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PWR Live: Bagong Yugto—The Official Smark Henry Review


PWR Live: Bagong Yugto was promised to be a rebirth of sorts for the Philippine Wrestling Revolution after all the backstage controversy and mismanagement that dogged them throughout 2016. With new matches, new focus, new energy, and new story arcs in the offing, both long-time and recent PWR fans had something to look forward to in this first show of 2017.

As with our more recent PWR reviews, this look into the mayhem of Bagong Yugto was inspired by the great food that happened to catch our eye that day. And thanks to this lovely offering at the concession stand, we've found our culinary muse for the month: Mexican food.


Photo by Michael Angelo David

We'll be dividing the nine-match spectacle into tiers based on how delicious and satisfying we found them, with a corresponding dish from one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in town, Oralé! Taqueria Mexicana.

Let's do this!

*****

Tier 1: Chimichanga


There’s no Mexican dish more beloved by the Filipino foodie scene than the burrito, but do you know what’s better than that? A deep-fried burrito, served piping-hot and golden-crisp with a side of nice salsa.

Photo by Lex Ngo/Foodspotting

We’re assigning the top two matches of the night to the chimichanga tier to represent what happens when you take something that’s already great and evolve it to its absolutely most golden form.

The Twin Kings of the Tag Team Division




Be honest. Did any of you anticipate seeing Yohann & Logan Ollores ever amounting to anything more than an amusing novelty tag team to be fed to the likes of the Fighters 4 Hire, Beer Promdi, and Mahabang Tite Ng Hapon (MTNH)? And yet here they are, putting on the match of the night on PWR’s biggest stage, putting the brakes on Fighters 4 Hire’s run as the most dominant tag team in the country just three months after dismantling Beer Promdi.

This isn’t to say that the YOLO Twins are now paragons of sportsmanship and fair play. The two annoying millennials were in prime douchebag form, subbing in and out behind the referee’s back, laying down sneak attacks on both the legal man in the ring and his partner waiting on the apron, and just being all-around annoying, arrogant pricks. But it’s hard to boo a team that moves with such chemistry and precision; at times, Yohann and Logan moved like they had a hive mind, nailing such beautiful double-teams as their Katipunan Superkick Party and the gorgeous Two Night Stand they used to eventually finish the match.



But despite the twins’ post-match claims on being the true kings of the PWR tag team division, we’re looking forward to the long-bubbling feud between F4H and MadVlad, the ominous team of Mike Madrigal and Vlad Sinnsyk, to finally come to a boil. It was a sneak attack by the two Kings of Kupal on an unsuspecting Miguel Rosales that proved to be the turning point, leaving Joey Bax partnerless. The weary, confused Bax tried his hardest to fight back alone, but was eventually overwhelmed by the fresher, springier legs of the DPT crew.

We need to talk about how F4H has slowly transformed into two of the most beloved, respected stars by the Revo-Nation. The crowd was hot for them the entire night, with chants of “Tito Joey! Kuya Migs!” serenading them throughout the match. The roof of Venue 142 exploded as well when Miguel Rosales tagged in as a house on fire, bombing away with crisp lariats that had the Ollores twins seeing double, and dazing them with a long, winding trip down to Barangay Suplex.


On a tag team level, the YOLO Twins were certainly stars of the night. But the low-key, dependable Miguel Rosales shone just as brightly too as one of PWR's most underrated gems.

Spot of the match: The soaring Two Night Stand used by the twins to dispatch a hapless Joey Bax

Chant of the match: The entire Revo-Nation breaking into song, serenading Joey Bax with the theme song to "Ang Probinsyano" after he was left partnerless by MadVlad's assault on Miguel Rosales



Dark Days Are Falling On PWR



Bagong Yugto was supposed to be all about new beginnings for PWR, a reboot of sorts after the unfortunate run of backstage mismanagement that plagued them throughout 2016.

We don’t think The Apocalypse got the memo though, storming the ring just as “The Senyorito” Jake De Leon had reigning PWR Champion John Sebastian stretched out in the middle of the ring ready to tap to the excruciating pain of the Inasal Lock, and causing the match to get thrown out as a no-contest.


