PWR Renaissance 2016: Pulling out all the stops (and spots)

MANILA, Philippines – The wrestlers of Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR) pulled out all the stops – and the spots – in the 3rd annual PWR Renaissance event on Saturday, October 8.

Both of the promotion's champions retained their titles at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City, while a submission match determined the new number 1 contender to the PHX Championship.

An all-out war cranked the brutality up to eleven, tag teams sent major statements, and an authority figure is back in power.

PWR Championship: Jake de Leon defeated John Sebastian to retain

At the main event, "The Senyorito" Jake de Leon defended his PWR Championship against John Sebastian of the Royal Flush. 

Sebastian controlled the match early on, telegraphing some of the champ's signature moves. But when the action spilled at ringside and Sebastian's cohorts Peter Versoza and Main Maxx interfered, the referee sent the duo to the back, but not before De Leon took the whole Royal Flush out with a suicide dive!

JDL then picked up the momentum, countering Sebastian's Bullet to the Brain kick and later hitting the Alipin Drop to retain PWR's top prize.

One Alipin Drop later, Jake de Leon retains the #PWRChampionship! @RapplerSports #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/3Yg02h0VfB — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) October 8, 2016

Sebastian immediately demanded a rematch from ex-General Manager Mr. Sy, whom he had a war of words with earlier in the night, when Mr. Sy dropped a pipebomb about PWR in chaos since he was gone.

Ousted as GM nearly 5 months ago at Wrevolution X courtesy of Sebastian, Mr. Sy cooked up a deal: Sebastian will get a rematch if he would be reinstated as PWR GM. Sebastian agreed, then Mr. Sy immediately upped the ante.

Sebastian will indeed get a rematch, but it would happen at the next PWR Live event on Sunday, November 13. Mr. Sy then left the stipulation of that match in the hands of De Leon, who chose a Bacolod Bullrope Match!

•• Hot Take: It was an enjoyable main event, given the history between JDL and Sebastian. De Leon's athleticism is always a marvel, while the Ace of the Royal Flush's tactics really deserve the fans' jeers. A cocky, flashy loudmouth like Sebastian needs to be put in his place... but try telling that in his face.

Mr. Sy's return as GM, meanwhile, closes a tumultuous nearly half-year saga in PWR, but it doesn't guarantee that things would be less chaotic. 

PHX Championship: Main Maxx def. Crystal to retain

Sebastian's buddy Main Maxx also had tough competition Saturday night. The feisty Crystal earned the right to challenge him at Renaissance, but it wouldn't be easy to take the Philippine Hybrid X (PHX) title away from him.

Main Maxx upped his power game as the match progressed, but Crystal kept getting back up. Crystal likewise hit a hurricanrana, a tornado DDT, and a 619 throughout the bout, but it wasn't enough to bring the big man down as well.

Ultimately, two standing chokebombs halted Crystal's efforts. Main Maxx continues to be the longest-reigning PHX champion.

#AndStill, the PHX Champion, Main Maxx! @RapplerSports #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/JvTBLCaRXq — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) October 8, 2016

After the match, Versoza celebrated with Maxx, then turned his attention on his former rival Crystal. Peter placed an Orocan over her head, then hit her with a roundhouse kick! Versoza looked to dish out more pain, but Maxx stopped him in his tracks. In a surprise move, Maxx helped Crystal up, then raised her hand as a show of respect. 

After the match, his Royal Flush cohort Peter Versoza attacks Crystal, but Main Maxx stops him! @RapplerSports #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/DTGlfHKzs6 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) October 8, 2016

•• Hot Take: Strength versus heart. Great story told by these two wrestlers. Main Maxx was unforgiving toward Crystal, who absorbed all the hits, then reciprocated with hits of her own to chop Maxx down. 

This match received the night's one of two "This is awesome!" chants from PWR fans, and rightfully so.

Submission match: SANDATA def. Chino Guinto

The other "This is awesome!" chant recipient? The match between Chino Guinto and SANDATA, which was converted to a Submission Match by the PWR Board before the bell rang.

Chino focused on SANDATA's shoulders after sending him to the steel ring post. The warrior from Southern Tagalog later went after Guinto's legs, applying ankle locks and a bridge leglock submission.

The action later went up top, with SANDATA hitting a beautiful hurricanrana:

Hurricanrana from up top!! @RapplerSports #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/2khshsufPv — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) October 8, 2016

In the end, SANDATA locked in a modified cobra clutch on The Network's Golden Boy, who passed out in the hold. The win made SANDATA the new #1 contender to Main Maxx's PHX Championship.

•• Hot Take: Glorious back-and-forth action. Both SANDATA and Chino took out rare submission holds from their respective arsenals, and sneaked in top-rope moves for good measure.

Chino knew when to play the douchebag card right, while SANDATA dared to try out exciting moves. The match needed some polishing, but overall, you would have to agree with the fans: you can watch them fight all day long, and it would still be awesome. 

All-out War Match: The Apocalypse def. Chris Panzer

The Apocalypse and Chris Panzer's blood feud from PWR Live: The Shawdown last August boiled over at Renaissance in an All-out War Match for the night's 4th match.

Oh, did I say blood?

Panzer's back bloodied after ringside battle. Kendo sticks now in play! @RapplerSports #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/QDgbqg5OPc — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) October 8, 2016

That's the result of Apocalypse hitting Panzer's back with a fluorescent bulb at ringside! But the carnage resumed, with Panzer soldering on and the deranged Apocalypse showing no mercy. 

