by Commissioner Mike (CM) Shannon
In June 2017, the then-struggling Manila Wrestling Federation made its return to the Makati Square Arena for the promotion’s second standalone show, Republika. After putting all our efforts into making MWF: Live the best show imaginable, we knew we had to take things a step further. We didn’t have a lot, but we had a lot of nerves as a promise to keep to our budding Kapa-FEDS to give them the best wrestling show in the country: And we succeeded.
As I’ve admitted in a previous entry, running shows at Cinema Square was incredibly stressful. And this continued from Live into Republika. If anything, we were faced with a far greater task: where Live was our chance to show the world what we had, Republika had to become their reason to stay. So while there was a focus on wrestling, we wanted to emphasize the stories we could tell given what little we had.
In the week leading to the show, the turnbuckle at the Makati Square Arena snapped during training. This would the first of many instances where the MCS ring would give out on us. So, with just weeks before the show, the decision was made to pay for the welding repair out of our own pockets. But even then, when it was time for the show, we still had no idea what to expect. All we could do was hope and pray that this show would be better than our last!
The Power of the Liwanags
In what’s one of my favorite moments in our short history, Moises Liwanag took to the ring with his newly christened disciple, Brother Jomar. The crowd loved Moises and the decision was made to give him the time greet his budding congregation. Moises took to the microphone and after a brief sermon, promised to “heal” members of the audience that included PWR’s Alexander Belmonte III and future MWF Senior Analyst, Tarek El Tayech.
This moment alone proved to be a showcase of Moises’ powers. With his arm locked in a cast, Moises placed his hand over Tarek’s head and blessed him with the power of the light, giving this injured, yet dashingly handsome man, the chance to regain feeling and movement in his arm for the first time in months.
You would have thought this was enough to weak Moises, but it just made him stronger. Frankie Thurteen rushed to the ring and gave the enigmatic leader the fight of his life, but even then, it wasn’t enough. One impaling backbreaker was enough to give Moises the highly-coveted victory.
The Young Lions of the MWF
In another showcase of talent and passion, the young Hanzello Shilva took to the ring to face Morgan Vaughn. Vaughn used his wiles to get the better of Shilva for most of the match, but through sheer will and attitude, the hungry cub defeated the Glitch.
Hanzello had poured his heart and soul into that match, dedicating it to the memory of his mother who had unfortunately passed a month earlier. It was a very poignant moment for the young Wolf, who proved to everyone that no matter what it took, Hanzello Shilva was a wrestler who would always stand for honor.
An Evening of Debuts
In the weeks before Republika, the Manila Wrestling Federation found itself with a handful of new recruits who were willing and ready to prove themselves inside the ring. Fabio Makisig took the ring first and used the moment to prove why he was one the nastiest and endearingly entertaining wrestlers in the Philippine Wrestling.
Enter: Aldrin Richards. Richards was young patient and ready to prove himself as a legend in the making. Richards stormed to the ring and took a beating from Fabio Makisig, but when he saw the opportunity, he bested Fabio and proved to everyone there that he too was worthy of calling himself a wrestler. But one rookie mistake later, Fabio got the better of him and left the ring, antagonizing the audience along the way.
Later on that night, another hungry young wrestler by the name of Ashura took to the ring. Initially, plans were for Ninja Ryujin to face off another wrestler, but somehow, Ashura came into the ring instead and gave him a hell of a challenge. Like Richards, she too was hungry. But unlike Richards, she had a point to make.
Ashura is someone who does not want to be regarded for her gender. She is a wrestler first, before anything else. So if there was anyone on the roster who had the hardest job to get that through it was her. And who better to guide her though her first match than Ninja Ryujin- a wrestler with all the patience in the world who understands that each and every opponent commands a different approach in the fight.
Because of this, both Fabio Makisig and Ninja Ryujin have become the defacto ‘boss’ battles of the Manilaverse. If a new wrestler can make it through either of them, they have a chance of surviving everyone else.
A Battle of Power
If there’s any re-match I would love to see, it’s Rex Lawin vs. Mr. Lucha. Both these guys are the biggest and baddest the Manila Wrestling Federation has to offer and on our second show, they collided head-to-head in a battle for the ages. Before the show, Lawin and Queens had bounded Lucha in an attempt to get a rematch against Gigz Stryker. But Lucha called him out and the match was set.
Both these guys are incredible powerful and are highly skilled warriors. Where Lucha knows how to balance athletic proficiency with brute force, Rex Lawin uses his own brute force with his knowledge of kickboxing and ground-based combat. For that, these two beat the hell out of each other.
Lawin was able to ground Lucha and control him for most of the match. Lucha was able to get the better of Lawin and in order to even score the victory, Lucha put everything on the line (including the rest of the show) and drive a flying elbow into Lawin’s chest.
An Award Winning Main-Event
For the second show in a row, Robin Sane headlined the main-event of the evening. In the weeks leading to the show, Gigz Stryker offered a challenge to both Mr. Lucha and Robin Sane. And while Lucha was ready, if anyone wanted him more, it was Robin Sane.
Robin Sane understood what happened during MWF Live- after taking that historic 450 splash off the top rope, his performances became a standard of excellence that had to be maintained in each and every main event. And because of that, he accepted Gigz Stryker’s challenge and gave him a match worthy of the marquee.
But unfortunately, Sane’s victory was short lived. Rex Lawin and Gus Queens hit the ring and assaulted Gigz Stryker, forcing the entire roster to pour into the ring in order to separate them and me to give Rex his re-match.
To Wrap This Up…
In hindsight, Republika was the show that set the tone for everything else that followed: It gave us the unexpected debuts of Jomar Liwanag, Aldrin Richards and Ashura, Rex Lawin proved that he had what it takes to hang with the biggest the MWF had to offer, and Robin Sane began to establish himself as a main event mainstay.
Not bad for a tiny wrestling show, on a tight budget, and a decent crowd of 90+.
Photos by Martin Vicencio and Jonathan Guillermo