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31 Days of Wrestling (12/22/18): When Excellence Meets Assassin


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 2018 produced for us.

If there is one absolute constant in the Philippine wrestling scene since the beginning, it's Jake de Leon. And true enough, as the constant continues to evolve, in time the local scene continues to follow suit in its evolution.

Ever since being revealed as the surprise member of Team Sebastian in the Ubusan ng Lahi Match at Vendetta 2017 (a decision he surely regrets a year later), the Senyorito has shown a new edge to his attitude, demanding everyone to step up to what he calls the "JDL Level" in the midst of OPLAN: SAGIP WRESTLING, resulting in a streak of fantastic matches during the year. His bouts with the likes of Zayden Trudeau, Ken Warren, SANDATA, Dax Xaviera, and even Mr. Lucha of the Manila Wrestling Federation caught the attention of fans old and new, time and again justifying his claim to being "Mr. Philippine Wrestling." And we haven't even touched upon his international endeavors, continuing to represent the country in other promotions in the Southeast Asian region. No doubt, 2018 was a kind year for the man who would eventually claim the Philippine Excellence Championship from Ken Warren in a battle between Philippine wrestling O.G.'s.

But no match in 2018 defined the campaign of Philippine Excellence that JDL initiated more than his match against the Yakuza Assassin of the British wrestling scene, Tengu.

All it took was one badass video message to establish a red-hot main event for PWR Live: Homefront, a dream match we never knew we wanted.




The match was nothing short of impressive between two of the top-tier competitors in the scene today, with JDL and Tengu having an answer for each of the other's moves. In a match deserving to main-event the same show where the much-hailed QUATRO vs. Ralph Imabayashi match happened, it was a strategic battle where fans argued that the match could have gone either way. But in the end, it was a valiant effort by Mr. Philippine Wrestling that made all the difference in securing his first successful title defense. 

Of course, what happened after this match was a whole different ballgame. 

Thankfully, this match came out as part of PWR's Full Match Fridays so you can witness the fantastic main event in all its glory.


  


This match on that fateful Sunday of September was quite significant in the course of the local scene.

For what it was, it fully established the fact that JDL remains universally respected by everyone, no matter the alignment. That JDL developed that aforementioned edge to his character is indicative of how the local scene has also evolved from its early days. Put it this way: once a full-blown good guy, he became a man with an eternal chip on his shoulder, fueled by aggression for the sake of the local scene. Despite all that, fans continue to appreciate JDL to the point that we are not sure if people can ever boo him again. He's just that beloved at this point.

This match was also a sign of the increasingly high bar that the local scene set during the year. When you look at guys like Panzer, Warren, SANDATA, Imabayashi, and QUATRO, you know that these guys are ready-made to compete in the growing world wrestling scene, and the match between JDL and Tengu helped justify the cause. One of the reasons why 2018 has become quite the banner year for local wrestling is because of how the Philippine scene proved that they are ready to take on the world, and the local fans can seek comfort in the fact that their favorite wrestlers in the Philippines, no matter the promotion, could end up in shows all around the world. 

Soon, all these "international dream matches" will become the norm, and we can point to JDL vs. Tengu as one of the true first stepping stones to reaching that reality.



19. The New King is a Queen (Danshoku Dino vs. Meiko Satomura for the KO-D title, DDT MajiManji 8/28/18)
20. Kenny Takes On That Hardcore Guy From TNA (Kenny Omega vs. Penta El Zero, All IN)
21. T•IT•A F•IG•HT (Meiko Satomura vs. Mercedes Martinez, Round 2 of 2018 Mae Young Classic)

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