How I Met Your Mike(rs) [Tarek’s Take #1]

By Tarek El Tayech 

 

I honestly cannot remember what day it was when it happened. Many of the details that led up to it, what was said, what pleasantries exchanged.

All I remember was that it was a Smackdown show, at Araneta Coliseum , if I’m not mistaken. I recall watching with my cousins, that I was rocking some classic Kurt Angle merch (The shirt with a bald eagle, and ‘American… something’ on it), and I managed to snag a couple of photos with a few local celebrities who were in attendance.

What I do remember vividly, was making my way to the back of the arena, outside, to catch a glimpse of my favorite superstars. I don’t know what drove me to it. When I eventually made it there, the bus carrying the superstars was already pulling out of the arena. I muscled my way to the front of the crowd, started waving at the folks inside the bus, trying to get their attention as frantically and frenetically as I could.

Poster for the 2009 Smackdown Live Show in the Araneta Coliseum

Then the bus was gone. Poof. The crowd eventually dispersed, and I found myself in the middle of a conversation with this unique looking fellow, long curly hair. I can’t even properly recall what he was wearing, if he had a replica belt with him, if he was wearing some wrasslin’ merch, all I really remember was he had a ‘good smile, good aura’.

That’s how I met your Mike(rs).

We started chatting, like we were long lost friends, and after what seemed like eternity, we exchanged contact details. It was at that point I had thought to myself, ‘I’ll probably never see this person again’.

Boy, was I wrong.

One of the earliest meetings regarding the foundation of what was to become Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR), at Starbucks Shangri-La Mall. (On photo: Emjay Lapus, Yusuf Meer, Ouel Babasa, Nelson Aman Jr., William Elvin Manzano, and Mike Litton)

We kept in touch, mostly through social media, and it was on social media where Mikers (better known to our #KapaFEDs as Commissioner Mike Shannon) invited me to be a part of a Revolution. Unfortunately, that Revolution never materialized for me, Mikers (You can read his thoughts on the matter here), or MWF’s Creative Director William Elvin Manzano (do check out his article as well, and ASK HIM MORE QUESTIONS PLES KTNXLABYUKAPAFEDSBYE).

We drifted apart, but kept in touch. Like Mike, my heart had been broken too, by wrestling, and I chose to bury that pain. Mikers, along with the other pioneers of MWF forged a new path, and I was overjoyed to be able to support them as a fan. I honestly thought I had found a different path.

Then my father passed away last year. I had been away from work for a month at that time, and by the time I had gotten back—

Tarek at Toycon 2014, with Mike and friend Alessandro Pacifici.

2017 was a blur. I shut myself out from the world. It was a feeling of empty loneliness that I simply cannot articulate. I had injured myself (fractured clavicle) on the football pitch late in the year, and in my painkiller infused perpetual haze, I saw MWF had managed to snag itself former WWE and NXT talent Ho Ho Lun for its year-ender, MWF Noche Buena.

I called Mikers, to offer my congratulations, and offered whatever help I could provide. I ended up missing that show, but I did not miss my chance to say yes when Mikers (Sorry, Mike Shannon) asked me to be a part MWF’s commentary team. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

And now, here I am. Funny how these minute moments in life, turn out to be life-altering. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be one of the voices of the hottest rising wrestling companies in the region, but life — the universe, destiny — has a way of bringing order back to the chaos, of putting you where you were always fated to be.

Wrestlemania 30 Viewing Party, Googel Restaurant, Mandaluyong City. (From Left: Kirk Castillo, Mike Litton, Emjay Lapus, Ouel Babasa, Yusuf Meer, Ace Victor, Jason Dimayuga, William Elvin Manzano and Tarek El Tayech)

It always had to happen this way.

 

In the end, the important thing is that it did happen, that fateful meeting. That one night, that one exchange, led to a friendship and a brotherhood that is now poised to break new ground in how wrestling is consumed here on our shores.

 

This was taken from me once. I’m not going to let anyone take it away from me again.

 

For me, for my mom, for my loved ones, for Mike, for Will, for everyone who #LEFT,

 

But most importantly, for my Dad, who grew to appreciate wrestling because I did.

 

This one’s for you, Dad.

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