Even Rex Lawin and Mr. Lucha can’t help but smile when Santa’s around!
By Commissioner Mike (CM) Shannon
August 12th, 2018, Sunday Night. It’s just minutes following our last show of the weekend; I am tired, on the brink of a migraine, and I am absolutely rapturous. I am emotionally overwhelmed and as I look around me and see our entire team- wrestlers, staff, tech, interns- celebrate on a job well done, I can’t help myself but break into tears.
Our return to HistoryCon 2018 was three years in the making. But to me, this was five years of hard work, doubt, and heart ache actualizing itself in fruition. Since 2018 began, I had been so caught up in the rush of things. I had to control myself, because if I broke even just once, it would interfere with all the work we at management need to turn this dream into a functioning company. But in the presence of family that included new-found and re-acquainted friends from other promotions, I couldn’t help it. I had to let go.
Robin Sane, William Elvin, Tarek El Tayech, and yes, even Mr. Lucha, and I met in the middle of the ring when it was all said and done. For a brief moment, any ongoing issues didn’t matter. Regardless of what side of the ring we happened to be on, the Manila Wrestling Federation came home and as one
single unit, we shared an embrace.
In spite of everything that’s going on with Lucha and Sane, and no matter how hard it can be for Tarek, William, and I to get things done in spite of all the tension- the love we share for each other will always be there. Those four are my brothers through and through, and nothing can ever change that.
Okay, enough with the feelings. Time to get on with this look back on what in many ways was a Historic Weekend.
Three years ago, the Manila Wrestling Federation made its debut at the inaugural HistoryCon in 2016. We had made it to the event as a showcase of combat sports that included boxing, mixed martial arts, and kickboxing. With help from our friends at the Australasian Wrestling Federation and Singapore Pro Wrestling, we did three back-to-back shows that enabled us to work in front of a live crowd for the very first time.
The weekend culminated with a Team Manila vs. Team Singapore crossover that saw “The Statement” Andreuw Tang defend the SPW Heavyweight Championship against Robin Sane; on the Main Event, Mr. Lucha and The Eurasian Dragon went head-to-head for the first time. By the end of the weekend, bodies were broken and life-long friendships were forged.
Professional Wrestling proved to be incredibly popular at HistoryCon. So popular in fact that I later learned that the Manila Wrestling Federation’s hour-long shows generated the most foot-traffic than any other booth, exhibit, or celebrity on stage. So naturally, it didn’t take long to be invited to return the following year.
While we had looked into ways to bring the product to the convention during the 2017 HistoryCon, being able to provide a weekend’s worth of wrestling just seemed unfeasible. So we resigned ourselves to time on the main stage on the first day. It was fine, we were just happy to be back. And in front of a convention floor of hundreds, we introduced the Manila Wrestling Federation and promoted that year’s Road to Fate.
Anything more seemed like such a far-flung dream…
TAKING THE HARD WAY HOME
In the months before HistoryCon, we had already been asked about involvement with the convention. Our answer was always the same: HistoryCon was our home and it was only a matter of time before we came back, in full force.
Not long after MWF 1: Kasaysayan, Senior Analyst, Tarek el Tayech and I met up with Jacque Ruby, the country head of A&E Networks Asia and one of MWF’s strongest supporters. And with that, and a few finalities to sort, the deal was done: The Manila Wrestling Federation would return to HistoryCon.
“This is your show Mike,” Management said. “You know what to do.”
Plans were made for HistoryCon. This wasn’t just going to be a major homecoming, our product was going to be seen in front of thousands of convention-goers, along with a host of globally recognized personalities. We were set to leave a lasting impression on everyone there.
On Thursday afternoon, a small team that consisted of our myself, floor director, Lexi Bartolome, Tarek el Tayech, and our incredible ring crew led by the talented Ohm David, arrived at the World Trade Center. The ring arrived shortly after having braved the storm on a nineteen wheeler that sponsored by the incredible folks at 2GO.
And so, with our ground team complete, we spent the next few hours assembling what would be our venue for the next three days. By 10:00PM the ring was complete and we decided to call it a night. On my way out, I go through the booths and make my first and only purchase of the weekend, a pack of WCW trading cards from 1991.
For the next several days, this will be my only moment of peace.
Friday was arguably the easiest day during the convention, but because we were just adjusting to the set-up and flow, it also became our most stressful day that weekend. Creative Director William Elvin had landed a few hours earlier and was one of the first to arrive at World Trade Center. We shared a cigarette as more of the team began to arrive. By lunchtime, we were ready to go for the first block of shows that day.
Our guys had to pull double duty, but they did it well. We performed in front of two back-to-back groups of kids from various schools across the Metro. For us, this was a very big deal because they reminded so much of ourselves and the fact that this was the first time they were seeing live wrestling was truly something special.
We gave them the true highlights of our product, showcasing all the best the MWF had to offer, including a special rematch between Robin Sane and Mr. Lucha.
