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PWR Path of Gold 2018: The Smark Henry Review





It’s that time of the year again: Wrevolution X is coming up, and PWR is already gearing up for its biggest show of the year with its annual starting point: PWR Path of Gold. In a show where one PWR wrestler gains an instant opportunity to challenge for any championship of his choosing, it is a show built around hype, unpredictability, and anticipation as its biggest show of the year draws near. And since it is designated as one of their Core 4 shows, you know they are going to bring it. With a show as big as Path of Gold, you know a big sponsor is around the corner. And it just so happened to be the biggest corner as fan-favorite Potato Corner is their major sponsor this time around!




How did they fare this time around? Normally, we would have made use of Potato Corner’s fantastic flavors to rank all the matches and segments for this review, similar to the past few shows and their respective offerings. But given how everyone is a fan of so many different flavors, and risking inadvertently causing a war between fans of their respective flavors (and we saw this during the show itself), we decided to take a different route. We can say this much though: whether you are a fan of sour cream, BBQ, cheese, wasabi, or any other flavor (or even plain!), you cannot go wrong with a Philippine favorite such as Potato Corner.

Instead, we will be ranking the show based on the monsters featured in an early favorite for 2018’s best game, Monster Hunter: World. With 7.5 million copies sold, there’s no denying that this is Capcom’s biggest selling game of all time, and given how some guys in the Smark Henry offices are currently hooked on the game to the point of an unhealthy obsession, why not?

Hunter Rank 100: Nergigante



Nergigante is MHW’s flagship monster for a good reason. As an elder dragon that eats other elder dragons, this monster would shape the events of the main story of the game. And those hunting it down will know full well that much effort will be exerted. Come prepared, or end up failing the mission.

As If There Was Any Question



But of course, right?

If there’s anything we have learned at this point, it’s that the namesake match itself is bound to be hype from the get-go, and this year’s installment is no exception. So many great moments happened during the match with different stories intertwining with one another, creating a rewarding narrative for PWR’s current and future stories.

And given there are so many amazing moments throughout the match, it’s better to break these down (heh) one by one:



  • The early elimination of Mahaba via the biggest Castigo Brutal ever given by “Ruthless” Miguel Rosales thanks to a distraction by a pissed Chris Panzer, a measure of payback from the stairwell attack more than a month ago, as well as The Ruthless One’s dominating performance in the match 

  • Qu4tro making his main show debut by coming in at #4 (of course) and making it into the Final 4 (as it should be) alongside Jake de Leon, Ken Warren, and Miguel Rosales, impressing fans in the process with his level of energy and god-given athleticism. Had it not been for Trabajador Supremo screwing over Qu4tro from the match (after the reveal that Supremo can actually stand), the lucha of the light finally snapped and went after his former boss all the way to the back 

  • Zayden Trudeau continuing his momentum of exctiting performances in the PoG, further solidifying his spot as one of Philippine wrestling’s brightest stars 

  • An angry Alexander Belmonte III immediately going after Flat Earther Peter Versoza, accusing him of having involvement in James Martinez’s disappearance, with his blind anger becoming his downfall 
  • Ken Warren finally getting revenge on the YOLO Twins for their betrayal at PWR Live: HHWW by eliminating them in the match, further solidifying his position as a top face 
  • SANDATA pulling off the Ipo Ipo armdrag-headscissors combo on the Kakaibros, which is a delight to see from the ever-creative competitor 
  • Trian dela Torre getting eliminated at around 10 seconds into the match after a surprise Rapbeh by the Kakaibros, technically sealing their “1th” win after Logan Ollores pinned him. With that, TDT now holds the record for being eliminated the fastest in PoG history 
  • The Kakaibros getting eliminated courtesy of everyone because why not. They need to stay away from Vertis North. 
  • SANDATA pulling a fast one on his friend, Dax Xaviera, by eliminating the Lakampati warrior in the match when he least expected it, only for the Huling Mangdirigma to be eliminated by JDL afterwards 

  • Jan Evander, PwD. finally making his PWR debut (on the main show, no less), going to town on everyone’s fingers by snapping them hard (ouch) and impressing the crowd. He also eliminated Evan Carleaux with the Academic Slam, but was eventually eliminated by Qu4tro by debuting his Sit-Down Last Ride Powerbomb 
  • Revo Ranger and Peter Versoza continuing their round vs. flat earth rivalry, with P to the V invoking his inner Kamen Rider in a fantastic showdown that ended up with both of them getting knocked out 
  • Peter Versoza becoming collateral damage of a cat-and-mouse chase between Vlad Sinnsyk and Vintendo involving the stolen All Out War Championship, becoming a target of a pissed off Vlad, leading to an elimination thanks to a Punk Dolls double team move 
  • Tag team champions John Sebastian and Crystal distracting the Punk Dolls long enough for JDL and KenWa to hit stereo superkicks on the dolls, eliminating them from the match 
  • Ralph Imabayashi once again screwing over Miguel Rosales (in what may be the PoG match’s biggest twist of the year) with a Sonic Crusher, eliminating who is widely considered the favorite going into the match itself 

