By Commissioner Mike (CM) Shannon
It’s been over a week since the events of MWF 3: Republika, and even up to now… I can still feel the after effects of what, by all means, was a historic night for everyone at the Manila Wrestling Federation. As I type this, I can still feel traces of what Ho Ho Lun did to me. I should have seen that knee coming, but somehow, I just thought there was a chance to reason with the man who single-handedly spearheaded the Southeast Asian wrestling scene.
I was wrong; the knee to the gut knocked the wind right out of me and sent me stumbling head-first into the canvass. In the days after show, as I slipped in and out of consciousness, trying to piece the entire night together, my wifey would look at me, concerned that I had inadvertently suffered a mild concussion.
Despite the aggravating throb in the middle of my head that would dominate for the better part of three days, I just couldn’t help but think about Mr. Lucha- one of my best friends the man who, next to Robin Sane, stood by my side at the very inception of the Manila Wrestling Federation.
Why, Lucha? Why?
Watching It All Unfold
If the atmosphere ringside was electric, backstage was in chaos. I rushed to the back to find the MWF backstage crew in scramble as our referees crawled their way to the medics, hoping for some relief before rushing back out to the fray if needed.
The impact from landing on the canvas left a dull, throbbing ache on the top of my head. Through all the commotion, I rushed to Gorilla and slipped on my headset in an attempt to regain some level of control over the show.
I looked at the monitors. By that point, Lucha and roster managed to get Ho Ho Lun out of the ring. Like a blur, Ho Ho and his Mainland referee ran to Gorilla and rushed backstage in a blur. I was going to have to deal with them later. For now, we needed to finish the show and finish it fast.
“Will, you there?” I spoke on the headset.
“I’m right here, Mike”, Will spoke back. “Let’s try to contain the show na?”
And before we could cue something- anything to get the roster to return backstage- Khyle Sison knocked his former mentor with a low-blow, triggering a roster-wide brawl. This was not what we wanted- Republika was supposed to represent the heart of Filipino fighting spirit and the honor that came with it.
Within moments, a diving cross body from Punk Doll Robynn took out most of the roster, effectively ending the fight. This left Mr. Lucha and Ninja Ryujin in the ring together with Robin Sane, and left me backstage with a sigh of relief. I pulled off my head phones and leaned back, thankful it was over and in dire need of an Advil.
And then it happened: After having pulled Robin Sane to his feet with all his might, Mr. Lucha dropped him with the most vicious DVDX/Sagada Driver I had ever seen- like, he stopped mid-move to readjust Robin Sane on his shoulders to really drive the point home. On his knees, Mr. Lucha surveyed the violence and let out with one of the most frustrated and heart-felt screams I had ever heard.
Mr. Lucha left the ring and returned backstage. I stood up and right before I could ask him why, he just looked at me, turned his head and walked away. He didn’t want to talk about it. Somewhere, behind me, Ho Ho Lun was rushing his referee into the backseat of a Grab car I assumed was on its way to the airport.
Why Lucha, Why?
I’ll be the first to admit that the last year hasn’t exactly been easy on Mr. Lucha. A lot of the promise that had been placed on his shoulders slowly shifted to Robin Sane. More than anyone on the MWF roster, Robin Sane unintentionally elevated the level of standard people expected from our product, and because of that, it was only natural that he would start to shine as a serious main event player.
But as someone who knows both Robin Sane and Mr. Lucha full well, it pains me to recognize that so many people often forget just what a talent Mr. Lucha really is. At his best, Mr. Lucha can really bring it into every match and shows incredible restraint to give his opponents, regardless of size or shape, and equal chance. He is the ideal Filipino in every possible way.
I still remember the first time I had ever seen Lucha in that costume… It was around three weeks before we were all expected to make our debut at HistoryCon at our then HQ, Alpha 53 gym in Mandaluyong City. I was blown away.
He was proud, happy, and incredibly excited to show the world exactly what he was made of. He was the sum of a series of conversations we had had in the months before- just the both of us, on my mom’s balcony going back and forth on how much we needed a hero to unite the Philippines at the dawn of a new political landscape.
There was so much promise- there’s still a lot of promise. I just can’t bear to see him throw that all away because he’s frustrated. But at the same time, I get it.
Mr. Lucha is a perfectionist through and through and I’m sure, somewhere along the way, in the light of an ever-evolving form of wrestling dominating the country, his instance of maintaining tradition became a problem beyond his control. And after having lost to Robin Sane and having faced humiliation at the hands of Ho Ho Lun, Khyle Sison and Ashura, something inside him snapped.
I haven’t talked to him since Republika because I am still trying so hard to understand him. If there’s any room for reason, it’s now… Before it’s too late.
We’ve lost so much in wrestling as it is. I can’t lose another friend.
All photos by Miggy Hilario