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The Smark Henry Review of PWR Vendetta 2016

PWR

The first major event of PWR for 2016, Vendetta, has come and gone. No doubt, the entire landscape of PWR changed entirely in one night, highlighted by the anticipated rematch between Ralph Imabayashi and Classical Bryan Leo for the PWR Championship, Jake De Leon and Main Maxx for the Path of Gold Trophy, the Champion vs. Champion encounter between MyPW Extreme Division Champion Bombay Suarez and PHX Champion Ken Warren, and the much hyped battle between Peter Versoza and Crystal in the first-ever intergender match in Philippine wrestling history. And that's besides the grudge match between SANDATA and Joey Bax of Fighters 4 Hire, as well as the Network's James "Idol" Martinez and Rederick Mahaba.

So how did it go? What hit? What missed? What got everyone standing on their feet in utmost appreciation? Without any further delay, here we go with Smark Henry's PWR Vendetta review!


*****


Pre-show


Match #1: Yohann "#YOLO" Ollores vs. Los Trabajador Dos


The first pre-show match featured the debut of Yohann Ollores, aka #YOLO, an entitled, Starbucks-sipping douche that enters the ring to the tune of Justin Bieber's "What Do You Mean?" Great heel tactic right there.



Facing him was one half of Los Trabajadores, Trabajador Dos. The match was a means to show fans what the playa is all about, berating and embarassing the determined fan favorite. The match eventually ended with his version of the jumping reverse STO he calls the One Night Stand. 


PWR Yohann Ollores
Is it too late now to say sorry?
Much like how the Machine was slowly introduced to fans through the pre-show over the past few months, this will serve as a way to get fans eventually invested in the #YOLO character. It will take a while, if the fan reactions are of any indication. But there is always a room for improvement.

Result: #YOLO wins via One Night Stand

Memorable Chant: "Change your brief!" (Well, his brief was showing!)

Match #2: Vintendo vs. "The Golden Boy" Chino Guinto


The Fighting Gamer took on The Network's Golden Boy in the second pre-show match, with Vintendo's power game being the difference-maker against Guinto's vicious tactics and some much-needed protection from his ally, "Big Bank" Bruno Bernardo. 

Vintendo may have won the match following the High Score chokeslam, making up for his previous loss against Ken Warren, but The Network soon beat him up afterwards, with Guinto's Curb Stomp (aptly named the Gold Digger) sealing his fate.


PWR Vintendo Chino Guinto
Vintendo measures the Golden Boy for a chokeslam.
Vintendo's in a unique position. He is a talented man with the skills to back it up, no doubt. But at the end of it, is there any particular reason why fans should be fully invested in his gimmick? He's a wrestler inspired by games, but fans could not seem to go along with him. At the rate he is going, he is going to have to give fans a reason why they should care about him. Otherwise, he will risk having people lose interest in the long term. There's a massive difference between having a gimmick and having a character, and at this stage of his career, Mr. Vintendo has to prove he's more than just a one-dimensional paper gimmick.

Result: Vintendo wins via High Score Chokeslam

Memorable Chant: "Hadouken! Shoryuken!" (Street Fighter V came out a few days ago)


*****


Main Show


Opening Segment: The Royal Flush and Ralph Imabayashi in the iAcademy Parking Lot


The show began with the Royal Flush ("Classical" Bryan Leo, John Sebastian, Main Maxx, and Scarlett) gathered in the parking lot, talking about the festivities that would happen later in the night. They were later met by the PWR Champion Ralph Imabayashi, a preview of the night's main event. After a few hostile words, the Royal Flush then attacked Imabayashi, with people trying to keep them away from each other. Shades of the Four Horsemen and their classic parking lot beatdowns of Dusty Rhodes.

It is refreshing to see a parking lot segment in PWR, with an encounter designed to hype the main event of the night. You have to give it to them for being able to film segments, an upgrade from the upstart Makati Cinema Square days. It shows that there are improvements on the presentation side of the company, wih a huge kudos to the production team for the effort.

Match #1—For the Path of Gold Trophy: "The Senyorito" Jake De Leon (trophy-holder) vs. Main Maxx of the Royal Flush



If there was a better way to kick the night off with a bang, let it be with Jake De Leon and Main Maxx for the Path of Gold Trophy, a first-time singles encounter between the two.

