MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR) returned to the iAcademy Auditorium in Makati City on Sunday, May 20, for its 4th annual wrestling extravaganza, Wrevolution X.
The PWR stars put everything on the line – from titles to careers – as they kicked off their 5th year in the local wrestling scene.
(All photos by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler.)
Title vs career
Going into Wrevolution X, Ralph Imabayashi was not only confident he will retain the PWR Championship but also darn sure he would end the PWR career of Miguel Rosales. However, the Ruthless One wouldn't – and didn't – back down in this high-stakes match.
Rosales brought the fight to the champion, with his patented Spears, suplexes, and explosive power moves. Ralph did his homework, though, grounding the challenger and controlling the pace of the match.
Suplex from up top! #WrevolutionX @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/pDUM8i0655 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
Both men gave it their all, but in the end, it was Imabayashi who stood tall, hitting a spinning senketsu on Rosales to cement his status as PWR's top dog and send a wrestler into retirement for good measure.
#WrevolutionX : Miguel Rosales gave and took it all, but Ralph Imabayashi was the better man. Imabayashi def. Rosales afer a spinning senketsu to retain the PWR Championship. @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/LDGFNnz9Tc — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
In a heartwarming gesture, Imabayashi did away with the usual victory celebration, praised Rosales for his contributions to Philippine wrestling, and let Rosales take centerstage to send everyone home happy.
Rosales delivered an emotional speech and thanked everybody in his wrestling journey, first as one-half of Fighters 4 Hire with Joey Bax, then as a title competitor. He then encouraged his fellow wrestlers who surrounded the ring to continue living their dream.
“Thank you, Revo-Nation.” - Miguel Rosales #ThankYouKuyaMigs #WrevolutionX @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/EpQaLHwexW — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
Later, Rosales hang up his gloves and walked up the PWR ramp for the last time to close the show.
• Hot take: We all thought we had the PWR Championship match figured out, don't we? Can't blame you for rooting for Rosales, but this goes to show that everything is possible in pro wrestling.
You should also not discount Imabayashi's talent. He's not PWR Champion for nothing. He can hold PWR's top prize for a year or more, and I wouldn't take it against him. (Looking at you, Brock Lesnar.)
Miguel Rosales' intensity in the PWR ring will be sorely missed. "Thank you Migs!" indeed.
Back on top of PHX mountain
At the Wrevolution X co-main event, 2018 Path of Gold trophy holder Ken Warren sought to become a two-time Philippine Hybrid X (PHX) Champion. Titleholder Mike Madrigal, meanwhile, sought to deny him that distinction.
The "battle of the kupals" went beyond the loud word war, as Madrigal and Warren exchanged hard-hitting kicks and underhanded tactics. Warren tried to take it up a notch with a top-rope hurricanrana, but the champ had it scouted, countering with a powerbomb to the canvas.
Madrigal counters a hurracanrana attempt with two powerbombs! #WrevolutionX @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/ee6XahCe6z — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
Madrigal was having difficulty taking out his challenger, though. So he enlisted the help of the Kakaibros, Kh3ndrick and Mh4rckie, when the ref ate an accidental superkick. Warren fended off the rascals and avoided Madrigal's own attempt to cheat his way to victory.
Warren retaliated with a nut shot and a literal title shot, followed by a Wi-Fi kick to the back of Madrigal's head to regain the PHX Championship.
#WrevolutionX : Ken Warren def. Mike Madrigal to win the PHX Championship. @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/AQogQn3TBU — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
• Hot take: This match between two of PWR's biggest kupals is a delight. It's weird to root for either man who regularly breaks the rules, so it's fun to see which "strategy" would prevail. It was a fast-paced nail-biter match, too.
Warren completed his comeback bid after a head injury, and reinvigorated his career with the title win. Meanwhile, Madrigal can raise all the middle fingers and shout all the expletives he wants, and still do no wrong in his career.
Wars to settle the score
Wrevolution X was also full of intense singles competition, from an unforgettable match-up to highly-anticipated face-offs.
In what is undoubtedly Match of the Night, Zayden Trudeau bested PWR's franchise player "The Senyorito" Jake de Leon after hitting a 450 Splash.
