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PWR Live: Holding Hands While Wrestling—The Official Smark Henry Review


Welcome once again, ladies and smarks! GCP here, ready for another integrity-filled review of the recently concluded PWR Live: Holding Hands While Wrestling. We're here to talk about what we liked and what we didn't like with regards to the show.

Of course, given that this show revolves around the idea of love, we've got a hotly debated tier-list just for you. So grab some popcorn, light up those tea candles (available at PHP 150 for a pack of 30 at your local department store), click the video below for some background music, sit back, and relax.


The Tier System

What would the love month be if we did not base our review tiers against the backbone of the Philippine entertainment industry: love teams.

Yes, smarks, we're going with the likes of ShaGab, KathNiel, JaDine, JLB and the wide array of partnerships that have defined the landscape of movies and television here in the Philippines. Why this tier system? Well, aside from the aforementioned timing of the event, it should be noted that out of the ten matches that took place, seven of those involved tag teams or the presence of at least one of the wrestlers' respective partner.

That being said, it was not an easy task to determine which one of the numerous love teams should be used to represent each tier system. The top two tiers were of course vehemently contested. This revealed two things: a) our collective age; and b) it would not do them justice to pick just one per tier. We know the fandom can get even more violent than wrestling fans, so please... relax lang po kayo, tita. We therefore employed a system that would not get us killed by categorizing the different types of love teams.

We blame you, Mcdo. *blushing internally*

Tier One: The Enduring and Timeless


The love teams on this tier have reached A-List status and will forever be memorialized in the annals of Philippine Entertainment. When you talk of these people, you see instant box office hits. Their chemistry are at a level wherein you feel that they were just made for each other. They make each other feel like home. Ex. Sharon Cuneta & Gabby Concepcion.

Jake De Leon vs. SANDATA


Just like the couples mentioned above, Jake De Leon continued his streak of stellar performances. His dance partner this time around, SANDATA, gets his own tier-one singles match. Credit to both of these men for pulling off an incredibly fun bout. The lead-up, with The Senyorito calling out SANDATA's lack of fire in the ring, had seemingly struck a chord within the Pinoy Tecnico. It was a raw, emotionally-fueled tirade that left everyone—target audience included—taking a long hard look at what he said.



In a way, #OplanSagipWrestling worked. This was undoubtedly the best match SANDATA has ever had. Of course, it takes two to tango, as Jake De Leon pushed his opponent to dig deep and pull off moves that made the tough crowd finally feel that fire as well. The spots were beautiful. The action, intense as it was, helped push the story that The Senyorito wanted to punish SANDATA's perceived transgressions to Philippine Wrestling.


This was a classic JDL match. Call it tough love, or call it just being tough. And in truth, he was correct. With his tenure in the promotion, much is expected from SANDATA. With more and more new wrestlers joining the roster each year, the veterans of the scene need to set a good example for future batches.


Dax Xaviera is part of that future. His interference in the match may have cost JDL the win, so you can bet that there will be repercussions down the line. Will The Senyorito light a fire in him as well? Will SANDATA keep that flame burning bright? Only time will tell, but we hope the answer is yes.

Winner: SANDATA via pinfall after Kidlat knee kick

Tier Two: Hugot Feels


There's a certain appeal to these people, you can see it in how they interact with each other. Although they may not necessarily end up together forever, there's a certain happiness that you feel when you think of all the possibilities that these two could have. Example: John Lloyd and Bea.

TDTxECX vs. Zayden Trudeau & Bert Bolt: PWR Tag Team Title #1 Contenders Tournament Finals


Let's cut to the chase.


That was a freaking beautiful 450 splash by all-around-nice-guy, Zayden Trudeau. Just look at it, and bask in all of its Canadian maple syrup glory.

Now that the drooling has subsided, let's talk about the match. Right off the bat, you could tell that this had the makings to be another classic TDTxECX match. Lots of comedic spots, right? True. However, you could definitely see a certain shine in the wrestlers in that bout. There was a level of intensity much more than what we normally expected.

