Featured image from Wrestling Philippines

I love this match.

I agonized over how to start this in some clever, incisive, maybe even insightful way. Such is the struggle for any kind of wrestling writing–intellectualizing, analyzing, and picking apart what is an innately silly art form. But what makes wrestling such great art is that it evokes emotion. At the end of day, great wrestling is a feeling. And what I felt after this match was, “That’s the greatest match I’ve ever seen live.”

Carlos Zamora is everything you want a wrestler to be. Oozing with personality, seamless in the ring, with a look that justifies his nickname of “El Guapo.” He brought an amazing energy to this match. Swaggering and cocky, all too aware that he’s as good as he says and is as handsome as he claims. His presence leaves you in awe, but then his actions bring out your hatred. In other words, an ideal heel.

Across from him, Mike Madrigal. Sleeveless shirt, two middle fingers up in the air. Defiant, irreverent, the edgiest and most badass embodiment of the much romanticized Filipino resiliency. Mike doesn’t care for this foreigner with his backing from the Mr. Sy Group, the top heel stable in PWR. He’s not impressed by Zamora’s championship, he doesn’t care about Zamora’s looks, he just sees another opponent to knock down.

And then these two go to war. Good god, what a war. Starting out already at an impressively paced exchange of holds mixed with just enough character to work to properly align the crowd’s sympathies. Then the action spills out into the front row, right where I was seated. Zamora barks at the audience to get of his way. I bolted in fear.

When Zamora tosses Mike into the chairs, these are not steel pro wrestling chairs. They are padded yes, but they are meant to stay upright and they have jagged edges. He goes headfirst into them, wiping out three rows of chairs.

But Zamora isn’t here just to dish out the punishment. The man has his working boots on and any great heel can bump and sell for the babyface. Just out of my range of view, Mike gives him a back body drop onto the concrete. There are no pads on the floor of PWR shows. Zamora takes a flat back bump onto the concrete. It’s a simple spot, one that you might have seen before on indie shows all over the world. But it means something here in the Philippines, a country where wrestling is in its infancy, only now making its impact on the world. Here, it’s a “Holy shit” moment.

Zamora and Mike trade dives to the outside, Mike wiping out the heel MSG stable with his. It’s a satisfying moment. Athletically impressive as well as emotionally cathartic. MSG have been running shenanigans all over the show and this brief moment of comeuppance feels earned. They deserve their punishment.

When Mike and Zamora start trading strikes on their feet, it doesn’t feel formulaic. Both men sell their asses off to put each other over with each strike. The sweat flies, misting the air with the proof of their hard work. The chops and the thuds fill the venue. These is next level offense that you don’t see here too often. I felt the impact reverberate in my own chest. I could reach have reached out and touched the sweat before it evaporated.

Zamora’s not too cool to cheat. He retains his championship with some MSG shenanigans. Interference, ref distractions. Throw it all in. Zamora’s good, there’s no doubt about that. But Mike Madrigal will drag you kicking and screaming through a fight for your life. You’ll be lucky to leave the other side walking.

Great wrestling is a feeling. After this match, I felt the physical effects the match had on me. My chair was misplaced, askew from Mike being tossed into them. My head throbbed from me screaming my lungs raw. My throat itched and still itches now.

I love this match.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *