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The Critical: You Say You Want A Revolution?

My name is Mikey Llorin. I am a teacher, a performer, and a critic. And I am so very happy that this website exists.

Throughout most of wrestling history, wrestling fans have been reduced to stereotypes. If you were a fan before the WWF-led television boom in the eighties, you were assumed to be a southern hick. After the boom, you were a na├»ve, wide-eyed child. During the Attitude era, you were an uncouth misogynistic frat boy who watched South Park. It doesn’t matter if you actually weren’t any of these things—the specific eras brought with it an overwhelming number of a specific type of fan, there was no way you could escape being associated with it.

The reduction to stereotypes isn’t limited to the eras, of course. The popularity of dirt sheets and the eventual wildfire spread of the so-called “Internet Wrestling Community” brought with it new stereotypes that transcended eras—stereotypes that the wrestling industry itself had reduced its fans to since its carny inception: wrestling fans are either “marks,” or “smart” to the business, or “smart marks.” Either we consume everything that wrestling feeds us through its narrative medium, or we consume everything through the lens of someone who knows (or tries very hard to know) the behind-the-scenes aspect of the business, or we flit back and forth between only these two perspectives.

I think this is ridiculous.

Thankfully, the internet has enabled certain people to spark a movement in the wrestling dialogue, and, thus, move past the parameters that history and the wrestling business itself have reduced us to. Writers like David Shoemaker have displayed their wrestling fandom in an earnest, insightful way that refuses to be boxed in. Podcasters like Sawyer Paul and Rich Thomas discuss wrestling through the lens of the Humanities and Literary Studies. And communities like Smark-Gilas Pilipinas frequently demonstrate what well-reasoned, thoughtful, and critical discussion on wrestling can be like.

We at Smark Henry aim to represent everything that Smark-Gilas Pilipinas stands for. We want to be at the forefront of the movement to break the glass ceiling of wrestling fandom—all while representing what is (and should be) the Filipino Wrestling Voice.

We are not merely “smarks.” We are Smark Henry. And if you’re reading this, well, then, so are you. Stick around—you might just be a part of a revolution in wrestling fandom.

Speaking of revolutions…

What’s in a name?

The following is an open letter to my friends at Philippine Wrestling Revolution, whose next show, Wrevolution X, is on May 23rd at Makati Sports Arena.

Dear Philippine Wrestling Revolution,

My, how you’ve grown. Look at you. Your show on May 23rd, Wrevolution X, is, what, your fourth major show now? Fourth! In less than a year! That’s impressive.

Your posters are a far cry from how they were even a year ago. The look legitimate, and they make you look legitimate, which is really great. Perception is everything, after all. The old ones made you look like a backyard crew. Your performers are so much better than they used to be. I remember the days when some dropkicks looked like light pats on the skin. Now you do RKOs Ace Crushers that tear down the house. And you now pack the Makati Sports Arena to the brim with not only your performers’ friends and relatives, but Filipino wrestling fans (including myself) who actually follow your characters and storylines.

You’re making really great progress, and I can’t wait to see you grow more and more. I just have one concern.

What exactly do you want to happen?

Yes, I know you want to grow. I know you want to make money. I know you want to be a wrestling company that is taken seriously as an entertainment platform in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and in the world. I know you want commercial success, and so do I. So do many of us who support you.

But is commercial success a revolution?

You’re known as Philippine Wrestling Revolution. By default, you are also the only Philippine wrestling revolution that there is. Because of this, you are expected to be Filipino, a wrestling company, and a revolution.

Let me ask you about these expectations.

How, exactly, are you Filipino? Is it because you are a Philippine business? Is it because your wrestlers are Filipino? I know that not all of them are. One of your characters is proudly Filipino-American, and another proudly proclaims to be from a first-world country.

Are you Filipino because, perhaps, your wrestling style is Filipino? I know that it probably isn’t—I see some puroresu, some lucha libre, some WWE-style in your shows. Maybe only Kanto Terror’s style is Filipino.

Are you Filipino because your language is Filipino? Hindi naman, di ba?

Are you Filipino because you support the nativist movement of the arts? I think you can be, but I wouldn’t know. I do know that one of your top babyfaces is a rich haciendero from Negros Occidental, which some wouldn’t usually associate with “true” Filipinoness. Maybe you do? Maybe you aim to redefine what the Filipino stands for?

I admit that a lot of these issues have to do with the very fragmented idea of the Filipino, in general. It’s a mess. Who can say who/what a true Filipino is? Maybe you can.

What about your being a revolution? Remember, revolutions are never accidental. What kind of revolution do you want to enact? A revolution in wrestling? A revolution in Philippine entertainment or Philippine athletics? A revolution in the arts?

Are you a Philippine revolution embodied in wrestling? Are you a revolution in wrestling that happens to be Filipino? Do you wish to be? What do you wish to be?

Historically, revolutions in the Philippines took place when a critical mass of humanity rallied together to topple a hegemony. They weren’t just a large and ever-increasing mass of people that stood and fought together arbitrarily—they stood and fought together because they were united in principle against an oppressive power.

What do you stand for? What do you stand against?

What do you want to happen?

Don’t get me wrong. I may be a critic, but I don’t mean to antagonize. I’m coming from the position of someone who actually wants to see this movement take place. And right now, you’re on a heck of a roll—your momentum increases with each event and you’re well on your way to becoming the greatest Philippines-based wrestling company in history. This is something that our nation can actually be proud of. In the short time you’ve been around, you have already become a far cry from your predecessors—a true evolution from the goofy Pinoy Wrestling of our childhood.

But you are meant to be more than a mere evolution.

Regardless, I will be watching your show on the 23rd. I am most especially looking forward to the Panzer-Warren rubber match, and the main event. Your wrestlers constantly risk their lives and bust their butts, which almost always results in me and the rest of the audience having a heck of a good time.

I just hope that someday, it will also result in a revolution—a Philippine revolution in not only wrestling, but in arts, in entertainment, in culture, in history. And that, my friend, is all up to you.

You can do it. It’s in your name.


Mikey Llorin
Wrestling fan


Mikey Llorin is a Managing Editor of Smark Henry, as well as a teacher, a performer, an events host, and a critic. Mikey writes The Critical, which covers aspects of wrestling through the lens of literary/cultural criticism. He enjoys WWE, NXT, and Lucha Underground, and he has set his critical eye on Philippine Wrestling Revolution. He daydreams of having a 20-minute promo segment arguing with PWR's General Manager.


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