HIS MERCH POWER IS OVER 9000!!!

Major props to both Zayden Trudeau and Evan Carleaux. These two shone the best in that match. I am seriously loving the intensity these two have brought in their recent matches. Trian Dela Torre played his role well as the wily trickster in the match, eliciting a mix of laughter and applause with his antics. Camus just keeps doing his thing by shilling merch like a good henchman should. Jhemmehrlyn was taking down notes, legit surprised that someone said "Good job, Camus." Kap Tutan was surprisingly clothed and dry of oil.

This brings us now to Bolt... or Bert.... Bolt? Nah, definitely Bert.

Hey, I can appreciate that you love anime. Everyone has their own thing. The Revo-Nation has seen that there's definitely intensity in you. We've all seen it when you faced Trudeau back at PWR Live: Sugod. Where's that intensity now? This is the part of the series where the main character gets fed up with the bullying and shows how strong he really is. Fight back, dammit. Attack the ropes more. Put on some weight or something. At some point, it gets frustrating when there was virtually no response from him with all of the taunting of TDTxECX happened leading up to event. Trudeau was doing virtually all of the heavy lifting, meme jokes aside. Where was your fire when you were a singles competitor? We're waiting to see that again. Or does Jake De Leon need to set his sights on you as well?

Omae wa mou shindeiru

It's high time that the spotlight of the tag team division shines on a new pair. TDTxECX had their time. Now the pressure is on Zayden Trudeau and Bolt to take their win against one of the most popular tag teams on the roster and ride that momentum with an even better performance in the future.

Winner: Zayden Trudeau & Bolt via 450 Splash, earns #1 Contenders status against the reigning PWR Tag Team Champions, The Network

Ralph Imabayashi & Rederick Mahaba vs. Miguel Rosales (Mahabang Usapan and 2-on-1 Handicap Match)


First we celebrate the love and respect.

It has been a long time since love has reigned over the landscape of the PWR. As it stands, the champion, Ralph Imabayashi and his partner, Rederick Mahaba, have shown that there's a new way of how things are to be run. Miguel Rosales, hours before his match against the two, shared a drink in honor of the two, reiterating his intention to get his hands on the title draped on Imabayashi's shoulder. This set up what could very well be the main event for Wrevolution X. But with two more events before that, anything could happen.

Now to the match proper.

Men of culture and all that stuff.

Getting something tweaked during a match sucks. Getting something tweaked during the start of the match sucks major balls. This was what Rederick Mahaba had to go through. A botched hip toss caused The Intimate Warrior to fall awkwardly either on his head or on his shoulder which clearly affected him and his performance.

Major props, then, for Mahaba toughening it out until the end of the match. even taking an arm triangle submission to cap it all off. After that, he even took a Sonic Crusher post-match to push the story forward. Goddamn, this guy has heart. It was confirmed afterwards that there were no permanent injuries to his shoulder found at the time, and that's always good news.


My two favorite spots of this match would have to be the dive from the top rope to the outside and the finish.

You may wonder what makes the dive so special when it's been done by Rosales in almost every match. Well, the main difference in this particular dive was in the number of people catching him. Note in the video below that it was just Imabayashi and Mahaba right there. This was one of the main points of criticism with dives in the past—that there were always so many people to land on. Why would so many Young Boys suddenly group together to take a dive bump? I get that it's a safety issue, but doing it without all the extra people shows a level of trust between the people involved.


The other spot that I really wanted to talk about was the spear to arm-triangle combo. Be it the weight or sheer exhaustion at the end, Rosales just couldn't lift Mahaba anymore. He employed an alternative finish that took into consideration the busted shoulder of Mahaba. Great improvisation on the part of Rosales, personal biases on submissions aside


With the win against MTNH in a handicap match, this set up an eventual clash against the reigning champion. With Imabayashi's declaration of a rematch against the recovering Chris Panzer, this puts off that bout for another time. However, with Path of Gold looming as the next event and another one before Wrevolution X, one would have to think that maybe the momentum would shift or lose steam. After all, anything can happen at the Path of Gold match. How this plays out is something that I am definitely looking forward to.

