Enter the Dragon
By Commissioner Mike (CM) Shannon
It was a hot morning in the August of 2016. I was broke, sleep-deprived, and on the verge of a very thin thread that was going to more of less lead me into our first set of shows at HistoryCon weekend. Now, it wasn’t that we weren’t without help. But, this was to be the Manila Wrestling Federation’s first outing; the next few days was going to be a showcase of everything we spent the last year and a half working for.
This was make or break for me.
“I’m by the terminal,” texted the strange tall, yet irresistibly charming man who arrived a day later than his comrades.
And so, as I made my way to greet him, sun-kissed, and slowly sweat-drenched, I quietly psyched myself to meet a superior who I already had immense respect for as a worker. But to my surprise, what met me instead was a big smile, a firm handshake and the eyes of a man who had been around to know that we were peers in the bigger scheme of things.
“I’m Kenneth”, he smiled, shaking my hand. “Nice to meet you, mate!”
“I’m Mikers, welcome to Manila!”
I was nervous and I had to be cool!
“Think we could have a smoke first?”
We made our way to the smoking area outside NAIA One and began talking over the course of a couple cigarettes (I know, it’s not very PG), I found myself opening up to this stranger. We both liked the same movies, were fans of similar bands, and we were both writers. And the more we talked on that day, the more and more I found myself in the presence of a long, lost friend.
This my recollection of the short time I spent in the presence of the Eurasian Dragon, Kenneth Thexeira.
The Fine Line Between Responsibility and Respect
If you’re substantially green to the business, it’s not hard to feel somewhat intimidated by pro wrestlers, especially if they’ve been at it for a few years already. And speaking for all of us, at that time, we had a lot of catching up to do. The chance was here, it was up to us and prove ourselves by delivering the best product we could and leave a lasting enough impression on the people who watched us.
“You’re the booker,” Andruew and Dragon told me, several times that weekend. “It’s up to you how you want to book us.”
Now, this was just hard for me to take in. Here I was, a down-on-my-luck aspiring booker who was still emotionally scarred from events two years prior that put my own booking practices into question. I was perplexed that these pros would confidently give me a level of responsibility that I felt I hadn’t earned yet.
For whatever it was, I wasn’t going to disappoint. We had three days of wrestling to fill in for HistoryCon, and while I knew that we’d be working before a different audience each day, that didn’t stop me from putting together a self-contained storyline that would bring at least one or two con-goers back for more.
The booking was simple: Friday, I would introduce both MWF and SPW talents in showcase matches. On the second day, I would bring introduce some friendly inter-promotional rivalry that would lead us into Philippines vs. Singapore on Day Three. And while I did want to work on the matches, to know the secrets and figure out how to carefully weave together matches, I stood back, wrote the shows and handed it over for the rest to fill in, quietly hoping it was worthy.
Getting into the Ring with the Pros
We had survived the first two days. Somehow, the foot traffic of visitors to our booth kept on building and building. And so, in a boxing ring that every single one of us had to adjust to, we rolled into Sunday determined to kick butts and leave people speechless!
Our show started with me standing in the center of the ring, hyping our audience and telling them everything they missed the day before- including the loss of Filipino heroes at the hand of strong foreigners. Lucha joined me in the ring and so did Robin Sane, before Andruew Tang and the Eurasian Dragon stepped in.
Now, the Eurasian Dragon is probably one of the biggest babyfaces inside and outside the wrestling ring. He can bring out the nasty in a great way when needed, but his heart is always set on having a good time with his friends while putting on a hell of a match. But ‘Statement- that dude was just born to be a heel.
Statement ripped the mic from my hand and looked at the audience. “I make more money than all of you! If I wanted to, I could take you all back to Singapore with me as my servants!”
The heat was intense and he was just getting started. Andruew looked at me, “First, I’m going to make you my driver because you’re already in a suit”, then he looked at Sane, “You can be my maid”, and lastly he looked at Lucha at snarled, “You, you’re so fat, you will be my cook!”
The crowd was hot and they were going to stick around for the promise of comeuppance from their home boys!
Sane and Statement had an amazing match that saw Robin Sane take the loss after an intense back-to-back contest. But now more than ever, the Philippines needed a hero and big win!
Now, in the weeks leading up to HistoryCon, Kenneth decided to start training for Manila Rules. As a huge fan of classic wrestling, he saw it as an exciting chance to really test his limits as a worker. And when you combine the ferocious athleticism of Mr. Lucha, we were all in for 5-rounds of hard-hitting action.
Those two tore the house down, with Dragon using every dirty move in the book, and then some! Those two fought all over the convention center, but when it was all said and done, Mr. Lucha scored the victory with a beautiful spinning sidewalk slam.
After the match, Dragon took the mic and shared some kind words to the audience and to the MWF locker room. He talked about what a great time he had in the Philippines and how much fun he had with us. I couldn’t be more elated. We may not have had the experience at the time, but we got the approval of pros who helped built the scene in Southeast Asia.
Once everything calmed down, Dragon and I went outside for a final cigarette. I couldn’t shake off how excited and happy I was, and he told me something that would always stay with me.
“Professional wrestling is such an esoteric art. You have more bad days than good days, but you know what? When you hit the good days it makes everything worth it.”
Even up too now, as I think of where we’ve come and how much we’ve all had to sacrifice just to make MWF happen, I remember those words after each and every show.
Return of the Dragon
In two weeks, I will be reunited with one of the nicest guys I have ever met and one of the most passionate workers in the business today. And over a couple beers, a pack of cigarettes, I know that a long awaited catch-up is in order. And I can’t hardy wait!
See you soon, my friend.