Viva la lucha libre profesional puertorriqueno!
Puerto Rico, land of wrestling, cradle of hardcore style, fighting bureaucracy and politics, against so many obstacles that don’t have to be, against corruption, for licenses and for a rebirth of what was once so big, so dazzling, so world-renowned and formative – and went down miserably in a fight against itself, in envy and resentment, in the striving for autonomy. Golden as the sunrise and as black as the night, the history of wrestling in Puerto Rico is somewhere between the magnificence that left its mark on a generation and the succumbing to the sadness and darkness of a deep fall. But it’s a bit like Asterix, there’s a Gallic village, there’s a people who stood up, fought and are still fighting back, bravely confronting all the adversaries and adversities with one goal: Puerto Rico again to make it the wrestling nation it once was, to resurrect what was once so needlessly bleeding destroyed. You can name many names all fighting for it, Star Roger, Mike Mendoza, Pedro Portillo, Orlando Colon and so many more. When Latin American Wrestling Entertainment (LAWE) started, they hoped to have a weekly TV show and become one of the premier promotions – they work hard for that. Of course also very clever, because they signed wrestling greats from Puerto Rico, Mexico and Latin America, who appeal to the people and draw the attention of the world. In a figurative sense, from October 2021 to July 2022, you experienced a bit of a fast run through Puerto Rican wrestling history, had your wonderful opponent, the unsympathetic Mike Mendoza, who would of course criticize everything and oppose everything, wrestlers in the third generation, of course he has something accept. Nice storyline leading to the first champion and finally culminating in the showdown of the year between Mendoza and Colon at LAWE Summerfest. But more on that later. Because you had to wait a long time for the fight of the year.
LAWE planned a great summer festival celebrating wrestling. Schools like Espiritu Pro Wrestling Dojo were allowed to present themselves, merchandisers like Ricanstructionwear or LuchaTeesPR exhibited their goods, you could create your own entrance, there was a small exhibition of the wrestling museum, the stars could be touched – literally, because they had mingled with the crowd , grinned into cameras, gave interviews, talked to fans and diligently wrote autographs. No tight timeslots and long queues, it was a party among friends and we celebrated. The location was great: the Anfiteatro Tito Puente de San Juan is steeped in history and truly gigantic to celebrate professional wrestling.
It started with small fights that didn’t seem to matter, but these were also honored by the audience. Unfortunately, despite all my attempts, I could not be in San Juan due to time constraints. A precise schedule, the impressions on site and our gallery are missing. The timing may therefore be wrong, but it is not particularly important. What’s more important is that they were all there and of course it was about the Heavyweight Championship, a new Tag Team Title was introduced and we, nay, the world saw the fight of the year. For those interested: The Summerfest and all fights can be viewed permanently on LAWEonDemand.
Probably the shortest fight not only of the Summerfest was offered by Valak and Boricua Guerrero. Valak drew attention to himself just a few weeks ago and made it clear to Dennis Rivera that he shouldn’t forget the name. It’s really cool that he’s there. He lets himself be celebrated and also gets applause, maybe mouthing a bit too much and waiting for his opponent – but first comes Amandito Salgado, a wrestling legend, for mental support. Incidentally, one should not think that Valak is still a relatively inexperienced youngster, he certainly gained life experience in the army. Against him occurs Boricua Guerrero, who can be celebrated briefly when the match starts. Valak lunges at him, banging his fists at him, but Guerrero is more experienced and stronger, it’s over before it even starts and you really understand what’s going on. Did the fight even last a minute? Yes, it’s a pity, but it’s to be expected, it should only heat up the atmosphere and Valak will be even more successful with LAWE – I hope.
Enter 5to Elemento, you already know him, he’s full of hope, it’s getting dark, it’s going to be an easy fight. But his opponent is Bengie Lopez. Do we know that? Yes of course! Because he once had an inglorious appearance at Adrenalina when they just didn’t let him in. So here he is, Bengie Lopez is making his LAWE Summerfest debut. You think it’ll be quick, unspectacular, 5to Elemento will of course win, but at least Lopez is officially introduced and accepted by LAWE. He is greeted with chants, yes, he has his fans and his encouragement, a lot is expected of him. Before the bell rings, 5to Elemento lunges at Lopez, who has his back turned. Cowardly attack, but not without effect. But the debutant doesn’t give up that easily, is immediately back on his feet and hits back – with strength, with anger, with technique. What are we seeing? The shouts of Bengie get louder, Quinto Elemento just flees the ring, but can’t escape his opponent. No, this is clearly Lopez’s fight, who finally wants to show what he has been training and working for the last few years. Where is the brave young man with the glasses, who could also be a philosophy professor? There is a tough fighter in the ring who stands his ground and also interacts great with the audience. What are we seeing and why did we have to wait so long for this man? It’s great fun to watch this fight, wish it could go on longer, but we don’t have time and a busy schedule. After the pin, Bengie Lopez is not only celebrated by the audience, Dante Caballero also comes on stage with his entourage and cheers, congratulates, a great homage to the debutant. We’ll see a lot more from him!
What is not shown in the full show recording: Sensacional Wrestling School vs. Espiritu Pro Wrestling Dojo – so a bit of Star Roger vs. Mike Mendoza. Six fighters bash each other, Adam Riggs with new ring gear, now yellow, seems generally angry anyway, alongside Harry Willam and Papi Chulo. On the other side Dante Caballero, Athan and Yomar Arides. The two teams first have something to say to each other, then the fists speak and finally everyone can show what they have learned and get into conversation. There’s a lot going on at once, you can’t capture everything on camera, but in the end most of them stay in their corners and it’s man to man. Who has really worked on himself: Harry William, we will certainly hear a lot more about him, hopefully we will see him as a champion in a few years. There could be a legacy of El Cuervo in him, some things are reminiscent of him, but of course there is still some experience missing. But now it’s all about creating a good atmosphere at the Summerfest and they all do that. Caballero has been known for a long time, knows about his strength and his skills. He’s also quite reticent for a while, which is a good thing. For this, William eats breakfast from his opponents one after the other. Change, Riggs in the ring. Oddly enough, you see a bit more of the EPWD students. Even if the sympathies are more on the Sensacional side. Papi Chulo vs. Dante Caballero, oh, the first one has a hard time and has to be saved by William. He has to fend off a jump from Athan. Then he shows his strength, lifting Athan and Arides at the same time. Now only Caballero left, hard punches to the chest, wow! Suddenly everyone is back in the ring, fighting each other. It’s happening a lot, it’s happening fast, the match is really good! In the end, the Sensacional Wrestling School faction wins. Both sides deserved it. Well done!
