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The Smark Henry Review of PWR Live: Road to Vendetta


Well, here we are, ladies and smarks. The first PWR event of 2016 has just concluded and it has definitely set some interesting things up for the immediate future. Bear with me, ladies and gentlemen, as I try to hash out this review on a sleep-deprived two days as PWR Live: Road to Vendetta was scheduled for Sunday for the first time. Right then and there, it makes it both more and less convenient for the attendees as street parking is free for the whole day. The downside, which I just realized after the event, was that it’s the start of a brand new week. All of you who watched on Sunday night and plowed through Monday in a zombified state, raise your coffee cups.

We've got Rederick Mahaba and our new PWR Champion, Ralph Imabayashi to kick off the show. After beating Classical Bryan Leo at Terminus, Imabayashi is set to say his piece on the hottest talkshow this side of PWR. Will the former champ induce his rematch clause tonight? In other news, Malaysia-bound wrestlers Chris Panzer and Bombay Suarez will face off with Joey Bax and Peter Versoza, respectively. The latter two are extremely salty that the Gwapito and the Trainer of the Stars are headed abroad to represent the Philippines. Also! We've got The Network firing up their PowerPoint presentations for their long awaited Product Orientation. Who knows what amazingly questionable products and services will Idol and Bruno present to us? And last but certainly not the least, Ken Warren returns to the PWR after a much deserved #KWUSATour. With how much the landscape has changed since he left, how will the Social Media Sinister update the status of the PWR?

All right! *slaps face* Let’s get this review started!

Pre-show: The Network Vs. Los Trabajadores

The Network debuted their newest member: “The Golden Boy” Chino Guinto. Interesting concept of having a “downline” join the stable, since it opens up the possibility of expanding to a larger, more competitive stable down the… line (I am so sorry for that).

Soooo much... coffeeeeeee

It was also the debut of their tag team finisher the Sideline, with Guinto providing the sidewalk slam assist to Idol Martinez’s Pay-In finisher. Los Trabajadores did put up quite a fight, providing highlights of their own, but ultimately still living up to their name.

Result: The Network wins via Sideline



Memorable Chant: “Downline ka lang!”—Chino Guinto's in-ring debut


Usapang Mahaba ft. Ralph Imabayashi (with interruption by Classical Bryan Leo and Scarlett)

Rederick Mahaba opens the show in classic fashion, eliciting cheers from the crowd with his trademark heart hand sign and introduces the PWR crowd to the new champ, Ralph Imabayashi, only 19 years old. Fully expected the generic congratulatory celebrations for new champs with Mahaba’s flavor added to it, but was pleasantly surprised with what was revealed. When Mahaba joined the PWR bootcamp, Imabayashi was apparently sidelined with an injury and was having thoughts of quitting altogether. Thankfully, he stayed on and his efforts paid off. Bro, it was touching.

On the wings of loooove...

Classical Bryan Leo interrupts the festivities with Scarlett in tow, and invokes his rematch clause for next month’s Vendetta. PWR General Manager Mr. Sy approves the match, but also announces separate matches for the two competitors. Imabayashi would defend his title that night against the Apocalypse—a surprising choice, especially with how tough his opponent is. CBL, on the other hand, was challenged by Rederick Mahaba. At this point, you have to wonder on what the outcome would be with the main event. Apocalypse is a legitimate tough opponent and has been known to cause injuries amongst the people he's faced (Kanto Terror, Main Maxx, Mark D. Manalo and Vintendo).

Match Announcement:  Classical Bryan Leo vs. Ralph Imabayashi for the PWR Championship at Vendetta.

Memorable Chant: “Sparkly Jacket”—on Classical Bryan Leo's attire; and 
“Boss, Employee”—Mr. Sy reminding CBL of their professional relationship


Classical Bryan Leo vs. Rederick Mahaba

That's not PG

Rederick Mahaba’s Jaccolade is a move tailor-fit for him. Seriously. It has all the look of a big guy sitting on his opponent while it being a front face version of the camel clutch means his opponent gets a front row seat to Mahaba’s mahaba. Two moves that were liberally used in that match were Mahaba’s splash (Splash City, Bitch!) and Classical Bryan Leo’s diving headbutt to the legs. A good strategy going into the match for both, with the nod ultimately going to Bryan Leo. CBL employed a move he called the Blackpool Clutch, a mix of The Regal Stretch and the Cravate. In his words, the First World Man himself said:

"I designed that move last night specifically to immobilize big people like Rederick. I utilized the cravate instead of the choke or crossface as the cravate is more likely to break necks, and will bring any big man to his knees."

Those aren't just any fighting words, son. Those are first world fighting words.

