RAW Deal: Philippine wrestling in 2017

If you’re not already a fan of the local wrestling scene here in the Philippines, now’s a good time as ever to get into it.

While the young scene had a hot but shaky start a few years ago, the whole thing started by Philippine Wrestling Revolution is slowly but surely coming into its own. This year, international involvement helped the wrestlers in the community improve, and the knowledge and experience is only going to make things better in 2018.

Here’s a rundown of just how much the scene improved this year:

 

There are now 3 companies

PWR managed to save itself from the brink of bankruptcy left by last year’s internal chaos and has come back better than ever. But while PWR had been holding it down as the country’s only pro wrestling promotion for a few years now, this has inspired several others to try their hand at their dreams. Although the Manila Wrestling Federation had a test show at last year’s History Channel HistoryCon, they officially debuted earlier this year with shows at the Makati Cinema Square, PWR’s old stomping grounds. The young upstarts are raw compared to the relatively long-established PWR, but still possess a lot of potential nonetheless.

And while that was happening, another new promotion sprung up after months of planning—Art of War wrestling, involving former PWR wrestlers “The Machine” Mavericc Knight and the embattled “Classical” Bryan Leo, with ECW original and expat Chilly Willy heading their training. They don’t have an announced date for a debut yet, but Chilly Willy’s involvement here basically guarantees a solid show to come.

 

More international talent in local rings

Although foreign wrestlers have been the ones to help set up the local scene, 2017 saw a lot more significant ring time with more experienced wrestlers. The best example of this is the phenomenal run of Lance Storm alumnus and former ECCW champion “Beautiful” Billy Suede, who came to Manila earlier this year and ended up staying for months, elevating the local game and even winning the PWR championship.

That’s not all, too—British tag team the Regime from the London School of Lucha Libre/Lucha Britannia visited PWR for their last show of the year, Vendetta, and took on the YOLO Twins in an epic match. It’s also not all PWR—Manila Wrestling Federation was also able to snag former WWE wrestler and Cruiserweight Classic competitor Ho Ho Lun in a hard-hitting match against Robin Sane at their Noche Buena event. Australian wrestler “TNT” Greg Bownds is also set to make an appearance with MWF next year.

 

Finally, crossover appearances

Some local fans may have thought of the different local companies being exclusive to themselves, like how local TV networks are, but it didn’t take a year for both companies to figure out how to start working with each other. It began at PWR’s Vendetta event, which saw tag team champions the Network bring in MWF’s Gus Queens and Rex Lawin to help them retain the titles, and it followed with MWF booking John Sebastian at their Noche Buena event. It’s heartwarming and inspiring to see the two current promotions work together and help make local wrestling better.

Considering how much the local and regional network is being built up, expect a lot more different appearances by local and international talent in both PWR and MWF, as well as AOW when they finally set up, in 2018.

 

WWE has taken notice

That’s right—for a lot of armchair criticism thrown at the local wrestlers’ way for being too inexperienced or green, the biggest wrestling company in the world has already paid attention. Last January at PWR’s season opener Bagong Yugto, officials from WWE’s Southeast Asia office and the Performance Center visited and saw the show. They left with some words of encouragement and definitely some interest in a few talents.

 

Southeast Asia has taken notice

And even if none of the local wrestlers are headed to WWE straight away, at least they’ve got still got some international merit. Along with the Philippine scene, the Southeast Asian scene is also flourishing—a new regional super-promotion, Asia Wrestling Entertainment, has sprouted up, with former PWR champions Jake de Leon and John Sebastian being a part of their debut show.

Before that, however, PWR’s first female wrestler Crystal had also already competed in Singapore Pro Wrestling as one of the ladies vying to be the first Queen of Asia champion. With deep rosters between PWR and MWF) expect to see a lot more Philippine talent in international rings in 2018.

If you’re a fan of the local scene, what do you hope for and expect to see in Philippine wrestling in 2018? Let’s talk about it!

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Do you listen to podcasts? Would you want to listen to a local podcast about pro wrestling? If the answers to those questions – especially that last one – are yes, then you should check out the cleverly-named Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast, featuring PWR General Manager Stan Sy, wrestling writer and Wrestling God Romeo Moran, and all-around multimedia person and former voice of PWR Raf Camus! On their last episode of the year, the boys rank the top 10 new WWE themes from 2017, as they always do! Listen to it here