From the get-go, both men attempted to hurt each other with no care in the world, Maxx wanting revenge for his undue elimination at the Path of Gold Match last December at Terminus. Both men busted out their best moves, with the SeƱorito hitting a stiff kick to the face of Maxx to a huge pop. Maxx eventually locked in the rarely-used Maxximum Mutilation submission hold (in honor of the newly-retired Daniel Bryan perhaps?) to try and net a submission win, but to no avail.


PWR Main Maxx Jake De Leon JDL
That looks like it hurts.
A superkick fiesta from JDL followed by the Alipin Drop was all she wrote for the Flush's Perfect 10.

PWR Main Maxx Jake De Leon JDL 2
World's largest Alipin Drop.
Fans chanted "A for Effort" during the match for Main Maxx, and you know what, he deserves it! He worked his butt off in the match, showing agility that would surprise even the most skeptical of fans. The whole "built like a heavyweight, moves like a cruiserweight" trope works perfectly for the big man; when you give the ball to Maxx, he'll run with it. And JDL managed to be his usual self, a man who is able to deliver every single night. Both men complemented each other well, and the fans knew it.


Result: Jake de Leon wins via Alipin Drop

Memorable Chants: "A for Effort"—Maxx's impressive showing, "Bonjing"—Towards Maxx


Mr. Sy Welcomes The Revo-Nation


PWR General Manager Mr. Sy entered the ring to congratulate JDL for his win, reminding everyone that he will face the winner of the main event of PWR Wrevolution X this May. He also dropped some the worst news of the night: Chris Panzer (#WagSaMukha) was not in attendance due to a TV commercial commitment.

PWR Mr Sy

However, he did bring out the new MyPW Extreme Division Champion, Bombay Suarez, to a pop and a flurry of "You Deserve It" chants. Bombay's speech was then interrupted by PHX Champion, Ken Warren (with Joey Bax), who complained about not being given the respect he deserved as the #WorkhorseChampion. Mr. Sy put him in his place, and announced that the scheduled Champion vs. Champion match would take place immediately!

Memorable Chant: "Boss, Employee!"—Mr. Sy reminding the Social Media Sinister of their professional relationship, the same way he did to CBL at PWR Live: Road to Vendetta.

Match #2—Champion vs. Champion: MyPW Extreme Division Champion Bombay Suarez vs. PHX Champion Ken Warren



A year ago, Vendetta 2015, was the last time they fought each other in singles action. Now, they face each other once again under different circumstances, both holding prestigious championships around their waist. The two men delivered their usual spots in a hard fought battle, showing signs of improvements from last year's clash

The finish came under bizarre circumstances. Bombay pulled off the old "foreign object trick" made popular by the legendary Eddie Guerrero, and after some confusion, a low blow from Warren allowed the Face of Facebook to hit him with the Wi-Fi for the win. 


PWR Ken Warren Bombay Suarez
Bombay gets his Wi-Fi disconnected.
The good vibes went away, however, because Mr. Sy announced that he will defend the PHX title in Calamba, Laguna against the PWR representatives who went to Malaysia recently, Chris Panzer and Bombay Suarez, in a Triple Threat match!


PWR Ken Warren
Warren's face when he realises that Warren screwed Warren.
The match was great, showing everyone why they earned the titles they fought for. However, an overcomplicated finish hurt the overall quality a match, which should have been kept simple. This is a case of when overbooking a complicated finish can confuse some members of the audience. Hopefully their encounter in Laguna will make up for that.

Result: Ken Warren wins via Wi-Fi

Memorable Chants: "Warren's Nipples"—To Ken Warren (Seriously, we can't make this stuff up)

Match #3—Grudge Match: Mark D. Manalo vs. John Sebastian of the Royal Flush



The match months in the making has finally happened: Sebastian vs. Manalo in a singles match. It was a classic battle between the arrogant yet talented elitist and the lovable underdog scraping for his first singles win after a run of impressive showings against such top-shelf talent as "Classical" Bryan Leo and The Apocalypse all ending in defeat. With both men dishing out as much punishment as possible after months of animosity, it took a well-placed Dragon Driver from Sebastian on Manalo followed by the Killshot for the win, depriving the underdog of a breakthrough win.