After the match, CBL attacks Mahaba by choking him along the ropes while Scarlett performs a Stinkface on the Intimate Warrior. I don’t know about you, but I call that a win for Rederick Mahaba.

This is the face of a man who lost the battle but won the war

Once again, Mahaba is distracted by Scarlett which eventually costs him the match. I seriously hope this leads to something in the future. All that teasing and betrayal is perfect storyline material in case the Royal Flush disbands or kicks Scarlett out of the group. She may finally let those dormant feelings bloom and Team #ScarHab gets its chance to shine. Big guys need love too.

Result: Classical Bryan Leo wins via Black Pool Clutch

Memorable Fan Reaction: "It's a trap"—Mahaba being distracted by Scarlett 


The Network's Product Orientation

If Rederick Mahaba thought that his troubles were over, he was sadly mistaken. The newly expanded The Network (Idol Martinez, Bruno Bernardo, and Chino Guinto) came out for their much awaited product orientation seminar. In classic networking theme, it was done through MS PowerPoint. Apparently, there are three ways of joining the stable. 


  1. You pay the joining fee in cash (it's an investment)
  2. You sell Network products
  3. You let Idol hit you with the Pay-In.

I think I'll stick with number two, thank you.

They've also revealed that aside from the Idol Supplements, there's a new product in town: POWER Power Drink.

It's so POWERful that you need shades just to hold it.

At this point, The Network attacks Rederick Mahaba and Idol proceeds to pour POWER at the face of the prone Mahaba. Bad choice, as Mahaba is rejuvenated and lays waste to Bernardo and Guinto. He hits Bernardo with the Jaccolade while the rest of The Network save their sorry asses. As they leave, Mahaba issues a challenge to Idol for a match at Vendetta.

This feud is simply one of the best right now in engaging the fans. Two equally relatable topics are at play here: Matters of Love/Lust and Network Marketing. The way these two opposing wrestlers tackle their own agendas makes for some very good banter. I can't wait to see them go into action against one another in a classic David (and his homies) vs. Goliath match.

Match Announcement: Rederick Mahaba vs. Idol Martinez for Vendetta

Important PWR Wrestler Quote: "Disgusting—Bruno Bernardo on one word to describe the Jaccolade


Return of Ken Warren and Open Challenge Answered by Vintendo

The current PHX champion has come back from his #KWUSATour and is surprised at how things seem to have played out while he was away. A new champ in Imabayashi and JDL winning the Path of Gold and not gunning for Warren is an interesting notion indeed. Surprisingly, Ken Warren does not view The Network as his equals, nor at least at the same side as him. Although the two have not had any significant interactions, it may suggest that should the two ever meet in the ring, an alliance is not likely.

Oh Warren, we really missed you.


Back to the open challenge, Vintendo accepts and is immediately taunted by Warren for his shoulder injury at the hands of The Apocalypse. As expected, Ken Warren's strategy is to isolate the shoulder and inflict as much damage to it to aggravate it. He even tried an armbar that transitioned into a triangle lock. However, Vintendo proves that he can hang with the champ in the ring and manages to almost finish him, except that the High Score just couldn't connect. One highlight worthy Wi-Fi later, and Vintendo is down for the count.

Player One...has disconnected.

Alright, here's my issue with Vintendo's storyline. He has none. The guy has good moves that come from popular fighting games like Street Fighter. He hit a triple European uppercut on Ken Warren against the turnbuckle into a running Shoryuken. He did the Hundred Hand Slap by E. Honda. Hell, he even has a Sonic-boom inspired spinning back elbow that he debuted last night. The problem is, there's no direction to where his story is going. He has no direct feud that can be built on to familiarize the character to the audience. Right now, he's the random player icon on the character select screen, popping up to answer challenges without really defining his character. If Kenny Omega and Xavier Woods can build on their personas as gamers, there's definitely a chance for Vintendo. Give him someone to have a First to 10 or something, A surprise Ken Warren alliance someday? Why not? They're both warriors of the digital realm anyway. Bottomline is, Vintendo needs a DLC, badly.

That's the spirit!

Result: Ken Warren wins via WiFi


Chris Panzer vs. Joey Bax 

The darling of the female fans of the PWR (and some of the guys too, but we don't judge.) is preparing for to do battle abroad by taking on one half of the Fighters 4 Hire. Bax is responding well to the crowd, politely ignoring their requests not to damage Chris Panzer's face. Slaps, punches, and even dragging it across the ropes, Chris Panzer's face had a target as big as Rusev.
Shhh, quiet ka lang, May request yung crowd.

