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PWR Special: Homecoming—The Official Smark Henry Review

Photo from Hub Pacheco

WHOA! The past week has been a whirlwind and it all culminated in what will forever be known as "The Night That Philippine Wrestling Won." PWR Special: Homecoming was a success on all levels considering the bad weather and traffic surrounding Quezon City. Everybody made their way to a fully packed ABS-CBN Vertis Tent to be a part of history as we watched two big names from the global scene in Jeff Cobb and TJP wrestle in the Philippines for the first time.

Now, because this event was a special one-time event (at least, for the moment), I will break tradition and do away with tiers just for this review because I find it hard to categorize each match/segment. The review is simply ordered according to my enjoyment. That's not to say that I loved everything that happened, however—there were a few things that affected my appreciation of the product, but I am mostly all good vibes for this review.

Let's get it on!

Three-Time! Three-Time! Three-Time!

Most people would say that Jake De Leon vs. TJP was the match of the night. However, the three-way for the PWR Championship really stole the show for me. Not only did it have everybody at the edge of their seats, but it also had so many moments in it that I couldn't count how many times the crowd was standing and shouting in awe.

I knew Jeff Cobb was explosive, but seeing his suplexes in the flesh was a delight. I'm sure I'm not the only one who had my jaw on the floor when he did the standing moonsault or the F-5000 on Quatro or even when he full-on murdered Chris Panzer with elbows and punches. For a second, I actually believed Jeff could win the championship as he laid waste to everybody—including SANDATA and Main Maxx from ringside. Sadly, Mr. Sy escaped unscathed.

Video from George Carlos Pastor

Alas, it was not meant to be as your favorite Dimunyu ended up finishing off QUATRO to claim the PWR Championship. I'm not really complaining because I wanted Panzer to win as early as PWR Renaissance, although I did think that he would win it during a one-on-one encounter.

Quatro has nothing to be ashamed of. His performance will be remembered not because of his superb selling and receiving of Cobb's throws, but because of his valiant effort to fight both Jeff and Panzer as a fighting Kampeon ng Pilipinas. I'm sure there'll be a rubber match at PWR Vendetta but it might be best to let Panzer hold the belt for a bit. Besides, who else wants to see a Quatro vs. Cali Nueva showdown in the future? Raise your hand, please.

Photo from Brandon Sy

Chris Panzer now holds the distinction of being the ONLY three-time Kampeon ng Pilipinas. This also gets MSG a huge seat at the table as they now hold the highest championship in the promotion. Looking back, I suppose this win wouldn't be possible if Panzer continued with his goody-two-shoes ways. This only happened because he embraced the darkness that Mr. Sy had been offering. As it is, this opens up a whole new chapter of PWR and it's a far cry from where these two personalities are positioned right now against when they started out.

Most people say that it's easy to get to your destination when you get the ball rolling, and this ball has definitely started rolling. Will the vision of #MSGALLFUCKINGBELTS be a reality in 2020?

Philippine Wrestling At Its Finest

By the time this match went on, everybody was already standing and the other fans had to ask those in front to sit down. That's how much this showdown brought the mood up. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you'd know that Jake De Leon is the best Filipino wrestler today. Fight me.

JDL brought out the best in TJP and vice-versa. If we're talking about parallels, the first thing that crossed my mind was Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Rock at WrestleMania XVII sans blood. From the exchange of moves to the stolen finishers, I swear, that was my first thought. Sure, it might not bring the same hype as what I compared it to, but as a Filipino, I strongly believe this could be my local Austin vs. Rock.

Photo from Brandon Sy

I think with how the story goes, TJP barely won against JDL. He was caught in a compromising position in the middle of the ring, however, and at the end of the day, the more experienced fighter won—if only through some quick thinking. Still, even in losing, it makes JDL admirable because he almost got the victory and earned TJP's respect.

JDL is now undeniably the standard-bearer in Philippine wrestling, whether anybody likes it or not. At the end of the day, TJP's closely-contested victory just showed the world that JDL has what it takes to perform well against a global name such as his—and possibly even against bigger names. Remember that JDL was one of three people who attended a WWE tryout last July. Looking to the future, it might not be impossible to see him square off against people similar to the Fil-Am Flash and carry our country's flag.


Photo from Brandon Sy

Both of these men make me proud to be a Filipino wrestling fan and I strongly believe in TJ's words that anybody on the PWR roster can achieve what he has achieved because they are all that talented.

The Breakout Star Got Broken

I'm not sure why, but for some reason, I noticed that most of the losers at PWR Special: Homecoming came out of their matches even better than those who won. This is true for Quatro, JDL, the YOLO Twins and in this case, Cali Nueva.