PWR John Sebastian Mark D Manalo
Did someone say "Knees To Faces"?
After the match, The Apocalypse once again came to the ring and attempted to put MDM out of his misery again. But before things could get any worse, Kanto Terror made his much anticipated return to PWR to a huge pop, going after the monster and defending his Beer Promdi partner.


PWR Kanto Terror
Kanto Terror returns to the ring!
As far as the match goes, there was something lacking as far as quality goes. And that is a shame, because both of these men are talented wrestlers in their own right, having standout matches for the past number of months. It also looked like these two were more focused on the bantering part than the wrestling part, which is understandable given the context of their rivalry. Though overall, it was a classic case of expecting way too much, but not getting what could have been.

Result: John Sebastian wins via Killshot

Memorable Chants: "John Sebas-TIYAN!"—To the Acehole (Now connect that with the "Noche Buena" chant from PWR Live), "D Manalo!"—To MDM, "#WagSaTiyan" (That's now apparently a thing)

Match #4—Rederick Mahaba vs. James "Idol" Martinez of The Network



A match that pits two different philosophies finally landed on Vendetta, as the Intimate Warrior took on the boss of the Network. It was a match that took advantage of their respective strengths, particularly Rederick's power advantage and Idol's ingenuity (that under-the-ring spot was particularly impressive) and Bronco Buster skills—payback perhaps for the nasty Jaccolade that Mahaba dished out to Bruno Bernardo last month?


PWR James Idol Martinez Network Rederick Mahaba
This segment was sponsored by Lipton Teabags.
The match was going in Martinez's favor until Vintendo attacked Bruno Bernardo with a stiff chair shot and chased away Chino Guinto to the back. But then, "The Machine" Mavericc Knight finally made his main show debut and attacked Rederick with his devastating Good Knight side slam to interrupt a pin attempt after his It's More Slam In The Philippines finisher, helping Idol win the match.

PWR James Idol Martinez Network Rederick Mahaba Machine
It's time for Rederick to fear the gears.
Finally glad to see the Machine make his debut in PWR's first major show of the year, showing everyone why the Pampanga native is a force unlike any other. What is a huge question however is why help Idol? What stake does Machine have for him to help out someone that, at first glance, he has nothing in common with? And how will this affect Mahaba and Vintendo moving forward?

The battle lines are drawn, and hopefully by then, Vintendo can find that x-factor that will allow fans to invest on his character more.

Shout out for Bruno Bernardo for taking that chair shot like a champ! Seriously, that was brutal.

Result: Idol wins following interference from The Machine

Memorable Chants: "Dropkick!" (It's apparently the theme of the event, and fans noticed the trend), "Suplex!"—asking IDOL to try and suplex Mahaba, "Downline ka lang!"—to Chino Guinto (man, everyone hates the guy)


Match #5—First Intergender Match in the Philippines: Peter Versoza vs. Crystal



When the match was announced at PWR Live: Road to Vendetta, fans have been curious as to how it will end up. Will it be nothing more than a filler or toilet break? Will it involve some screwy finish? Will it be nothing more than an excuse of domestic violence to further the character of P to the V? Or will it be a mess of a match?

It seemed as though all of our doubts were erased in one hell of a performance that certainly went beyond, ehem,  five minutes.

What fans witnessed is a performance the likes fans have never seen before (unless you saw intergender matches in Lucha Underground). Both Peter and Crystal delivered a stellar performance that brought the entire Revo-Nation to its feet. While we all knew Peter can hold up his end, it was Crystal that surprised everyone with her unique offense, including an attempt at the 619, a German Suplex while holsing Peter's "crown jewels," and her variation of the Black Widow submission, getting fans riled up from beginning to end. 



Crystal locks it in! #PWRVendetta
Posted by Philippine Wrestling Revolution on Saturday, 20 February 2016


And Peter continued to pull off moves such as his spinning back kick and even a successful attempt at a sitout powerbomb! In the end, Petey finished off Crystal with the Karne Norte gutbuster in Vendetta's Match of the Night!


