MANILA, Philippines – Manila Wrestling Federation (MWF) leveled up in its relaunch show in 2018 on Sunday, breaking new ground and gearing up for a bigger, braver future.
The occasion and the place for MWF Open House: Level UP couldn't have been more fitting. February 25, the anniversary of the EDSA People Power revolt. University of the Philippines (UP), the cradle of leaders and revolutionaries.
And after a rocky rookie year, the MWF looks poised to make more history moving forward.
The MWF "relaunch" saw a new ring, a revamped logo, a sleeker presentation, and new faces doing commentary, ringside interviews and announcing duties.
Wow! Look, MWF ( @MWFinsider) has a new wrestling ring! #MWFOpenHouse #MWFOpenHouseLevelUP pic.twitter.com/CI1Aqsmx0W — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
MWF Commissioner Mike Shannon also said they are now "under new management," but put off giving further details in the meantime.
The fiery warrior Ashura (with Kyle Sison) faced off against "The Grunge Grappler" Frankie Thurteen in the opening bout.
The inter-gender match was a roughhouse affair. Sison almost upended Thurteen by providing the distraction, but Frankie took him out from the apron with a vicious kick, then finished the match with a God's Last Gift suplex on Ashura for the victory.
#MWFOpenHouseLevelUP : Frankie Thurteen def. Ashura @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/tvWArEludT — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
Speaking of Lawin, he was scheduled to be in the next match, but his manager Coach Gus Queens took to the mic first.
Queens trolled the UP crowd by wearing a La Salle shirt, until UP's very own RG took a stand. RG sought to follow that up with a win over Lawin, but Rex subdued the alumnus with a rear-naked choke.
#MWFOpenHouseLevelUP : “Danger” Rex Lawin def. RG via TKO pic.twitter.com/ZDIXVJHScX — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
MWF dished out more bombshell announcements for MWF Kasaysayan on Sunday, April 8, at Elements at Centris in Quezon City.
Its main event is a tag team match featuring Robin Sane and Mr. Lucha, each with a mystery partner of international proportions.
Sane's tag team partner: his opponent at December's MWF Noche Buena, Hong Kong wrestling pioneer Ho Ho Lun.
At #MWFOpenHouseLevelUP : Robin Sane’s tag partner at #MWFKasaysayan was announced. And it’s... Ho Ho Lun! ( @hoholun719) @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/oCX4gsyR3i — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
As for Mr. Lucha, he would partner with Singapore Pro Wrestling (SPW) Southeast Asian Tag Team Champion, Eurasian Dragon.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lucha’s tag partner at #MWFKasaysayan will be... SPW ( @SgProWrestling) tag champion, the Eurasian Dragon! @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/DPyy4pcbEQ — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
Commentators Sonny Go, Tarek El Tayech and Tristan Paul Creed ran down the rest of the MWF Kasaysayan card, besides the tag team main event and Thurteen versus Lawin:
'History Maker' brawl for all
When almost all Kasaysayan combatants filled the ring, Fabio Makisig emerged from the back and berated the entire MWF roster. He then set his sights on preachin' Brother Jomar.
Makisig then confronted his #MWFKasaysayan opponent, Brother Jomar, sparking an all-out brawl! @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/cdPwljHS9W — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
That sparked an all-out brawl, halted by Commissioner Shannon, who had a better idea: a battle royal for the first-ever "MWF History Maker" award.
There were also surprising and amusing moves, such as Gigz Stryker giving everyone a Kalibre 3:16. But later, he pushed RG from harm's way and took the hit from Hanzello Shilva.
Hanzello Shilva went for RG, but Gigz Stryker saved him! Gigz got eliminated moments later, as a result. #MWFOpenHouseLevelUP @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/92dFfjXDFf — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
Later, with 5 men left standing, Coach Gus Queens entered the match to back up his talent Rex Lawin, only to eliminate himself when he realized they were outnumbered.
After Rex Lawin eliminates RG, Coach Gus Queens rushes to the aid of his talent to enter the match, but scurries out of the ring when they were outnumbered, thus eliminating himself. #MWFOpenHouseLevelUP pic.twitter.com/fde7qxt72U — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
Rex Lawin was eventually eliminated by Thurteen from the ring apron. Frankie himself teetered on the apron while Mr. Lucha and Robin Sane fought over who's going to eliminate Frankie.
In the end, Mr. Lucha bumped off Thurteen, then Sane quickly dumped Mr. Lucha to become MWF's first History Maker awardee.
Mr. Lucha eliminated Frankie Thurteen, but Robin Sane quickly dumped Mr. Lucha to win the MWF ( @MWFinsider) History Maker battle royal! @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/WD3twlmSph — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
Lots of new things and surprises unfolded at MWF Open House: Level UP. Each active MWF wrestler was reintroduced to the audience, thanks to the nice set-up leading to the surprise battle royal main event. Everyone had the opportunity to shine.
Hats off also to a smoother production. While some minor flaws remained – like the ring ropes not being as tight as it should be – it did not take away from the overall feel.
Good thing the crowd can hear the wrestlers' promos clearer now, eliciting expected reactions from and interactions with the crowd.
And that’s it for #MWFOpenHouseLevelUP! Their next show will be #MWFKasaysayan on Sunday, April 8 at The Elements at Centris in QC! @MWFinsider @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/FCvtQA4BJO — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
The opening match was unpolished, but a good effort by Ashura and Frankie. Plus, Ashura and Kyle Sison would have to listen more to Mr. Lucha's lessons, and to each other.
Props to Rex Lawin for his strong performance in the ring against RG. The segment between Coach Gus Queens and RG was also nicely done.
Also deserving praise are Morgan Vaughn's promo on Aldrin Richards, Fabio Makisig's roast of the MWF roster, and this impressive move by Mr. Lucha during the battle royal:
#CatchUpClip from #MWFOpenHouseLevelUP : Mr. Lucha hits an impressive powerbomb-to-fireman’s carry slam on Robin Sane! @MWFinsider @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/gKN7xqoex1 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 25, 2018
I left the UP Film Studio more satisfied and more hopeful, compared to its past few shows. MWF can only go up from here.
Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.