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The Smark Henry Review of PWR Renaissance

Last Saturday, the Philippine Wrestling Revolution held PWR Renaissance. Once again, we trooped back to the Makati Square Arena to see our favorite Pinoy wrestlers in action, and we’ve got a couple of thoughts on how the show went down. Without further ado, let’s get this review started!


Walang Forever

PWR Renaissance kicked off with four men returning to tag team action, with the Fighters 4 Hire taking on Dual Shock in a 2-Out-Of-3-Falls tag match. This was a good chance for both teams to further build on the identities they’ve established – Rosales, for example, once again showed his vicious suplex/F-5 offense, while SANDATA showed that he’s not just all flash and flight as he locked in some nice submissions. Both teams traded falls to force a third count, and some miscommunication between Peter Versoza and SANDATA allowed Rosales to pick up the win with an F-5.

The big story here was the post-match fallout between Peter Versoza and SANDATA, with Versoza announcing that Dual Shock would break up before laying out his former partner with a vicious Petegree. Storywise, this makes sense – Dual Shock has not won any of their matches since debuting in PWR, and Versoza has had too much of SANDATA getting pinned show after show. It looks like we’ll get a match between the former partners soon, which looks promising as both men had good singles outings at PWR Live.


Fighters 4 Hire and the PHX Championship Tournament

Since we’ve already mentioned the Fighters 4 Hire, we may as well talk about the huge impact they had on the PHX Championship Tournament. In the first semifinal match, Chris Panzer squared off against fellow fan favorite Mayhem Brannigan. Both Panzer and Mayhem had a very fun match that showed their familiarity with one another, with the latter emerging as the first man in the tournament finals after a Rock N’ Roll DDT put Panzer away. Bax & Rosales then came out to congratulate them, only to turn and launch a vicious attack that resulted in Mayhem Brannigan being stretchered out of the ring.

Their actions were made clear later on when they accompanied “the Social Media Sinister” Ken Warren for his match against Ralph Imabayashi for the PHX Championship (since Mayhem Brannigan was unable to compete). This felt like a weird pairing at first, as it was just at PWR Live where Warren was mocking his then-opponent Joey Bax. But hey, Ken Warren is exactly the kind of heel that needs some hired muscle.

Warren’s latest investment has already given an immediate return, as it was the Fighters 4 Hire’s actions (among other things, but we’ll get to that later) that played a role in allowing Warren to pin Imabayashi and become PWR’s inaugural PHX Champion. It’s nice to see Warren with some gold around his waist, as he’s constantly been one of the most entertaining men on the PWR roster. It should be interesting to see how Warren will be booked as a champion moving forward, especially now that he’s got some hired Fighters on his side. Having won the title, he’s now got a target painted on his back, and I’m excited to see who his first challenger will be. Fighters 4 Hire, on the other hand, may have pissed off Mayhem Brannigan and Chris Panzer, and these two may want to pay back Bax and Rosales for their actions.


Ang Pagdurusa ni Mark D. Manalo

While Ken Warren had reason to celebrate, the same probably can’t be said for Mark D. Manalo.

Without a match on the main show, the Batangas native showed up on the inaugural edition of Stanley Chi’s Suplado Show, just moments after his mentor Kanto Terror walked out due to Chi touching on personal issues. Manalo then got into a heated discussion with Mr. Sy, addressing the general manager’s decision to allow the Apocalypse into the PWR Championship match, despite the masked monster’s actions at PWR Live.

For the most part, this was actually a very good segment. Mr. Sy held his ground against an agitated and distraught Manalo, playing the role of authority figure very well. Manalo was just as good here, showcasing his frustrations at Mr. Sy’s booking of matches, which resulted in his being escorted out of the building as he let his emotions get the best of him.

The one problem I have with this segment was how Mr. Sy’s words were inconsistent with his actions. While the PWR General Manager stressed that he gives opportunities to those who ask for it, he also said that one cannot just simply come to the ring and lay his hands on someone else as he pleases. However, isn’t that exactly what the Apocalypse did at PWR Live? The masked man laid his hands on both Jake De Leon and “Classical” Bryan Leo, and was rewarded with a title shot here at PWR Renaissance. Manalo, meanwhile, didn’t even lay his hands on anyone, yet was rewarded with an early exit from the Makati Square Arena.

In the end, though, Manalo had the last laugh as he managed to sneak back in and attack Apocalypse in the main event. Now that he has the big guy's attention, it’s only natural that we’ll see these two meet down the line, and for Manalo’s sake let’s hope it lasts much longer than their previous encounter.


Royally Flushed

The big winners of the night, however, were the Royal Flush.