#WrevolutionX : Zayden Trudeau def. Jake de Leon after a Phoenix Splash! @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/A618agRtfZ — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
• Hot take: Did I mention it was Match of the Night, bar none? De Leon was itching for better competition, and he sure got it from the "Canadian Dragon." It was so good, PWR released the whole 5-star match in its entirety.
Meanwhile, in the second match of the pre-show, Quatro finally battled his former master, Trabajador Supremo of the Secret Council of the Trabajadores.
Quatro struggled to chop down the behemoth. Then in a shocking twist, Supremo ripped Quatro's mask off, exposing the Lightbringer's face to the PWR crowd.
All seemed to be lost when suddenly a voice spoke from out of nowhere, urging Quatro to continue fighting. One Destino finisher later, and Quatro conquered the leader of the Shadow. Post-match, Supremo was left with no choice but to let go of his former protege to "fulfill his destiny" in PWR.
#WrevolutionX pre-show: Quatro def. Trabajador Supremo after a Destino @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/MBbC6yChVk — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
• Hot take: This concludes Quatro's saga during the pre-show of PWR events, and it was a nice way to prepare him for a main roster run. It's unprecedented to build an entire storyline outside of the main card, and Quatro and Trabajador Supremo pulled it off brilliantly both in the storyline and in the ring.
Another grudge match unraveled at Wrevolution X, when Rederick Mahaba looked to silence his critics in a bout against Chris Panzer. Mahaba – who really seemed identical to another PWR powerhouse – was able to weaken the former PWR Champion throughout the match.
But an unexpected kiss by Panzer while in a bearhug startled Mahaba. Panzer then went back to form with an Eagle Splash to Mahaba almost across the ring to bring home the win.
#WrevolutionX : Chris Panzer escapes a bear hug with a kiss, then hits a frogplash for the win against Rederick Mahaba! @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/yC737D844d — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
• Hot take: That kiss was truly unorthodox for Panzer. I bet we wouldn't hear the end of it from Mahaba, who might find it hard to move on. The match itself was solid, and hit the right notes.
After months of on-off team-ups, Dax Xaviera and SANDATA faced off at Wrevolution X to see who is the better man.
Slingblades and top-rope moves were hit all around, until 3 Kidlat high knees and a modified crossface submission sealed the deal for SANDATA.
#WrevolutionX : SANDATA def. Dax Xaviera via TKO after 3 Kidlat high knees and locked in a submission hold @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/3rYy0MsMJK — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
• Hot take: An interesting match with an interesting outcome. While the match could have been more fluid and seamless, both men showed off their unique brands of warfare. Let's see where SANDATA would proceed from here, and how Dax would pick himself up and move forward.
Finally, at the pre-show kickoff, McKata secured a victory against Kapitan PWR, thanks to an assistance from his buddy Brad Cruz.
#WrevolutionX pre-show: McKata def. Kapitan PWR after a Brad Cruz distraction, a low blow, then a face-first slam! @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/57ydivddFb — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
• Hot take: Few things to write home about, but hey, a McKata-Brad Cruz team-up looks interesting. Though how about your Manila Bae partner Chris Panzer, Brad?
Brawls to end it all
With a jampacked roster, PWR shows wouldn't be complete without large doses of multi-person mayhem.
Opening the Wrevolution X main card was a title defense by PWR Tag Team Champions John Sebastian and Crystal against Martivo and Robynn of the Punk Dolls.
PWR co-owner Sebastian ridiculed the Punk Dolls' lifestyles and genders, while Crystal seconded him with unrelenting offense. Martivo and Robynn responded in kind with classic tag team moves.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to topple the champions, who turned the tables on their challengers.
#WrevolutionX : John Sebastian and Crystal def. Robynn and Martivo to retain the PWR Tag Team Championship. @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/D3NMJEphqD — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
• Hot take: Good way to open Wrevolution X and pump up the crowd. Intriguing call to keep the belts on Sebastian and Crystal, though.
Manila Wrestling Federation (MWF) wrestler and PWR alumnus Robin Sane received a warm welcome as he joined the Wrevolution X party in a team-up with the YOLO Twins (Yohann and Logan Ollores) against Trian dela Torre, Evan Carleaux, and a mystery partner.