The women come. I only like women’s wrestling to a limited extent, it’s not enough wrestling for me and too much: We have to play sexy and porn stars here. There are very few who don’t. Black Rose makes a show of their performance that could take place in any strip club, you can delete. Sorry girls, but you are much more than an Only Fans jerk off template, stop selling yourselves so cheaply and reduce yourself to just sex. Take a Yaide or a Nathalya Perez as an example, both of whom are good looking, both of whom put on a show, but who really perform in the ring and perform without the cheap sex ploy – and are so much better and more engaging! For more than four minutes it’s all about the entrances. Then follow boring actions in the ring, until it finally gets a bit more exciting. And suddenly you can also show that you can wrestle. There are nice actions, there is action, fine moves. Nancy eventually yells at the referee, who backs away. That’s better. The audience joins in, cheers on, something is being offered. Black Rose takes a beating, but always manages to avoid the pin. She’s good, no question, she just doesn’t need the cheap fuss at the beginning. Powerbomb from her against Nancy, both stay on the ground, high five with difficulty. Evie de la Rosa and Roxxy immediately attack each other aggressively. Everyone wants to win here, with all their might. De la Rosa attempts a pin, the ref misses his bet, so he starts counting far too late and Roxxy is able to free himself. In the meantime it’s raining, which hardly bothers anyone, it’s now become much too exciting and even in the ring you brave the masses of water. In the end, Black Rose is able to pin Nancy, but the joy is short-lived as outside help arrives and the winners are beaten to the bone. women wrestling? Go then!
There is now a small interlude with Mendoza and Bruno on LAWEonDemand. The former has made more enemies than friends over the past few months and there is also a storyline that is still open. Goes out lightly, well, in front of the combat pit Mendoza can hardly get another one in the mouth, that would be unfavorable. He didn’t get the champion’s title either, but had to admit defeat to Pedro Portillo III and Santana. These two were supposed to be fighting for the title at Summerfest, but Santana was injured shortly beforehand and it was clear he wouldn’t be able to fight. He promised an announcement for the evening. Portillo was ready as can be and hot for the title, he made that clear often and with much anger. At Summerfest, Santana hobbles to the ring, lets himself be celebrated, and I’d love to let him have that title, but… you can’t. He’s out for weeks, months, so he has to release the title, the only question is whether Portillo will really get it and against whom he has to compete.
Santana obviously has a hard time talking, he thanks everyone, a picture of him as the first champion is held up in the corner. A likeable champ who has respect for his former opponent and grins as the Pedro Portillo chant kicks in. A triple-way match is announced and Portillo performs. The Anfiteatro celebrates, sings, waves flags, that’s how it is in Germany when FC Bayern wins the championship – with the same song. Behind him, of course, is Dennis Rivera, who lends the whole thing an oddly official, collusive quality. Sometimes he feels like LAWE’s Paul Heyman. Santana and Portillo engage in a fierce battle of words – the latter claiming the title that is virtually his due. Suddenly, Samuray del Sol storms into the ring. He is better known to many as Kalisto. He immediately goes after Portillo and beats him up. But you can’t defeat a Portillo that easily. He quickly knocks Samuray del Sol down, Rivera kicks him again, it’s over before it starts, isn’t it? No, says Santana, because three men are supposed to fight for the title. Yes, who else? It can’t be Mendoza, you won’t send him into the title fight if the next match is the combat pit. It’s getting dark. A name will appear. The crowd cheers. Yes, his appearance was expected after he had announced his departure from the WWC less than a week earlier and was very mysterious about where his path would lead to now. Most knew it was going to be LAWE, but when Summerfest gets dark, his name appears and he actually performs, everyone cheers: Carlos Calderon is LAWE! Of course he gets his title match right away – and maybe even the title? Let’s think for a moment if Portillo should lose again? Something else becomes clear: LAWE consists of names, there are old hands who have been in the ring for many years and who are known. LAWE is a mixture of generations, which alone through this separation in the rooster illustrates the connection and at the same time the difference between an old and a new generation. You don’t really need a Calderon, but you can never have enough stars. On the other hand, at some point it will be very difficult to bring them all under one roof and do justice to everyone. A triple-way match between Calderon, Portillo and Samuray del Sol is an absolute top fight and actually the highlight of the evening. Now you have to ask yourself two things: What does LAWE have planned for Mendoza? Because no matter how the outstanding combat pit ends, Mendoza has been given special status, a special match, but where does that lead? He’s not a champion and won’t get that title anytime soon because it just doesn’t fit – and maybe he doesn’t even want it. Knowing how the Combat Pit ends, I would actually say that Mendoza is written out and he concentrates on other things, on Espiritu, his students, his own events and maybe he wants to play in the really big leagues on the mainland again. But as soon as the Summerfest is over, Humacao is announced, actually a backlash event, but which announces Mendoza against Portillo. So what are you up to?
A small digression on this: Humacao could not take place for various reasons. Instead, they looked for a replacement and then announced Guaynabo for a few weeks. The advertising drum beat, the tickets were offered, after maybe a week they had to be postponed again. Not the day but the venue, well Hatilla. This sets off a wave of indignation and makes El Cuervo really freak out – and rightly so. He accuses the fans of wanting everything for free and in their own living room and not even realizing what all this means for the wrestlers, how they live, how long they drive, how long their days are and that it’s hard-earned bread. The last word has not yet been spoken here, but he speaks from the soul of some of his colleagues.
