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Jake De Leon: "I Would Die For The Philippine Wrestling Scene"


He's a two-time Kampeon ng Pilipinas and a former Path of Gold winner, but judging from the reactions "The Senyorito" Jake De Leon has been getting from PWR fans as of late, you'd never know it. This time last year, he was drawing adoring cheers and standing ovations from the Revo-Nation. These days, he's getting nothing but massive boos from a fandom that's felt betrayed ever since he turned his back on them by teaming up with John Sebastian to orchestrate the downfall of previous PWR management, and going on an ambush spree of fan favorites like the Pinoy Tecnico SANDATA, and the Sagisag ng Sigasig Dax Xaviera.

But the burly Son of a Haciendero won't hear it; as far as he's concerned, he's doing Philippine wrestling a favor.

"I am not evil," he claimed nonchalantly in an exclusive interview with Smark Henry at a local inasal house. "I am righteous and I am doing what I am doing right now to clean up Philippine wrestling for the better."

He can claim his own version of reality all he likes, but we're pretty sure karma is coming around to kick his butt in an epic Triple Threat match against both SANDATA and Xaviera at PWR Live: Trapik on April 22nd.


No kidding, this match could potentially steal the show at Trapik, given both the athletic skill of all men involved, as well as the legitimate bad blood between each other.

It should come as no surprise that all men involved in this match are taking things extremely personally. Smark Henry had the opportunity to sit down with each of them and get their thoughts about this looming Triple Threat.

"Mr. Philippine Wrestling" Is On A Mission



With or without his trusty broom sidekick named "Walis Pempengco," Jake De Leon has been very vocal about his mission to clean up Philippine wrestling. The obvious question that arises: how can he be continuing his advocacy against the likes of SANDATA and Xaviera, who some fans would even say represent everything that’s good about the scene, and represent the hustle and determination to keep pushing and improving themselves?

“A lot of people don’t notice this but so I don’t blame you for not seeing it either," he barked, "but I clean up Philippine wrestling in more than just one way. The obvious way is by beating garbage Filipino wrestlers up enough into making them want to never return to a PWR wrestling ring again. But I know PWR wrestlers aren’t built to give up so easily and they keep fighting and fighting until one of two things happen: they finally give up and clean themselves off of Philippine wrestling for good, or my battles with them strengthen them and harden them enough to turn them from lumps of coal into bright and shiny diamonds."

"I’ve been doing this even before I turned into what you people think is the evil version of me," he continues matter-of-factly. "When you step in the ring with me, you either step up or step aside. So far, both SANDATA and Dax Xaviera may have stepped up but that was because both of those alipins decided to 'band together as friends' and make sure they get their revenge on me in separate matches. Well now, at PWR Live: Trapik on April 22nd at 500 Shaw, there are no more friends and no more buddies. They have to put up or shut up against me, and against each other. And truth be told, I don’t like their chances.”


Those are harsh words from the man who calls himself "Mr. Philippine Wrestling," but we needed to ask as well: beyond this match, beyond the rise of both SANDATA and Xaviera, with the launch of a major new competitor in the form of Art of War Wrestling and the relaunch of the Manila Wrestling Federation, does De Leon feel like he has something bigger to prove to fans in what some see as a potential turf war?

“What’s motivating me to win this match is what has been motivating me for the past three-and-a-half years as a professional wrestler: to be the best and to prove I am the best. And I have been proving that in every single match I have had. In all my years in the Philippine wrestling scene, I leave my heart and my soul out there in that ring every time I perform, and I dare anyone who thinks otherwise to say that to my face."

This clearly is a very personal agenda for the Senyorito—one he claims he would die for.

"I have wept, I have bled, and I would die for the Philippine wrestling scene and for PWR, and that is why I am Mr. Philippine Wrestling. And I go out there and prove it every single time.”

Them's fighting words from Bacolod's favorite son. But speaking of Bacolod, social media has buzzing with the promise of a new finisher to complement his deadly Inasal Lock crossface chickenwing: the Inasal Lock #2. What do PWR fans have to look forward to, and has he lost faith in his OG submission hold?

