MWF Republika: A solid show with growing pains

MAKATI, Philippines – The Manila Wrestling Federation (MWF) revved up its engines at MWF Republika, its second-ever show, at the Makati Square Arena on Saturday, June 10.

Heading into the event, "The Last Action Hero" Gigs Stryker was itching to fight anybody, be it Robin Sane, Mr. Lucha... or both!

Meanwhile, Coach Gus Queens and Rex Lawin stirred up chaos, particularly targeting Stryker, who defeated Lawin last April.

Here's a recap of what went down at MWF Republika, plus this writer's reviews for each match and the entire show. To quote Robin Sane himself, "Tara, let's go!"

Who is Gigs' opponent?

After a lengthy intro monologue by ring announcer Sonny Go, MWF Commissioner Mike Shannon welcomed everyone to MWF Republika and introduced Gigs Stryker, who had earlier issued a challenge to both Robin Sane and Mr. Lucha.

Sane was out first, seemingly ready to accept Gigs' challenge, but Robin chose to hear Mr Lucha's reply first. 

MWF investor and life coach Gus Queens, along with Rex Lawin, suddenly interrupted the proceedings. Lawin complained to Shannon that he was not booked at the event, then demanded a match against Stryker himself. Commissioner Shannon replied, "You'll get your rematch versus Gigs, just not tonight."

How about Mr Lucha? He emerged from the back with his hands and feet bound in masking tape. As soon as he broke free, Mr Lucha made a beeline for Lawin, who denied wrongdoing!

Mr. Lucha: In as much as I'd like to face Robin or Gigs, bastos 'tong si Rex e. Mr. Shannon books Mr. Lucha vs. Rex Lawin. #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/IW0p7QtEoo — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

Commissioner Shannon finally sorted things out by booking Mr. Lucha vs Lawin and Stryker vs Sane for later that night.

Hot take: The opening segment plus Mr. Go's monologue to kick off the show were too lengthy. The opening segment may be necessary to set up the two matches, but it took a long time to settle the issue of Gigs' opponent.

This writer liked Mr Lucha's mic work, though. He was comfortable on the mic, and he made sense in his promo.

Moises Liwanag defeated Frankie Thurteen

The action at MWF Republika finally kicked off with... oh, wait, not yet.

Moises Liwanag entered the ring along with his disciple Brother Jomar and 3 monobloc chairs. He then invited 3 audience members for him to "pray over."

Moises Liwanag prays over the 3 audience members. Frankie Thurteen, halika na. Ipagdarasal kita! #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/SguWpv6Ko2 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

Liwanag then set his sights on Frankie Thurteen. The rugged kid put up a valiant effort, but Liwanag "blessed" Frankie by carrying then dropping his back on his knees for the victory.

Moises Liwanag drives Frankie Thurteen's back to his knees for the victory. #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/xj3LQpxnBB — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

Hot take: Hat tip to Moises Liwanag for an entertaining pre-match segment. Way to go with audience participation. Moises reading some scriptures before pinning Frankie was a nice touch, too.

Both men, however, need to polish their in-ring work. Some moves were sloppy, while some didn't find their mark.

Fabio Makisig def. Aldrin Richards

The acrobatic trash-talker, now with his manager Banjo in tow, made an example out of Aldrin Richards. Fabio toyed with the newbie Richards until the end, when he delivered a kick to Aldrin's head. 

Fabio Makisig def. Aldrin Richards with a kick to the head #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/hSTh6F0Z2Y — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

Makisig dropped some more pipebombs afterwards, until Banjo calmed him down.

Hot take: Arrogant Fabio is arrogant... and it works for his character. Though it would be interesting to see what else Makisig can bring to the table, besides his amazing flips and hard-hitting kicks.

Hanzello Shilva def. Morgan Vaughn

Up next was a battle between young upstarts Hanzello Shilva and Morgan Vaughn.

Vaughn worked on Shilva's arms, then landed a series of kicks on his chest. Shilva retaliated with kicks of his own, and hit a version of Sister Abigail on Vaughn.

The action (and the submissions) went back and forth, until Morgan's powerbomb-like attempt was countered later on by Shilva with a flying knee to the face for the win.

Hanzello Shilva def. Morgan Vaughn with a flying knee #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/ahIsgLthRs — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

After the match, in an emotional speech, Hanzello paid tribute to his mother who recently passed away. Fellow wrestlers Frankie Thurteen, Mr. Lucha, Robin Sane and Gigs Stryker then consoled Hanzello.