Back to Summerfest. Calderon enjoys the crowd bath and is so ready for the fight that visibly throws Rivera into chaos. What’s up now? Shouldn’t he know that better than anyone? Apparently not, because he complains profusely. Portillo wants to leave, but gets a challenge from Calderon.
Cut. We’ll come back to that later. Because the recording on LAWEonDemand ends here. You then have to watch Summerfest in its entirety, and this taping starts with something very different. Entering the ring: El Cuervo and Riviero Rivas, two important components of the CPR Fraction. El Cuervo had wiped off his facepaint a few days earlier and announced that he would bring a new gimmick. Of course, he didn’t say it would be that great. Very briefly: Cuervo is Spanish for raven. The wrestler has almost two decades of wrestling experience that doesn’t show in his face. Cuervo has done a lot in his career and this man is the one that many non-wrestling fans are into know Germany. In 2018, his death match against Angel o Demonio went through the press – the normal press, which could postulate how stupid, dangerous and whatever wrestling is. What happened? The two had already fought quite a bit and were pretty exhausted, no wonder, but the match wasn’t really over yet. While Cuervo prepares his next attack and tries to pull something out from under the ring, his opponent throws a concrete block at him, hitting him in the head. Cuervo immediately falls to the ground, according to media reports he is in mortal danger. I never saw the whole match, just that scene – guys, this isn’t wrestling, this isn’t a tolerable attack, but accidents happen all the time. Whether it was intentional or really an accident remains to be seen. Angel o Demonio is suspended, Cuervo survives – thank God – and gets back in the ring. Angel o Demonio passed away from COVID-19 last year, many only remember him for this match. But to have El Cuervo back in the ring and with LAWE is pretty awesome. He recently showed his gratitude on Instagram and stated that he hopes to be a role model for the younger generation and to be able to give them a lot. Let’s hope it’s not his stubbornness, but his will to survive. Why is this so important now? Well, because El Cuervo is stubborn, LAWE used that scene and the raven comes to Summerfest with a cast on his right hand. Two fingers or something are broken, so what? He was cleared to get in the ring, but if the doctors wouldn’t have allowed him to, he’d still have turned up and played that damn match, nobody could have stopped him. New gimmick: A large raven skull mask on the head and dangling from the wrist (and the thing glows!). Is there anything else? Yes, Riviero Rivas, let’s not forget him, not a blank slate either. A few months ago, the two had really hit each other’s lips, now they are a team, fighting for the first tag team title. Against Star Roger and Samuel Olmo. Roger is quite the star, and not just by the ring name. He has his wrestling school, trained Vanilla Vargas, Mark Davidson and O.T. Fernandez. Also one of those older, more experienced guys at LAWE. Samuel Olmo is a rope and jump acrobat who now posts weekly tutorials on Instagram and has quite the career ahead of him, if that’s what he wants to do at all. According to the story, the two got along really badly, but then nobody wanted to pin the other and oh, why don’t you get along spontaneously and spank the other bad guys? Good thing. Last but not least, La Anexion, in this case Angel Fashion and Mark Davidson. You don’t need to say much more. Masks on, Fashion resumes his intimidating aggro attitude, and Davidson trains into the form of his life. Both of them are hot for the title, in the meantime I’m no longer sure whether Fashion is turning his back on LAWE or straight away on wrestling. There are always hints and they make you very sad. It starts. Fashion and star Roger in the ring, they discuss, it seems to be a bit about: Hey, why don’t we actually get together and hit CPR on the face? Enough talking, thinks Davidson, high fives, his teammate doesn’t think it’s that cool, but what does he want to do? Well, there could be a turn, but not on a night when the third party, Mendoza, can’t storm into the ring. All right, Davidson and Roger, here we go for real. Somehow the first pin is quickly attempted and counted for no apparent reason as Davidson’s shoulder is very far off the mat. That looks different when he wants to pin his opponent, who can tear himself away. Would also be a bit too fast. There is applause, CPR just watch, actually a really cool tactic: let the others work out, we’ll come when you’re done. Both opponents fly out of the ring through various actions, a few strong punches on the chest, the audience celebrates. The same game in the ring, at some point it looks like two hysterical children who are just blindly thrashing about, but that is the starting signal for the other four waiting people who storm into the ring and are now also hitting each other. It gets wild and a little confusing, but finally there’s plenty of action. In front of the CPR fan block, which cannot be overlooked, Fashion and Rivas fight each other, either an action goes terribly wrong afterwards or someone misses their mission, in any case Angel just runs into the ring post. Olmo and Cuervo are also outside the ring and give each other very little. Then Rivas is alone in the ring and Olmo charges at him. How come now? It goes back and forth, you can’t have your eyes everywhere, really good, it’s fun that way. Please keep beating each other a bit, because that makes the match a lot more exciting. In the beginning, Dennis Rivera was still somewhere, but you see less of him now, that’s not always the best sign. However, when Olmo sends his opponent into the ring ropes, Dennis is back and cheers on him. Fashion stands on the sidelines like a vampire, awaiting his cue, checking his chances and somehow there’s El Cuervo lying around too, but no one knows why, until he bursts into the ring and lunges at Olmo, which in turn causes Fashion to roar jump into the ring and unleash one of his infamous spears. Who just officially came on? Nobody knows, is that really the point? Anyway, we’re having a pretty good match here. Next pin attempt, but Roger throws himself in between. Rivas has to take a beating now and because he’s here, so does Fashion. Roger drives it from one ring corner to the other, then he knocks out both opponents. N / A? Who wants again? Davidson, but he flies out quickly, then Cuervo returns, Olmo and Roger are in the ring, the former does what he does best: tightrope walking and then off into the air. There is an insanely great photo of it floating in the air. Then Roger does the same, even if Referee Many tries to stop him. The audience is enthusiastic. A match to his liking. Now you can only end a match in the ring, so Roger grabs Davidson and pulls him into the ring, but has to leave it almost immediately. White Shadow vs Rivas. That’s an interesting pairing, matches between the two alone are a lot of fun. Fashion gets involved, Rivera wants to get involved from the corner of the ring, there is an argument between him, Roger and the referee, La Anexion comes along – well, and when two or five argue, the others are always happy, in this case CPR . Cuervo hits the anexion in the balls, the two go out, Rivas attacks Olmo while Many and Rivera are still discussing, the anexion is down, it goes fast. Olmo has no chance against CPR and a distracted referee and gets pinned. The ending is so fast you have to watch it again. Great! That’s what you want to see. You feel very sorry for El Arquero, he seems very disappointed. The raven makes it clear that their goal is the new tag team title belt. Cut.
