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31 Days of Wrestling (12/11/17): Hanzello Shilva vs. Aldrin Richards


By Ardelle, KP, & Buezzy

Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2017 produced for us.

While still relatively young, the Philippine wrestling is alive and growing. And as proof, the Manila Wrestling Federation made its groundbreaking debut show this year to give Filipino fans more wrestling to enjoy apart from the flagship Philippine Wrestling Revolution. After all, as the cliche goes, the more the merrier.

At MWF Balikbayan in November, we saw a face-off between two youngbloods that took the crowd by surprise and had them at the edge of their seats. The match between Hanzello Shilva and Aldrin Richards wasn’t the main event, but they surely stole the show. In the end, Richards turned out to be the stronger competitor. But in everyone’s eyes, both lads clearly won the night.

We braved the ASEAN carmageddon that fateful afternoon for great wrestling. We’ve always known that the future is bright for our beloved sport on this side of the globe, but these two further proved that point.

*****

Ardelle: Let’s get this out of the way. I’m a huge Kenny Omega fan. That’s why when this match ended with Richards’ version of Kenny’s One Winged Angel, the Rose Goddess Slayer, my friend KP and I lost our minds. Heck, everyone’s minds in the venue collectively exploded. I guess we were just a bit louder than the rest.

Aside from the finish, this was a great introduction to MWF, as this was the first match I’ve seen live and in full. Shilva and Richards brought a war that started off with a lengthy but fun technical wrestling that transitioned to stiff kicks and chops, and then to a chain of brainbusters and body slams that led to tons of false finishes that seemingly took everyone’s minds out bit by bit.

While it was fun, those tons of false finishes took the wind out of me. After all, too much of a good thing (in this case, false finishes), can be bad. But it didn’t take away from how good a match this was. It was a delight to see the crowd’s reaction change as the match transitioned. Oohs and ahhs got louder as their kicks and chops became stiffer. When Shilva and Richards were delivering power moves one after the other, every person in the venue was on their feet. It seemed that they had the crowd in the palm of their hands.

Shilva and Richards delivered a one heck of a match that still had rough edges, but the future's bright for MWF and these lads.

KP: I mean. A one-handed electric chair driver named Rose Goddess Slayer in front of our salad. While we were wearing Kenny Omega shirts.
That aside, this was the best out of the three matches that the ASEANmageddon allowed us to watch and convinced me that I should go to another show, if only to see Richards and Shilva get better. Because as good as this match was, the ending felt a little overwrought. False finishes ratchet up tension, but the four or so this had were exhausting and threw off the match’s rhythm. They did nail the finish, though. Even if it was a Rose Goddess Slayer. In front of our Kenny Omega-clad meat sacks.

What made it worth going through was the brutal, back-to-back action that earned the standing room it had by the end. Whether it be a ripcord knee from Shilva advanced by an ushigoroshi from Richards, or sickening kicks stiff enough to leave bruises on the audience’s eardrums, the two produced a steady hum of excitement punctuated only by savage chops at corners and the rare moments where they weren’t at each other’s throats.

It was extraordinary to see two young guns go this hard. They clearly know what they want to go for—it’s just a matter of MWF putting on more shows to give them the platform to polish their moves, to quicken their paces, and get more comfortable with their characters.

I’m unsure if anyone else felt this, but it felt as if they may as well be wearing plain black trunks: Shilva’s furry hunter-and-or-werewolf-IDK-like gear and stalking motions at the beginning of the match, and Richards’ ~wrestler~ attitude melded into the background once they got into the thick of things. At this point, this isn’t as urgent as making sure that they hit their beats right and land things a little more smoothly.

But really, in front of our salad.
Buezzy: This belongs in the 31 matches in 2017 you must check out because it features two promising wrestlers giving it their all as if it was their last match. It was among the memorable matches, if not the most noteworthy one, at Balikbayan.

It may not have been flawless, the moves they did weren't new, and there may have been one or two false finishes too many, but it got the MWF crowd hooked. It showed Hanzello and Aldrin as two wrestlers capable of dishing out and receiving impressive moves. They just need to tie things together to tell a compelling story, and their encounters—whoever their opponents may be—could be Match of the Year candidates.

Of course, like anything in life, practice makes perfect. This match was a great step towards honing their craft further.


*****

31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2017.

Read our previous entries:

#1: The Okada/Omega Trilogy
#2: Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 33)
#3: The Mae Young Classic Finals
#4: Billy Suede vs. Jake De Leon (Wrevolution X 2017)
#5: WarGames
#6: Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Dark (Ultima Lucha Tres)
#7: Fatal Four Way for the WWE Universal Championship (SummerSlam)
#8: Manami Toyota's Retirement
#9: Jinder Mahal Wins the WWE Championship
#10: Roman Reigns Tries To Take The Torch (No Mercy 2017)

Disclosure: Smark Henry is independently run and managed by a group of Filipino wrestling fans, but includes members affiliated with competing promotions and sponsors.

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