Joey Bax shows that he's no pushover as he brings the leader of the Panzer Army to his limits but falls prey in the end to Panzer's Anaconda Vice.

AHHHH!!!!! MAY CAMERA!!!

Alright, this is where it gets interesting. After the match, Panzer approaches Bax with a show of respect that he reciprocates. A slight face turn, perhaps? Or are these signs to remind us that his allegiance to Ken Warren is purely professional? That in the end, he really is of a chaotic neutral alignment, as our Best for Business writer Mark De Joya mentioned to me. He is indeed a Fighter 4 Hire.

SANDATA runs in on a downed Joey Bax and puts him in an ankle lock! #PWRLive
Posted by Philippine Wrestling Revolution on Sunday, 31 January 2016

But before we can delve any deeper into that, SANDATA makes his way to the ring and proceeds to chop down Bax with his kicks. Already weary and weak from his battle with Panzer, Bax offers no resistance against the masked madman. To cap it off, SANDATA throws on the Ankle Lock and refuses to let go as the PWR staff rush to separate the two.

SANDATA is not like many other masked wrestlers. He breaks the stereotype since he isn't exactly a high flyer like the Los Trabajadores. Hence, it may seem confusing to many why he would pull off an Ankle Lock as his seemingly new finisher. However, the move has already been in his repertoire long ago. The only difference is now we have an angrier SANDATA who seems bent on injuring his opponents. Shades of when Kurt Angle debuted his Ankle Lock too.

Result: Chris Panzer wins via Anaconda Vice

Memorable Chant/Fan Sign:


Kasi gwapo eh.

Mark D. Manalo vs John Sebastian (w/ Main Maxx as guest commentary), later changed to Mark D. Manalo and Jake de Leon vs. Royal Flush (John Sebastian and Main Maxx)

What was originally supposed to be a one one one battle between the People's Champ and The Acehole was turned into a tag team match when Main Maxx forgot that guest commentary duties do not include interfering with the match. Thankfully, The Senyorito came in for the save. Once Mr. Sy had everything under control, he made the match official.

Senyorito to the rescue!

The Royal Flush initially ganged up on MDM, thwarting any plans of tagging out. On his third attempt, Manalo spears Main Maxx and lets The Senyorito take over. De Leon cleans house and was about to finish the match with the Alipin Drop, but MDM begs him for a chance at the Acehole. After an elbow drop, he attempted a Stunner, but John Sebastian was quick to capitalize on a distracted ref. A swift knee to the Mini Manalos and he attacks JDL to get him out of commission. A tag to the Perfect 10 and a chokebomb after, and the Royal Flush manages to win once again. Main Maxx, who was injured at the time of the Path of Gold tournament, issues a challenge to Jake de Leon for his trophy.




The Flush wins! And with that Main Maxx challenges Jake De Leon for his Path of Gold opportunity at PWR Vendetta on February 20th. #PWRLive
Posted by Philippine Wrestling Revolution on Sunday, 31 January 2016
John Sebastian and Main Maxx have already established their chemistry. They work well together. We al know that. So that brings us to the other duo in the ring: Mark D. Manalo and Jake de Leon.
#Squadgoals

In the simplest of descriptions I can honestly say that I like their pairing. I love it, even. They fill in the gaps missing in each other's current storylines. With Kanto Terror having no immediate set return date, the fan favorite tag team known as Beer Promdi is in a state of limbo.

And after unsuccessful attempts to win back the title and seeing it at the hands of a friend, Imabayashi, Jake de Leon is in a rut with nowhere to go but with title opportunity at hand. Why isn't he targeting the PHX belt? No matter. The two seem to blend well together. Mark D, Manalo is a sponge, absorbing the moves of others and using them as his own. Jake de Leon has a wealth of moves, making him one of the wrestlers in the PWR with the most number of ways to inflict pain on opponents. You can clearly see Manalo try out de Leon's cartwheel and rolling based attacks successfully. This could very well be the path that both men need to take. As soon as the PWR announces a tag team championship, you can bet these two have a solid fighting chance.

Result: Royal Flush wins via Blitzkrieg

Match Announcement: Main Maxx vs. Jake de Leon for the Path of Gold on Vendetta.

Memorable Chant: "Noche Buena" (I still don't know why)

Co-Main Event: Peter Versoza vs. Bombay Suarez

Alright, honestly I can't do the play-by-play for this match. There was so much action here that I forgot to write most of what happened. All I can really remember is that there were finishers galore in this match. Seriously. Trouble in Paradise, Angle Slam, Atomic Leg Drop. Atomic Leg Drop form the FREAKING TOP ROPE, Petegrees and KOTDs.
Bombs-Away Suarez

 In the end, Bombay Suarez manages to land another KOTD to pin Versoza and end the match. Suarez tried the same show of respect like his other Malaysia-bound fellow wrestler, but Versoza refuses the gesture. Suarez simply shrugs his shoulders and walks away. Enter Crystal.