  • A poetic battle between the Final 2, Jake de Leon and Ken Warren, who are considered OG’s of PWR’s genesis, with the Social Media Sinister pulling off one of the most important victories of his career after a WiFi barrage 
The entire match had energy all throughout, with different intertwining stories contributing to a well-told narrative that maximized everyone involved. In fact, you can say everyone was vital to making the match the way it is, driving home how far the roster has improved from its early days. It is the kind of match you have to witness with your own eyes, and if you are a first-time fan watching PWR, this is the match that will help convert you into a believer.



Ken Warren’s victory may have been an unexpected curveball, given how Rosales was the heavy favorite, but in the end, it was the best for everyone involved. Warren attacking PHX Champ Mike Madrigal emphasized on how important the PHX championship is to PWR while giving Warren a means to rectify his concussion-related loss to Madrigal at Kingdom Come. This is a good way to keep fans in their toes while granting importance to PWR’s other championships, and that’s a good thing for the entire roster.

The Rosales loss just made the road to Wrevolution X more exciting. We know that the end game is Rosales vs. Imabayashi, especially after the Ralph screwjob, but the money has always been in the chase. Rosales promised to remain a thorn in the sides of Team Sebastian, and how he’s going to fit his way into Wrevolution X is going to be a sight to behold as we await the next chapter of Rosales’ rise.

De Powa of De White Panzer Has Been Stripped Eweh



The entire match may have lasted at an approximate two minutes, but these two minutes of storytelling speak volumes.

What makes the Imabayashi-Panzer rematch so impressive is how they put the spotlight on Chris Panzer’s humanity while further driving home the predatory nature of Ralph Imabayashi’s vicious mean streak. The Leader of the Panzer Army could have waited until he got healed before going into his rematch even after that stairwell incident, but it was his hubris that urged him to get his revenge on a red-hot champion, the idea that facing him at less than a hundred percent is tantamount to suicide. And that is exactly what happened, with Ralph capitalizing on an injured Panzer while delivering a Senketsu for what is the shortest PWR title match in history.

Normally, this would have been the end of Ralph’s night, but an unexpected challenge led to a sweet surprise for the fans in the audience.

Back, Motherfucker!



It’s always a delight to see the Heart and Soul of PWR whenever he makes an appearance at a show, moreso during a surprise championship match. And a match against two championship-caliber stars is always a welcome addition.

It’s impressive enough that Bombay wrestled like he never lost a beat, but it’s also important to note that the chemistry between the Bitch Killer and the Champ feels very natural, a battle that includes a surprise La Mistica from the usually strike-heavy Ralph, and a Tiger Driver by Suarez. This match really felt like it could have gone either way, but in the end, Ralph found a way to beat the PWR godfather, ensuring that he will be coming to Wrevolution X as the champ. As if this wasn’t enough, the post-match chair beatdown by MTNH drove home the point, while Bombay remains the tough institution of the business, Ralph is the new king.



And that’s the point of it all: Ralph has come off as the most dangerous man in PWR by effectively destroying an injured Panzer while overcoming Bombay Suarez in two consecuive championship matches in one show. If that’s not building a dangerous and dominant champion heading into PWR’s biggest season as the deserving end boss, I don’t know what is.

“Nasaan Si IDOL?”



Second only to the Path of Gold match, this is the most adrenaline-filled bout of the night. If anything, this is a match that further established AB3 as one of the most impressive big men in the game today, turned Zayden Trudeau into a made man with his breathtaking performance and deceiving strength, showed Bolt in a better light as an rising star and a wily, never-give-up underdog inspired by shounen anime, and made the unexpected pairing of John Sebastian and Crystal work with their excellent heel work and big stage workrate. While we’ll never know how the match could improve even further with IDOL’s involvement had he not disappeared (which was implied to involve Peter Versoza), but for what it was, the match was absolutely impressive.



To note, while we know for a long time that AB3 has had star-making moments in the past, this match may very well have been Zayden’s big match revelation. With his amazing athleticism, crazy high-flying prowess (that crazy tope), and surprising strength, PWR definitely has something on their hands. And possessing a 450 that rivals Robin Sane’s own crazy 450 is definitely a huge plus. Don’t be surprised if he becomes a big time player in the future.

While Team King and Queen’s win may have been a surprise, it also greatly fit well into the current narrative of AMAJSWLAS’s abuse of power as co-owner of PWR. After all, with a storyline running as it is at the moment, as stated earlier, there’s always money in the chase, and hopefully it will be sooner rather than later that TruBolt finally gets their tag team championship opportunity.



