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PWR Live: Manila Madness Review

If you want to talk about heart, this is the event you bring up. If you want to talk about love for what you do, this is the event you bring up. If you want to talk about what it means to be dedicated to your craft, this is the fucking event you bring up. I'm talking about PWR Live: Manila Madness.




First off, let's face facts: Attendance sucked donkey balls. I am not going to sugarcoat it. The venue was sketchy and scary, and was announced at the last minute. It didn't help much that the venue was a covered court that was apparently housing some displaced fire victims. The changing "room" was a tent converted to have tarpaulin walls. There was no airconditioning, and parking was a mess. Let's face it: we've been spoiled by the relatively safe and comfortable confines of the iAcademy auditorium.

But let's get to what I did like about what I experienced. It brought back the raw, backyard feel that Makati Cinema Square had, except to a more extreme degree. There was an element of danger that you had to overcome. I remember telling Anthony and Stan that I was very much afraid of my return trip home. When one of the event organizers pointed out that the street kids were clinging to the cage, he replied "Yayariin namin sila, ma'am." Nice.

The other media guys and I were super tempted to bring these home

With that out of the way, let's get to the matches.


MATCH 1: JAMES "IDOL" MARTINEZ CHINO GUINTO VS. REDERICK MAHABA

The first match of PWR Live: Manila Madness got underway and there was a slight change in competitors. Idol, after coming out to the ring, tells Rederick Mahaba that he refuses to fight him again. After all, the Intimate Warrior was already beaten by the Money-man himself at Vendetta. After a brief tease of a possible 4B in-ring debut, Idol chooses Chino Guinto to represent him in the match.


Fuck you, Chino

The Douchebag vs. Goliath match ensues, and Mahaba almost gets the pin after a thunderous pop-up powerbomb. Idol interrupts the match and the ref is forced to give the DQ win to Mahaba. He's ganged up on by The Network, with Chino Guinto unleashing a vicious Curb Stomp on the King of Schlong Style.

There's something to like and dislike about the match, to be honest.  What I did like was the Golden Boy replaced Idol. Back to back fights with the same opponent get kind of stale fairly quickly. The shake up was a welcome twist to the tale that provided us with great reason to interact with the match, given the small crowd. Thank (and fuck) you, Chino. The new finishers for Mahaba and Guinto were also quite apt for their characters. The pop-up powerbomb helps to accentuate a more aggressive flavor to Mahaba's move set. After seemingly accepting that right now is not the time for #ScarHab, I'm hoping to see a bit more angst in Mahaba's antics. Call it the Basted-Bomb perhaps? As for Chino, the curb stomp, which he calls the Gold Digger, seems like a good fit because it caters to his flippant attitude towards the crowd. He's there to be hated, and he does it so well without even trying.

What I didn't like, however, is that although it was technically a win for Mahaba, he still hasn't had the chance to shine. Give that man a real win, dammit. The Intimate Warrior is 1-4 with his sole victory coming via DQ. I get that they're looking to build up the drama with the face vs. heel bit, but please. The man is larger than 90% of the roster. He shouldn't be having this much bad luck.


Have you ever been hugged by a large sweaty man while he sat on your lap hoping to God that the monobloc chair doesn't break and all you could do was pat him on the back and hug him too? No? Uh... me neither.

Match Result: Rederick Mahaba wins via DQ

Memorable Chant: Do you really have to ask that?


MATCH #2: BEER PROMDI VS. LOS TRABAJADORES

I want to start off with what I didn't like with this match. This tag team match did not make much sense to me story-wise. When PWR Live: Manila Madness was announced, I was damn excited. You had the semi-scary part of Manila, with a ring set up in covered court surrounded by decrepit buildings. It was the PERFECT venue for a Kanto Terror match of any variety. So what did we get? A tag team match against Los Trabajadores.


"I really think this is our time, bruh"
"I have a good feeling too!"

At this stage of their careers, Beer Promdi doesn't need to have a match against jobbers anymore, especially with the build up to Wrevolution X. Don't get me wrong. I have mad props for Los Trabajadores. They have an interesting chemistry that pretty much gives any new tag team a chance to show their stuff. But that's just it. Beer Promdi is not a new tag team anymore.

However, if we were to talk about the quality of the action, I have to say that mad props should be given to Mark D. Manalo. This guy right here carried the match. His level of showmanship is the shit. He knows how to play the crowd. He's never dull even when he's tagged out. He improvised a botched spot to tag in his partner. He even tried (and succeeded) in getting Kanto Terror his beer power-up and drinking the rest. This guy is entertaining AF. You have to give him credit for keeping the crowd interested in the match.