It was a shame, too. The third straight singles match-up between Sebastian and De Leon was absolutely poetic to watch, with both men unleashing a gear we hadn’t seen in their previous encounters. The gameplan of both men was evident early on, with JDL seeking to dismantle Sebastian’s left arm to soften him up for his Inasal Lock chickenwing later on, while Sebastian was all about bludgeoning the recently-concussed Senyorito’s skull to leave him ripe for a Killshot knee strike.

This was even more of a chess match than their previous matches. Both men kicked out of each other’s respective finishers for close two-counts, and De Leon drawing amazed gasps from the crowd in attendance after chaining a hiptoss into a cross-armbreaker in mid-air. Say what you will about both men's heft, they're the two greatest wizards PWR has in the ring.

It’s sad that these two dudes couldn’t put a clean, decisive close to this match that was shaping up to be PWR’s singles match to beat for 2017, but we don’t mind transitioning on to a Sebastian/Apocalypse feud for the gold. De Leon/Sebastian has been one of PWR’s cornerstone rivalries almost from the very beginning, and putting a close to this rivalry in the meantime was truly symbolic of a new chapter for the company.


Oh, and John Sebastian? Please don’t flash your naked ass to the crowd again.

Spot of the match: JDL’s flawless, fluid hiptoss/cross-armbreaker combo

Chant of the match: “Pull your pants up!”—The Revo-Nation mocking John Sebastian’s brand-new white tights that were creeping dangerously close to SPG level.

Tier 2: Burrito


Nobody hates a burrito. In fact, they’re pretty darned great—especially the Los Ingoburrito De Pinas version, with its delightful garlic cilantro cream dressing, and the charred salsa served with a side of nachos. Rice, meat, cheese, and vegetables wrapped in a handy-dandy bundle the size of a new-born baby—things don’t get much better than this.


Chris Panzer Spoils Ken Warren’s Comeback



You'd think that with the grind Chris Panzer has put his body through over the last year, he'd be at a major disadvantage against a fresh, well-rested Ken Warren, who was making his first ring appearance in six months. Unfortunately for the Social Media Sinister, his self-imposed exile left him showing more rust than rest, and no match for a focused Panzer humming on all cylinders.

The two long-time rivals showed some great chemistry early on, matching each other counter-for-counter in their fifth battle to date. Warren's counter of a charging Panzerschreck bicycle kick into a leg-trap powerbomb, and Panzer successfully ducking the Wi-Fi superkick that's beaten him twice were particularly nice, as well as K-Dub baiting Panzer into a missed frog splash off the top.

Warren was as charismatic as ever, and certainly doesn't seem to have lost the favor of the PWR faithful. His gameplan was simple but brutal: kick the shit out of Panzer's model-quality face, despite repeated pleas of "Wag sa mukha!" from the Panzer Army. But he found himself trapped in no man's land after Panzer backdropped him off the top rope to cap a superplex joust, leaving him splayed out for one more match-ending frog splash.


We have to wonder what's next for Warren after this painful loss that left him trailing Panzer 2-3 in their personal series. He refuses to fight for any match that isn't for championship gold, but after six months off and a defeat on his return, we have to imagine he's now all the way back at the line of PWR's contendership ranks.

This has got to be a feel-good win for Panzer though. After two quality wins over Warren and Chino Guinto in the past few months, he should be in line for a main event feud soon. We apologize for calling him a choker—in the words of Mugatu, "That Panzer is so hot right now."



Spot of the match: There are few things as jaw-dropping as seeing Panzer sail off the top with his patented frog splash. It's positively Eddie-esque.

P to the V P to the H to the X



If moral victories counted, then at least Main Maxx can sleep easy with the satisfaction that his name will go down as the longest-reigning PHX Champion in PWR's history at 281 days.

Unfortunately, the Pride of Ilocos Norte isn't about moral wins, and the slow cracking of his seemingly-invincible façade that started at last September's Renaissance finally came to fruition with a lackluster title loss to the cocky party boy from Dasmarinas Village, Peter Versoza. We've been very vocal in the past about being huge Main Maxx marks—after all, we've anointed him as co-owner of Match of the Night on more than one occasion—but he seemed to be out of sorts against his former Royal Flush stablemate.

The little things that Maxx normally pulls off with military precision seemed a bit off; his Maxximum Mutilation slipped too early, his Blitzkrieg Bomb didn't raise as much firepower as it normally does.