It is also worth noting that history was made: Crystal is not only the first woman to win a Philippine wrestling championship, Team K&Q is also the first intergender tag team champions in the country’s history. Not bad at all.

Hunter Rank 75: Rathalos



Rathalos has become such a staple in the Monster Hunter franchise, it’s impossible to think of a game without its fire-breathing presence. Whether you are an experienced veteran or a newcomer, no doubt, the Rathalos will prove to be a challenge.

Bring Your Own Weapons = Rush In Creativity



It’s always a fun time when an audience gets to bring their own weapons for use in a no-disqualification encounter, as the F4H vs. Deadly Sinns proved the last time, resulting to arguably the greatest All Out War match in PWR history. And in a singles last man standing situation, the stipulation helped bring out the best between two of PWR’s most punishing yet creative competitors.

Vlad Sinnsyk and Apocalypse both brought their A-game and bonafide toughness in this match, making use of every weapon available with zero abandon. This may possinly be the last time they’ll face each other for a while, but it is without any doubt that they left everything they can inside the ring, with much destruction to show. And man, that upo shot to the head is something fans need to see for themselves, as well as that crazy ladder assisted Six Feet Under stomp by Apocalypse to the apron. Add in Vlad’s surprising swanton, and you don’t have to wonder why fans chanted “sulit bayad” during the match.



It is also a testament to Vlad’s character that he managed to find a way to beat Apocalypse by virtue of an easier means to stand up before the count of ten by going outside the ring after being knock out inside, whereas Apocalypse made use of his his own strength to get up, only to fail when the referee recognized Vlad’s attempt to stand up first. If anything, this is a great way to emphasize the not-often-explored genius side of The Hand of Judgement, who’s always been known as a dangerous destroyer inside the ring.

The sudden appearance of Vintend0 and subsequent theft of the All Out War Championship after the match suddenly opened up a new world of possibilities in a blossoming division. It seems like the Raging Gamer is a perfect fit with his angry temperment and bruiser-esque moveset with an indicative ability to take as much punishment as he can dish it. This is very much the biggest opportunity for Vintend0 at this time, and we may very well be rewarded with a deeper division as a result.

MM vs. MM Ended in a GGT



This is the first match that got “this is awesome” chants from the crowd, and for good reason. The chemistry between bonafide workhorse Mike Madrigal and the longest reigning champion in PWR history, Main Maxx, was evident, being able to mesh well in terms of complimenting each other’s strengths. For every vicious strike Madrigal managed to deliver, he was met with Maxx’s hybrid power and athleticism, making for one of the most impressive PHX Championship matches in a long while. And much like Bombay, Maxx definitely has not lost a step even after almost a year of being in the sidelines. To be able to deliver that kind of performance on his first night back is nothing short of impressive, and it only add more curious intrigue as to why Maxx, an established name, would be aligned by Mr. Sy. Guess we have months to figure out how this relationship would go.



The surprise appearance of the Kakaibros to assist Madrigal, allowing him to hit the GTS on Maxx for the win, is an interesting decision indeed. The trio is known to be expert wordsmiths online with their own show reviews, so the history is there. As to where it will go, that is for us to find out.

BBQ! SO-UR-CREAM! AYAYAYAYAYAPOTATOOOOOO!



JDL, at this point, will never have a bad match. It’s an accepted fact by now. But what is very much impressive is how much energy Dax Xaviera managed to bring to the table in the first match of the show, JDL’s second in two consecutive shows. Knowing that this is the biggest singles bout in the Lakampati Warrior’s career thus far, he made sure not to waste that opportunity by matching the Senyorito’s intensity and athleticism, much like how SANDATA did the same against Mr. Philippine Wrestling at HHWW. It was so intense, fans can actually feel the excitement of the match, a perfect way to start a big show such as Path of Gold.

Dax’s selling ability was on full display as well when JDL continued his promise of breaking his arm, the former’s facial expressions being on point. It also helped greatly that the chants were fun and par for the course, because no matter what, the debate between the deliciousness between BBQ and Sour Cream will always rage on from fans.



The narrative between SANDATA and both men continue to intrigue as it was the masked veteran who made the distraction this time around, eventually costing JDL his second consecutive loss. Of course, this would not be the end of his awful streak as the PoG match itself will tell you.

No matter what happens next between the related parties involved, one thing is for certain: this match solidified Dax Xaviera as the singles player he deserves to be, and he will be able to maintain his momentum as long as he can bring that kind of excitement to his other matches the way he did with JDL.

About That Promo...