After having the chance to present the Manila Wrestling Federation on the mainstage, our ring was graced by the presence of TV personality, Kuya Kim Atienza who had the chance to get an inside look at some of the things we do inside the ring.
It was a lot of fun, Momma Shannon was there to cheer us on. We made it through.
After having figured out our groove the day before, we got into Saturday slightly (and I stress the word slightly) more relaxed. With our team assembled, we made rounds, interacted with convention goers and hyped up the audiences for our shows that afternoon. All very standard.
Day Two ended with a main event for the ages as Robin Sane took on Koto Hiro, who was accompanied to the ring by Nina. Moments after Koto took the well-deserved victory, a hooded man emerged from the audience and assaulted Sane. One look later, he revealed himself as Zayden Trudeau. I guess he felt left out by the crossover matches we had planned for the following day, because he took to the mic and issued an open challenge.
Overcome by emotions, I rushed to the ring and checked in on Robin Sane. He was scratched up, but he was egging me on to give him the match right then and there. But I knew he had to rest up, so I took on the mic and looked over at Zayden and told him that yes, he had his match. But more than anything, he was going to have to bring his A-game and then some, because Robin Sane’s heart could not be denied.
Robin Sane in black gear – A throwback to MWF’s first appearance at HCon 2016
Due to the weather, we had to arrange matches on the spot. Because of that the decision was made to merge the morning and first afternoon block into one full show… And I’ll be damned. I honestly think that had we been in UP Bahay Ng Alumni or even the PowerMac center in Makati, I think we would have given wrestling fans one of the best shows produced locally. Every match was amazing… Mr. Lucha vs. Alexander Belmonte III was one of the most intense, and physically grueling brawls I had ever seen in my life.
As a showcase of the best Philippine Wrestling had to offer, we decided bring back the History Maker Rumble from MWF: Kasaysayan, but with a truly unique twist. 30 Wrestlers in an over-the-top-rope-elimination match with the final two wrestlers competing in a Singles contest. Jacque Ruby was kind enough to join us for the Rumble.
It was a sight to behold. Earlier that day, Robin Sane took it upon himself to weave together the entrance order for the Rumble. He could have easily put himself at the last spot and made history again. But being himself, he wanted a fair chance and more than anything, he wanted a challenge. If there was anything I could take away from the Rumble was seeing how much fun everyone had inside the ring. You could just feel it.
In the end, “Danger” Rex Lawin proved to be strongest man that day and emerged victorious over a final line-up than included Aldrin Richards, John Sebastian, Mharkie from the KakaiBros, and Martivo. Now, here’s the thing: for the last several months, Lawin has made it clear that I screwed him and it was only a matter of time before he got his revenge. And he did it. He rubbed into our faces even more when he was invited to the mainstage to be awarded by Jacque Ruby, Gus Queens, and Tarek, before representatives from every major network and publication in the country.
I’ll give you that one, Rex… I’ll give you that.
We wrapped up the weekend with our final block for the evening, which included another set of Match of the Year candidates, highlighted by Robin Sane vs. Zayden Trudeau; two rightful masters of the 450 Splash. For over fifteen minutes, those two threw everything they had at each other- and then some! Again, if this match was held in front of a wrestling audience, they would have blown the roof off. It was incredible. Robin Sane walked away with the victory, but more importantly, he and Zayden earned each other’s respect.
… IN CONCLUSION
The MWF ring crew: Ohm David and the Ohm Boys
If you’ve managed to stick around to the end, I thank you.
If you skipped all text, I can’t thank you but I understand.
To be perfectly honest, it’s hard to squeeze in the magnitude of that entire weekend into a single blog post. I could write at least three chapters about our time at HistoryCon, and even then, I’d feel like I’d be missing something out.
Two of our lovely tech team guys, Mark and Io!
We ended the weekend by thanking everyone- the wrestlers from both the Manila Wrestling Federation and Philippine Wrestling Revolution; the tech and ground team that makes our shows run perfectly; the ring crew/Ohm Boys, without whom, we wouldn’t even have a ring to ply our craft in; and most importantly, the fans!
For the entire weekend, a group that consisted of Ritz Sy, Christopher Sandico Pepper (and family), and Martin Vicencio braved the weather to support us. They got the crowd riled up and cheered, booed, worshipped and antagonized every single wrestler that stepped into that ring. That dedication and support is something I can never thank them enough for. If you guys are reading this, you’re the best and I don’t know where we’d be without that.
Commissioner Mike w/ Kayana
So here I am, wrapping this all up…. What a homecoming! Aside from the wrestling, being at HistoryCon was the chance to make new friends and get acquainted with old ones, such as Santa Klaus and his daughter, Kayana- who, in all regards, was probably the first fan we ever made. It really felt like coming home.
With an MWF Champion on the horizon and 2019 not that far away, one thing’s certain: The Manila Wrestling Federation will be back at HistoryCon to make more history!