The clips are left out, of course there is a lot behind the scenes for the LAWEonDemand version, a lot of short promos, that has to be, of course you have to prepare for the upcoming matches and get in the mood for the match of the evening: El Escorpion vs. La Pesadilla.
But we continue with the Ruleta Por El Oro. Five teams compete against each other in turn. Starting with Cinte De Oro y Mascara Dorada vs. Los Judas Melendez. Doesn’t tell you anything? Well, the four of them didn’t tell me anything, they’re not strangers. The match is very slow in places, almost boring, you take too much time, sell one or the other action very lamely. The teams seem so unequal, which does happen more often, but somehow seems wrong here, not fitting, a stopgap that maybe shouldn’t be. The audience is roaring, but I’m not quite sure if it’s enthusiasm. Somehow even the referee is more exciting. Win Cinte De Oro y Mascara Dorada. Nice, we’ll see them again in a moment against Los Bruno. Father and son about to start beating their opponents. Baltazar Bruno is a Mendoza student and had a great match against him a few months ago. So now at the Summerfest, sure, they win that, right? What initially seems so clear changes over time. The opponents gain the upper hand for a short time, then something that shouldn’t happen happens: Mascara Dorada loses his mask. Worse is not possible. Quick towel over your head, enter Westside Mafia. Huh what? It starts before you know it, the Brunos are outside the ring, the Westside Mafia are inside. I can’t quite see through it anymore, but at least something’s going on, Baltazar gets a few kicks that really bother him. So you can also fell this tree, or at least try to. In the end, however, he lies on the ground and you try to pin him, in vain. There’s finally more power here, the audience loudly cheers on the Westside Mafia, my favorites are still the Brunos. It’s not easy, but it’s about something. The next pin attempt fails, but then the Brunos win – with loud boos. The sympathies are clearly distributed. It goes on immediately. The Sexxy Classics perform with some sexy, scantily clad ladies. The looks are elsewhere at first and of course you think such an appearance is cool. Somehow it’s more about the girls and JC Jexxx than Alfredo Melies. It’s somehow difficult to imagine this team as a serious opponent of the Brunos, because the balance of power doesn’t seem quite balanced. But wrestling has its own laws and with technique you can theoretically win against anyone. The audience now has new favorites, but it’s still not father and son. And Melies? He successfully pushes Baltazar into the corner of the ring and is difficult to fend off again. If you are seriously interested in wrestling, then here’s the recommendation again to get away from the big promotions that are known worldwide and want to inspire with a lot of bling. They’re smaller promotions that embody the spirit much better and also show real wrestler life very honestly. The Summerfest showcases that very well. JC Jexxx is now in the ring, oh the poor guy gets quickly finished off by the opposing tag team, Melies saves a pin then Jexxx stands up briefly only to remain in the ring exhausted. A change and we see Melies again. He makes a jump that feels like it goes terribly wrong when his opponent dodges. Now it’s getting fast again. There is fighting outside the ring, inside the ring too and before you know it JC Jexxx Baltazar Bruno has pinned. What? A blatant surprise for me, but that’s wrestling! Now it’s about the belt against CPR and that should be damn exciting.
Another cut, more promos behind the scenes, here’s a bit of a build-up of what will probably happen at LAWE in the coming weeks and months. Of course, always the link to the Combat Pit, La Pesadilla vs. Mike Mendoza. And Portillo still has to go. But first Santino Marella vs. El Nazareno. The wonderful Milanese against the wonderful Boricua in the wonderful battle, no, I didn’t make that up, that’s really the title of this encounter. On Laweondemand, we’ve just wrapped the first hour of Summerfest. It’s estimated that an hour and a half will be all about the title fights and the combat pit – which, you might be surprised, I really didn’t even see beforehand. I have respect for it even though I know what is happening. But more on that later. El Nazareno appears, it’s quite an appearance, there’s experience in the ring. Then it gets Italian, do you know Marella? The man is pure entertainment. He immediately has the sympathies of those present, then there is a back and forth between calls to Nazareno and Santino, to which the latter sexyly swings his hips. A little joke with the glasses, then it starts. Here, too, one thinks that this can be done quickly, Nazareno will bring the thing home. But first he is the ball of the Italian. Here you can see that it is not the new, young generation in the ring, but two old hands who skilfully jump back and forth between show and wrestling and communicate with the audience again and again. The fight is a must see and enjoy, including how they practice kip ups on each other instead of fighting. This is pure entertainment to the point! They both have fun and you have to be able to do that. And the announcement is true, it’s a wonderful battle that’s so amusing, so engaging and so timeless. Such a performance could be watched for a long time. Even the ending brings a funny confusion with it. Maybe you only understand that as an old wrestling fan, but I think even as a newcomer you understand the humor, maybe not every hidden link, but enough to just have fun.