First, John Sebastian took on Bombay Suarez in a rematch from PWR Live, only this time the match was No Holds Barred. The Bitch Killer came out prepared for the stipulation, bringing everything but the kitchen sink to the ring (he even brought a bundle of sitaw, much to the delight of everyone). This was a a fun, violent brawl that had both men throw everything they had in a bid to keep the other down long enough. At one point, Bombay even set his hand on fire and proceeded to chop Cutthroat with a flaming hand. Craziest spot of the match, and it just showed just how far Bombay was willing to go to put his opponent down.

Right as Bombay was about to deliver the finishing blow, Main Maxx shocked the Makati Square Arena by making his return, taking out the Bitch Killer with a well-placed Blitzkreig. The Perfect 10 then dragged Sebastian on top of Bombay for the pin, handing Sebastian his third straight win. Seems like all that first-world care at a first-world facility paid off, as Main Maxx is now back on his feet and raring to go. With John Sebastian having won twice over Bombay now, it seems that Bombay will now move on to a feud with another Royal Flush member in Main Maxx. These two men have competed in some of PWR’s most brutal matches, so expect a hard-hitting encounter the next time they meet in a PWR ring.

The night wasn’t over for John Sebastian, though. After defeating Bombay Suarez once more, the Killer of Bitch Killers thought it would be best to interrupt the PHX Championship Tournament match between Ralph Imabayashi and Ken Warren, with his rude interruption costing Imabayashi the match and the PHX Championship. Sebastian going off and immediately picking a fight right after finishing his feud with Bombay Suarez further builds him as the brash, cocky talent he is made out to be.

Meanwhile, Imabayashi has since gone on Facebook to announce that he’s coming after Sebastian, with a third match likely coming soon. They split their first two matches, and judging by what we saw then, this should be one hell of a fight.

Finally, head honcho and current PWR Champion “Classical” Bryan Leo defended his title in a Triple Threat match against the Jake de Leon and the Apocalypse. Leo played the opportunistic heel for most of the match, trying to get his to competitors to fight each other and sneaking in pinfall attempts when both men were down. Despite the antics, Bryan Leo still had plenty of chances to show his in-ring skill, with a vicious powerbomb on the Senyorito being an easy highlight. With the Apocalypse distracted by a run-in from Mark D. Manalo, Bryan Leo was able to capitalize on the carnage left by the masked man (with Death Bells to Scarlett and John Sebastian) to pin Jake De Leon and retain his championship.

The Royal Flush look stronger than ever, now that their enforcer in Main Maxx has returned. What’s more important, though, is that for the first time, Bryan Leo seems to be alone at the top. He’s beaten Jake De Leon thrice now, and with everyone else seemingly occupied (Bombay Suarez with Main Maxx, Panzer/Mayhem with the Fighters 4 Hire, etc.) you have to wonder just who is next in line for the PWR Championship. But hey, that’s good news for the Royal Flush.


Other Random Thoughts:

· The Royal Flush seem to have the numbers of Jake De Leon and Bombay Suarez. Both men picked up consecutive losses to the Flush here at PWR Renaissance, and it seems they’re stuck in a rut of sorts. We’ll have more on who’s hot and who’s not when we release the PWR Power Rankings, so stay tuned for that.

· The Preshow continued to showcase new faces in PWR, as well as feature some people we’ve seen before. We’ve met Jimmy Orellana and Vintendo at PWR Live, and both men were once again in action here. We also got a glimpse of “The Machine” Maverick Knight, also known as that beast of a man who stands behind Mr. Sy as his bodyguard. That guy is huge, and I can’t wait to see him on the actual PWR show throwing it down with the likes of Main Maxx and the Apocalypse.

· Ken Warren ended the night as a champion, but he also earned a place in fans’ hearts when he shut up one particularly noisy heckler at the balcony area. #ThankYouWarren

Overall, PWR Renaissance was a fun show that set up a lot of new rivalries heading into the future. I found all the matches quite enjoyable to watch, and none of them stood out to me for being particularly bad. In particular, the No Holds Barred match between John Sebastian and Bombay Suarez stood out, as both men got very creative with how they maximized the stipulation. Just a minor gripe with some of Mr. Sy’s logic behind his actions, but that doesn’t overshadow what was otherwise a very solid show.

What did you guys think of PWR Renaissance? Let us know in the comments section below!

All photos taken by the amazingly talented Hub Pacheco.


Anthony Cuello is an HR professional and training designer. When he’s not sleeping or reading the Harvard Business Review, he covers PWR and Lucha Underground for Smark Henry. A psychology nut, he tends to watch wrestling looking for these small nuances of in-ring behavior. He dreams of a wrestling business with good people management practices, and hopes to help make that happen one day.

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