By Commissioner Mike (CM) Shannon
If you’re invested in the Southeast Asian wrestling scene or someone in the community trying to prove your worth, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across the name Ho Ho Lun. For years, his name was heard in hushed circles, left largely in part through the word of his agent, MWF Creative Director, William Elvin.
For those of us who knew, his exploits were legendary: He pioneered the art of professional wrestling in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. He has been all over the world, plying his craft and stepping into the ring with the best the business has to offer. And yes, he made it into the WWE- sure, TJ Perkins has Pinoy blood, but was born in the US. As far as some of us were concerned, Ho Ho Lun wasn’t just representing Hong Kong, he was representing Southeast Asia- the community he helped build.
So with all this momentum, it was hard to believe that this man- the living legend- was actually a really cool guy, with a love for Chickenjoy and a sense of humor that would make your little brother weep.
Somehow, we just always knew that somewhere along the line with Ho Ho Lun. In the months prior to Noche Buena, we were visited by William Elvin, during a training session at Makati Cinema Square. Now, I was aware of the nature of William’s visit; it had all been discussed in the weeks before. As a gift to the boys and girls of the Manila Wrestling Federation, he was going to send either Ho Ho Lun or Jason Lee to the Philippines to provide the roster with a weekend of training that December.
Now, we knew internally that it would be an incredible crime to not capitalize off this by putting together a main event worth watching. And once William made the confirmation of Ho Ho Lun’s Manila visit, we arranged the paperwork and made it happen: the Manila Wrestling Federation would close out 2017 with Robin Sane vs. Ho Ho Lun.
The latter end of 2017 was incredibly brutal for us. With increasing pressure from our personal lives clashing with the increasing demands to better our in-ring product, we knew something was going to give sooner or later. A delay in a deal we were working on at the time had left up with a hiccup that forced us to work both Balikbayan and Noche Buena on consecutive months.
But the moment we made the announcement towards the end of Balikbayan on that painful November afternoon, we knew were on the verge of leaving a mark in the local community.
At Long Last
And before we knew it, just three and a half weeks later, we were in the presence of Ho Ho Lun himself. Robin was the first to meet him, and they were soon joined by Mr. Lucha and Tala for dinner. It took me awhile to get there- I had to pull in some overtime at work, but once I logged out, I made a rush from one end of Makati to the other to sit down and meet Ho Ho Lun himself.
Just like our first encounter with the Eurasian Dragon, we were all somewhat nervous at first. But eventually, all that just went away. The remarkable thing about Ho Ho Lun is how down to Earth and low-key he is. Speaking for myself, it was inspiring to see someone that accomplished treat this business like… well, business.
He wasn’t boastful, he didn’t have to brag. He didn’t walk around and try to promote himself with every step he took. He was just chill and for some of us, it was such a breath of fresh air. This guy loves wrestling so much that he doesn’t allow it to affect him on a superficial level- who wouldn’t be inspired by that?
After dinner, we had coffee with Ho Ho and dicussed the next two days. Now, with a show the next day and training the day after, you would have thought that the next forty-eight hours were going to go by smoothly. But it didn’t.
Upon arriving at Makati Cinema Square the next morning at eight, we found that the ropes and turnbuckles had been taken down due to a party the night before. With the help of Aldrin Richards, Kyle Sison, and a travelling American veteran by the name of Charlie Salmon, we did what we could to assemble the ring until the arena’s crew arrived to help us out.
If that wasn’t enough, our sound system didn’t arrive until one. Any plans to run through a tech rehearsal had to be scrapped, because before we knew it, it was already show time.
For the entire afternoon, our guys did what they could to deliver one amazing match after another. With the company of Australia’s ‘TNT’ Greg Bownds, we put together the best show we could. But when it came time for the main event, Ho Ho Lun and Robin Sane defied any expectations presented to them and took our audience through the best fight to ever grace the sacred halls of the Makati Square Arena!
History: One More Round
Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to spend that much time with Ho Ho Lun after the show. Once we had things settled at MCS, I had to rush over to the Fort for a work assignment. I did get the chance to speak with him briefly the following day at training, but it really a casual catch-up of everything that had happened in the last two days.
Which is why I can’t help but find myself eagerly anticipating his return in just a few short days. It’s one thing to get a chance to work with someone as accomplished Ho Ho Lun, but it’s another thing to crack a dry little joke into the world and know that in the same room, despite some distance in language, another person gets it too.
Working with Ho Ho Lun was an eye-opening experience. For a brief moment, I got to hang out and work with someone- another adult, mind you- who took wrestling so seriously that he did not allow it to get the better of his ego. And that to me, in this business, is the mark of a true professional.