“Not worried that my Inasal Lock can’t get the job done, but as we all know in the wrestling business, and in any business for that matter, evolution is necessary. That is why I continue to evolve myself as a wrestler and as a performer and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Now, as for the Inasal Lock #2, let’s just say that when it comes to inasal, there’s more than just one part.”

Dax Xaviera: Suntok sa Buwan



Facing him will be Dax Xaviera, one of PWR’s breakout stars the past few months, and a man who has completely rewritten his career trajectory especially after not having much success in the tag team scene as one-half of Delirium. What’s driving Dax Xaviera right now?

"Talaga namang napakasarap sa pakiramdam na natatamasa natin ang ganitong katayuan sa PWR," he chuckles humbly over a casual sisig lunch with Smark Henry. "Tunay na nagbago ang takbo ng aking karera magmula nang ako’y mag-solo, ngunit hindi ko rin naman ipagkakailang sa tag team ako nahubog bilang isang manlalaban at lubos akong nagpapasalamat sa mga naging kasama kong sina Dan Ericson, Bolt, at ngayon si SANDATA."

Don't just call him a tag specialist anymore. His stunning upset over former PHX Champion Ken Warren is still fresh in most fans' minds, as was his surprise selection to be part of former PWR General Manager Mr. Sy's handpicked team at Vendetta last year. There truly should be no surprise over how he's amassed such a rabid fan following the past few months—a following he acknowledges sincerely every step of the way.

"Ang lalung nagtutulak sa akin ngayon ay ang aking kagustuhan na makamit ang suporta ng ating minamahal na Revo-Nation at maparami pa ang mga naniniwala sa Balete Club (his term for his loyal fanbase), kaya naman lubos kong pinaghuhusay ang aking pag-eensayo sa loob at labas man ng kwadradong bilog. Kasunod nito nawa ang pagsungkit ng aking kauna-unahang ginto sa PWR."

But what in particular has changed the most in how the Slingblade master approaches the wrestling game these days? Has his motivation changed?

"Ang masasabi kong nagbago sa aking pananaw sa palakasang ito ay kung dati’y masaya lamang ako at nagagawa ko na ang isang bagay na pinangarap ko noong ako’y bata pa, ngayon nais ko na’ng isa sa mga pangalan na patuloy na nagtataguyod nito sa ating bansa."

This is more than just a match for him. Xaviera has seen careers rise and fall in PWR; for him, this is a make-or-break battle for credibility in the eyes of fans all across the Philippines.

" Hindi lang ang aking karangalan bilang isang ganap na manlalaban ang nakataya dito sa darating na laban namin nina Jake De Leon at SANDATA ngunit nakataya din dito ang aking kredibilidad bilang isang ganap at lehitimong kasapi ng nakatataas na lupon ng pambubuno, hindi lamang sa PWR, kundi pati na rin sa buong Pilipinas dahil hindi biro ang mga pangalang aking nabanggit. Sila ngayon ang mga haligi ng palakasang ito."


But despite the starry moments he's had, the man fondly known as Sisig by his fandom remains hyper-aware of the doubters who say he doesn't belong in the ring with opponents the calibre of JDL and SANDATA just yet. For him, these are things to be acknowledged and accepted, but with a massive pinch of salt.

"Sa totoo lang, ako man ay hindi makapaniwalang nandirito ako sa aking kinalalagyan ngayon. Ang panalo ko nga kay Ken Warren ay maituturing na suntok sa buwan, ngunit buong lakas na lumipad hanggang maabot ng aking kamao ang buwan na iyon, salamat na rin sa tulong ng Revo-Nation na nag-itsa sa akin. Kung wala kayo, malamang nagtatanim pa rin ako ng kamote sa aming nayon sa Lakampati. Ang mahilera sa mga gaya nina JDL at SANDATA ay hindi biro sa isang gaya kong magdadalawang taon pa lamang sa industriyang ito. Ngunit ginagawa ko naman ang lahat ng aking makakaya upang ang aking mga kritiko ay tuluyan nang umanib sa Balete Club. Nais kong patunayan, hindi lang sa kanila, kundi pati na rin sa aking sarili na kaya kong makipagsabayan sa mga haligi ng resling dito sa Pilipinas."

But don't be fooled by this humility. At the end of the day, Xaviera is here to fight. SANDATA and JDL had both better be prepared.

