show 'Genesis'
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Art of War Wrestling (AOWW) debuted on Saturday night, March 17, with its first show, Genesis, at the Valkyrie at the Palace in Taguig City.
AOWW is the third professional wrestling promotion established in the Philippines in the last 5 years.
Former pro wrestling champion "Classical" Bryan Leo and The Nuke were set to battle at the main event. The stakes got higher when Art of War Wrestling CEO Brian Finigan made it a match for the inaugural AOWW Heavyweight Championship.
The Nuke brought the fight to Leo, who soon scuttled away to ringside. There the brawl escalated when Nuke tossed Leo towards AOWW Director and ex-mixed martial arts champion Vicente "Tiger" Pajaro at the front row.
Back in the ring, a miscalculated Spear by Nuke on CBL hit the referee instead, which gave Pajaro the opening to assist Leo in capturing the AOWW Title.
Pinoy Wrestling legend Turko Turero was acknowledged by AOWW trainer and former Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) competitor Chilly Willy before the main event.
Turko Turero joined Filipino wrestling fans in witnessing a new set of characters (dubbed as "warriors") in the ever-growing Philippine wrestling scene.
In the Genesis opener, the team of Zera and Ace Clark defeated Razael and Uno Salvador.
In an intergender match, Starling beat Silent D (with manager Oni). After the match, female wrestler Jiara Frost attacked Starling.*
"The Machine" Mavericc Knight demolished his scheduled opponent Rex Go, then Cherry Gerry who went into the ring after the match.
After an impromptu rap performance by The Machine, ring announcer Dash Calzado, and rapper Gary "G1" Gotidoc during intermission, the action continued with another tag team match.
Yellow-clad warriors John McQueen and Brandon Ward of The Society Rejects snuck in a victory over masked wrestlers Ali "The Filipino Dragon" Mina and "The Asian Nightmare" Ken Cifer of Desolation.
"The Godkiller" Dabid Ravena faced Hybrid, who had the fiery Queen Rogue in tow. Rabena was about to finish the match when Queen Rogue attacked him, handing Hybrid a DQ loss.
After a Samoan drop by Rogue and a chair shot by Hybrid on The Godkiller, Queen Rogue was itching for another fight. Female warrior Project Z headed to the ring, and both women came to blows. Hybrid had to separate Rogue from Project Z.
Quite a good debut for AOWW, but it wasn't without a hitch. The show was announced to start at 6 pm, but wrestling fans were only let in Valkyrie an hour later. Their ring was a boxing ring, but to be fair, the other promotions made their debuts in similar boxing rings. I worried about how it was set up at Genesis, though, with a sloppy ring canvas and its apron exposed in two sides.
Nonetheless, having the show at Valkyrie is a unique experience. AOWW made full use of the bar's LED screens and lighting.
All the wrestlers did good in their first outing. While they could polish their skills further in future shows, they all showed potential in the ring. Besides, it's always good to see new faces and follow new stories. Women power was on display too, as 4 female wrestlers got in the ring for some action.
As for the main event, it was a bold, unprecedented move to make it a surprise title match. Bryan Leo returned with his "classic" brash attitude and on-point mic skills. The Nuke showed that he is a strong, formidable opponent.
While its ending made sense on the standpoint of Leo's character, I would have preferred the first-ever title victory to be a clean finish.
In line with that, I also felt uneasy hearing some wrestlers taking shots at one rival promotion, given their rocky history with it. Longtime fans like me would get the reference, but uninitiated audiences may have been wondering what it's all about.
Controversy creates cash (in the words of former WWE authority figure Eric Bischoff), but having it on a debut show could have mixed results.
Setting that aside for now, AOWW's debut at Genesis is a welcome development in Philippine pro wrestling. The show was a little rough around the edges, but it showed promise. Rating: C
- 730 Tempest (Zera and Ace Clark) defeated High Proof (Razael and Uno Salvador)
- Starling def. Silent D
- "The Machine" Mavericc Knight def. Rex "The Flex" Go
- The Society Rejects (Brandon Ward and John McQueen) def. Desolation (Ali "The Filipino Dragon" Mina and "The Asian Nightmare" Ken Cifer)
- "The Godkiller" Dabid Ravena def. Hybrid (w/ Queen Rogue) via DQ
- AOWW Heavyweight Championship: "Classical" Bryan Leo def. The Nuke to become the inaugural champion
– all photos by LeAnne Jazul, with reports by local wrestling website Smark Henry/Rappler.com
* Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story, we said that Jiara Frost and Oni attacked Starling post-match. We have corrected this.