Winner: Miguel Rosales via spear and arm triangle combo

Mike Madrigal (c), Vlad Sinnsyk (c) & Apocalpyse vs. The YOLO Twins & Ken Warren in a Six-Man Tag Match




The main reason why I loved this match was because there was so much going on between everyone involved. Let's talk about the fact first that everyone has either held a title or is currently a champion. You had the #FIRST and the current PHX Champions in Ken Warren and Mike Madrigal, respectively.


There's the inaugural and the reigning All Out War Champions between The Apocalypse and Vlad Sinnsyk, who were actually on the same team. The YOLO Twins were facing off against The Deadly Sinns, a team they beat to capture the tag titles. So obviously, Apocalypse and Sinnsyk had bad blood right off the bat. The Twins and the PHX and AOW Champions have bad blood. Ken Warren wants to get his title back against Mike Madrigal. Warren is also dealing with the internal conflict in his stable. It was all just one big enjoyable mess of things.

And as it happened, everything played out the best way possible.

He gets it.

The only reason why this match didn't get the top tier treatment was because there were some really nice spots on paper that weren't as polished as they wanted to be. Some sequences faltered at the end, but the wrestlers definitely had something planned to wow the crowd. Given that, it was still a fun match that will surely lead to other great matches at the lead up to Wrevolution X.


It was a nice surprise as well for Mr. Sy to appear at the end to set give Mike Madrigal a new challenger at Path of Gold. With Apocalypse and Sinnsyk clashing once again and Ken Warren dealing with the Twins turning on him, Madrigal was the only one left without a dance partner. That however, didn't last long.

Winner: Mike Madrigal via Two Night Stand on Ken Warren by The YoLo Twins

"Kung Hei Fat Choi, bitches"


*Intermission Number*


Tier Three: Kilig to the Bones


When you talk about hugot movies, these are the teams that come into mind. They play their role best at eliciting a response of longing and a surge of emotions but don't really have much meat under all of that. Examples: Xian Lim & Kim Chiu, Maine Mendoza & Alden Richards, James Reid & Nadine Lustre, KathNiel.

The Network (c) vs. Brad Cruz & McKata


Okay, we're only talking about the match itself here. That rap battle deserves a ranking of its own. There's really not much to say about this match, other than it was just a way to move the story along.

Nope, nothing major changed at all. Nope nope nopity nope.

The action centralized pretty much around Alexander Belmonte III, and why he's seriously the best big man The Network has ever had. He was able to bust out his Money Down on McKata (apparently only the third time he's ever done the move).

Other than that, there was the funny wardrobe malfunction that happened near the end.

Such a helpful lad, this Trudeau guy.

What happened in the post match however, will be discussed in the section below for future matches.

Winner: The Network via Money Down from AB3

Peter Versoza vs. Revo-Ranger (Battle for the Earth)


Well, not really. But if you ever wanted a confrontation between a flat-earther and a man of science and logic, this would have to be the match you'd want to catch.

He's got the whoooole world, in his hands

It's actually quite refreshing to see wrestlers openly admitting "personal" beliefs.

Peter Versoza has been without a real gimmick for quite a long time, often being relegated as a generic veteran with a hint of his former "Bulacan Babe Magnet" persona. Now that he's fully embraced his new role, we can finally see some form of direction in his character. We can't wait for the mid-series upgrade of Peter Versoza wherein he manages to completely overpower Revo-Ranger, thus forcing him to up his game as well.

Of course, hard science beats internet forums any day of the week, and this was no exception. Congratulations on your first main show win, Revo-Ranger!

Winner: Revo Ranger via rollup

Robynn vs. Crystal (First Women's All Out War Match)


The first All Out War Match for 2018 and the first to feature all female participants didn't quite match up to the hype. After a string of great similar matches in the past year, this one was just struggling to reach the same level. 