Do we remember O.T. Fernández? He broke his foot months ago in the match against Riviero Rivas and has unfortunately had to sit out since then. He’s now limping to the ring from time to time, working hard on his comeback, but when that will be is anyone’s guess. In any case, we wish him a speedy recovery! He has been represented and defended by Macho Navarro for some time, including at the Summerfest. It’s not clear who it’s against, it’s an open challenge, someone has to accept – and well, there’s always someone, you can be sure of that. Unfortunately, since Fernandez isn’t fully able to participate actively, it’s very, very nice to see that he still has his appearance at Summerfest as an integral part of the LAWE Roosters. Electro appears as an opponent, who probably few or no one had on the screen. The youngster has had some success and is working his way up the ranks and is no stranger to Navarro, who gave him a push a few years ago. So now he enters the ring to the enthusiastic screeches of the audience. Navarro is not so happy with it, both wear “Puro Macho” on their outfits and so the link to the common history is made for really everyone. The bell rings, off we go. At the beginning it is circling, the first moves, a feeling. One might have expected more anger, but it is hidden in the looks. Fernandez gives instructions from the ring edge. Again: slowly, waiting, rather boring, you wait for the excitement, for the show, for a good performance. You know the two of them differently. They finally show that. With Fernandez’s help, Navarro ends up pinning Electro as well. Yeah, doesn’t sound that enthusiastic, I’m not either. Somehow the match is a bit loveless and I can’t really say why.
Next one. The hardcore match you’ve been waiting for. Damian 666, known for exactly this type of fight, is set to face off against Rico Suave, nicknamed “Mr. Hardcore” for a reason. But he is shown from a hospital bed and cancels. Damian 666 is of course terribly upset and amazed at the one who appears instead: “El Hombre Bestia” Enyel. He’s about to come to the ring with an electric scythe. This could be bloodier than expected – and you expect a lot. At the beginning there is goading, with the help of the audience of course, then it starts. First with a kendo stick, wielded by Damian 666. As we know, things are much better when the opponent has a bare torso, but even so he pretty much takes off and bang, the first blood drips from the beast’s forehead. The kendo stick takes the hits quite well, which is actually unusual, the parts break very easily and not at all unintentionally. Then there’s a hail of blows on the older man’s bare back before Bestia goes to a shopping cart with equipment. It’s stacked with traffic signs, tin garbage cans and more, pretty much everything you need for a hardcore match – and as long as they’re not concrete blocks, we’re pretty happy with that. What shouldn’t be missing? Sure, chairs and a… wait a minute, a pizza cutter? Well yes, why not? You have to be able to see blood and yeah folks, this isn’t the sympathetic horror film with fake blood. It’s insane, it’s downright evil, but it’s also something that’s an integral part of Puerto Rican wrestling, after all, it was the Boricua who created death matches and brought them to the world. Here come the thumbtacks, who’s going to fly in there? It’s El Hombre Bestia that gets things stuck in its skin. I think it’s really, really, really bad when he gets a chair stuck between his legs, which is then slapped on. Guys, your balls hurt from just watching – which will happen again later tonight in a different way, and I’m a woman and I suffer with it. Oh, but we’re in another match, out of the ring now, where Damian staples 666 bills from the audience onto his opponent’s upper arm. wrestling is fake No, this is real. By the way, not recommended for borderliners, because the matches are very triggering. The audience goes along with it, but is still rather reserved, it’s not really the right thing for everyone. But I promise you, this match is nothing against the Combat Pit. Nazareno and Marella appear at the edge of the ring, distracting a bit, allowing El Hombre Bestia to win. It wasn’t planned that way – and actually I feel very sorry for Damian 666, who lives these hardcore sequences.
There’s one more great, important message titled the next fight: Regardless of gender or orientation, it doesn’t matter what or for whom feelings are, love will never stop being love. It’s good to see that LAWE and Puerto Rico in general are very open to the LGBTQ+ community, that it doesn’t matter whether you’re straight, homo, trans – and if we’re all honest with ourselves: It is also damn irrelevant and simply says nothing about a person. So finally pack hate and prejudice away – and dear professional sport: Take an example from Puerto Rico and the local wrestling world, which deals very openly and very normally with homosexuality and transsexuality! Pulli La Bella had his entrance, then Jon Justice comes in a beautiful and very special company. He doesn’t have many fans that night. There’s a lot of discussion outside of the ring, belts are being swung, which is very typical of Puerto Rico, but shouldn’t be slammed, for once. Pulli’s first attempt at pinning. Justice looks battered, flies out of the ring, but is now hit with belts. It’s a prearranged game, but it quickly takes on a very bitter aftertaste. The hard laugh, incomprehensible heckling, the hits, clapping, incitement. It’s almost a big spectacle that doesn’t take what’s happening seriously and laughs at those in the ring. As an outsider, you get the impression that this is not about wrestling, but about the symbolic effect. Not bad either. Eventually, Justice knocks out his companion, giving Pulli a chance to claim the win. This calls for revenge again, as soon as the count to three has been reached. But as we found out in the weeks that followed, Pulli was initially out due to an injury. We wish him a speedy recovery too! Now it’s about the message that was mentioned at the beginning, signs are held up in the audience, including “No to racism”, but above all: We are all equal. “LAWE, todos somos familia” – We are a family.