But in the end, Peter Versoza takes the win. What a match! #PWRVendetta
Posted by Philippine Wrestling Revolution on Saturday, 20 February 2016


This match greatly represents what intergender matches should be. With all the talk about a women's wrestling revolution, this match showed why faith in the art continues to be restored. All the credit goes to the two who delivered a stellar match in front of the fans. Peter showed once again why he is the most versatile performer in PWR right now. In the same way, Crystal showed why she deserves to be the face of a women's revolution in PWR. Who knows, right? Little did we know that this would not be the last time we would see P to the V.

Not bad for an announcer. 

Result: Peter Versoza wins via Karne Norte

Memorable Chants: "This is awesome!", a certain number of minutes

Match #6—Grudge Match: SANDATA vs. Joey Bax of Fighters 4 Hire



After months of crossing each other's paths, SANDATA and Joey Bax finally had their grudge match in front of the iAcademy audience. While Bax managed to ground SANDATA with his suplex-based offense, SANDATA managed to target the fighter's ankle in preparation of his newly-implemented ankle lock finisher. Following the Pagbasag headscissors and a grapevine ankle lock, SANDATA finally scored the first win of his entire career to resounding chants of "YES! YES! YES!"


PWR SANDATA Joey Bax
SANDATA knows submission.
This needs to be said: man, felt so sorry for SANDATA and Bax trying to follow the previous match. The fans were spent by then, and it was simply difficult to top a spectacle like that. By all means, both men tried their hardest to deliver the match, which saw a few slip-ups along the way. But by the end of it, this is a match that should have been placed in another part of the match card.

With SANDATA winning, this should be a great ooportunity for him to look for revenge against a revitalized P to the V in the future.

Result: SANDATA wins via grapevine ankle lock

Match #7—PWR Championship Match: "Classical" Bryan Leo of the Royal Flush vs. Ralph Imabayashi (c)



Two months have passed since Ralph took the title away from the Classical One, but finally, the rematch has arrived. Prior to the main event, Mr. Sy declared that the Flush was banned from ringside after hearing of their plans to screw over the champ.

The battle between the champion and challenger was just as intense as their last battle, with Leo attempting to subdue the champ's arm, even pulling off a rarely-used arm version of the Diamond Dust.



Bryan Leo is hungry for that Title! #PWRVendetta
Posted by Philippine Wrestling Revolution on Saturday, 20 February 2016



Meanwhile Imabayashi tore down the challenger with varying high octane moves that made him champ in the first place, including a resounding knee drop to Leo's skull off of the top rope.



The Champion Ralph Imabayashi from the second floor! #PWRVendetta
Posted by Philippine Wrestling Revolution on Saturday, 20 February 2016


It was a battle that had both men trying to hit their respective maneuvers to end the match. But unfortunately for Imabayashi, Leo gouged his eyes, leading to the champ hitting a Sonic Crusher on the referee by accident.

This led to a masked figure attacking the Filipino-Japanese Sensation while the official was down, allowing Leo to hit the Royal Flushdown for the win and the title. 


PWR Classical Bryan Leo Ralph Imabayashi
Imabayshi gets his championship reign flushed down, Bryan Leo style.
The win made Leo the first two-time PWR champion in history. The match fully displayed the abilities of these two amazing wrestlers, a standard of excellence befitting the PWR main event scene.


PWR Classical Bryan Leo Ralph Imabayashi 2
TWO-TIME! TWO-TIME!
And then came the reveal that the mystery man was actually the newest member of the Royal Flush, and the new Jack of All Babes, Peter Versoza! And thus, the Flush is officially complete from Ten to Ace.


PWR Royal Flush Peter Versoza Bryan Leo
THE JACK IS HERE.
JDL, Leo's challenger at Wrevolution X, came to the aid of Imabayashi, but was attacked by the Flush, with P to the V hitting the Karne Norte on the Senyorito to end the show.


PWR Royal Flush Jake De Leon JDL
Peter Versoza gives JDL a warm and fuzzy feeling in his tummy.
There lies a potential problem with the current scene of PWR. When you have fans chanting for CBL to win the title, then that is a sign that there should be a push for more faces than heels. Most PWR events had heels dominating and winning for the last number of months, with only a few major faces that fans get behind such as JDL and Bombay. Ralph is an excellent competitor, and there is room for growth in his very young career, but at the moment, it would take some time to fully package Imabayashi into a more versed performer overall, and not just in a competitive aspect.