While I also make fun of the hipster, I've believed in his abilities since he debuted. In this match, he showed an insane amount of athleticism and a whole lot of spirit plus he also busted out so many spots that I was ready to give him another Wrestler of the Night award. But then, the three-way match happened. Even so, it was a close call.

Video from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

IMABAYASHI also played a big part in making Nueva look good. They say it takes two to tango, and both men helped each other in a way that only they could. He wasted no time in all of their exchanges as he chained off one move to another as Cali took every attack and submission. It was like a perfect dance. Sadly, there had to be a winner and this time, his name was IMABAYASHI.


Photo from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

If you're still not a fan of Cali Nueva after this match, then you're officially a hater, because this guy deserves your damn respect. PWR, I'd love to see Nueva take a similar route as Quatro did last year. Maybe not step for step, but I hope he ends 2020 with a title around his waist.

IMABAYASHI, on the other hand, continues his road to redemption as he moves to PWR Vendetta with a victory on his plate. Perhaps, we'll see this redeemed former Kampeon ng Pilipinas square off against a certain Dimunyu. Maybe we'll see him gunning for the PWR Tag Team Champions with his good friend Rederick Mahaba. Babyface IMABAYASHI opens up a set of new avenues to explore.

You Only Live (To Be The Best Tag Team In The Philippines)

I may not agree with who won the match but all four men earned everybody's respect and adoration after that hot bout. Similar to my statement about JDL, The YOLO Twins are the best local tag team in the business right now. They somehow find a way to reinvent themselves in every match they compete in and that's proof of how good these guys are.

Photo from Migz Llado

When Yohann Ollores pulled off that Swanton Bomb towards the end of the match while Logan dove to the outside, I was elated to see something new and a sequence so smooth. I don't think they've ever done that spot before and it makes me believe that these two have a lot more they can showcase over the coming events. If PWR decides to bring a foreign tag team to the shores, please consider the YOLO Twins as their opponents.

The KakaiBros were fire on the microphone as always. They brought out Tipsy Kidd for their entrance, which got a lot of fans singing along with them. I may be getting a little tired of Mh4rckie's promo antics but it still is funny to an extent. I do want to see him say something new because that would help freshen up the promo, but at least he busted out "One Day" by Matisyahu. They're PWR's premier comedy team now that the Naughty Boys have taken a more serious tone to them, especially when they busted out that Eddie Guerrero DQ spot at the end of the match.

Video from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

My only wish for the tag team division now is to grow so these teams can continue to showcase their talents and improve on their work as they face off new threats. They've most likely faced every probable variation of tag teams in PWR so I hope 2020 will see more teams step up to the plate.

Poooogiiii!

This was my first time seeing Billy Suede and let me tell you something, brother, I was glad to be able to catch him perform. I honestly thought he really deserved the title because of his impressive showing. Plus, it looked like the crowd had lots of fun cheering for both him and Chino Guinto. The dueling "Chino! Chino! Chino! Chino!" and "Pogi! Pogi! Pogi! Pogi!" chants were entertaining.

The Beautiful One was a beauty (pun intended) to watch. It just goes to show the caliber these international talents possess. Chino did not come unprepared as he made his entrance to a rainfall of Chino dollars.

Photo from Brandon Sy


He wasn't a pushover himself as The Golden Boy did his share of interesting spots in the match. I'm especially very high on Guinto's facial expressions whenever he performs because he has such an expressive face that you can relate to his emotions every single time.

I'm now a little lost on who I feel should face Chino next because I initially thought a confrontation between Alexander Belmonte III would happen by this time, yet, it still hasn't happened. Can MSG's SANDATA squirm his way over to the PHX Championship picture so that the prophecy of #MSGALLFUCKINGBELTS can happen? Or better yet, have former PHX Champion Main Maxx target this championship so that his history with the title comes into play.

Female David vs. Goliath

I wasn't expecting to enjoy Desi Derata vs. Crystal because it seemingly took a back seat to the other matches in terms of marketing and advertising. To my surprise, the dynamic between them turned out great. Crystal, the most experienced female on the roster, looked like a ragdoll in her bout against Desi and was dwarfed by her height, which made for a good visual.

You could tell that Desi enjoyed herself in this match. She woman-handled Crystal so much that it made the comeback against her look more epic. It did come at the expense of Crystal eating so many power moves from Desi, though.  Chants of "please don't die" and "Desi's going to kill you" could be heard from afar before The Queen made her recovery and won the match.