Crystal, the newest female member of the PWR, was conducting an interview with Suarez prior to the match when Versoza pushed her aside to confront him. Fast forward to PWR Live. As Versoza was about to leave after the match, Crystal stops him and asks him for an interview, which Versoza begrudgingly agrees to do. Annoyed after Crystal asks him his thoughts regarding his loss, he pushkicks her to the ground.
Sabi ngang wag math eh.

This enrages Crystal, who asks Mr. Sy for a match against Versoza on Vendetta. Mr. Sy agrees, and the crowd erupts as the first intergender match of PWR comes to fruition. Versoza reacts to this news by hitting Crystal with not one, but TWO Petegrees. What a douchebag.

Where do we even begin? To be honest, after the hype and all the energy of that announcement, I started to realize something. Crystal has no match experience, pre-show or otherwise. Versoza has been improving his momentum as of late, despite his recent setback. Why does Crystal get to demand a match such as this? Peter Versoza may have started to develop a misogynistic douchey character, but I expected it more from Scarlett, instead of Crystal to take the first shot at him:


He's extremely popular with the ladies.

It all seems so rushed and random. Prior to today, there has been no interaction between the two. How, then, does it make sense to draw up a match wherein one guy gets to beat up on someone making her wrestling debut? My best guess is that someone will come in and save her just before she loses and she gets a surprise pin fall or interference when the ref is out cold. Who knows? This match came out of nowhere.

Result: Bombay Suarez wins via KOTD

Match announcement: Crystal debuts against Peter Versoza on Vendetta

Memorable Chant: "Jimmy Bondoc".... oo nga 'no?


Main Event: Ralph Imabayashi vs. The Apocalypse (PWR Championship Title Match)

This was the match that left many of us thinking of different ways it could've ended. Not that we would have a new PWR champion, but if we would even have one at the end of the night. To explain, Apocalypse STARTED THE MATCH WITH A DEATH BELL. For reals.
And here's the proof.

Throughout the early stages of the match, he would target the arm and shoulder of the champ, seemingly content to injure him. Imabayashi would be able to fight back every now and then, including a running dropkick on his opponent who was lying against the metal stairs. However, the Unholy One would always seem to come out on top, landing a total of 4 sidewalk slams before losing his momentum while attempting a tombstone piledriver. He would once again have the chance to inflict a Death Bell, only now from the top rope, but something else happened.


This happened.

You read that right, Ralph Imabayashi, against all odds, counters the Death Bell into a Sonic Crusher from the top rope! 1, 2, 3 and he's still the champ!

This was a damn good match indeed. The seeming tension on whether or not Apocalypse was going to injure Imabayashi ahead of his potential rematch with Classical Bryan Leo would've been an interesting twist to the story, but instead, the Filipino Japanese sensation from Antipolo fought back and walked away the champ—but not so fast.

Result: Ralph Imabayashi retains his title via Sonic Crusher

Memorable Chant: "Terrence Romeo!" (Imabayashi's final form)

Although Apocalypse uncharacteristically walked away from a battered and drained Imabayashi, the punishment was only beginning. The Royal Flush proceeded to walk out and beat the tawagoto out of him. Each one would perform their finishers as all ganking are wont to do.
Man, motorcycles of the future look so weird

 However, instead of Bryan Leo being the last, Scarlett chose to end the spectacle. It seems kind of off that someone else would put the finishing touches on a buildup to the rematch event. Smark Henry's Editor at Large was quick to point out this interesting head scratcher: "If I were kayfabe Ralph, I'd be pissed at the PWR babyfaces for being fair-weather friends. They were there for the title win but nowhere when he was assaulted 3-on-1."

Well, damn. That does make a lot of sense.

Overall, it was an interesting buildup to Vendetta, as the event name suggests. We've got a lot of interesting matches coming up, and some questionable ones. I for one am most excited for the JDL vs Main Maxx Path to Gold match. Interesting to see with how the current title holders are at the moment. On the other hand, if nothing special happens with the Versoza-Crystal beatdown, it's definitely gonna seem awkward at best.

Of course, there's only one way to find out, and that's to head on over to iAcademy on Feb 20 for PWR Vendetta. See you there folks!


*****

George Pastor writes our weekly #WTFWednesday column. He got into judo because it was the closest sport available where it was perfectly fine to slam someone without getting expelled. His girlfriend is not amused.

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