Shilva dedicates the match and his win to his late mother. "Kung nasaan ka man ngayon, mahal na mahal kita, Ma!" #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/9Vh98yYj9H — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

Hot take: Outside of the main event, and compared to other matches on the card, this had a quicker pace and more solid sequences. Hanzello showed heart, while Morgan showed brash attitude. Both wrestlers show promise in the ring.

Mr. Lucha def. Rex Lawin (w/ Coach Gus Queens)

After a 15-minute intermission, Rex Lawin faced Mr. Lucha one-on-one.

Lawin dominated Mr. Lucha for most of the match, grounding the big masked man with punches and slams. Lawin even had time to heckle some audience members up close as Mr. Lucha struggled to recover inside the ring.

But Mr. Lucha mustered enough strength to finish off Lawin with a lung-buster flying elbow.

Off the top rope goes Mr. Lucha for the win! #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/wfQEtab9eM — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

Hot take: The match dragged on for too long. There were lots of stalling on the part of Rex. Also, this writer expected Mr. Lucha to be the more energetic one, but it's almost as if he got grounded fast.

As for Rex Lawin, he would be more menacing and fearsome if he will maximize his "Filipino Strong Style" gimmick.

Ninja Ryugin def. Ashura

MWF fans were in for a surprise, as Ninja Ryugin battled a debuting Ashura.

Ashura bombarded Ninja with strikes, and even took down Ninja with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors!

Ashura spins Ninja Ryugin 'round and 'round! #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/ae7lbwLZN7 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

Ninja, however, sealed the deal after hitting a Salida del Sol on Ashura.

Ninja Ryugin def. Ashura #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/EdEBhUIYO7 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

Hot take: Nice to see another intergender match, this time in MWF. Both showed fire, especially Ashura, but it got extinguished pretty quick. They need to know how to fan the flames and when the right moment is to do it, so the audience can feel the heat.

Robin Sane def. Gigs Stryker

Robin and Gigs played a game of one-upsmanship to start, which only escalated as the match went on. At one point, Sane delivered a vertical and belly-to-back suplex combo, then Stryker replied with a Russian leg sweep.

They even incorporated funny antics in old Pinoy action movies, much to the crowd's delight. 

Then, when Robin Sane was about to go for his patented 450 splash, Coach Gus Queens appeared at ringside. This distracted Sane long enough for Gigs to capitalize, hitting his Kalibre .45 (a la Stunner). But Stryker did not want a victory like that.

Robin Sane goes for the 450. Gus Queens with the distraction. Gigs hits Stunner, but doesn't want a win due to interference. #MWFRepublika pic.twitter.com/EoYj2u9924 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

As the match went on, Queens continued to distract Gigs. One final interference led to Sane hitting the 450 splash from up top for the win.

Post-match, Gigs and Gus had an intense face-off. The life coach goaded Gigs to meet him in the ring, but Gus himself did not want to fight. Gigs headed backstage, but Rex Lawin ambushed him with a shot to the head using a microphone!

Lawin continued the assault, prompting security and the entire MWF roster to rush to the ring just to separate Gigs and Rex!

Rex Lawin continues the assault. MWF wrestlers then rush to the ring to separate Rex and Gigs! pic.twitter.com/Rc52ZW8qT0 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) June 10, 2017

Commissioner Shannon then announced that Gigs Stryker and Rex Lawin would face each other at MWF's next show in September.

Hot take: Gigs Stryker versus Robin Sane was fun to watch. While the match dragged on a little bit, it showcased both men's skills, not to mention their charisma.

The crowd also ate up the chaotic ending, with all the MWF stars trying to restrain Rex and Gigs, and Commissioner Shannon seeking to regain control. This writer is already sold for MWF show #3 in September.

*****

Over-all verdict: There was improvement from their first show, MWF Live, two months ago. For one, the sound system was better. 

This writer was able to absorb more of the show, because many – if not all – of the wrestlers are starting to develop and connect with the crowd. It's undeniable that the MWF wrestlers are putting a lot of effort into their craft. The same goes to their mic work; in fact, fans got plenty of promos during the show.

Match of the night goes to the main event (Robin Sane vs Gigs Stryker), followed by Hanzello Shilva vs Morgan Vaughn. 

However, while it should be understood that the MWF wrestlers had difficulties performing in a boxing ring – bouncing from loose ropes is weird to watch, and it's painful to land on a hard canvas – a huge part of the presentation remains to be how smooth the flow of the match is, and how the wrestling moves are hit and received.

With 3 months to prepare for their next show, MWF would have to make a stronger impression if it aims to stake their claim on top of the burgeoning Philippine pro wrestling scene.

Nonetheless, MWF stepped up to the plate last Saturday. They need to gear up for a home run.

With that said, MWF Republika gets a B- rating. – Rappler.com

Michael Bueza

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.

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