Featured image from MWF

2019 definitely felt like a step down for Manila Wrestling Federation as a whole. Where they came out of the gate strong with lasting stories and big characters in 2018, they failed to maintain that momentum in the early parts of the year. Losses of talent, changing venues, and controversial talent pick-ups (to say the least) really stunted a lot of the good will that MWF gained in its first year.

But with the company seemingly settling into a new format with their weekly Aksyonovela series, things finally feel like they’re on track to reclaim the heights that 2018 reached. Or at least we can hope. There are still many questions left to be answered about how well MWF can utilize their new format and the pressures of writing and producing weekly television (even if it is pre-taped).

With that being said, let’s take a look back at the year that was 2019. A down year, yes, but there are still things that deserve to be celebrated and that’s what this piece will be about. Celebrating the best that MWF had to offer at the end of the decade. I was lucky enough to have been at all their shows live except for Republika and the first set of Aksyonovela tapings (which I instead watched as the episodes came out on YouTube). These awards will not cover the December 15th Aksyonovela tapings as those episodes will only be released in 2020 and will thus be part of MWF’s 2020 discourse.

Tara, let’s go!

MATCH OF THE YEAR: Fabio Makisig vs. Tajiri (9/21)

Honorable Mentions: Fabio Makisig vs. Tajiri, Bryan Leo vs. Fabio Makisig

Photo from MWF

Though there’s a lot of love for the first Makisig vs. Tajiri encounter from MWF 8 due to the far more intense crowd atmosphere, I found their rematch at MWF 11 to be far superior. Where their first match felt mostly like Tajiri’s travelling shtick–a couple kicks, do the mist, let’s go home–this felt much more elevated and urgent.

I covered most of this already in my Top 15 Live Matches of the Year piece but let me just reiterate that things felt like a much bigger deal in this match despite being the opener to its show. In fact, the opening slot was perfect placement as it caught the crowd at its hottest and went just the right amount of time to keep them going. 

A wonderful piece of work that I was happy to see live. Nothing else from this year really came close in MWF.


Honorable Mention: Fabio Makisig

Photo from MWF

This was a hard one to pick because at the end of the day, I do actually think that Fabio has a far more natural and easy charisma about him that makes him probably the most believable promo man in the country today. But he just hasn’t had much chance to utilize that skill properly and even when he has, bad audio or short segment times get in the way.

But the man who has been given a lot of time to shine in his new role is none other than PAC RG. While he played an endearing underdog jobber in 2018, his transformation into a corporate sell out eaten up by the machine and turned into a propagandist spewing the authority’s bullshit makes him the absolute standout of the year when it comes to promos.

His finest work probably comes from his segment at MWF 9: Oras ng Liwanag, when he unveiled a matrix of enemies to the CoCo Gus regime. A fun parody of the same happenings in the news but infused with just the right amount of corporate smugness. This was a fantastic year for PAC RG, going from bathroom break jobber to must see heel.


Photo from Nigel San Jose’s FB page

NSJ already impressed as an unnamed trainee working jobber matches in a white shirt. Even in his earliest trainee matches, he came across as a fun grappler with some decent looking fundamentals. When he made his proper debut as Nigel San Jose and started displaying a fantastic array of gorgeous suplexes, there was no doubt that this man would be going far.

Diversifying his already spectacular offense with a standing moonsault and a cheerful disposition, it was near impossible not to be endeared to the man. Though he’s spent the initial run of Aksyonovela winless, there’s no doubting the connection he’s created with the crowd. And really, that’s what will drive him to bigger and better things in 2020. The crowd already buys into him, it’s only a matter of time before the booking backs him up.

There is real potential for NSJ to do great things in 2020. Fabio Makisig is firmly positioned as the top babyface in MWF right now but he better watch his back. NSJ as the MWF Wrestler of the Year in 2020 is a very real possibility. 

SHOW OF THE YEAR: MWF 11: Road to Fate 2019 (9/21/19)

Honorable Mention: MWF 8: Halalan Special 2019

Full disclosure, this award should rightfully go to December 15th block tapings for Aksyonovela. But again, as those events will be included for their 2020 video releases, this award instead goes MWF 11: Road to Fate 2019.

The early shows of the year were plagued with problems for MWF. The changes in venue and running sponsored mall tour shows means that a lot of their shows had serious pacing and technical issues as the promotion adapted to their new locations. Part of those problems led to their worst show since Year Zero, MWF 9: Oras ng Liwanag.

All the issues from MWF 9, which mostly dealt with pacing, were dutifully fixed up for this show. Everything felt tight, impactful, and compelling. It was an easy show to sit through and had two of the best MWF matches of the year in the Fabio-Tajiri rematch and the Bryan Leo-Rex Lawin Kampeon ng Masa tournament opening round match. 

It was a great show with a hot crowd in MWF’s swankiest venue yet and felt like a return to form for the company after a turbulent year.


There really was very little competition for this particular award. With Ho Ho Lun winning the MWF Championship from Robin Sane, cementing him as the top heel in the company, Fabio Makisig and his band of misfits in HSSL were the perfect foils. Ho Ho Lun’s run at the top as a metaphor for the encroaching Chinese political powers on the Philippines (ironic given Ho Ho’s home country of Hong Kong’s own trouble with China) makes him the perfect villain to go against Fabio Makisig’s stable that represent the masses. 

A lot of great moments have stemmed from this including Khayl Sison solidifying his babyface turn as he went on to challenge for Lun’s championship. It’s a simple, almost inevitable feud that looks to rage on into the new year.

MOST IMPROVED: Jomar Liwanag

Photo from MWF

Jomar Liwanag is a guy that just keeps getting better. Every single time he stepped into the ring this year, he showed improvement. His strikes improved against Kanto Terror in a mixed tag match, in a match that felt like the two were just beating the tar out of each other. His power moves improved with some great bridging suplexes to add a little flair to his matches. And his character work improved to, becoming a part of one of the most prevalent memes in 2019 MWF. 

Jomar was an absolute highlight of the midcard of MWF in 2019, a year when their midcard felt completely eviscerated by the loss of talent. In a time of flux and experimentation working with extremely green talent, Jomar Liwanag felt like the glue that kept everything together. He ended the year on a high by winning the AWGC Tag Team Championships against Moises Liwanag but I see far more upside in the man as a singles competitor going into 2020. Here’s hoping for bigger and better things.


Honorable Mentions: Jomar Liwanag, Rex Lawin, Nigel San Jose

Photo by Cholo Gonzales, Fight Sport Manila

With Robin Sane’s forced hiatus from the ring, there really was no major competition for this particular award. Alongside Rex Lawin, Fabio Makisig has borne the load of carrying the main event scene of MWF. And while Lawin had a strong year with a babyface turn and feature positions, Fabio was the man positioned to have much bigger opportunities.

Fabio wrestled Tajiri in Tajiri’s first match in Manila since Joshi Jam, Fabio wrestled the match of the year at Resorts World, Fabio was the man positioned to be the polar opposite of the top heel champion in the company. He even had the best Aksyonovela match to date in a snug, stiff encounter against Bryan Leo on the last episode of the year. Fabio consistently delivers on a high level both in the ring and on the mic.

All signs point to Fabio Makisig being poised to win the MWF Championship in 2020 and there’s no denying that he’s earned it.

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