MWF's ‘Noche Buena’: Full results and review
The Manila Wrestling Federation's lack of experience was evident during the fledgling promotion's last show of the year - "Noche Buena." Nonetheless, the highlights made it worth sitting through four hours of technical difficulties and clumsiness.
4 Way Match: Hanzhello Shilva v. Morgan Vaughn v. Aldrin Richards v. Frankie Thurteen
The first match of the card, this fatal four-way succeeded in energizing the crowd. It also gave all four wrestlers a platform to show off what skills they had developed so far.
And show off they did. From multi-man spots to painful-looking sequences outside the ring, courtesy of the concrete floors, the four rotated in and out of the spotlight to make sure everyone got their moves in.
Particularly notable were Richards and Thurteen ganging up on Vaughn and Shilva, who could actually overcome the Makati Arena Square's awful acoustics if he learned how to channel his wolf cry into his verbals.
Vaughn was no slouch either as he picked off each competitor by smartly picking his spots. His guile eventually allowed him to pick up the victory by rolling up Richards when he attempted to pin Thurteen after hitting the Rose Goddess Slayer.
Winner: Morgan Vaughn via pinfall
The match wasn't perfect. It featured another prolonged ending sequence, ala Shilva v. Richards in November's "Balikbayan", as noted by the crowd jeering about them having 99 moves left to perform before the end.
More than a few moves were executed with less finesse and speed than intended. The poor acoustics at the Makati Arena Square also did no favors for their tempered attempts at making sounds.
But more shows and better training will sort these problems out. Furthermore, this match is one of three matches on the card that maximized the potential of what the match could be and what the competitors could do with each other.
Jomar Liwanag v. John Sebastian
The announcement of Moises Liwanag's "ascendance" alone was hilarious, but Brother Jomar taking his blindfold off to become Jomar Liwanag and his accidental summoning of PWR's Wrestling Lord and Savior pushed this to the comical edge.
Having someone with more experience work with a rookie will make both of them look better, and having Sebastian -- one of the handful of local wrestlers who's had the privilege of wrestling abroad -- work with Liwanag helped immensely in the latter's in-ring debut.
And what Liwanag lacked in smoothness, he more than made up with character tics. Of note was Liwanag smashing Sebastian with his light after a solid suplex, and fighting back after Sebastian called his holy book trash.
There's more work to be done for Liwanag in terms of his comic timing and basics. So for this show, the newly-anointed prophet succumbed to a Killer Queen DDT and Killshot knee strike from Sebastian.
Winner: John Sebastian via pinfall
Sebatian's promos and verbal work continued to excel, and his opening claim of receiving praise wherever there was Philippine wrestling was worthy of inclusion in any highlight reel.
Fabio Makisig v. Gigz Stryker
Makisig dominated the first half of the match dubbed as a fight between former friends.
Stryker's reverse brainbuster ended Makisig's hot streak and paved the way to an Asintado that Makisig reversed to a bridging suplex. Though Stryker later gained the upper hand again to hit a "Pagkain ng Aso" a.k.a. Pedigree.
And this is one of the many reasons why Stryker works as a wrestler. One can believe that he is an action star from the 90's transported to the 21st century. It's not just the mustache, or the booming voice: the way he carries himself and the moves he chooses to do also contributes to the whole picture.
Therefore, it was disappointing that Stryker wasn't given much room to shine. Unlike Makisig, Stryker only had a few minutes to hit his signature moves before Makisig ripped out a page from DDT Wrestling and played a montage of their pictures to soften up his friend.
Fortunately for Makisig, this left his former friend open for Primera Klasika Sipa for the win.
Winner: Fabio Makisig via pinfall
It remained a mystery how Makisig and Styker maintained a friendship prior to "Noche Buena", when Makisig was allied with Stryker's bitter rivals Gus Queens and Rex Lawin.
This is especially glaring as any build up for such a connection was only made evident in online promos leading up Noche Buena.
Rex Lawin v. Ninja Ryujin
Lawin decimating Ryujin was fun to watch. If Lawin proved anything in his match against Sane last month, it was that he looked good tossing people around, and this nearly one-sided match furthered that reputation.
For most of the match, Lawin played around with Ryujin, who tried his best to fight back with spin kicks and shiranuis that got countered with impressive superkicks.
Ryujin has evident growing pains as a wrestler who aspires to move as sleekly as his character. Working with Lawin a bit more may help, but at thhis point it's inconceivable Ryujin to win against Lawin or anyone else, especially with this performance.
Lawin picked up the win after reversing Ryujin's offense with a rear-naked choke with body scissors.
Winner: Rex Lawin via TKO
Before Queens National could properly celebrate, Australasian Wrestling Federation (AWF) founder "TNT" Greg Bownds came out with guest enforcer and Kapuso Conan Stevens a.k.a. The Mountain with an explosive announcement:
The AWF Australasian Championship, once held by Dragon Gate mainstay CIMA, will be defended at the next MWF show against the self-proclaimed innovator of Filipino Strong Style, Rex Lawin.
"2018 is going to be a big year for Philippine wrestling!"— Rie Takumi (@rie_takumi) December 9, 2017
TNT announces an IWF title match between himself and Rex Lawin at #MWFNocheBuena in 2018! pic.twitter.com/cReKPdEnb4
But before the audience could get a sample of Bownds vs. Lawin, Queens stepped in and whisked his boys away, leaving TNT and Stevens to hulk around in the ring and hype the crowd for MWF's 2018 shows.