The intensity was there, somewhat. It just didn't quite make the cut to what the Revo-Nation was used to.

So, what about the match did I like? Well, of course, the use of weapons is always a crowd-pleaser. There were chains, steel pans, a steel chair (more of a hit-and-miss), a ladder, a taaaable? (this one too), marshmallows...

AND THE MOTHERFREAKING ORROCAAAAAAN!!!!
I love Bahala Na Si Batman on to tables just as much as the next guy, but I have to be honest, what they tried to pass off as a table admittedly took away from the spot. It was flimsy as hell, could barely stand at all, and looked as if it would fall down if you tried to put Bert on it.

I get it, you want to drive someone through it and its lack of thickness produces a great sound, but please make it a wee bit more believable. It turned the feel of the match from hardcore to something a bit more comedic.


Okay, here comes the steel chair. Sadly, it was one of the more disappointing props used during the match. The chair shots lacked any oomph. We're not asking you to kill each other, but we needed something more believable. Wedging it between the turnbuckles was a great idea and that spot went well with the crowd. There was also another spot where the chair was propped up in the middle of the ring, which was also well received. The chair is a versatile weapon, and there's so much that could be done with it that would keep the sense of kayfabe alive.


In the end though, it was just okay, save for the two main concerns above.

The implications of the match proved that there was something much more to happen in the future. Robynn trying to attack GM AMA JS WLAS with a plywood plank that ended up hitting her own partner, Martivo, could also lead to something regarding the Punk Dolls, so there's that. This was a rough first All Out War match for the women, and we're definitely hoping for something better in the future.

Winner: Crystal via Solemate with a steel pan

Tier Four: One-Off


When something is shiny and new, it has appeal. But when you take a closer look at it, it's not always what you initially thought it would be. The love teams here make up those that looked good in one pairing but that was as far as they could go. Ex. Jericho Rosales & Carmen Soo, Donna Cruz & Jason Everly, Vic Sotto & Cynthia Luster, Derek Ramsay & anyone. 

Vintendo vs. Martivo



Looking at the event as a whole made me believe that this match wasn't so much as to give Vintendo the win, but to have Martivo lose clean. Right now, Vintendo has no active storyline. Martivo's partner, Robynn, is currently clashing with the new tag team partner of John Sebastian, Crystal. The match itself was sort of meh, with the finish not looking as crisp as it should be. Vintendo being a little bit more talkative and interactive with the crowd was a nice improvement. This has always been a concern in the past, and he's finally taken some steps to addressing it.

Winner: Vintendo via High Score

The Venue


This was the second PWR event that was held at Venue 142 along Katipunan Ext., Quezon City, and actually the first one that I was able to catch. Right off the bat, the main issue would have to be parking. There's really not enough parking spaces to go around. When we arrived at the venue at 12:30 PM, there were only three spaces left at the basement. Given that there was already a cap on the tickets sold for the venue at a max of 250 people, that was still a lot of people. There are no public transportation vehicles that would pass through the venue directly, so that may be an issue for some.

Another concern would have to be a lack of a screen for the videos. The wrestlers were relegated to having just their walkout themes being played. This may not be an issue to all, but the videos that accompany those themes are very well made, so it was a shame to miss out on them.

The last issue that I had with the venue would have to be the lighting. This wasn't immediately apparent, but as the show went on, it kind of put off the feel of the matches. Not all of the lights were turned on, so the action was not as brightly accentuated, especially when the sun was starting to go down during the latter part of the show. If you were spoiled by Power Mac Center Spotlight's aura, Venue 142 had a massively different feel. If the event had lasted til nightfall, things could have been a bit more picturesque. The view as it was at the time didn't add to the action in the ring.

Marking out was at 70% max

On the upside, the location gave local wrestling fans who live in Quezon City a far more accessible venue. There were quality dining places located along White Plains where one could meet up with the family afterwards. Eastwood was also quite near.

Overall, this venue doesn't make it to the top of best PWR show locations, but it's definitely not one of the worst.

