Grappling in the season of love: HHWW (Holding Hands While Wrestling) review

MANILA, Philippines – Three days before Valentine's Day, the Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR) hosted multiple wars, as John Sebastian's "Oplan Sagip Wrestling" continued at PWR Live: Holding Hands While Wrestling (HHWW) on Sunday, February 11.

Kicking off the show, Ralph Imabayashi celebrated his PWR Championship win and shared some wine with his MNTH tag team partner, Rederick Mahaba. But Miguel Rosales remained a thorn in the duo's side.

Imabayashi and Mahaba tried to include Rosales in the party, but offered him gin instead. Things got physical quick, with Rosales applying an armlock on Mahaba to taunt Imabayashi.

Rederick pours in not wine but gin for Miguel Rosales... After the toast, things get physical. Rosales to PWR Champion Imabayashi: “Bastusan na!” #PWRLiveHHWW — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

In the main event, the MNTH duo took turns beating up Rosales in a handicap match. Rosales responded in kind, with hard-hitting spears and bodyslams, to the point of injuring Mahaba's right shoulder.

Rederick Mahaba nursing his right shoulder after a bad spill in the ring. Handicap match main event continues #PWRLiveHHWW — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

MNTH threatened to walk out, but Rosales stopped them by diving from the ring post onto the duo. 

Walkout? Nope, says Miguel Rosales. #PWRLiveHHWW @pwrofficial @RapplerSports — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Rosales then forced Mahaba to tap out, completing his mission to ruin Imabayashi's day.

#PWRLiveHHWW : Miguel Rosales def. Rederick Mahaba and PWR Champion Ralph Imabayashi via submission — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

But the champion had the last laugh. Imabayashi announced he'll defend his PWR Title at the Path of Gold event next month, but against former champion Chris Panzer. 

An incensed Rosales responded with a plan of his own: Enter the multi-man Path of Gold Match at the same event and win the trophy for the guaranteed right to face the PWR Champion, whoever that may be. 

The captain of Barangay Suplex capped off the show with a statement: Hitting Imabayashi's Sonic Crusher on an injured Mahaba. 

Miguel Rosales enters himself instead into the multi-person Path of Gold Match! He then taunts Ralph Imabayashi with a spear and a Sonic Crusher of his own on Rederick Mahaba! #PWRLiveHHWW — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

'Oplan Sagip Wrestling'

As Imabayashi and Mahaba dealt with Rosales, their Team Sebastian cohorts also faced battles of their own in their "Oplan Sagip Wrestling" to "weed out" PWR of what they deemed as "filth."

"The Senyorito" Jake de Leon was first up against SANDATA at the PWR Live: HHWW opener. JDL chided SANDATA for his supposed "mediocrity" but the masked warrior begged to differ.

#CatchUpClip for #PWRLiveHHWW Top-rope hurricanrana by SANDATA @pwrofficial @RapplerSports — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

SANDATA brought the fight to JDL in a nail-biter match. Dax Xaviera later emerged to warn JDL after he tried to use a broom. In the end, SANDATA swept De Leon off his feet with a Kidlat high knee for the victory.

Back and forth they went. Dax Xaviera then emerged to confront JDL. But in the end, SANDATA def. Jake de Leon. #PWRLiveHHWW @pwrofficial @RapplerSports — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Peter Versoza – JDL's amigo in Team Sebastian – also fell flat on his back, as he embarked on his new quest to prove that the Earth is flat. Globe-toting The Revo-Ranger went around Versoza's Carne Norte finisher by countering it with a pinfall for the upset win.

#PWRLiveHHWW : The Revo-Ranger def. Peter Versoza @RapplerSports @pwrofficial — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

For his part, PWR co-owner Sebastian surprisingly opened the pre-show. In another unusual move, he dared anybody to beat him to fill in the vacant PWR General Manager position. Kapitan PWR answered the call, but he fell short against the Wrestling Lord and Savior.

The Worm... eats a bullet. John Sebastian def. Kapitan PWR at the #PWRLiveHHWW preshow — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Women's All Out War

Sebastian later played a role in the first-ever women's All Out War Match.

Crystal and Robynn lobbed violent hits against each other using weapons such as gold chains, steel chairs, and the perennial Orocan.

Robynn soon thwarted Crystal's attempt to use a ladder and makeshift table. But she crashed and burned when Crystal avoided Robynn's flight from the ladder onto the table!

Robynn crashes and burns! #PWRLiveHHWW @RapplerSports @pwrofficial — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Sebastian then came in to assist Crystal. Martivo rushed in to save his Punk Dolls partner, but it's him who Robynn hit with a plywood sheet. Sebastian and Crystal double-teamed Robynn to pick up the win.

Robynn gets plywood to fend off John Sebastian, but it hits Martivo instead! Sebastian attack and Solemate with a brean pan secures the win for Crystal! #PWRLiveHHWW @RapplerSports @pwrofficial — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Martivo's headache was actually his second for the day, after he lost to Vintendø before the All Out War.

#PWRLiveHHWW : Vintendø def. Martivo @RapplerSports @pwrofficial — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Tag team splash

New challengers to the PWR Tag Team Titles were determined at HHWW when Zayden Trudeau and Bolt faced TDTxECX (Trian dela Torre and Evan Carleaux).

