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At the Urban Life Expo in San Juan (Puerto Rico) not only exhibitors manufacturers of sportswear, accessories, fitness centers, clubs and schools, there were also live performances – and since the organizers  and Espiritu Pro Wrestling Dojo know each other well, it was natural that they wanted to sell more tickets and draw attention to the dojo and the work. At the same time, it was the conclusion of an exciting year of wrestling, for the dojo, which continues to evolve and become bigger, better known and more important and now finally has more opportunities as Corona is overcome; but also for the wrestlers themselves, who personally broke new ground this year, won thrones and won titles. The Spot Fest had “only” three fights, but due to the circumstances no hour-long, detailed event was possible. But these encounters had it all, not least because Pedro Portillo III was called on the scene, who had made a deserved career boost in 2022.

In the large hall, basketball is played next to the ring, visitors run back and forth, come and go, take a quick look at the ring, linger out of fascination or – it has to be said – pure carnal lust with so much naked, well-toned skin. The first are Reckless Harry William and El Gentil. The former always seems angry and mutating into a hulk in the ring, the latter like a gray eminence, radiating something venerable. The preliminary banter is missing, you have no time, apparently everything has to be ready in 30 minutes. Therefore, it is not surprising that the two immediately aggressively attack each other. But it’s not pointless wrestling and fighting, you see traditional moves, as if you want to show the audience every possible, artful, hard-trained move. Gian Carlos is the referee, apparently just an extra in a play. Well, back into the ring, El Gentil is standing outside the ropes, both look battered after only two minutes. When he wants to get back into the ring, William  steps on the rope, men can feel the pain very well. This brings down the black and yellow wrestler and ends his superiority in the ring, William continues, punches, he concentrates very much on the head. Too bad: This time you don’t hear the clapping of the palm on the chest, nothing is lived out, who sees this fight as the first wrestling match of his life, is strengthened in the assumption that wrestling is a show. And that’s wrong. This is the disadvantage if you are insanely pressed for time and the main fight should take up most of the time. The two wrestlers show a lot, neither seems particularly satisfied, like a sword of Damocles an invisible clock hovers above them. El Gentil rears up, but cannot defend himself against the overpowering opponent. Nice action: William holds it upside down in the air for a long time, demonstrates strength, you expect another squat, but it doesn’t happen.  El Gentil seems like a small, stupid, inexperienced student, not the fighter you know. Once again they attack each other, close line, a punch, screams, a jump from the rope. The pin attempt fails, the second as well. In the recording this time the commentary is missing, which is really not worth the event, but special scenes are repeated in the replay. When El Gentil sits on the top rope in one of the ring corners, his mask slips, he can barely hold it, but then it  is torn down by William, the fight is over. A mediocre showdown that doesn’t appreciate such a scene. They unmasked El Gentil – no outcry from the fans, no show, nothing. “Give the mask back,” the referee demands, bending over the fighter lying on the ground, covering his face with his hands. We knew who was hiding underneath, but in the end we are all wrestling fans who know about the brutal importance of unmasking – and that is taken away from us. For me the absolutely wrong time for this scene, it should have been celebrated at home, where something like this is also appreciated. A limping storyline, a missed opportunity, and frankly, if  you didn’t know EPW, you’d condemn it as a bad amateur performance.

Next up is a 6 person tag team match. Old rivalries. Nathalya Perez, Hijo del Enigma, Alfredo Melies against Edrax, Adam Riggs and Felix Aldea. It seems chaotic how everyone collides. You don’t really understand who came on as a substitute and who didn’t, but at least Nathalya Perez can  show that wrestling is also a women’s sport that goes further than throwing out sharp screams with skimpy outfits, exaggerated make-up and being careful not to break off a nail.  Hijo del Enigma takes on two opponents, Perez has disappeared and Melies works on Edrax outside the ring  – or is being processed by him. Then the couple goes together in the ring on Riggs and Aldea, it  follows a jump outside, you want to offer something, but does it work? It is almost undignified, a few spectators film and shout the names of their favorites, others throw furtively amused glances at the spectacle. The kids like what they see. But what do they actually see? Pin attempts by Perez, she fights against Riggs, who doesn’t seem to have much to oppose her. It is her appearance until Edrax storms into the ring and grabs her by the hair. Of course, Enigma doesn’t allow that and we see some really nice moves. It’s fast, everyone can run against everyone again, Melies with the obligatory Frog Splash, which ends everything. Nice, but almost undignified.