The Pre-Show (John Sebastian WLAS vs. Kapitan PWR, Quatro & Trabajador Maximo vs. The KakaiBros)


If anything could be said about the pre-show, the main theme would have to be "fun." Yep. In an open challenge for the PWR GM position, Kapitan PWR answered the call. There was a slow-mo senton, a Grenade Atomic Drop.... and a Worm... which was rightfully countered into a Killer Queen-Kill Shot finish.

Nice try, Kapitan PWR.

Winner: John Sebastian via Killshot


Quatro once again took on a new challenge, as he reluctantly teamed up with Trabajador Maximo to take on the still winless, still unbathed KakaiBros.

This match diiiid drag on a bit longer than it should have, but it was always a treat to see the athleticism of the KakaiBros and Quatro on display. Plus, it was interesting to see a match wherein one tag team partner was actively trying to loss. I feel bad for whoever had to loan out the printing of the KakaiBros' 1st win tarp. Because just like Delirium in a non-Wrevolution X pre-show match, they're still winless.

Maximo.exe has stopped working
Winner: Quatro & Trabajador Maximo via Destino

*End of the Set*


Tier Five: Tried But Failed


This is where we put in the love teams that should not have happened simply because there was no chemistry at all or they were just a terrible couple all around. Ex. Julia Montes & Enrique Gil, John Prats & Heart Evangelista.

James "Idol" Martinez vs. McKata (Rap Battle w/ John Sebastian as Guest MC)




Please, never again.

Just like the mating call of The YOLO Twins, this was a cringefest. There may have been some valid talking points in the bars, but most of it was simply incomprehensible. They're not exactly the most eloquent of speakers, especially when having to do so in rap.

We really wanna know what got MC JSWLAS shookt.
Winner: J.Mart via something

Announced/Expected Matches Post-HHWW


* Matches in bold have been confirmed to be booked.
  • Really hope to see another John Sebastian Open Challenge
  • KakaiBros vs. all Trabajadors? Sayang bayad eh.
  • Jake De Leon vs. Dax Xaviera. The Senyorito would definitely want to get his hands on that little bad badjao for interfering in his match against SANDATA.
  • Peter Versoza vs. Revo-Ranger, Round 2
  • The Apocalypse vs. Vlad Sinnysk (c)
  • Evan Carleaux confirms his entry into the Path of Gold match
  • Mike Madrigal (c) defends his PHX title against a mystery opponent 
  • Zayden Trudeau & Bolt vs. John Sebastian & Crystal vs. The Network (c) in a Three-way Tag Team Match for the PWR Tag Team Championship
  • Miguel Rosales confirms entry into the Path of Gold Match
  • Chris Panzer vs. Ralph Imabayashi (c)

Post Event Awards

  • Match of the Night: Jake De Leon vs. SANDATA
  • Wrestler of the Night: SANDATA
  • Moment of the Night: The 450 splash by Zayden Trudeau 
  • Event Grade: B
It had to be done. Also, integrity.

Conclusion


As the Philippine Wrestling Revolution heads to Wrevolution X season once again, the storylines are beginning to form for the biggest event of the year. There's still going to be Path of Gold and another event until then, but one can already see how everything is taking shape. I'm definitely excited to see how everything pans out in the coming months.

I have to point out that this event had a very tough crowd. Although there were familiar faces, there was definitely a good number who were new to the show, and haven't exactly followed the stories leading up to the event. Of course, that could have been a factor as to why the aura felt off that day. It could also have been the different venue. Nonetheless, the men and women in the roster did their best to provide a show for the QC crowd.

Honestly, I can't wait to get back to the Power Mac Center with its spacious parking and numerous dining options.

*****

Disclosure: Smark Henry is independently managed and operated by a group of local wrestling fans, but includes members affiliated with the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.

Photos and videos from Philippine Wrestling Revolution, Meanne Bruan, Michael Bueza, and "Hugging" Hub "While Watching" Pacheco.

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