Here’s the thing about Rederick Mahaba: when you let him loose in the microphone, expect fireworks flying around with a dash of truth. And the thing about the truth? Sometimes, it hurts, but it’s a reminder that the fans can become better than just throw venom on the guys working on making their dreams come true.

It was great for the partner of Ralph Imabayashi to bring about both realism and kayfabe in his passionate promo talking about the state of local pro wrestling and the fandom. It was meant to be as uncomfortable as possible, and in that regard, Mahaba accomplished his mission. And it was an opportune time as well for the Intimate Warrior to bring up his choice of words, given how local pro wrestling in general is already growing at the rate it’s in.

You cannot help but show props for an individual who is seriously passionate at what he does, and it serves as a reminder that realism can become a driver for memorable promos.

Hunter Rank 50: Anjanath



The Anjanath is a newcomer to the Monster Hunter franchise, and with his T-Rex-like appearance and ability to destroy with his tail swipes and fire attacks, he has become quite the welcome addition to the overall lore.

SPUDSTER IS AWESOME



As part of Potato Corner’s sponsorship with PWR, we saw Spudster, the brand’s mascot, make his in-ring debut with Revo Ranger against Uno and Dos of the Council of the Trabajadores. And it’s not everyday you see a living potato whoop some ass. That alone puts the match in a class of its own. More Spudster please.

Quatro’s Time



Quatro once again impressed when he took on Kapitan PWR in a qualifying match for a spot at the Path of Gold match later in the show. In what is already standard operating procedure for Quatro, he impressed very well against PWR’s own mascot, who may very well have been a different person this time around. There may be some rawness in whoever took the mantle of Kapitan PWR, but nonetheless. he delivered quite well in his first round in the ring, being able to deliver a solid preshow encounter with the lucha of the light. The segment ended with a sermon from Supremo, warning him of the dangers that lie ahead when he decides to reach for the light, a sign of things to come for the budding star.

Hunter Rank 1: Kulu-Ya-Ku



It is a bird creature who needed to pick up a rock to beat up other hunters. That is such a jabroni thing to do.

Lance's Golden Shower

Hey folks! GCP tagging in for this part of the review. "Why?" you ask. Well, of course, because we here at Smark Henry believe in integrity. Also, because Lance gets intimately splashed by Rederick Mahaba.

Yes, dear smarks. Our very own Lance Tan Ong is the winner of the Potato Corner Flavor Splash Challenge, thereby securing FIVE THOUSAND PESOS worth of (plain) Potato Corner fries.


To be honest, the challenge did seem to reflect quite a bit on the promo that Mahaba had cut at the beginning of the main card. When the contest was being announced, there were many who eagerly raised their hands, jumping to join before the explanation was even finished. However, when the wrestlers were revealed and the waiver was left out for them to sign, only one guy had the guts to actually go through with it. This resonated with the impassioned promo that really was shot from the heart. You can say "Easy lang 'yan" or "let's sign up!" all you want, but when push comes to shove, you better actually do it.

And out of all of those who said they would, only a very small percentage, only one in this instance, stepped into the ring and took the beating. And even if it involved fans, one could clearly see that two out of the three wrestlers absolutely made Lance earn his gift certificates.


— Smark Henry (@SmarkHenryPH) March 11, 2018

Yes, we went a little deep there, but it was an honest to AMA JSWLAS depiction of what we see in the PWR comments section.

*****

Simply put, without a shadow of a doubt, this is the best show PWR has produced to date. With a well balanced show proper, a consistent narrative, an improved and ready roster that was fully maximized, and pleasant surprises and unexpected twists, PWR has delivered a classic that would be held as its new gold standard. Whereas previous shows have one or two matches that were held in high regard, all of Path of Gold 2018’s matches had a big fight feel, held with significant importance in the grander scheme of things, and made sense. And when stories connect and give you an “aha” moment, that’s when you know that you are already being rewarded.

The show is a testament to the growth of the company and its competitors, and if this is of any indication, just imagine what is in store for us at Wrevolution X.

Post Event Awards

Match of the Night: Path of Gold Match

Wrestler of the Night: Zayden Trudeau and Quatro (tied, and trust me when I say, this is the hardest part to decide in the review)

Moment of the Night: The Destruction of Chris Panzer

Event Grade: A+

What did you think of the event overall? Did you agree with Ken Warren winning this year's Path of Gold match? Sound off in the comments!

*****

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 from TCHuang Productions

Comments

  1. That's it, Imabayashi and Mahaba are practically Ornstein and Smough at this point, if it hasn't been said before that is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good show. Good venue. Too bad the guy with the hottest storyline in the promotion didn't win the titular match. Kinda killed the vibe of it. But hey, at least Ken Warren won it and he'll be going for... aw wait... no... he's gonna go for the PHX title instead, what a let down. Exited to see where the nepotism storyline goes though.

    ReplyDelete

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