Video from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

Interestingly enough, post-show, Desi was so nice to everybody that I couldn't believe she almost destroyed Crystal earlier. She may have gotten a lot of new fans here in PWR and I'm one of them. I would definitely like to see Desi come back here for another match. Please come back, Desi! You're always welcome here.

As Crystal racks up this win, I'm still wishing that PWR opens up an official women's division along with an actual PWR Women's Championship before the year ends. We've got Jaye Sera as a possible number one contender as she beat the other ladies of the roster fair and square.

Cheap but effective pops

I know I said I didn't care much about the Vlad Sinnsyk vs. Ken Warren match but surprisingly, this was one of the first fun moments of the night. The two played to the crowd for the initial five minutes of the match—even getting referee Joey Bax to be part of the fun.

Photo from Migz Llado

It's great that they didn't try to make the match more than what it was supposed to be—an enjoyable, exhibition match to highlight both wrestlers. I felt that the lightness of this one helped make it more fun and relatable. With so little hanging on the line, the two were able to showcase their talent and get the reaction they wanted to help hype the crowd.

Video from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

If I had to say something negative, it would be that the finish felt weak because Ref Joey looked confused at the ending. I've noticed that it happens to Ref Joey a lot so I don't know how they'd fix that.

Is This A JoJo Reference?

Evan Carleaux vs. Kapitan Tutan opened the night as part of the pre-show. That's probably the only reason why the crowd wasn't as hyped yet when they started. He did get the very first "oooh" reaction from the crowd with his sleek JoJo-inspired entrance. If there was ever someone who utilized the wall-tron the best on this show, it goes to ECX. That deserved an award.

Video from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

I really thought Evan would lose because I wanted bad Mr. Tutan to win another one. I'm not against Evan winning, though, because we saw the return of the Naughty Boys when Trian Dela Torre awoke from his catatonic state. With all of The Naughty Boys' tag team bouts, I sometimes forget that ECX is a credible technical submission wrestler and he did some of this best work here. 

Is the saga with Kapitan Tutan really over? I find it hard to believe that it is because I still want to see Trian Dela Torre and Tutan have a confrontation. No matter how this story unfolds, I'm happy the power of friendship overcame Tutan and that The Naughty Boys can move forward. Maybe it's high time that Trian and Evan go for separate belts this time around. I can actually see #NaughtyBoysAllBelts as a counter against MSG's ploy for championship gold.

Warla Kung Warla

The All Out War match was a little tame compared to previous outings. However, that's not to say that it wasn't enjoyable nor different. Jan Evander heeled his way to the match by throwing away the available weapons, instead opting for a more technical showdown between Martivo and himself. However, this wouldn't last long as The Man-Doll would eventually get ahold of various weapons—starting with the baking pan—to give the Pro Wrestling Doctor his warla treatment.

I'm sad that Evander didn't get the win because I really thought he would be the catalyst for another reinvention of the All Out War Championship. I also thought that Evander really deserved to win not just the championship, but also a match because when was the last time he really won anything of significance? 

Video from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

Still, Martivo did his fair share of awesome spots—even doing a ropewalk segment crossing over from one side of the ring to the other so he still gets pretty inventive in terms of moments. I'm not sure who deserves to take the belt off him but when it happens, at least he can claim that he had a really original run with it.

As for Evander and his cohorts, they really have to step up, because as far as the faction wars go, they're in last place in terms of wins. Maybe they really need to change something because nothing seems to be working for them.

That's Bawal

Video from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

Bawal Clan as a rap group? Cool. Bawal Clan in my wrestling show? I'm a little iffy. Okay, I liked this segment but I felt a few goosebumps (not the best kind) because I think the crowd wasn't too familiar with the music or maybe the rap group took such a long time to sing their songs when everybody just wanted to watch wrestling.

Watching Main Maxx beatboxing while SANDATA embarrassingly danced around as Mr. Sy spit some simple bars was actually entertaining. However, as #NitPickRick puts it, how were these Bawal Clan members able to put down Maxx, who was a former PHX Champion?

Photo from Migz Llado

Another reason why this ranks lower in the tiers is that, seriously, I know MSG was supposed to be the heel in this but I feel they won the rap battle. How can you seriously side with the group who lowkey let out a small racial slur against Mr. Sy? I know. I know. It's wrestling. But then again, there are some things you just can't do or say in today's society.

