2023 – and EPW pick up where they left off. After the difficulties of recent years due to Corona, the dojo and with it its students can take off completely. You always expect bigger things and you won’t be disappointed. Monthly events with stars outside of EPW, a new highlight every month  that attracts more and more wrestling enthusiasts and attracts them to the small Espiritu Fitness Center, which is soon bursting at the seams. What was once designed to give the next generation a stage and introduce them has now become a safe bank for a successful wrestling evening. Full of surprises, thoughtful storylines, full of development and enjoying more and more attention. So it is no wonder that more and more reports are piling up as to which of the students have signed a contract with a league. After LAWE had a big goal and unfortunately failed quite miserably, EPW  moved up quietly and without megalomania. It remains to be seen how long EPW will hold its events in the fitness center and whether we can expect a bigger event this year. But now to the first event in 2023.  New reality was the name of the  game on January 15 in San Juan and  it was a bit of a preview of the year of EPW, because it was already clear last year that a lot would change. CEO Mike Mendoza had  announced the cooperation with CCW, in numerous interviews – since this year there is felt every week a new one with him, in which he talks about the various doctorates, the next generation and last but not least his own big goals – he makes it clear that the turnaround is here.  Mendoza has become something of a  voice and manager of Puerto Rican wrestling, an Elon Musk of lucha  libre profesional puertorriqueña with vision, ambition and the power to achieve these goals.

New Reality  begins at IWTV with a new intro. Gone are the days when the sensei itself was shown, still appearing in old premises in front of the hand-painted EPW logo. Instead, scenes from the upcoming match are now shown to “Cruel  Anger” by Luigi Seviroli . Old rivals face each other in a 6 mixed tag team match. On one side Nathalya  Perez, Hijo  del Enigma and   El Gentil, on the other side Nahir  Robles, Eros and Adam Riggs   . We have known for some time that there are no ring friends facing each other – and what  is going on between Eros and Hijo  del Enigma,   you could also read on  the social  media channels  last year, the two have become very personal at some point. But now in the ring, the most reasonable seem  to be Robles   and El Gentil, she still with the newbie stamp on her forehead, he as something like a gray eminence, you have respect for him – and let’s forget that he was unmasked at the last event. By the way, we also ignore it, it doesn’t quite fit into the storyline of EPW, who has hidden under the mask – and that’s exactly something you still don’t want to understand. Spoiler: Just one month later, Chris  Mendoza, brother of Mike Mendoza, makes his ring debut at the WWC, wearing El   Gentil’s ring gear. While everyone is now waiting for there to be a Brothers Tag Team, after all, Mike  has not ruled out a return to WWC in just the same week as the debut, and / or a pure brother rivalry, EPW  is still silent about this now official reveal. And as much as  we appreciate Chris Mendoza, we don’t want to miss   El Gentil, the masked, gentle gentleman. He now also starts, faces Adam Riggs  and immediately shows dominance. The two play together, contributing to the amusement of the audience. Riggs finds it less funny, but has to submit to the blue-yellow opponent once again – and he seems to have no opponent, but a match ball. We quickly see the first pin attempt, but Jordy as a referee doesn’t get far with the counting.  Riggs applauds with Eros, then Hijo  del Enigma  substitutes himself, the audience cheers. Before it can start between the two, Eros   substitutes Nahir   Robles  and Nathalya  Perez has to   go into the ring (I still think this rule  is stupid, but I didn’t do it). The two continue what they started men and we see for the first time a spectacle in the ring. If the fighters usually attack each other quite brutally and show a lot of technology and little theater, this time it is rather played, hinted, the audience amused. Eros substitutes and goes after Perez, who has no chance to clap off, her boyfriend jumps into the ring, but is  held back by Jordy. As Eros continues, El Gentil and  Enigma storm into the ring, Jordy can’t hold them back, Riggs pounces  on the opponents, Enigma falls on Jordy,   that was not planned, then the two opponents go after Perez. Change, Riggs is in the ring and Perez  has no chance. Outside the square it continues, Enigma complains, what’s the point? Then Robles  is substituted, the audience chants her name. She’s a crowd favorite – and that’s a lot of fun. Then another change, Eros goes in and Nathalya  rears up, but that doesn’t last long. One is a bit surprised that Enigma  and El Gentil  do not intervene much more, that there is not much more chaos and they  put  Jordy out of action without further ado. Again, the two men go after Perez. Then it’s enough  for Enigma, he storms off, attacks Riggs, but is whistled back by the referee. A rather strange behavior, why do you allow it to happen? One would expect more anger from the corner, but they are short, tentative attempts. And El Gentil does what he always does: he stands quietly, sublimely, watches, lets things take their course. But the audience is offered a lot, you have to say. Again Perez  fights back and finally manages to clap off.  Enigma  is furious, he is now in the ring with archenemy Eros  and then it gets fast and hard. The Greek god doesn’t have much to oppose and finally happens what we had hoped for: The chaos breaks out a bit. Riggs attacks Enigma  from behind, who fights back, Perez comes to the rescue and carries Riggs out of the ring and with a skillful jump between the chairs. Only Robles and El Gentil stand dutifully at  the edge of the ring, watching the action like indulgent grandparents watching their grandchildren. But then El Gentil  comes on as a substitute, taking on Eros, who has to take quite a lot.  Riggs climbs  back and he works  El Gentil  and even manages a pin attempt . That is enough for Robles, who in turn substitutes and  throws El Gentil  out of the ring. Great action. She lets herself be celebrated, but is attacked from behind by Perez.  Pin attempts  on both sides, Perez looks battered. The gentlemen have had enough and leave the ring to the women. Zack, over. What? But that happened very quickly. Robles is pinned, takes this very much to heart, Eros shows the stretched middle finger and Riggs also looks like a sad clown. Something will follow, that’s for sure.