We come to the first title fight, no, actually to THE title fight. Samuray del Sol performs, celebrates, will he get the belt? He brings so much energy with him that you suddenly wake up. Yes, we know which three matches are still ahead of us and this one will show who will be in charge of LAWE in the future. Carlos Calderon maybe? He is now appearing and has caused a sensation with his move to promotion. One thing should be anticipated: LAWE will not make the mistake of a WWE and keep a champion for years who defends his title ridiculously or not at all, no matter who it is that evening. Enter Pedro Portillo III. The fighter had used brass knuckles in the semifinals at Cima de Campeones to ensure that there was a triple threat match back then as well, namely himself, Mike Mendoza and Santana. He was famously defeated eventually and, if we’re being honest, he was everything but man of the night. If it was ever planned to give him a little more prominence back in May, it failed. But that’s not the point now. The title is again at stake, Portillo is ready, performs, children stand on stage and do the familiar tercero hand sign. A little fact: one of the kids is the son of Riviero Rivas. Of course you sing “Oh Pedro Portillo” in Seven Nations Army style and it’s totally infectious. In the background: Dennis Rivera, as nice as this guy is, he’s the necessary asshole in LAWE, a bad mix of Paul Heyman and Adam Pearce – and he does his job so damn well. When you see Portillo perform here, you may otherwise say what you like about him, but somehow he deserves this title. Whatever he did before that was preparing for this title – but can he do it tonight? In any case, he is celebrated, and old acquaintances are also on the sidelines, those who caused a mighty stink at the EPWD event No Actors, Wrestlers. That’s enough for me and I almost hope that the good guy loses. Honestly, Portillo can’t help it and absolutely deserves a good fan base, you really have to make a stark distinction between what a certain fan group has done and what Portillo is doing. So here we go. Everyone against everyone and there is a lot on offer. No one spares the other, for the time being no one joins forces with the other, so that it is two against one. Calderon and Samuray del Sol get their slots, Portillo dares to jump out of the ring, hui, I don’t know anything like that from him, can he please show it more often. There is class in the ring here and every single one deserves the title. In contrast to Cima de Campeones, here the roles are distributed a bit differently, more equally. Samuray del Sol is doing his jumps, great to watch, but he bounces off Portillo who is trying to pin him. But it would be over a little too soon. It’s damn quiet from the yellow corner for a short time – a fan faction that LAWE almost overwhelms. Unidad de Inteligencia Ruda, who soon establish the battle cry “Sin Piedad” – without mercy – and have become an integral part of the spectator blocks. But then it starts again, “Oh Pedro Portillo”, he owns the hearts of the audience, their support and if we are quite honest: he deserves it. Again and again he tries to keep an opponent on the mat for three seconds. It doesn’t work, then Rivera throws the brass knuckles at him. It’s become a trademark but doesn’t do much good for now as Samuray del Sol lunges at Portillo and has a very good chance of winning. Rivera pulls the ref out of the ring by one leg, it just can’t end like this. As the argument raged around the ring, Portillo sensed his chance for a pin, knocking Calderon out of the ring and defeating Samuray del Sol. Uh what? This is the rewind moment. What just happened? And why is this already over? Somehow it all went a bit too fast and too easy, which is a shame, but Portillo is the new LAWE Heavyweight Champion and is being loudly celebrated and visibly moved. He deserves it. That win at Summerfest is what he’s been working toward. Felicidades, Pedro!
It continues with a ladder match. I love ladder matches. Sexxy Classics enter the ring, let themselves be celebrated, then Cuervo & Riviero appear. Yes, as an opponent I would have respect for both of them. Rivera is back too, goodness gracious, he’s everywhere too. The only thing I notice is that the parts of CPR that are present charge at the opponents and beat them up, then go out of the ring and dig up chairs and ladders. We’ll do this quick, ladder in ring, belt picked, done. or? Sexxy Classics are against it. While Cuervo works on Jexxx, Melies Riviero has to face him in the ring, but does a better job there. But that is only for a very short time. The raven takes care of that. The first ladder is set up, Riviero should have practiced it beforehand, it seems. At some point she stands, he climbs up, grabs his belt, Jexxx is there, they fight on the steps, then there is a power bomb from the ladder to the ring floor. That’s why we’re taking a look! Trying again to get the belts, this time Melies interrupts and takes him down with a suplex who ends up standing up to Cuervo and conceding defeat to Cuervo, but Jexxx is immediately up the ladder and bashing Cuervo. It has to be said that this one is clearly handicapped by the breaks, but it still puts on a good show. Nevertheless, the viewer – or just me – remains a bit worried and afraid as to whether he can survive, whether everything will go well. Wrestlers who fight injured always give me a gut feeling that something is going to happen, a little oversight that just makes things worse. Remember, these are people standing there, and no matter how much you train, everyone is vulnerable, and for a professional athlete, one wrong step, one wrong landing can end their career. Yes, one can say with a smile: Not even a concrete block stopped the raven, thank the gods, and yet: Every time in the ring there is a certain danger and being injured in the ring increases the risk. Cuervo and many others show that the wrestlers often don’t seem to care. What I find a bit amazing: The referee holds the ladder. You don’t know that from everywhere and shows a certain security aspect. Cuervo is angry, he finally puts the ladder away and takes on Jexxx, Melies wants to intervene, but that is not allowed. The fighters are a bit exhausted, the match is tough, but the audience gets something. It looks like the Sexxy Classics will prevail and win the match. The ladders are set up, both of them climb the few steps up, grab their belts, after victory. At the last moment, CPR save their chance. In the next moment they are the ones who reach for the belts and also hold them in their hands. While the two still can’t seem to grasp their luck, Rivera storms into the ring and celebrates. The order is established. CPR have the titles. A new era is dawning.
We are waiting for the final match, the battle of battles. The Combat Pit was announced very mysteriously, only a few days before it was announced at the press conference what the viewers can expect. And we had no idea, no idea what we were actually going to see. Two great fighters, both have a score to settle. Hardly anyone would have guessed that history would be made here when Mike Mendoza took on La Pesadilla. The image comes to mind of an angry, distraught Mendoza yelling at the camera, “Tu, Orlando Colon, tu, la Pesadilla vs. Mike Mendoza.” It’s a fight excited and anxious beforehand and reverently talked about afterward.