Kabilin-bilinan ng lola, wag uminom ng serbesa, Di ito inuming pambata, pero tangina, wala naman si lola!

Match Result: Beer Promdi wins via pinfall


MATCH #3: SANDATA VS. THE APOCALYPSE

So this match was where the ultimate dilemma arose. On one hand, you have SANDATA who has just been reforged as angry SANDATA and had his first win at Joey Bax's expense. On the other hand, you have Apocalypse, one of the most feared wrestlers to ever grace the PWR whose last match was a losing effort for the PWR Championship against former champ Ralph Imabayashi. To give the loss to SANDATA would douse his momentum. A second straight loss for Apocalypse at the hands of a mid-card wrestler would certainly diminish his notoriety. So what happens now?


"Hold me, Jack! I'm flying!"

Have Apocalypse lose via count out. And not just for any normal count out, but because he was distracted by the re-emerging Kanto Terror. Fucking brilliant. Did that kind of win hurt SANDATA? I would believe not, since the match was nowhere near what would seem like a climax. It helped resolve the earlier issue of a match that made little sense by pushing for a Kanto Terror-Apocalypse event at Wrevolution X. So for that reason, I say well done.


"Pre, baka naman pwede kang tumabi. Di ako makita ni George."

The only real gripe I had with this bout was that the crowd was barely engaged in it until Kanto Terror came out. I'm gonna go ahead an assume it has something to do with the masks. Much of the story can be seen on the reactions and facial expressions, but given that Apocalypse is the silent, stalky type, we're left with SANDATA. Yes, they put on a show, but given the small crowd, they could've tried to have us invest in the match more.

Match Result: SANDATA wins via countout


MATCH #4: RALPH IMABAYASHI AND JAKE DE LEON VS. "CLASSICAL" BRYAN LEO AND MAIN MAXX

My excitement for this match was rightfully justified, that much I can start with. In my earlier review, I stated that you have four damn good workers in that ring. Jake De Leon has the entertaining and flashy movesets; Ralph Imabayashi explodes with his raw and angry energetic style; PWR Champion "Classical" Bryan Leo is well versed in the ground submission game; and Main Maxx is deceptively quick and agile for his size. From the level of talent alone, I was already eagerly awaiting this match.


Ralph with that facepalm for whatever CBL was saying

But then the storyline implications blew me away. During the course of the match, the antics of the Royal Flush gang would slowly take its toll on Imabyashi. John Sebastian, in classic Eddie Guerrero fashion, frames Imabyashi by making the ref think that he hit Main Maxx with his kendo stick. This angers Ralph and caused him to run after the Acehole and punish him with his own medicine. Another attack at the Japanese sensation makes him snap and flip chairs, kick the steel stairs and pretty much throw a tantrum at ringside, costing a tag opportunity from the clearly battered Jake De Leon. Despite a late rally wherein it seemed that they would finally get revenge on the Royal Flush, Classical Bryan Leo dodges a Senyorito Kick which hits Imabayashi. This opens up the opportunity for CBL and Maxx to hit their respective finishers on their opponents and take the victory. And as expected, Imabayashi does not take the loss well. He blames JDL and shoves the Senyorito back which causes the latter to return the favor. Before they come to blows, they separate and the PWR crowd is left in shock of what just happened.


Imabayashi just can't seem to get a break

I love it. Ralph Imabayashi is starting to stand up for what is most important him right now: getting revenge on the Royal Flush. He's on a warpath, and if you're not with him, you're against him. It's not necessarily a heel turn, but simply him being fed up at how the Royal Flush seems to be repelling all challengers to their throne. I am hoping to hell that this turns into a Three-way match for the PWR Championship at Wrevolution X. No allegiances or alliances in that match, that will be sure.

Match Result: Classical Bryan Leo and Main Maxx wins via Pinfall


MATCH #5: PHX CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH - BOMBAY SUAREZ VS. CHRIS PANZER VS. KEN WARREN (C)

If the last match was a great mix of action and story progression, the main event was about only one single thing: BALLS TO THE CONCRETE WALLS, SUNUGIN ANG BAHAY, BASAGIN ANG LAHAT NG PINGGAN, SAMPALIN MO YUNG ALE SA TABI MO-level of action.