Mr. Lucha talks
In past shows, Mr. Lucha was portrayed as a "gentleman luchador", an older mentor, and one of the faces deservedly associated with MWF.
Keeping this in mind, his promo against Kyle Sison on entertaining fans first over spamming "gif-able" moves to gain traction on social media made sense, as Sison was seemingly in it for the views and not the people.
What made it out of character was Mr. Lucha's condescending tone and choice to namedrop moves performed in the first match.
Winning streak and role as an in-story mentor aside, Mr. Lucha has five intermittent shows-worth of experience, the same as the wrestlers he indirectly criticized.
Therefore, it didn't make sense for Mr. Lucha to take the tone of an elder statesman sick of kids playing at being wrestlers instead of performing like one — even if there is a grain of truth in this.
The one bright light in this promo, and the promo Mr. Lucha makes after Ashura wins, is the possibility of a clash between Mr. Lucha and his apprentices against wrestlers who he believes should pay more attention to the fans instead of themselves.
Mr. Lucha's power, dexterity, and agility makes up for what he thinks his apprentices lack in-ring and on the mic, and it would be great to see Mr. Lucha perform in the manner he believes will bring fans the most joy.
Kyle Sison v. Ashura
Given Mr. Lucha's speech prior to this match, one would think that this match would entertain.
But the kind of match Sison and Ashura seemingly wanted to perform — a dynamic, technical grappling match — was out of their depth and did not satisfy as much as it should have.
Technical and submission matches can be immensely rewarding — just watch the top fights of Zack Sabre Jr., Dean Malenko, Kurt Angle, and the like.
They are, however, still required to be pro wrestling matches, and Sison vs. Ashura resembled more of an MMA sparring session instead of a match.
There was undeniably attempts at structure in the match, and Sison and Ashura tried their best to look calculating and deliberate, but in the end, it was all too slow and visibly drained the crowd.
Given a few more months and in-ring time, Sison and Ashura can revisit this and certainly pull off a more compelling performance.
For now, they must find a way to finesse their strikes, reaction time, and entertain the crowd the way Mr. Lucha probably wanted them to.
A few shining moments from the match include Sison cartwheeling out of Ashura's headlock ala Kazushi Sakuraba, Sison reversing Ashura's offense for a double stomp, and the avalanche Ocean Cyclone Suplex that lead to Ashura's victory.
Winner: Ashura via pinfall
Robin Sane v. Ho Ho Lun
Ho Ho Lun may not have been the biggest star on NXT, but he did benefit from his time in the WWE's developmental system, and it more than showed in his fight against Sane.
From the get-go, Lun took the action to Sane with a wicked dropkick and an attempt at his patented German suplex, before Sane countered and fought back until the two landed outside.
The back and forth action in the crowd worked well to shake some life back into the crowd after yet another intermission between the last match and this fight.
Apart from heating up the crowd, the action helped establish Lun as the heel he's turned into since returning from the WWE. It suited Lun well and made his subsequent acts of grounding Sane much more satisfying.
Subsequently, it also made Sane's comeback with a blue thunderbomb more impactful. While he would never hit the 450 Splash completely, Sane's efforts against Lun further cemented his status as MWF's ace.
His flashiness and a third attempt for a 450 splash lead to his downfall though, as Lun put his knees up and eventually hit a bridging German suplex for the win.
Winner: Ho Ho Lun via pinfall
Two black marks on this otherwise great match were Lun falling out of the ring due to loose ropes and its abrupt ending.
The MAS ring is a boxing ring; as such, it really isn't suited to take wrestling moves. Lun shaking the ropes before the match started may mean that the fall was premedidated, but given slips on the ropes in past shows, it may just mean that MWF should think about investing in a wrestling ring soon.
For some, the length of the match between Lun and Sane was just right. But for others, it felt as if it ended where the action should escalate. Yet this may be for the best, as it protects Lun's finisher and ended the action while it was still hot.
Regardless, seeing Lun wrestle up close was a delight. The size of his opponents in NXT made him look small, but Lun was a good size in person and delivered great lifting moves like the falcon arrow with power that belied his appearance.
It's a long shot, but it would be nice to see Lun again in the local scene.
MWF hosted its fifth-ever show at MAS, which continues to be the optimal location for the promotion based on the size of the crowd it attracts.
Yet it might be wise for MWF to consider other locations in the future, or at least upgrade their sound system because the filler segments that ran as they addressed the technical issues they encountered were nigh unbearable.
This is a shame as Noche Buena looked great on paper: Six matches with distinct stories, surprise appearances that bid well for MWF's visibility, and a crowd ready for a full day of wrestling.
And while there's so much room for improvement for a promotion that's only a year old, there could have been better workarounds for these glitches by MWF's fifth show.
Nevertheless, Noche Buena gives hope for MWF's 2018. The current tie-up with AWF and Lun's appearance may give MWF the mentors they sorely need to level up their game.
With a good crowd turn out this December, they may also finally have a sold-out room in the next show and get more interest in the promotion, whether on mainstream media or online. — LBG, GMA News