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Chris Panzer vs. The World: PWR Championship Triple Threat Announced For Renaissance


Depending on your taste, it could be either the world's hottest ménage à trois or its least sexy one, but either way Chris Panzer's PWR Championship reign could be in serious jeopardy.

The Philippine Wrestling Revolution has announced the main event for its upcoming Renaissance supershow, and it's going to be absolutely massive: a star-studded Triple Threat match match between Panzer and two other former PWR Champions: heated archrivals Ralph Imabayashi and two-time kingpin Jake De Leon.

Make no mistake; with three of the five men to have worn the PWR Championship involved in this match, this could likely go down as the greatest main event of 2017.


Let's take an in-depth look at the gladiators involved.

Chris Panzer: From 'choke artist' to 'clutch player'



Hot off his pulsating maiden title defense against former champ John Sebastian, Panzer is as red-hot as they come; we've seen a fire in him that was absent during the days he was labeled PWR's premier "choke artist," and we pretty much expect him to be firing on all cylinders against his decorated foes.

The thing that sucks about Triple Threat matches if you're a champion is that you lose the so-called "champion's advantage"—you don't even have to be pinned to lose the gold. But unfair or not, don't expect Panzer to run crying to his momma.

"After winning the PWR Championship,  I already put my mind to the idea of having challenging matches like this Triple Threat​," said the champ to Smark Henry in an exclusive interview. "Both Jake De Leon and Ralph Imabayashi have held the championship before me and they know how one loses and gains it."

"A couple of months back, I was pinning these two men," he continues, referring to his successful outings at Path of Gold and Mainit. "But having all three of us in a match is a whole different ball game. I feel confident and positive. That's all I need to feel."


The good-looking Detroit-bred Panzer knows what kind of challenge lies ahead, but his trademark never-say-die attitude means he isn't about to fold. In his mind, this is one more chance to permanently rewrite his legacy.

"I've been in the ring with these guys, they both worry me. They're both former champions of a high caliber. They can leave you broken and beat. That's why I'll be on my toes for Renaissance. This will be another chance for me to prove that The Champ Chris Panzer is here for the long haul."

One thing you shouldn't expect to see is him taking advantage of the bad blood that exists between his two opponents. Simply put, smartly or not, Panzer has just one game plan for his opponents: Watch out for him.

"I have no plans at all," he says with a bemused smile. "I want the both of them to have their full attention on the match and on me."

Write it down, Revo-Nation: Chris Panzer is clutch.

Ralph Imabayashi: Reborn to the dark side



For all of Chris Panzer's fond memories of the past, one thing he does need to watch out for is the reinvented Ralph Imabayashi. He's been a completely new man since snapping against Jake De Leon at the PWR show last month, and in his mind, that makes him an even more dangerous opponent.

"I am more focused now," growled Imabayashi in our sit-down with him. "No longer do I need to pander to everyone. I do not need the love and respect of the fans now that I have found it within MTNH (his tag team with Rederick Mahaba). We devote ourselves to perfecting our craft in the ring and that means winning all the time."

That's right—Imabayashi has completely gone dark, and his days as a wildly-popular fan favorite are over. Winning is the only thing that matters to the self-declared "Best Pure Wrestler in PWR," and he wants it at all costs.


His upset victory over Jake De Leon at Resbak notwithstanding, we had to wonder if there were any deeper issues behind his turn. For example, long-time fans know that Imabayashi was a hair's breadth from reclaiming the PWR Championship in a similar Triple Threat at Wrevolution X 2016, only for JDL to steal the win out from under him.

"There's no need to bring up old and dead issues," barked the pugnacious Fil-Japanese warrior. "The fact that he's in my championship match at Renaissance despite losing to me at Resbak affects me even more than that. I deserve this title shot not him. I'll make him regret even standing in the ring across me."

But he hasn't let his simmering feud distract him from the bigger picture. The dude is in it to be champion, and in his head, Chris Panzer is just another victim to drop on his head.

"It's only fitting that The Best Pure Wrestler in PWR wins the biggest prize in the company. Panzer's pro wrestling dream will be crushed when I show him the reality that he is not better than me. He should stay in his lane just like his cheap toy motorcycles."

Fighting words for sure, but with a brand-new Senketsu Gotch-style reverse piledriver in his arsenal, he's got more than a fighting chance.

Jake De Leon: Can El Supremo ride again?



But hey, don't sleep on Jake De Leon. The only active two-time PWR Champion on the roster has pretty much established himself as the king of multi-man matches, having won both the inaugural 8-man Path of Gold match and the aforementioned PWR Championship Triple Threat from last year. Trust the affable Bacolod native to play down these achievements with his usual modesty, however.

"I definitely had my fair share of multi-man matches, that's for sure," he chuckled to us over lunch at a local inasal house. "Just my luck I guess. I definitely feel that it gives me an advantage knowing how to work my way around more than one opponent. But both Ralph and Panzer have had their fair share of multi-man matches as well. At the end of the day, I know that all participants involved in this match will train their butts off and give their all. Whoever gets to take home the PWR Championship will boil down to who fights the hardest and gets a little bit lucky at the end."


So whether it's luck or outright skill, we know The Senyorito will play a huge role in this match. That doesn't mean he's taking things lightly; when asked whether Imabayashi's new deranged personality or Panzer's new-found confidence worried him more, he was typically diplomatic in his response.

"Both items are causes for worry, honestly," he said with a worried light creeping into his eyes. "Panzer's confidence is on another level, Ralph is on a tear and looking to knock down everyone in his path, and Rederick Mahaba on Ralph's side just makes the whole equation even more dangerous. I guess my biggest cause for worry would be how to put all of these things into perspective and work out a strategy to come out on top. As much as I'd like to give Ralph and Red some much needed payback, the PWR Championship has always been the goal."

All this bluster is good, but we shouldn't forget that De Leon has a history of concussion issues. What kind of shape is he in after getting spiked on his head in his last match?

"I'm doing okay right now. I've been dropped on my head more than once in my career but that Senketsu is something else. Ralph doesn't just drop you on your head. He drives you down, so that move is something Panzer and I should look out for come Renaissance."

Can Jake De Leon make history and become the first three-time PWR Champion? We won't say yes outright, but we're pretty sure he'll put on one hell of a show. But when told of Imabayashi's words, The Senyorito had one last pipebomb to drop.

"Also, kindly allow me this time to address something Ralph said about me not deserving to be in this championship match," he said, his voice filling with uncharacteristic cold anger. "Alipin, I don't know where you've been the past three years, but I am the Bacolod-Bred, Inasal-Fed, Maestro of Minimum Wage and Maximum Rage, 'The Senyorito' Jake De Leon. While you've been wallowing in your bad luck and losses, I've been holding this company up and raising the bar. So why am I in this match? Because I have worked my ass off and have earned it. Alipin, you better recognize."

Conclusion: Too close to call


All-star competitors. All-world talent. Will Chris Panzer make it out alive at Renaissance as PWR Champion? Frankly, we have no idea, but this will be one for the books.

*****

PWR Renaissance 2017 is happening on Sunday, June 25, at Playland in Fisher Mall, Quezon City. Doors open at 2 PM. Stay tuned for official announcements on the Facebook event page regarding ticket availability, pricing, and details.

Photos courtesy of "Handy" Hub Pacheco.

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