"Si boss nabugbog, kunyare wala na lang akong nakita"

Let's list down some of my favorite moments of the match. Ken Warren suplexing Bombay Suarez on the concrete floor. A powerbomb by Ken Warren on Bombay Suarez while he superplexes Chris Panzer. Bombay Suarez hitting a double leg drop on both Chris Panzer and Ken Warren. Everyone hitting everyone else with finishers. And our personal favorite, DOUBLE FLAMING CHOPS. Bombay turns to the crowd, asks us "Are you guys having fun?", and proceeds to bring out a small bottle of alcohol and a lighter. He lights his hand and slaps it across Ken Warren's chest. He goes over to the other turnbuckle and does the same thing on Chris Panzer. Twas glorious.


#AlamMoNa

The end of the match was quite bizarre though. Right after Chris Panzer hits Ken Warren with a frog splash, John Sebastian came out and attacked the leader of the Panzer Army. This allowed Bombay Suarez to repel the interfering Joey Bax and hit Warren with the Bomb Shelter and secure the pin for the win. I don't really understand the reason for it. John Sebastian has no direct beef with Panzer. If anything, he should be attacking Bombay. Is this to set up a match for Wrevolution X? It might appear so as John Sebastian does not yet have an active rivalry with anyone for the biggest annual event of PWR.


J.J. Abrams directed this shot, sorry.

Match Result: Bombay Suarez pins Ken Warren to become the new PHX Champion


WRESTLER OF THE NIGHT: BOMBAY SUAREZ

Congratulations are in order for the new PHX Champion. He fought a very hard match against two equally tough opponents. The PHX title history finally adds another name to its short list, but it was an addition that was well-deserved. The PWR's first dual champion never has a dull match, and you can be damn sure he'll make every one of his defenses a fun fight to watch.


MATCH OF THE NIGHT: RALPH IMABAYASHI AND JAKE DE LEON VS. "CLASSICAL" BRYAN LEO AND MAIN MAXX

We can't just base a bout on the action it shows. There must also be a reason for the fight itself, as well as the implications of that fight. The co-main event of Manila Madness provided that to us and more. There was character development in the form of Ralph Imabayashi. How this pans out for Wrevolution X, I can only hope to see. Please let it be a Three way title fight for the PWR championship.


STORYLINES TO WATCH OUT FOR

Bombay Suarez defending against Ken Warren (rematch): Look for the Social Media Sinister to try to get back what was originally his.

Jake De Leon vs. Ralph Imabayashi vs. Classical Bryan Leo for the PWR Championship: Former friends and PWR tag team partners have had a heated exchange that leaves them on different paths with the same goal. Ralph has an agenda. Jake De Leon has an agenda. Classical Bryan Leo is their goal.

Ralph Imabayashi vs. Peter Versoza: Imabayashi has some unfinished business with the man who cost him his title. Worse yet, it came in the form of a friend who betrayed him.

Chris Panzer vs John Sebastian: We can only speculate as to why John Sebastian interfered in that Three-Way PHX title match. Having been the cause of another of championship dream shattered, what will Panzer do about the Acehole?

Kanto Terror vs. Apocalypse: Kanto Terror is back and ready for revenge against the man who took him out for a major part of last year, The only thing to ponder is what kind of match will be their battleground.

Rederick Mahaba vs. The Network: The Network has continually been a thorn in Mahaba's side. Try as he might, he can't seem to defeat Idol and his downlines, no matter what he does. Will we see a team up by Mahaba and Vintendo at Wrevolution X against Idol, 4B, and Chino Guinto?


CONCLUSION

This was far from the better events of PWR. Very far. The event started way past the advertised 5:00 PM opening. The crowd did not even fill two rows. I was wearing a basketball jersey, shorts and slippers because I already predicted that it was going to be a warm and sweaty night. You couldn't really blame people for giving up.

But then again, the PWR crew did not quit. Despite probably outnumbering those in attendance, they still put on quite a show. To be honest, you guys who didn't go missed quite a lot. A new PHX champion, the return of Beer Promdi, a special 25-man battle royal dark match (I'm keeping what happened in that match to myself and those who braved the adventure going there). Sometimes, you just have to be there because the feeling of excitement never really faded when we looked back and saw rows of empty seats. It never stopped the PWR roster from performing their hearts out, as if rewarding us for our willingness to support them there.

I will forever remember Camus coming up to the front row, minutes before the event finally started, saying "You guys are in for one hell of a show tonight."

And you know what? He was right.


*****

George Pastorwrites 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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