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#ThrowbackThursday (1/7/15): Pinoy Wrestling Reviewed


Professional wrestling may seem like it's at an all-time high in 2016 with the continued surge of the Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR), but let's not forget about the much-revered age of Pinoy Wrestling from the late 1980s.

For today's Throwback Thursday, let's do a play-by-play review of a little match we spotted on the YouTube featuring two of Pinoy Wrestling's more recognisable stars: Max Buwaya vs. Lawin the Bird Man.

Strap on your seatbelts, you damn millennials. We're going for a wild and wooly trip down memory lane like only Pinoy Wrestling can provide!

*****

(0:00) Holy hell, what a glorious opening vignette. I don’t know what kind of clearances the Pinoy Wrestling production team had to get with Malabon Zoo, but this is precisely the kind of over-the-top characterization and gimmickry that made old-timey wrestling so entertaining. Of course a dude who calls himself “Lawin the Bird Man” would find inspiration watching birds in zoos. It makes perfect sense.


(0:25) It takes major balls to walk around in a public space dressed like that. But then again, this is the late 80s we’re talking about. When acid-washed jeans, shoulder pads, and Maui & Sons were fashion de rigeur, a feathered cape, leather corset, and black spandex tights are fair game.


(0:46) AND HERE’S THE ACTION! Good Lord, someone give these guys an Oscars for Best in Sound Production, because that’s some massive crowd sweetening going on. If you close your eyes, you can almost imagine them taping at Madison Square Garden or something. Doesn’t look like there are more than a eighty people actually in attendance, but that’s 1989 television for you.


(0:49) Ultimate tito ring announcer here. And you thought Michael Cole was bad. Dude looks like he’s out to host an episode of Battle of the Brains.


(1:06) I’m pleasantly shocked to see that Pinoy Wrestling actually used a legitimate three-rope wrestling ring for their matches. In my head, they held their matches in crappy, saggy boxing rings, much like PWR did in its early days. I don’t understand however how they can have Revicon as a sponsor, but couldn’t afford an apron for the ring.


(1:18) Max Buwaya enters the ring. Not sure whether I’m watching a Demolition rip-off or The Gimp from Pulp Fiction. Dude is legitimately jacked though. Looks like he spends more time in the gym than 90% of the PWR roster. I bet he could shrug Ralph Imabayashi for 15 reps like nothing.


(1:49) AND HEEEEEEEERE’S LAWIN! He’s got some spring in his step.


(1:53) Character development: We know Lawin is a high-flyer, because he leaps over the ropes instead of stepping in between them like a normal human being.


(1:54) And apparently he’s a Judo Blackbelter too. He and Scarlett need to totally hook up. Team #Scarwin, anyone?

(2:00) Dammit, he took off his headdress and wings. Hiram lang daw kasi sa Belle Star Dancers.


(2:22) Here’s one of my favorite little pre-match rituals: The referee checking each man for foreign objects. It’s one of the little things that lends legitimacy to the sport. Either that, or Max Buwaya is showing him a bad rash.


(2:26) Even cooler little nod to kayfabe: Checking Lawin if his nails (talons?) are cut short. I’ve literally never seen that in a wrestling match, but makes perfect sense if backrakes are frowned upon. These guys are old-school purists, and I love it! Have I mentioned by the way how much I love the fact that the ref is wearing a bowtie? I hate how referees today are all in jerseys or sports polos. You can’t be the upholder of the law in the ring unless you’re in a bowtie!


(2:43) Cute little lock-up to start the match, like all proper wrestling matches should. I approve. Max Buwaya wins, by the way, but surprises me with a clean break. I thought he was the heel.

(2:53) Have I mentioned how jacked Max Buwaya is? His traps have traps. Laking Star Rice, errbody!


(3:19) WAIT. How did I not notice that Max Buwaya brought a damn little person to the ring with him? More importantly, why are there no little people in PWR? You can’t have a proper Pinoy wrestling match without little people!


(3:36) And the high-flying daredevil Lawin shows off his mad aerial skills with… the world’s lowest dropkick. Ugh. Now we know where Erik Watts learned to sky. Even Buwaya doesn’t seem to want to bump properly for it, flopping down eventually, but you know in his head, he’s like “Dude, what was that? A dropkick for ants?”


(3:47) Not sure what was going on in that botched Irish whip sequence. The (fake) crowd is loving it, and by loving it, I mean hating it with the rage of a thousand Game of Thrones fans who found out George R.R. Martin is delayed again.

(4:04) Lawin drives Buwaya into the corner with some lazy forearms and punches that are so soft, even Chris Panzer would roll his eyes. One thing I’m noticing so far is how tentative these two men seem in the ring. I don’t mind the slow pace at all—this is 80s wrestling, after all—but they just seem so scared to put any mustard on anything.

(4:25) The two men finally get their Irish whip reversal right, and Max Buwaya counters a charge with a slow-motion sunset flip that looks like the poor jabroni DDT’d himself before fiiiiiinally getting Lawin’s shoulders down. A for intent, maybe a C+ for execution.