Next, the deadly duo enters the ring, Fuerza Recia. The concentrated power of Baltazar Bruno and Harry William, which nobody has anything to oppose – and I’m still waiting for Mike Mendoza and Mark Davidson to   compete against them. Her opponents are Niche and Felix Aldea. The fact that Niche is in the  ring had already thrilled the fans in advance. So it is no wonder that he is cheered on. Aldea then has to assert himself against Bruno and is more his toy than a real opponent. But  we don’t want to talk down Aldea, he has driven himself crazy in recent months – not least his very spontaneous use against Lightning at Immortal Lucha Libres Eternal Rivals  last autumn gave him a push. At that time  in LUMA darkness also in the Espiritu Fitness Center. Back in the ring, meanwhile he faces Harry William and can take a lot – you have to be able to do in this sport. However, when the latter gets on the ropes, Aldea jumps  up and is able to bring him down. Both remain lying down, are counted. Niche wants to get into the ring, there is a two-way change.  Niche tries a lot to bring down the giant, but everything seems   to bounce off Bruno until he is given a leg. On his knees he seems to be more vulnerable, but only briefly, then he stands again. The audience cheers, Niche brings Bruno down again, then suddenly all four wrestlers are in the ring.  Aldea takes on William, kicks him out, the jump then fails, that could not have ended so well for the young wrestler. And you also see if he is really well. He stands again, everything fine, well intercepted, breathing a sigh of relief. Aldea storms back into the ring, puts Bruno on the  cross, but the victory is not imminent, because William is back. Niche finally pounces on him  and all four lie on the ground.  Jordy counts the wrestlers, they get up, Bruno gets the top ring rope between his legs, Aldea carries him from  the edge of the ring to the ground. For the second time this evening, the pillar is in the way. He was already a small problem at some other actions and events and you are almost waiting for him to be responsible for a serious injury. Well, you can’t saw it off, it not only provides stability, but also beautiful actions. It gets less nice in the ring, William and Niche, fight each other, the latter flies out, Aldea faces Fuerza Recia alone, rears  up, but then has to admit defeat. A very good fight.