The clock for the recording shows eight minutes left. Sure, the big entrances of the four stars this afternoon are omitted in the recording. When you see the short excerpts of Portillo and Mendoza  walking to the ring, it seems like an appointment: 4 pm San Juan, 6 pm Hatillo, 8 pm Guyanabo (let’s ignore the feasibility of this) for a few dollars, which the raving female audience throws at their feet or stuffs into the waistband in vain hope of … well, not everyone likes dancing Chippendales, sometimes they have to be sweaty fighters.  After all, Portillo is the one who pulls a bit at the beginning and keeps the audience happy. He  and Mendoza are already the better known and little heroes. The faces stared from posters all over Puerto Rico in the summer when LAWE advertised  Summerfest, Portillo became champion there, Mendoza made himself the immortal GOAT covered in blood. Now they fight in an exhibition hall, in front of more people than the rest, but with shouts, laughter, talk, the squeaking of the basketball players’ shoes, billowing music from the background. These are the fights you start with, as a little wrestling student who dreams of a career in WWE  , of fame, honor and money, and now starts to have one of the first public fights for which there is no money, but with a bit of luck a bit of applause. Then you take off your boots and take the bus to your normal life to your normal work. Does something actually happen in the ring? Yes. Finally, there are  the EPW Champion, the LAWE Champion,  the EPW   Monster and the GOAT and   EPW CEO.  Portillo yells  at Bruno, I wouldn’t do that now, but Portillo is brave, stretches out his hand to him, stretches out his hand to Android, then Bruno again  , who shakes it. Then Mendoza  and Androide787  attack the giant, Portillo flees from the ring. Teachers and students work together quite nicely, but have no chance. Portillo  manages to involve the audience, then he runs around the ring, stands alone with Bruno  in the ring. We see how great Pedro Portillo III  is. He wrestles, shows his moves, communicates with the audience, has an insane facial expression and gesture ready, which tells a little story, a kind of David against Goliath. But then Mendoza   and Androide  get up, who would still make a very good tag team, and I have to honestly say, I feel sorry for them. Don’t get me wrong, this afternoon is right and important and meaningful to  showcase EPW and wrestling in general, I know that. At the same time, however, it seems like the most blatant degradation in history, like the culmination of such a hopeful wrestling year, which tragically sank the devastating consequences of a hurricane and left behind devastation in which everything has to be slowly rebuilt. Portillo messes with Mendoza  and Android,   disappears anxiously from the ring and faces Bruno  , who is working on him. The two remaining see their chance, courageous jumps from the ring follow, Mendoza  manages to put the punch on the chest of the LAWE Champs so loud that you can hear the clapping. Then he becomes a victim of Bruno.  Androide seems to be fearless, beats the giant and brings him down. Back in the ring, Mendoza, who makes it clear that he wants the belt, android who finally gets a slap in the face from his master. It’s nice that the two stand in the ring and present the dojo, equal. Mendoza then shows who he is against all three before Androids takes over again. And again teachers and students are in the ring, pin attempts, Mendoza loses. It’s the best thing we see, these scenes between the two, like a dance that makes you forget even the surroundings for a short time. Subsequently, but no longer seen in the recording, Mendoza challenges Androide787  to a title match in January at EPW  .

The Spot Fest is different and looks like the performance of the local wrestling school in the beer tent before the boxing match. Most do not understand it and are not interested, only one is interesting because it is well-known, the rest is ridiculed, gets pitying applause and everyone looks at the clock when it’s over. But that’s what you have to do, clean doorknobs, show yourself, struggle for attention, introduce yourself. For a fan it is certainly disappointing, important for the dojo and the sport. Not a worthy conclusion to the wrestling year, but a necessary PR appearance.