Before the combat pit is shown, a prominent warning appears not to show the following scenes to children and people who are… well, shall we say, reasonably sensitive to violence and gore. I’ll honestly admit that I was nervous beforehand and sitting in Germany and not hearing anything about the Summerfest was hell. The start of the fight was delayed by a storm, but I didn’t know anything about that. I just checked my phone every few minutes to get some info. Honestly, things could have turned out very differently and I was afraid of how badly one of them would get hurt. So now I can see the fight less than a month after Summerfest. The possibility was there before, but I only watched excerpts, not because I couldn’t see blood or anything, but out of sheer awe and great respect. I know the photos of a bleeding Mendoza afterwards and of a marked colon, I know how the injuries came about and this spirit of this combat pit was also noticeable 7,000 km away through the social media – and whatever it really looked like in Mendoza afterwards , he seemed sleepless, exhilarated, as if he wanted to express something that was raging inside him that he could not put into words. Colon, on the other hand, went into hiding, said nothing, only let it be known briefly: I’m doing according to the circumstances, thanks for asking. But let’s finally get to the fight. Five stations a five minutes. No stop, all stations have to be fought through. La Pesadilla performs, it is the middle of the night, the audience has significantly reduced, the aftermath of the storm can be seen, there is water everywhere. Since he appears with a mask, one wonders if Orlando Colon is really going to compete. Enter Mike Mendoza. On the way to the ring you get the impression that he is concentrating again and chanting a mantra, whether he is praying or thinking about his family, who knows. He seems oddly tense, focused, nervous all rolled into one; does he at some point during this battle wonder why he’s doing this to himself, is there a second where he feels something like regret for going through with it? Mendoza knows what tonight can mean – and he has to do this. He knows the risk and this is the fight against himself, the fight of his career so far. This is what he was working towards without knowing it. Stage 1 – Dog Collar Match. Collars are put on the opponents, connected by a chain. It starts. Mendoza immediately attacks aggressively, looks like he wants to get it over with quickly before all five stops are up. But then he wants to get on the ring ropes and is thrown by Pesadilla with a strong pull on the chain in the middle of the ring. The Nightmare lashes out at him, inflicting a bleeding head wound on Mendoza. The scene disappointed me at first, but then I realized it doesn’t matter – why the disappointment? Only true wrestling fans understand that and after hurling my opinions at Mendoza publicly on Instagram and a bit of time has passed I’ve realized that it bothers me, that it’s my dislike thing, but part of it is, belongs to it and at this point there was something that somehow had to be there for this fight, even if you realize later that maybe it didn’t have to be. If you want to know what bothered me, you have to either watch the scene yourself or ask via PM. So Mendoza is bleeding from a head wound. The blood runs down his face, giving him a martial appearance. Continuing outside the ring, he dodges a hit with the chain, lunges at Pesadilla, pushes him back into the ring. The latter drops out and pulls Mendoza down by the collar over the top rope. A choking effect develops, Mendoza hangs dazed on the ropes at some point. The head wound seems to bother him a bit. But anger always comes through. And suddenly we’re counting from 10 to 0 again, the first five minutes are over, street fighting is the order of the day. Both of them are still connected to their collars, covered in blood, the mask is torn, Colon is really underneath. He grabs a chair, hits Mendoza, screams can be heard, nothing fake here. Again, El Escorpion dodges and fights back. The collars have meanwhile been hastily removed. It goes out, away from the ring, through the rows of the Anfiteatro, onto the concrete stairs, through the audience. There’s a suplex on Colon that goes a bit wrong in my mind because it looks like it’s going to land on the ledge, which was certainly not intended. The two are now dripping wet because they are rolling in a puddle of water left over from the storm. Next, up the steps, beatings, Colon takes off his mask completely, they fight like they used to do on the street. There is a referee, but what is he supposed to do? He has no task, there is nothing forbidden, only possible pin attempts and none of the opponents allow that. Both are on the ground, gasping for air, Colon is able to get up sooner. He also has a gaping wound on his head. Further steps up, then the two destroy the side wall of a mobile toilet. It’s going down. Kicks in the head, falls over the handrails. Mendoza is staggering, he seems weak, is the loss of blood also noticeable alongside the physical exertion? Then there’s a kick in the balls, I still hope it’s a bit fake, I don’t really care about Mendoza’s family planning, but that kind of thing hurts – watching it. It’s on to the ring, a chair is thrown, Colon on the floor, isn’t the five minutes over yet? Both are visibly battered, this is not a normal match, you sometimes hit your opponent with an umbrella. I can think of thousands of literary comparisons for the match as a whole and individual scenes. At some point it’s almost biblical and you’re waiting for a Simon of Cyrene (just look for him in the New Testament 😉 ) Less than ten minutes have passed and I sincerely wish that Mendoza will stop. He’s dishing out, yes, but he’s taking so much more and there’s another 15 minutes to come, at least. What the hell is he doing here? A kick in the face. He’s lying on the steps, crawling away, his face a bloodstained grimace. He is then put on a chair, but when Colon comes running, the younger one jumps up and throws a kick. Both take turns on the chair, each receiving sidekicks, when both are lying exhausted on the floor, pesadilla calls begin. Finally the ten appears, but Mike takes another hit with a metal lid.
A few things stand out. It’s the first match in which Mendoza hasn’t constantly adjusted the seat of his pants or ruffled his hair. He also looks even more muscular, like he’d been living in his studio the weeks leading up to this night and gained a few more pounds of muscle mass. The back and upper arms look even stronger, more defined. And Colon? I’ve never felt like I’ve seen him like this before. In his time in WWE, they were just better matches, family-friendly. Still, he seems a little out of shape, a little exhausted quicker, he’s older too, yes. And it is by no means the case that he is the victim who only takes it, quite the opposite.
Barbwire Match, barbed wire. Anyone who has been able to endure blood so far has to ask themselves right now: If barbed wire is stretched around a ring, logically someone will end up in it. Can one see, can one endure, that this wire gets stuck in the skin, tearing it open? You can’t sugarcoat it, but you have to be able to watch it or just skip a few minutes, so basically everything to the end. While the two were beating their way through the audience, barbed wire was laid around the top and middle ropes around the ring. Colon laughingly shows his opponent the way to the ring. We have to go in there. He’s first in the ring, Mike takes his time, rolls in, struggles to get up. Then he clenches his fists, yells, a declaration of war and yet it seems as if he sometimes has difficulty standing on his feet. But now the Mike Mendoza calls (finally) begin and the two fan camps roar at each other. It’s not that El Escorpion isn’t liked, but as I learned a few days ago, he’s – shall we call it – controversial for a variety of reasons. There seem to be more pesadilla fans in attendance this evening and yet the mood changes during the match as you absolutely appreciate what a Mike Mendoza is showing here, how much he takes and how he pushes his limits. The opponents stand forehead to forehead, hitting each other, Mendoza goes on his knees. Nobody wants to end up in the barbed wire, Mike can finally defend himself with all his might, throw Colon to the ground and attempt the first pin. We all know we’re going to see everything and no one is guaranteed to get pinned before then. Colon is thrown against the wire first, the audience screams, and then again. A boy, maybe eight, nine, ten years old stands in the front row in the audience and cheers on Mike, keeps shouting his name – one can only hope that the two kids from Mendoza are not there and don’t see it and the little one isn’t his son – but he probably wouldn’t call Mike either. A piece of barbed wire is in the ring, Mike grabs it, puts it on Colon’s head and pulls. You know this scene very well from another match from long gone Puerto Rican days. Was a Colon too… But then Colon gets up again, throws Mike against the barbed wire, pushes him against it. Mike is trapped between barbed wire and ring ropes, wants to avoid being hit with the piece of wire just mentioned, lets himself fall and drives the sharp spikes into his back. Colon notices this and lets go of him immediately, because despite everything, both are so much professionals that they care about the safety of the other and don’t want to provoke serious injuries with worse consequences. It may sound strange, but even death matches have rules – at least most of the time. Mendoza tries to pull the barbed wire out of his skin, he’s stuck deep, he can’t manage it, asks for help, which he gets. You cut the wire, a piece gets stuck in your arm. It must hurt like hell and Mendoza needs to know at that moment what it means when he lands on that arm and that spot. Yeah damn it’s totally insane and inhuman and insane and anyone can say these two are nuts and Mendoza is totally stupid for doing this, for continuing, but this is his life. It’s the match of his life, it’s the risk he’s willing to take. Giving up is not an option, probably not even the thought of it. I guess the adrenaline is boiling in his body, his thoughts may be racing through his head at an unimaginable speed, somewhere he will feel pain, but it will push him up and spur him on even more, it has to go on for it to end, he has to go on, he didn’t waited his life for this match without knowing it and then gave it up. His blood paints wild scenes on the ring floor, the barbed wire in his skin and the head wound, the blood loss will cause some numbness, numbness and limitation, but it will all be crushed by the adrenaline. He tries to pin Colon again, runs to new form, Colon spins out, Mendoza goes for the next pin. CPR rush in in the background, now it’s getting wild. Mendoza jumps onto the three via the top ring rope. You can hear him scream. I don’t ever want to hear Mike Mendoza scream again, please. Somehow the clock in the background is counting the seconds, Stage 4, Super Libre, La Anexion rush to the ring, a lot is happening. Everyone is beating everyone else, giving the two main combatants a short breather. A table is pushed into the ring. What’s next, what is Super Libre anyway and… El Vikingo is here? Wrestling legend and grandfather of Mendoza. The anexion in the ring can be celebrated, tacks are distributed on the table, CPR is tied with cable ties outside the ring – it’s Humacao’s revenge. The grandfather proudly hugs the grandson, whose legs are shaking. It’s too much, please stop! A liquid is spilled on the table, Fashion and Davidson grab Colon in the middle, El Vikingo sets the table on fire. Mendoza throws the nightmare through the burning table, backing away from the flames. Colon rolls out through the ring on the floor to put out the flames on his skin, crawls back, Mendoza tries to pin him, no chance. It’s enough, the two obviously have enough. Once again El Escorpion rises above La Pesadilla, barely standing, the last bit of strength, Go to Sleep, the finisher, 1 – 2 – 3. Mendoza won, faced the nightmare, leans on his teammates. Totally exhausted, barely able to stand or lift your head. It is a picture for eternity, covered in blood, he stretches his hand upwards. He gestures thanks to – the universe?
Mike Mendoza made himself immortal with this fight. He had to do this for what he loves, for wrestling, for Puerto Rico, but most of all for himself. What this fight meant to him, only he knows. A legend was born that night and it doesn’t matter , whether you like him or not, you have to look at this fighter with the utmost respect and admiration. In the end, Summerfest was all about that because this combat pit had it all: the hard work for wrestling, the love that you have to have fighting in your blood and a willingness to take any risk and push yourself. After that, little was heard about and from Colon, who suffered bad burns on his back. But that was also due to the fact that he appeared there as a faceless nightmare. Nevertheless, he deserves the greatest respect.
But in the end there is only one thing left to say: You gave the world a match for eternity, you showed that you are a wrestler and not an actor, that wrestling is your life, that you are wrestling, and you have made yourself immortal. Gracias Mike – and please don’t ever do that again!
What remains of the summer festival? Thousands of great moments and unforgettable memories. New friendships, lots of photos, countless smiles. There was more, including the women’s matches of course, but these are not included in the full show recording, but were available later. It would all have gone so far beyond the scope. A day on which wrestling was celebrated and for which we fans cannot thank you enough: Thanks to LAWE, to all the numerous employees in the background, to the luchadores – and a call to you out there: Get involved and tries to understand that wrestling is so much more. Hard work, a lot of deprivation, a constant risk, a dream, an attitude to life – and above all a solid community, something real that connects, a big family. It doesn’t matter whether you’re already a wrestling lover or not, just click into the LAWE. You will see familiar faces and get to know many new, great fighters, you will feel a very specific spirit, a spirit of optimism. It’s wrestling, devoid of glitz, glamor and acting – but with pure passion.
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