Edrax  and  Xavier Millet now face Macho Navarro and Christian MelendezEdrax spits big sounds from the edge while Millet  takes on Christian and Navarro. The referee is Many, who has little to do at the beginning until it comes to a quick pin attempt. You can see a different level here, a lot of ring experience, the audience is happy, and yet once again I miss a bit of enthusiasm, the fire, the chants, well, just the party. But the fans are there, cheering, reacting to the wrestlers, meanwhile Navarro and Christian  stand alone in the ring, then pounce on the opponents outside.  Christian wants to finish it quickly, but Millet pulls him off the edge of the ring. Whether he really falls on the face or that is just played, is difficult to say, but he looks battered when Edrax now takes him and sends a foul gesture into the corner of the opponent’s ring. Then the discussion when the pin attempt goes wrong. That was 3, no, only 2, says Many. This is followed by some insults from the audience and in its direction. The mood is already heated, it has to be, considering what lies ahead of us. Christian has to take a lot more that evening, including the next pin attempt, which Navarro  interrupts with a blow to the back of Edrax. “Mexico, Mexico” it sounds from the rows of spectators, the sympathies are very clearly distributed, even if the Tequilla seems to have stayed at home today. Fast changes, good moves, a lot of technique and interaction with the spectators. That’s what makes a good match and this is a different league, you have to say honestly. This encounter could also take place in the big ring in front of a considerably larger audience. The forces seem to be fairly evenly distributed, you can’t predict who will win. When he  tries to bring down Millet with a close line, Navarro meets Many, who falls to the ground and remains lying down. The fighters don’t pay any attention to it, Navarro jumps off the rope, pins Millet, that must have been it, the audience counts to ten, but Many remains lying down. When Navarro finally pulls him up and wants to attach a new pin, the disqualification follows – and the discussion.  Navarro again goes after Many, who rolls out of the ring battered. Party at the fitness center.

The former champion Manu now meets Alfredo Melies. This will also be a high-class fight, you can be sure of that. Who will win is completely open. The concentrated superiority and anger of  a Manu can also quickly turn into arming himself with a kendo stick. Gentlemanly, however, Melies first holds out her hand to him, which Manu eys skeptically. The mood in the dojo is good, many heckling, it is still a bit unclear whose side the spectators are on. Both are popular, good wrestlers as well. Manu leaves the ring, draws strength, takes a deep breath, seems to be coming up with a new strategy. He comes back and finds out once again that his opponent is anything but easy to defeat. Hard, loudly clapping blows to the chest of both. The fight is briefly fought in the corners. There  is not much to see of Manu’s other superiority. The two will have to fight tired and then hope for a little luck, who can scrape together all the strength again. This is a real main event that we see here. After a Frog Splash it looks like victory for Melies, but Manu pulls his shoulder up at the last moment. Both remain lying down, Many counts the fighters. Visibly battered, it continues. Another pin attempt by Melies. That has to work. You wish for such fights more often in the dojo, you finally want to  see again with Mendoza, but that’s a well-known problem. Now Manu tries to put an end to the whole thing, but he also fails. Two top wrestlers collide,  power, technique, everything fits. The audience is hard to hold, Melies neither.  Manu just can’t beat him. Another attempt, then Melies tries to force his opponent to surrender. Not a chance. It is getting more and more exciting, the powers of the two wrestlers are dwindling noticeably. A huge match that is offered here. In the end, however, it is Manu who takes the victory and then makes it clear that he wants to return to the top of EPW. But something is still happening, isn’t it? Manu shakes hands with his opponent, a declaration of war.  Melies stays behind and reaches for the microphone – and announces his farewell. The audience shouts “No!”, but no one can stop him. There’s a life besides wrestling that pays the bills. And we lose a great wrestler to everyday life. Gracias Alfredo! We will miss you and your struggles.

