This is a review of a match I saw live. That means that the live experience will color all my thoughts on the match. Generally, this means that most of my thoughts will skew towards the positive as watching a show live is almost always more fun than being seated in front of a screen. But also, the live experience always does weird things to how one views a match so keep that in mind.
To compound that effect, this is me writing about local pro wrestlers. I’ve found this has an amplifying effect on my thoughts on certain matches. On the one hand, I’m far more emboldened to call out the bad and be harsh to it for the sake of wanting to see growth and progression from my scene. On the other, it brightens up the good as I want to champion the best of what I’m seeing locally.
With all that in mind, I thought this match ruled.
Although MWF’s been trickling content to us online over the last few months, there really was no telling just how a live show with these four would go. While the prospect of the #PWOGs in MWF is enticing on its own, they haven’t been working regularly for almost two years now. Meanwhile, while Robin Sane and Rex Lawin regularly appear on MWF’s programming, I can’t say any of their recent work has screamed a promise of quality.
Luckily, performing live at the Arete Theater this past weekend, these four moved and wrestled like they’d never stopped going at a high level. It’s an incredibly high energy match that plays off several classic tag wrestling tropes to create a wonderful main event. There’s the classic babyface vs. heel tag dynamic at play here. Then on top of that, the good old fashioned reluctant tag partners with Robin and Rex. Then to add a little more drama to everything, there’s a sense of interpromotional rivalry too as in spite of everyone’s current allegiances, history paints this as pretty much a de facto PWR vs. MWF dream tag.
All of that comes together really well here because of how strong the structure of the match is. There’s an honest to goodness babyface shine here with Robin Sane and Jake de Leon just attacking the ropes and trading some wonderful roll up style pinfall attempts. Sane flustering Jake before tagging out to let Rex use his superior power to ragdoll both Jake and Warren all created a great atmosphere in the crowd. It was the first time in the night when the excitement didn’t come across as polite or perfunctory, and more like a pure explosion of emotion as wrestling should be at its best.
Jake de Leon, commonly pointed to as the best professional wrestler in the country, did not disappoint. He attacked everything with the ferocity and impact that has distinguished him as the best in the country, and mixing in just the perfect dash of heel cowardice to anchor it all together. It’s perhaps the best and most effective Jake de Leon heel performance I’ve personally ever seen. I’ve always assumed that Jake takes a lot from Kevin Owens, but this performance might have captured that energy at its best. Being both a comedic heel that can be made a fool of by the babyfaces, but still be an absolute force of nature when on offense, that’s about as spiritually close to a great Kevin Owens performance we can get here.
As great as Jake is here, it’s a credit to the match that everyone involved seemed to be on his level. Ken Warren was a perfect stooge to help complement Jake. The two #PWOGs bumping around the ring and basing for the babyfaces really made this thing shine. It’s that kind of old school heel tag work that really warms the heart especially in the finishing stretches when they start using more dastardly tactics like a belt shot or laying hands on the referee.
Perhaps the flaw in their game is their approach to the heel heat segment. To be fair, it’s not a crowd that responded well to extended control segments the whole night. #PWOGs did try to mix things up with a combination of arm work and other classic double teams to try to keep things going. Perhaps something a little more vicious–eye gouging, biting–might have spiced things up for the crowd.
As for the babyfaces, they had a great dynamic. Robin Sane mostly stuck to what he does best, be quick and be flashy. The highlights of this are his great interactions with Jake which felt like a tighter, more explosive version of their work in the PWR vs. MWF six-man tag from 2019. But Robin also had a beautiful over the top rope tope con hilo onto everyone, plus a great tag spot where Rex just Gorilla pressed him onto the heels on the outside. Just classic bump monkey stuff applied extremely effectively here.
Rex might have been the most surprising here though as everything he did looked awesome. A lot of that is having the OGs stooge for all his offense, but he trimmed down a lot of his offense to just all the best stuff that works. When you see Rex toss someone overhead with a German, it makes you question why he ever decided that an awful ripcord Superkick should be his finish. More suplexes please.
What a delightful match to lose myself in. I’m generally rather open and participative at live shows anyway, but at the point when Jake grabbed a title belt to use as a weapon right in front of me, I found myself screaming at him that he was a coward. That’s the good stuff, baby.
I’m sure I’ll have quibbles and complaints should I ever see this on footage. There’s some NXT-isms in the finishing stretch that probably die a death when I’m watching at home. The extended wait for Robin and Rex’s handshake of friendship stands out as an example. Tonally though, it always fits better in MWF though given the nature of the promotion. Still it’s something that’ll always annoy me just a little and even worse watching it back. Forgiveable in the moment though, and not anything that lingered too long.
But as a live experience, it’s a hearty welcome back to Philippine main event wrestling. The industry as a whole in this country is going through an extremely challenging time, but if these four are holding down the fort, then brighter days might be incoming.