Could the weight of history been too much for the Big Rocket? This match wasn't so much about what Versoza did to beat him, but about how Maxx allowed himself to be beaten. Despite kicking out of multiple Petegrees, one lapse of focus was all it took for P to the V to bash his head into the unprotected turnbuckle, and drop him face-first with one last Petegree for the win and the PHX Championship.


What does the future have for Main Maxx? He may have earned the crowd's affection with his softer side—chants of "Maxx has feelings!" and "Maxxie cares!" certainly showed that. But until he rediscovers his monstrous side, he may not be able to regain his prized PHX Championship any time soon.

Spot of the match: The incredible sunset bomb off the top rope by Peter Versoza onto Main Maxx

The Network Fails to Sweep


Bagong Yugto looked like it was shaping up to be a good night for The Network, with both Chino Guinto and Alexander Belmonte III sneaking ahead of former PWR Champion Ralph Imabayashi and his MTNH partner Rederick Mahaba in singles bouts.

AB3 proved to be quite a revelation in his first singles match. He may be green in more ways than one, but he showed remarkable grace and mobility in the enforcer role that the recently-departed Bruno Bernardo never lived up to. The big guy matched Mahaba move-for-move in a competitive bout until getting splattered all over the canvas with a falling powerslam from his 320-pound foe. It took a timely save from Guinto when the referee's back was turned to escape with the win, but we're pretty sure the bad blood isn't over. At the very least, AB3 is going to need a Listerine sponsorship to wash the taste of Mahaba's salty nuts out of his mouth.

Chino Guinto makes the save mid-Jaccolade.

Chino Guinto versus Imabayashi was as competitive as it gets, although the two men worked a slower, more methodical match than what we've seen from both men in the past. Notwithstanding a sky-high kamikaze elbow from the Fil-Japanese Sensation to the outside, it was a very cerebral, deliberate match—perhaps with neither man wanting to allow the other to start gunning in 5th gear, where they're both at their most dangerous. 

Guinto and Imabayashi slowing things down.

Guinto spent the match trying to avoid Ralph's deadly Sonic Crusher, eventually capitalizing on yet some more Network interference by blasting the Imabayashi family jewels with a low blow followed by a Gold Digger For the tainted win. Score yet another point for Network shenanigans.

James "Idol" Martinez's embarrassing loss to Crystal was the lone blemish on the Network's night. He may have bragged about being able to take down PWR's resident Bad-Ass Babe alone, after the referee sent his downlines to the back, but he didn't have much to show. Crystal's fiery underdog attitude was in full display, rocking him early on with a Shining Crystal to the head followed by a teeth-rattling Solemate for the first ever clean win in her wrestling career.

Idol is gonna need a trip to the dentist after this match.
The Network have slowly become reliable workhorses, and the MTNH-Network rivalry continues to entertain. Mahaba is always a joy to watch in the ring for his tireless hustle, and is clearly living his dream. Imabayashi is a master tactician and ring general with perhaps the most solid grasp of psychology in PWR, while Crystal's connection with the crowd is perhaps her greatest asset.

All six competitors are marvelous cornerstones for PWR to build on in the coming years, and we can't wait to see how their respective feuds continue to develop.

Spot of the match (tie): Rederick Mahaba's bushido avalanche onto AB3 and Ralph Imabayashi's pocket-sized Shellshocked onto "The Golden Boy"

Tier 3: Tacos


Here's the thing: Ain't nobody hates tacos. They're always delicious, simple, and convenient, and never fail to hit the spot. What they lack is the hearty, filling goodness of either a burrito or a chimichanga. You wouldn't have a taco for lunch, but they make a damn good merienda.


No Gold At The End of the Rainbow For The Punk Dolls


"The Walking Death" Mike Madrigal and Vlad Sinnsyk of MadVlad are two of the most promising talents from PWR's New Breed, and it was clear in how they completely destroyed the Punk Dolls, Martivo and Robynn, almost from the opening bell. 


Robynn continues to improve exponentially with each match, while Martivo is always entertaining, but despite dazzling the crowd with such moves as dual Stratusfaction slingshot bulldogs, they simply didn't have enough. MadVlad absolutely left Robynn splattered on the mat with a vicious assisted Muscle Buster onto Robynn, and look to be hitting their stride for an impending clash with the Fighters 4 Hire.

Sinnsyk in particular is amazing in his role as PWR's resident psycho; his leering gaze and maniacal cackles make us wonder if the man is legitimately unbalanced. Madrigal, on the other hand, already seems to have the total package this early in his PWR career, and could be destined for great things later on. Martivo is electric as hell, and had the audience rolling with laughter over his charot!-powered buttbutt, and Robynn could be a viable contender for the PHX Championship further down the line.

We can't wait to see how both teams continue to blossom and grow.

Spot of the match: MadVlad's double-team Muscle Buster was absolutely amazing to watch. Robynn was completely planted.

Chant of the match: “That was bongga!”—the Revo-Nation's sympathy chant for the defeated Punk Dolls as they made their exit


SANDATA’s Last Stand


Here at the Smark Henry offices, we have a soft spot for both The Apocalypse and SANDATA as two of the most intense competitors in PWR. Apoc is completely nuts, and his tope suicida is one of the absolute must-see moves in Philippine wrestling today, while we love seeing the high-risk pyrotechnics SANDATA always seems to pull out of his ass for the big moments.


That's probably why we were slightly disappointed by how this match played out. SANDATA delighted everyone with his varied Pagbasag rana assault on his monstrous foe, but seemed tentative in his gameplan to slowly ground The Apocalypse, softening him up for an Ankle Lock submission. Unfortunately, PWR's resident beast seems impervious to pain, brushing off each of the Pinoy Tecnico's attempts to speed up the pace, and refusing to be baited into wrestling SANDATA's kind of match. It was a smart strategy, but unfortunately led to a dearth of highlights.

Having said that, we're really excited about Apocalypse's PWR trajectory moving forward. He's been absolutely indestructible lately, and adding SANDATA to the trail of beaten bodies he's left in his wake the past few months gives him tons of credibility heading into his challenge for John Sebastian's PWR Championship. But once again, we have no idea where this leaves SANDATA. After the mid-2016 surge that led him to #1 contendership status for the PHX Championship, this marks his second straight loss. Hopefully, this skid reignites the fire that makes him such a crowd favorite, and delivers a memorable 2017 for the Huling Mandirigma.

Spot of the match: SANDATA's stellar top-rope Pagbasag was pretty damn fine.



Tier 4: Nachos


Every meal needs a great appetizer, and a plate of nachos is always appreciated. Just don't expect them to be the star of any meal; they do a great job in whetting the appetite, but not much more.


Bombay Kills Another Bitch


What a joy it was to see the "Heart and Soul of PWR" Bombay Suarez make a surprise one-night-only appearance on the pre-show. 


It almost didn't matter that his match against Dax Xaviera of Delirium was a complete squash. Just seeing him bust out his trademark moves like the Kick of the Day (KOTD), flaming chop, and Bomb Shelter was incendiary.

Spot of the match: What else could it be but the legendary Flaming Chop?



Chant of the match: "Welcome back! Welcome back!" Because, really, it's just damn good to see Bombay rassle again.

*****

Overall, this was a great show that infused the Philippine Wrestling Revolution with a fresh shot of mojo to further nurture the nascent local pro wrestling scene. The fact that the WWE itself, led by Vice President of Talent Development Canyon Ceman, WWE Performance Center Creative Producer Ryan Katz, and General Manager of Asia-Pacific Chris Marsh was just icing on the cake.


What did you think of PWR Live: Bagong Yugto? Do you think Peter Versoza deserved to snap Main Maxx's record-setting streak as PHX Champion? How badly do you think Ken Warren's six-month sabbatical affect his showing against Chris Panzer? And what are your thoughts on The Apocalypse making his evil intentions known against PWR Champion John Sebastian?

Let us know your thoughts, and we'll see you at the next PWR event on February 26, Sunday, at the Bayanihan Center on Pioneer Street, Mandaluyong.

*****

For more information on the Philippine Wrestling Revolution, follow them on their official Facebook page, or the official company website.

All wrestling photos are by “Hardcore” Hub Pacheco.


Food photos unless credited are from Oralé! Taqueria Mexicana located at the Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

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