Women's Wrestling *clap clap clap-clap-clap*

I'll admit: I lost focus on this match after Nina's worrisome accident. I'm glad Nina walked away fine and I'm sure nobody wanted it to happen. But I strongly believe, had it not happened, that these ladies had more in the tank. Props to these ladies for finishing the match and showing professionalism, and we wish nothing but the best for Nina.

Video from Philippine Wrestling Revolution

Honestly speaking, everything that happened before this was fun to watch. The only reason I couldn't enjoy it after the accident was because of my concern. Otherwise, Nina and Jhemherlhynn worked well together and Jaye Sera had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand. I'm not sure if Sera really was the intended winner but I'm glad she was able to get the W.

If it were up to me, this would be a good starting point for the long-awaited PWR Women's Championship. As I stated previously, this could be a starting point for a Sera/Crystal match to determine the first-ever champion. It's high time they did it and I think this show proves that there's a following for these ladies.

Final Word

Considering that this was a PWR special, I know this was probably a one-time thing at the moment. However, I felt that this was the best wrestling show I have ever watched in the Philippines. Yes, even better than a WWE Live event. It's not just because of Jeff Cobb and TJP, but everybody in PWR who brought their A-Game for this.


Photo from Brandon Sy

And before anybody reacts, no, I was not paid nor influenced to say my previous statements. If anybody is crazy enough to deny that PWR Special: Homecoming was the biggest and most important achievement of Philippine Wrestling as of this moment, then, yes, you're simply just nuts.

As for me, I'm not expecting as much from PWR Vendetta yet, but if they pull it off and keep the good shit going, then we're headed into a new chapter in local wrestling.

The big question now is, "What's next for the local wrestling scene?"

Grade: A++


Awards:

In keeping with the theme of Homecoming night, I went overboard with the awards added some themed ones as well.

Match of the Night: Chris Panzer vs. Jeff Cobb vs. QUATRO (c) for the PWR Championship

Homecoming King: Jeff Cobb for going over-the-top cray-cray in destroying QUATRO and Chris Panzer.

Homecoming Queen: Desi Derata for being such a monster in the ring but a sweetheart out of it.

OMG Moment(s) of the Night: QUATRO receiving that F5000; Yohann Ollores' Swanton Bomb moment; Cali Nueva's Canadian Destroyer and Springboard Armdrag

WTF Moment of the Night: To the cameraman in front of us during the TJP vs. JDL match who wouldn't move, WTF man?!

Surprise(s) of the Night: The commentary team and the multiple announcers

Best in Formal Wear: Mr. Sy in his sleek (possibly) custom suit was a beaut.

Best in Sports (Wrestling) Wear: TJP. I swear his wrestling attire is so cool.

Best Entrance: Evan Carleaux and his neo-noir wall-tron. Chris Panzer on his motorbike gets an honorable mention although it felt a little bitin.

Best Performance By An Actor/Actress: Trian Dela Torre both in his catatonic state and when he snapped out of it.

"Please Don't Die!" Special Award: QUATRO for selling Jeff Cobb's moves so well and surviving that onslaught.

"Magkakajowa Na Ba Sya?" Special Award: Cali Nueva after that lady on Twitter was so impressed by his performance.

Quick Hitters:

  • Overheard by our colleague: Some fan was shouting derogatory terms to the wrestlers involved. Dude, if you paid money to shout below-the-belt insults at the wrestlers, you are a sad, sad man. These guys may be faces and heels, but there's also a line that you shouldn't cross. (i.e. see my reason above why I thought Mr. Sy won the rap battle against the Bawal Clan.)
  • I know President Red Ollero already said that Mike Madrigal was unavailable. However, it dawned to me that a lot more were missing or were not in action. Some missing names were The Apocalypse, Sam Baltazar, Revo Ranger, John Sebastian, Bolt, Dax Xaviera, and Gatilyo.
  • I felt that the show 's time was just about right and that it helped everybody avoid burnout.
  • My one wish: Please keep the wall-trons and the live feed screens. Sana, please.
  • To the cameraman who stood in front of us during the TJP vs. JDL match, I hate you. Although I'm still looking forward to the content PWR produces because of the footage you took.

*****

Were you there at the show? What did you love about PWR Special: Homecoming? Are you looking forward to the next set of shows? Sound off in the comments section below.

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

Cover photo from Hub Pacheco; other photos and videos from Philippine Wrestling Revolution unless stated otherwise.

*****

Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your supposed style icon and NXT reviewer at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of everything music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) and ‘gramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz) as he sets on his journey to completely do things spontaneously. You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE2K19 (or any PS4) skills. When not being a smark, he lives his life being (and trying to be) an awesome architect, musician extraordinaire and armchair fantasy booker.

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