TDTxECX's 3rd man was the returning Mark D. Manalo, but he was ambushed backstage by the YOLO Twins, making the match a 3-on-2 affair.
The twins dampened Robin Sane's desire to thrill and dictated his actual participation in the match. This dissension would play a big role in their defeat, especially after Dela Torre and Carleaux's henchman Kapitan Tutan surprisingly entered the match to even the odds.
#WrevolutionX : Trian dela Torre, Evan Carleaux and Kapitan Tutan def. The YOLO Twins and Robin Sane @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/QYhMjCsTAa — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
• Hot take: It was an entertaining melee, with a lot of stories going on. A little bit saddened that PWR fans weren't able to see Sane's 450 Splash, but altogether, the match was A-OK. Tutan's debut officially adds a new element in the TDTxECX "universe."
Speaking of mischief and alliances, the Kakaibros (who figured in the PHX Championship bout later in the show) achieved their first victory in PWR by taking advantage of the ongoing friction between Main Maxx and The Apocalypse – both talents of ex-PWR General Manager Mr. Sy – in a tornado tag team match.
#WrevolutionX : The Kakaibros outsmart Main Maxx and The Apocalypse! @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/d41Xtvycsi — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
• Hot take: Mr. Sy's prowess in managing talents was once again put to the test. Kudos to the Kakaibros for the monumental win. Also, we would definitely see Main Maxx vs Apocalypse down the line to settle their score.
We end this recap with the match that brought chaos to the table as promised, but suddenly went off the rails.
It was a 6-man All Out War Match for the All Out War Championship, and bedlam certainly ensued among champion Vlad Sinnsyk and challengers Vintendo, The Revo-Ranger, Peter Versoza, James "Idol" Martinez, and Alexander Belmonte III.
The no-DQ action was all around, and featured the usual All Our War hallmarks: ladders, Lego blocks, tables, thumbtacks, and random foreign objects.
Belmonte waded through the madness and pinned Versoza after slamming him on thumbtacks to claim the All Out War Title.
#WrevolutionX : Alexander Belmonte III pins Peter Versoza in the six-man All Out War match to win the All Out War Championship! @RapplerSports pic.twitter.com/Puo0UKqJBR — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) May 20, 2018
However, it was a dangerous stunt by James "Idol" Martinez during the match that went viral. He lit himself on fire after dousing himself in alcohol, leapt to his opponents (who were as shocked as the fans), landed badly, ran to the back when the flame didn't quickly extinguish as planned, tried to get back into the match after the flame was put out, and was finally and rightfully pulled out of the match.
• Hot take: This write-up is already long, but it needs to be said: Reckless, needless spots like what Idol did has no place in any pro wrestling show. Ever.
I was ready to be angry about PWR's lack of preparation in Idol's stunt, but after details emerged that the spot wasn't cleared with PWR officials, I understood everyone's surprise. It greatly took the attention away from the All Out War Match, and put many people in harm's way. Idol doesn't need to endear himself to the fans that way, because his current appeal is already enough. However, only he can explain why he did it and what for.
His spot also definitely leaves a huge scar on the Philippine wrestling scene, as multiple international wrestling outlets picked up on what Martinez did and produced an incomplete opinion on the status of pro wrestling here in the country. Personally, words are not enough to express how it affected me, not only as a writer but also as a fan.
Nonetheless, I am one with PWR in hoping for Idol's speedy recovery. I am also positive that PWR and Philippine wrestling would learn from this, move past it, and continue showing the world – as they have always done in the last 4-5 years – that Filipino wrestlers are among the best.
Despite my strong opinion on (and the unavoidable fallout of) that dangerous spot, Wrevolution X was a solid show overall, worthy of being billed as PWR's biggest annual show. PWR pulled out all the stops in terms of production value and storyline writing.
The in-ring action is gradually evolving, and I look forward to seeing every match at the level of JDL vs Trudeau and the two championship main events, in terms of pacing, intensity, and storytelling.
However, the large field of wrestlers in PWR can be a double-edged sword. While it allows an almost endless combinations of interesting match-ups, featuring everybody in one show that runs for 4-5 hours might become a challenge in the long run.
Nonetheless, Wrevolution X was loads of fun, and almost every wrestler (and fan) went home with a Wrevolution X moment.
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.