Panzer went for a Panzerschreck, but he buckled due to a knee injury care of an earlier steel chair attack. Apocalypse then delivered the Death Bell for the win.

•• Hot Take: This was arguably the most brutal All-out War match in recent PWR history. Not only because of the horrific gash on Panzer's back, but also because of the balls-out intensity showed by both competitors. 

Sure, steel chair shots should be dished out carefully (for the safety of the one at the receiving end), but bamboo stick strikes are expected to be hard-hitting, and boy, blood-curdling they were during this match.

Past All-out War matches mostly lacked the extreme element, especially given Apocalypse's intimidating presence. But this one takes the cake and nearly reached Bombay Suarez-levels of hardcore brutality.

"Idol" Martinez def. Ralph Imabayashi via count-out / Peter Versoza def. Rederick Mahaba

Ralph Imabayashi's losing streak got extended Saturday, no thanks to the shenanigans of James "Idol" Martinez, head honcho of The Network.

Renaissance's opening contest saw Imabayashi in complete control, with thrilling maneuvers one after the other. But Idol escaped and went under the ring, leading Imabayashi to pursue him. Idol emerged from the other end and made it back in the ring in time for the 10-count. After the match, a new "downline" debuted to join the Network fray.

Rederick Mahaba, another beloved wrestler, fell victim to Peter Versoza of the Royal Flush in the second singles match. Despite his size and strength advantage, Mahaba was struck down by Versoza's version of a Pedigree and a Swanton Bomb.

P to the V with the W! #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/WbSaDqo8GM — PWR (@pwrofficial) October 8, 2016 

•• Hot Take: Sadly, this writer missed these opening bouts. Local wrestling website Smark Henry described Martinez-Imabayashi as energetic, and Mahaba-Versoza as smashmouth.

Fighters 4 Hire def. Delirium / The YOLO Twins def. Beer Promdi

The unstoppable Joey Bax and Miguel Rosales laid waste on Delirium (Dax Xaviera and Dan Ericson) in the night's 3rd match, finishing the bout with an impactful double spinebuster on one-half of Delirium. 

After the match, F4H addressed Mike Madrigal, whom Bax defeated at last August's PWR Live: Shawdown. The team challenged Madrigal and a partner of his choosing to a match at next month's PWR Live event. 

Fighters for Hire def. Delirium. Both teams shook hands after the match. @RapplerSports #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/ZfGdXie6l5 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) October 8, 2016

For match #5 on the main card, PWR mainstays Beer Promdi (Mark D. Manalo and Kanto Terror) faced off against the juvenile Yohann and Logan Ollores, aka the YOLO Twins.

MDM and Kanto Terror let out their usual funny antics, but also brought the fight to the young upstarts. However, the twins prevailed, applying the Figure Four leglock on Manalo for the victory.

They continued the attack on MDM by injuring his leg further until Kanto Terror made the save. In effect, they were sending a message to the PWR locker room.

Twins were not done. They injured Mark D. Manalo's leg further! Kanto Terror goes for the save, but too late @RapplerSports #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/xJuswThyj0 — Michael Bueza (@mikebueza) October 8, 2016

•• Hot Take: It's nice to see that the tag team division is flourishing in PWR. Veterans Beer Promdi and Fighters 4 Hire are keeping the spirit alive, while Delirium and the YOLO Twins are courageously seizing the opportunity.

Time for PWR Tag Team Title belts?

Pre-show battles

- The powerhouse Vlad Sinnsyk took care of Trabajador Tres and resident gamer Vintendo in successive matches.

Vlad Sinnsyk about to deliver a post-match beatdown to Trabajador Tres! #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/rtCRDgfcxs — PWR (@pwrofficial) October 8, 2016

- "The Walking Death" Mike Madrigal defeated Robynn via a Go To Sleep. After the match, Madrigal mocked his rival, Joey Bax of Fighters 4 Hire, who then saved Robynn from a post-match beatdown by Madrigal.

Mike Madrigal delivering a message to the Fighters 4 Hire! #PWRRenaissance pic.twitter.com/6GXssVceKb — PWR (@pwrofficial) October 8, 2016

Over-all review: That was a long two-month wait between PWR Live: ShawDown and Renaissance. But, to borrow an adage, that absence only made the ever-rowdy PWR fans' hearts grow fonder.

The crowd was on their feet for many of the matches – if not all of them – on the card. Heated bouts and cold-blooded affairs didn't disappoint. 

For this writer, the match of the night goes to Main Maxx vs. Crystal for the PHX Championship, for throwing the match's intergender nature out the window and simply exceeding expectations. Tied in second are the PHX #1 contender's submission match and the PWR Championship main event.

The fan experience was as lively and interactive as before, but the attendance was relatively less compared to ShawDown, partly because of a smaller venue at the Bayanihan Center.

The Philippine Wrestling Revolution has come a long way since Renaissance 2014 – their first-ever live event – but they would have to come up with new and bold ways to reach a wider audience, improve their overall production, and build a bigger Revo-nation.

A little side note: "The Social Media Sinister" Ken Warren and "The Man-Doll" Martivo were not around on Saturday. What's up with them? And will they make their presence felt come November 13? – Rappler.com

Michael Bueza

Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.

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