(4:49) Both men are looking gassed already, and seem to have no idea what to do. Here we go with the third lock-up sequence of the match, and hopefully we see something better out of it than what’s happened so far.

(4:55) JUDO ARMDRAG BY MAX BUWAYA! BAH GAWD! WITH GOD AS MY WITNESS, LAWIN HAS BEEN BROKEN IN HALF! …OK, I kid. I love me a good technical match, but I’ve literally seen nothing so far apart from a dropkick and a sunset flip. This eventually transitions into an incredible cross-armbreaker. (Note: “Incredible” in this sense means, “What the hell, nobody’s gonna believe that shit hurts.”)


(5:18) Lawin powers out of the cross-armbreaker! I think he’s going to go for a one-armed powerbomb! Now we’re talking!


(5:21) …Fuck. He just stomped on Max Buwaya’s face. Thanks for getting my hopes up, loser.

(6:06) Buwaya regains control, then turns to the audience with his arms up in the air. I’m secretly wishing he’d gone “Are you not entertained?” to the crowd, just for the massive boos he’d have gotten. Seriously, we’re six minutes to this and have seen nothing remotely approaching an in-ring story or a decent rasslin’ move.


(6:17) And it’s the fourth wrestling move of the night, with Buwaya taking Lawin down with a bodyslam!

(6:26) Now we’re seeing something that looks like it should have been a.. senton splash? An elbow drop? A whoopee cushion? We never find out, because Lawin rolls lamely out of the way. #psychology

(6:54) The camera cuts to Mini-Buwaya in the corner, and I seriously hope he eventually found God.


(6:59) Was that a clothesline by Max Buwaya? Whatever it was, it was Kleenex soft, but we bet that was him getting his revenge on Lawin for earlier. “You made me bump for your shitty dropkick! Here, sell my stinky clothesline of doom!”

(7:30) Now Buwaya finally gets the chance to show off his awesome strength by hurling Lawin over the top rope. This despite starting his throw from 20 feet away from the ropes, but whatevs. Lawin takes a manly bump, and so far, that’s the spot of the night.


(7:50) Now he’s back in the ring like nothing happened. I’m confused. Has he been taking Idol Supplements or something?

(8:05) COMEBACK SEGMENT! Lawin is a house on fire, and would have done a convincing job if only his jumping roundhouse kick had come maybe a foot and a half closer to actually hitting his opponent.


(8:07) Buwaya of course has to sell like he just got Boma Ye’d, but we bet he’s seething deep inside. A man’s got to have pride, yo.

(8:19) Now Lawin is going to town with a stiff dropkick to the head that looks like it legitimately knocked Buwaya for a loop. Looks like he’s done playing jabroni!


(8:29) He follows it up with a jumping enzigiri to the head! Bombay Suarez, watch and learn, young boy!


(8:43) Now he looks like he’s going for a suplex, only to get countered with a bodyslam. A bodyslam is literally Max Buwaya’s only strong grapple. Remind us not to choose him in 2K16.

(8:49) Max Buwaya is finding his second wind, skipping with Tatanka’s little war dance all around the ring to show us he’s all fine and dandy. Didn’t he just get kicked in the head twice in the last 30 seconds? Does the concept of selling a possible concussion not occur to him at all?


(9:01) And it’s time for the go-home segment! Buwaya with a limp-wristed clothesline that Lawin sells like he got shot. Man, I can’t wait to see that the finishing sequence will be! Will we see a gorilla press slam? A spinning neckbreaker maybe? Or some sort of vicious submission?

(9:13) …Okay, so Max Buwaya’s finisher is apparently a falling bodyslam of some sort. The proper term is actually a “powerslam” (or a “power bodyslam,” as the clueless commentators call it), but for that to apply, the move needs to actually involve some sort of power.


(9:16) And Max Buwaya gets the three-count! …or did he? It looks like Lawin was supposed to kick out but didn’t, and the referee just sort of stares at Max Buwaya all confused before finally calling for the bell. We suppose that’s it.


Here's the match in full, but I promise you're not missing much.


Pacing issues aside, this wasn't a spectacular match by any means. In an age that played host to such classic match-ups as the legendary Ric Flair versus Harley Race feud or the classic contest between "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania 3, it's inexcusable to see two guys go at it with even less of a gameplan than Jason Webb.

We're glad to see that today's mat technicians and daredevils in PWR have a better grasp of storytelling and psychology. If there's anything though that classic Pinoy Wrestling had over today's talents on the Philippine Wrestling Revolution roster, it's their physical shape; these guys clearly spent more time in the gym and loading up on a protein shake or two. It's a pity their physical attributes didn't translate into in-ring acumen, but back then, local wrestling fans would just have to take what they could get.

What did you think of this particular match, Henrinites? How do you think it stacks up against today's matches? Does this get you dreaming of potential era-versus-era match-ups between the stars of Pinoy Wrestling and PWR? Let us know in the comments section below!

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