Last but not least, the title fight. Teacher vs. Student, Scorpio vs. Dragon, Mike Mendoza  vs. Androide787. It’s a battle that not only Androide787  has been longing for, but also many fans.  Mendoza pulls off his show. Pretends to be a great wrestler, the obligatory handshake at the beginning. He thinks he has it easy, after all, Androide  was one of his first students who learned everything from him. But Androide has grown out of its infancy. A bit of wrestling, then Mendoza  is once again exposed to the ridicule of his audience. His fights in his house are now all the same. The choreography of the fights, the interjections, his facial expressions, gestures, the sequence. Mendoza turns himself into a puppet, dwarfing his talent and skills. He lets himself be demonstrated, and even if one could always say that it was not about him, but about the students of his dojo, it is sometimes downright sad that you only see an emaciated version of him. Where is the former champion, the hope of wrestling, where is the GOAT, who fought an unforgettable fight at LAWE Summerfest  against La Pesadilla, who dared to   take a daring jump  from the gallery at Cima  de Campeones ? Does Mendoza  still want to be in the ring or is the fighter in him dying and the manager gaining the upper hand? Again, a small spoiler: At the end of February he was seen fighting alongside Angel Fashion  at UCP and this reinforced the impression that he doesn’t really want to be there anymore. Not a wrestler, rather a wrestler (there is a difference here), an annoying appointment that he has to complete. The fire known from this fighter has been extinguished. Whatever may be going on inside him, it is very sad as a spectator. In the title fight at EPW you can see a lot of fun with him for a short time. He has an opponent and Android seems to have prepared himself very well. Even if he is hanging in the ropes in the meantime  and sees himself exposed to Mendoza’s ridicule – which really shows this dominance again, this arrogance, which you have seen again and again and which heat up the mood properly. When Androide pushes  him into a corner, he lets it happen, but then he pounces on the younger, wrestles him to the ground and scolds the audience. But now calm, the hard, loud blows to the chest echo through the fitness center. That really hurts. Mendoza makes it twice, then Androide  gets up and fights back. But only briefly. Mendoza plays with him, kicks, punches, jumps, the choreography, Mendoza dances  on the edge of the ring, his legs are pulled away, he bangs on it, stays kneeling on the ground for a long time. Suddenly something happens, suddenly it looks more like fighting, more like technique, more like action, more like showdowns. Until Mendoza continues to play, includes the support pillar  and finally hits Androide against the edge of the ring and immediately afterwards   . The old arrogance is there, the superiority. It goes between the chairs. Mendoza is sure of victory and Androide seems to have nothing to oppose. But then he can pick himself up and both beat each other loudly against the chest. Back in the ring. It really looks like El Escorpion could   win the match. But will Androide let his hard-won title be snatched away so easily? The audience cheers him on loudly and that gives him new strength. Mendoza wants to force him to surrender. With the help of Jordy, Androide can   grab the rope, but his opponent does not let up. They rap themselves up, Mendoza tries the pin, no. Again he talks to the audience. It’s time to come to the end, there is hardly any reaction, you notice it. To be honest, it’s an undignified title fight, so we have Manu vs.  Melies  get to see a lot more and much better wrestling. Back in the corner of the ring, again blows to the chest, Mendoza is the greatest, it’s his house, he’s the true champion. Honestly, do you need this? More show than wrestling? More babble than fight? Then the announcement: Only five minutes of fighting time. That’s something new. Android rears up, the audience shouts: You are champion. And as if the announcement had flipped a switch on the two, we briefly see something like a good fight. Mendoza flees the ring again. We’ve had it all before. Four minutes. Pin attempt, but Mendoza manages to free herself. For whatever reason, he now looks battered, of what? Ey, your motto was: “No  actors, wrestlers!” – please show us that again! More and more often you can see that he breaks off pins. Now again. Finally something happens. Three minutes. Some kicks hit android, then he drives his teacher into the ropes. But Mendoza picks himself up, it looks like his finisher , android can defend himself. He wrestles Mendoza down, grabs his arm, hopes for the enemy to surrender. Two minutes to go. As always, Mendoza  tries to reach the rope with his foot. Both remain lying down, are counted. They pull themselves together, beat each other. Two tired fighters, one more minute, android breaks off a pin attempt , I don’t  feel like accepting and glossing over that anymore. But at least the rest of the spectacle has stopped. Ten seconds that the audience counts down. The bell. Both remain lying down. Androide787  remains champion. After an almost undignified choreography. Disappointing, of both. What were you thinking? Mendoza whispers  something to Jordy, who then  goes to Androide  and whispers with him. There is also the usual chatter. You are good, thank you, and yes, there is finally the old El Escorpion! An attack follows and android remains dazed on the ground. A rather conciliatory end to a disappointing fight – and the prospect of revenge in February.

Nobody likes criticism, especially not EPW, I know that. But criticism is the only way to grow. If you just cheer everything because half-naked men are sweating, you don’t need a review – but neither do the fights. I am aware that there is a lot behind this, including Mendoza’s heavily criticized behavior. The changes, the efforts, the developments are clear and really fun. And even if I wish for a really great, thrilling, passionate match from GOAT, New Reality was a great start to the new EPW year.

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