TDTxECX with the Calbee Trigger on Zayden Trudeau! #PWRLiveHHWW — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

TDTxECX almost oversaturated the match with their shenanigans, but the team of Zayden and Bolt endured, booking their ticket to Path of Gold with Trudeau's amazing 450 Splash.

PWR Tag Team Champions The Network (James "Idol" Martinez and Alexander Belmonte III) were busy on Sunday, too, as they faced McKata and Brad Cruz in two fronts.

First, Martinez bested McKata in a rap battle officiated by Sebastian. Then, The Network made it 2-0 when they beat McKata and Brad Cruz in tag team action.

#PWRLiveHHWW : The Network (James “Idol” Martinez and Alexander Belmonte III) def. McKata and Brad Cruz — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

John Sebastian and Crystal later made a splash of their own and attacked Trudeau and Bolt during some sort of face-off between tag champions and new #1 contenders. The new power couple then inserted themselves into the Tag Title picture, making it a three-way battle at Path of Gold.

... when Crystal attacked Zayden and Bolt with a kendo stick! Crystal and John Sebastian then double-teamed Zayden! #PWRLiveHHWW — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

F.O. by YOLO

Ken Warren sought revenge from what Philippine Hybrid X (PHX) Champion Mike Madrigal did to him last month at Kingdom Come. At HHWW, he teamed up with his buddies The YOLO Twins (Yohann and Logan Ollores) against Madrigal, All Out War Champion Vlad Sinnsyk, and The Apocalypse. 

Despite having formidable teammates, Madrigal couldn't rest easy, as Vlad and Apocalypse aren't exactly the best of friends. This unraveled soon enough, when Sinnsyk accidentally hit Apocalypse with the AOW belt, leading to a brawl and leaving Madrigal alone in the ring.

Vlad accidentally hits Apocalypse with the All Out War belt! Chaos ensues #PWRLiveHHWW — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

However, the real shocker came when Warren got a stab in the back instead of payback. The YOLO Twins suddenly hit a Two Night Stand on Warren! 

Ken Warren and the YOLO Twins with a superkick party... but wait, the twins hit Two Night Stand on Ken Warren! The team of Mike Madrigal wins! #PWRLiveHHWW — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Madrigal took advantage with the winning pinfall, but his day wasn't over just yet. Former PWR GM Mr. Sy made his return but now as a talent manager, a compromise he reached with PWR co-owner John Sebastian.

Mr. Sy then announced Madrigal would be defending the PHX Championship against his chosen talent at Path of Gold.

Frozen to the max

At the pre-show, Quatro was forced to team up with Trabajador Maximo, in the Secret Council of the Trabajadores' mission to bring back Quatro into the "shadow" of losing matches. But Quatro snuck in a pinfall after a Destino slam. 

#PWRLiveHHWW preshow: Quatro and Trabajador Maximo def. The Kakaibros @pwrofficial @RapplerSports — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Maximo was so shocked by the win he froze in the ring when PWR announcer Poch welcomed everyone to the main show. He stayed put during the whole "Championship Celebration of Love and Respect" – Maximo even was instrumental for Ralph and Rederick in pouring out the wine.

He was driven out only when Jake de Leon used his broom to "sweep" him out of the ring. 

First match at #PWRLiveHHWW : “The Senyorito” Jake de Leon vs SANDATA. ... and JDL sweeps Trabajador Maximo out of the ring. @RapplerSports @pwrofficial — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Over-all review

PWR Live: HHWW was like a solid episode of WWE RAW. Almost every match/segment was full of interesting details. It was a go-home show to Path of Gold, and boy, was it a wild ride. Even the pre-show matches were entertaining.

I thoroughly had a kick out of Trabajador Maximo's Groot-like gimmick and him overstaying in the ring until before the opening match. Equally hilarious were Versoza's "flat Earth" campaign, and Bolt's new nickname "Bert" care of TDTxECX.

Even the halftime break got infected by the "anything goes" bug, when John Sebastian led the PWR crowd at Venue 142 in Katipunan in singing along to "As Long As You Love Me" by Backstreet Boys. 

Zayden's 450 Splash is such a sight to behold. Vintendo's version of the Pounce is a nice addition to his arsenal.

Blink and you'll miss SANDATA's hurricanranas. Fellow masked luchador Quatro's standing moonsault is quat-terrific, too.

Standing moonsault by Quatro! But Trabajador Maximo spoils the fun. #PWRLiveHHWW preshow — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

Match of the show goes to SANDATA vs. JDL, followed by the 6-man tag match. Big fan here of intertwining stories written very well.

#CatchUpClip for #PWRLiveHHWW JDL tries to use broom, then gives SANDATA a brutal “hug” (jumping armbar). — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) February 11, 2018

On the flip side, the Women's All Out War could have been more intense, the rap battle could have sounded clearer (and less cringeworthy), and Bolt's moonsault could have used more spin.

But in the end, all the builds paid off. To paraphrase an adage, the road to Path of Gold was paved with good storytelling. A- 

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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.