MANILA, Philippines – She was right there, and then all of a sudden, she wasn’t.
Early this morning, Manila time, WWE.com released the final remaining participants of this year’s Mae Young Classic, the all-women’s tournament inaugurated last year on the WWE Network. Among those announced for the tourney’s lineup was none other than the Queen of Philippine Wrestling herself, PWR’s Crystal. This followed a bit of a vague rumor that spread a couple of weeks ago placing her in the lineup, and many Filipino fans were excited to find out that the rumor was actually true.
And then, a few hours later, all mentions of Crystal were pulled from the official WWE Twitter account for the Mae Young Classic, as well as the original WWE.com press release that announced her. We don’t quite know exactly what happened here, but a source close to her says that she’s not allowed to disclose any details at the moment.
It’s a shame if she were to not push through with the tournament, because even a single losing appearance—as is usually the case for names who aren’t big enough in these global WWE tournaments—is quite the big deal for the local scene. It would show the rest of the world that there is a thriving pro wrestling scene here in the Philippines, and that Philippine wrestlers regardless of promotion are worth signing. Once more Philippine wrestlers are booked internationally, the more connections they can make abroad, and the more experience they can bring back home. Ultimately, the better it would be for the local scene once that experience is applied to teaching the current and next generation of local superstars.
So as a humble scribe documenting pro wrestling in the Philippines, I only wish that Crystal manages to find herself in the tournament—if not this year, then maybe the next one. True wrestling fans would see Crystal making it onto the WWE’s radar as a victory for the sport they love in their homeland. I know I’m hoping for the best.
Extreme Rules not really extreme, more like extremely crammed
Ever since the WWE went back to doing dual-branded pay-per-view events, I’ve been wondering how they’re going to play out storylines from both shows on PPVs. Turns out the idea really is to cram everything at once, to drown fans in a deluge of both half-baked climaxes and some diamonds in the rough somewhere in there.
The PPV definitely had its good moments, especially in the last third of the show. But everything else was just either an exercise of checking off items on a WWE storytelling list, or making the most out of some things given the limited time the midcard had to share. Stay for matches like the 30+-minute main event, the WWE Championship match, and Lashley vs. Reigns—the rest, you could just skip through.
If I were writing the WWE’s shows, I’d have everything that didn’t contribute substantial wrestling to the overall program relegated to the weekly television programs. I’ve always thought of a PPV as a show where the wrestlers bring out their best work, where TV-style segments and antics were kept to a minimum. Much of Extreme Rules felt like watching an extended episode of RAW. It felt like the old RAW Supershow again. That’s what it felt like.
Honestly, it would also make TV even more special by keeping some big midcard moments there. The roster is already very stacked, and not everyone gets to make it to the PPV card every month, so you might as well make TV mean something and PPVs mean something more. This way, without the fat on the sides of each PPV, the matches on the special event get more time to work and be magical. This is what SmackDown Live used to do with their brand-exclusive PPVs, and I can’t believe they would much rather sacrifice that quality just for this.
The G1 Climax has begun
Over on the other side of the world, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax has officially begun. For those who don’t know, it’s a month-long round-robin tournament between two blocks of wrestlers, culminating in a finals match between the winners of those two blocks. The ultimate prize? A shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at next year’s Wrestle Kingdom event at the Tokyo Dome, the biggest prize in the company.
The biggest stories of the tournament right now? Previous IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada seems to have lost it, going on to a two-match losing streak and a weird slump in which he seems to have changed. As of yesterday, though, he’s beginning to bounce back, so this may not be for long. Current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega’s lover Kota Ibushi is also in the tournament, so he may be an interesting choice to win the final and get the Wrestle Kingdom shot. Last year’s G1 winner Tetsuya Naito is also in the running, and shouldn’t be discounted to win as well.
Who’s your pick to win the G1 Climax this year? Let’s talk about it!
Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! On this week’s episode, the boys talk to PWR Champion Ralph Imabayashi and former best friend Nina ahead of the former’s title defense involving the latter’s boyfriend at PWR Live: Way of the Champion this Sunday! Listen to it here or on Spotify! – Rappler.com