"Bigyan ninyo po lamang ako ng sapat na panahon para patunayan sa inyong lahat na si Dax Xaviera ay hindi nandito upang maglaro lamang," he beams confidently. "Nandito ako upang itaguyod ang aking pangalan sa kasaysayan ng palakasang ito."

SANDATA: 'Para Sa Lahat Ang Paglaban Ko'



The masked Pinoy Tecnico has just as much to prove in this match as anybody. His roller-coaster ride in PWR has been  both exhilarating or excruciating for his loyal followers who have seen him weather a record-setting 0-7 career-opening stretch to become both a main event player and a persistent contender for the PHX Championship. And yet, one can't help that despite his credentials as being one of a handful of men to have beaten JDL, John Sebastian, and Ralph Imabayashi—all current or former PWR Champions—one can't help but feel he has yet to hit his true potential. How is all of this grinding on his psyche right now?

"Siyempre atat ako," he told Smark Henry in between sets at a local gym, where he invited us to partake in his dynamic workout consisting of a dizzying mix of snatches, deadlifts, muscle-ups, and kettlebell swings, "pero ang pinakaimportanteng leksyon na natutunan ko sa buong panahon ko dito sa PWR ay hindi panghabangbuhay ang kamalasan. Basta pag patuloy kong ibinibigay ang aking buong puwersa, meron din 'yang ibubunga."

He's certainly in a circumspect mood in this home stretch heading towards Trapik. But we can't help but feel that as a competitor who takes honor and respect very seriously, he's got to brimming over with hostility towards JDL as he’s transformed from an upstanding good guy into the loose cannon he is today—ambushing people, smashing them with Walis Pempengco, always this close to snapping.


"Tulad nang sinabi ko bago kami makipaglaban noong Pebrero, naging isang "Classical" Bryan Leo na siya," he says, referring to the former PWR Champion and co-founder who left the company under a cloud of management disagreements. "Aminin man niya o hindi, alam kong masakit ang sabihan siya ng ganyan—pero 'yan ang totoo. Siya'y naging isang taong alam kong kinamumuhian niya."

But what we do find more intriguing is how this match will affect his relationship with Dax Xaviera—a man he once fought side-by-side with during the recent PWR Tag Team Championship contender tournament. Is there any simmering tension left between the two men?

"Yung tungkol kay Dax, isang malaking hindi-pagkakaintindihan lang ang nangyari sa amin," he demurs in between sets on the battle ropes. "Sana'y pagkatapos nitong laban na 'to ay maging maayos na ang aming pagkakaibigan."

Let's see how that plays out. All we know is that SANDATA's trademark Kidlat running knee kick has been one of the most effective finishing moves in PWR since its debut—and that it doesn't choose its victims.

And as for his motivation heading into this match? The chance to prove he is as good as he says he is, and that his Cinderella story is still destined for a happy ending, recent roadblocks notwithstanding.

"Ang pagkapanalo dito sa laban na 'to ay isang pagpapatunay na hindi ako tsumamba lang kay JDL nung Pebrero. Na kasinggaling nga ako tulad ng sinasabi ko. Pero hindi lang 'yun. Papatunayan ko na rin na mas malaki pa kaysa sa akin ang tungkulin ko bilang isang mandirigma. Mas malaki pa ang laban kaysa sa akin at sa trabaho ko bilang wrestler. Para sa lahat ang paglaban ko."

*****

Who do you think is coming home with the 'W' in a match some are already calling the potential Match of the Night at Trapik, mga ka-smarkada? Can JDL continue his cleanse of PWR, or will the upstart Xaviera teach him a thing or two? And can the Pinoy Tecnico SANDATA use this as an opportunity to knee his way through to the next level? Let us know your thoughts, and we'll see you at the show!

*****

PWR Live: Trapik is happening on Sunday, April 22, at the 500 Shaw Zentrum Events Pavilion along Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong. Gates open at 2 PM. Tickets sell for P400 and can be purchased at the gate, but you may contact PWR directly on their official Facebook page for pre-selling discounts and promos.

Disclosure: Smark Henry is independently owned and managed by an independent group of Filipino pro wrestling fans, but includes members affiliated with the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.

Photos by "Ham & Egger" Hub Pacheco.

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