With the way things are now, the face-to-heel ratio is gravely mismatched, and while it may take time for other faces to be built to their top form, something has to be done to properly complement the number of heels. Can fans imagine CBL as a face? It would not be a farfetched idea, given the reaction he gets, or even as a tweener.

And as a side note, hopefully CBL can stick with a permanent finishing maneuver in the future, in a way that fans would know what to anticipate more from a performer of his caliber.

Result: Classical Bryan Leo wins via Royal Flushdown

Memorable Chants: "2-time!"—referring to Leo's chances of being a 2-time champ, "Meow" - from one fan who interrupted CBL's opening intro. Seriously, you can see him try not to laugh at that one

*****

In a night full of twist and turns, it's only right that we give credit where credit is due. Being said, here's a list of highlights that best sum up the entire event:

Match of the Night


This is a no-brainer easily taken by Peter Versoza vs. Crystal due to its historical significance and outstanding work rate. This match had full of uncertainties and doubts, all of which were erased by a phenomenal performance by both individuals.



Spot of the Night 


Honors go to both JDL's finishing sequence on Main Maxx, which has to be painful to take even for a guy like him... 


...and the final minutes of Versoza and Crystal, where fans cannot help but get up on their feet over what they are witnessing.



Wrestler of the Night


Hands down, the real star of the evening was P to the V himself, and not only because of the match he had with Crystal. When you consider the fact that he is now also a member of the Flush, that's how you know you are getting quite a push. When you are rewarded with the work you put in, you know you are doing something right.



*****

Vendetta ended up becoming one of the most memorable events in PWR's young history, with hallmark events that would become the catalyst of further changes and improvements for the company as a whole. While there were hiccups during the event, fans can be rest assured that PWR will continue its build as the wrestling company in the country. And thus, the road to Wrevolution X has begun.

What can we expect in the next months that follow? Here's what the Smark Henry crystal ball sees as major issues to be resolved in the medium-term.

1. Will the direction-less finally find some direction?


Expect Vintendo and Mahaba to form an alliance of sorts to face the alliance between the Network and PWR's newest member, "The Machine" Mavericc Knight. Will Vintendo finally get the groove needed to connect with the fans? And will there be an explanation as to why Knight sided the Network?



2. Will we see a #DivasRevolution of our own?


With Crystal's fantastic performance, it is only a matter of time for PWR to figure out what to do. Will PWR finally launch a women's division within their ranks? And how will Crystal fit in all of these?



3. Will Beer Promdi finally address their apocalyptic problem?


What is next in the ongoing saga between Beer Promdi and the Apocalypse? Clearly, nothing's been settled between the two sides, and it's only a matter of time before blood would be spilled.



4. What's next for the PHX Division?


Will Ken Warren continue to hold on to the PHX title in the near future? As competitors continue to line up and get their chance against the #WorkhorseChampion, he may expect some competition to line up from all over the globe, including, say, Malaysia?



5. Is there a civil war brewing?


We know it will be JDL vs. CBL in May, but you may very well say it'll be the Royal Flush vs the PWR stars as a war is brewing between two sides. Now that Peter Versoza is on board, SANDATA will definitely take notice. Ralph certainly won't forget the screwjob as well. And let's just say it won't be surprising if JDL's other friends decide to shut down the Flush for good.



6. Is the time right for a tag division?


With this many wrestlers in the roster—22, as of last count—it may be high time to introduce a new set of belts dedicated to their growing tag team division. With a healthy talent pool, we may see a return of the tournament format to crown the first PWR Tag Team Champions. Again, one can only hope that is the case.



7. How will PWR continue to improve their presence?


With all the criticisms in place, what kind of improvements could we see in the next months? The iAcademy jump is certainly a huge move, as well as their live tours all over the country and partnership with Malaysia Pro Wrestling. What could be the next objective of PWR as a whole?


What were your favorite moments during the event? Sound off in the comments!

See you guys down the road!

*****

Images taken from the spectacular Hub Pacheco and the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.

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