While fans had to say goodbye to one of their heroes in March by unmasking El Gentil, it was clear shortly afterwards that April wouldn’t get any better. Also at the new event Loser Leaves Town from Espiritu Pro Wrestling Dojo one had to go – and they didn’t want to lose Eros or Hijo del Enigma. Both belong to the dojo and have a large fan base. But there was more on the agenda, EPW had announced the return of Chris Mendoza, who had been under the mask of El Gentil – and everyone was thrilled not to have to lose this great technician. By the way, the fact that it almost looked different could be heard on the La Vuelta podcast in May . There, the mastermind of the dojo announced that WWC wanted to forbid him to continue performing in his own dojo. However, his opponent, Ruben, was very special. The autistic man delivered a ring debut worth seeing. And another special one entered the ring, but only for an announcement: Olympic silver medalist Jaime Espinal will devote himself to wrestling in the future and compete in the dojo. Wow!
However, the evening began with the return of Jayson Caesar, who had to compete against Felix Aldea. The fact that Caesar comes to the dojo was already a highlight, the crowd goes wild and greets him loudly as he grabs the microphone and clarifies that he has been a student of Mike Mendoza. The best lesson was that if he wanted to become a real wrestler, he had to leave Puerto Rico. That’s what he did, and now there’s someone in the ring who has already earned his spurs. By the way, there is another one in the corner of the ring, but he doesn’t fight this evening – and I almost bet he will at some point – but mimics the big announcer. This works out quite well, he has already made a name for himself, not only in the ring, but also outside it. We know him as Cloudy Luis from Instagram respectively. Luis Medina and I still stand by the fact that I would have liked to have told the then face of the Los Muchachos Wrestling group last year what they thought about their behavior at No Actors, Wrestlers. Even though I have become the laughing stock of Los Muchachos Wrestling and Mike Mendoza with my critical words about it, which I don’t really care about, by the way. In any case, he is quite well known and does a lot for and with him as the best buddy of Mendoza. He also cuts a fine figure as a ring announcer, the role of the little ramp pig suits him. But now back to Jayson Caesar and Felix Aldea. Both have a clear goal in mind and the fact that Caesar has more experience is soon no longer apparent. Aldea begs for chops, finally fights back and then has to be transported to the ring floor via side slam. So far, the two are still feeling each other, but at the same time they show that they have one goal – and that is victory. Again, Aldea is almost pinned, he doesn’t really come out of himself yet. Or is Caesar a size too big for him? Aldea would also benefit from an experience abroad, he has developed tremendously over the past year. But on this evening, he doesn’t seem to have anything to oppose. But Caesar also seems to be quite unimaginative at some point. Whatever he tries, he can’t keep his opponent on the mat for three seconds. Finally, the two of them hit each other in the face, which could weaken both of them, but it doesn’t bring the end. The communication between the two during the fight is interesting – and then it happens very quickly and Aldea wins. This comes so abruptly and unexpectedly that you don’t really understand what happened in the first place. What will happen next with Jayson Caesar in the dojo?
Xavier Millet is now up against Terror Nocturno. At his debut, the latter was still unmasked and very grateful to his teacher Mike Mendoza. In the meantime, he is an integral part of EPW’s roster and is there every time. He is not afraid to compete against wrestlers of a different caliber. For Millet, he should be more of a pawn. He works on it with chops and throws it through the ring. That would have to be a quick end and a huge victory for Millet. But it’s not that fast. A pin fails, but Millet slams his opponent onto the mat again, tries a swanton that goes a little wrong. But it’s nice to see something like that. Now it’s Terror Nocturno’s turn, Millet seems to be battered, finally collapses in a ring corner and has to take a Canon ball , but he can’t be pinned after all. Instead, Millet picks himself up again, Choke Slam, that’s it, Terror Nocturno has nothing to oppose. Short and painless, even if in the meantime it looked as if Millet had a dangerous opponent.
Now come the victims, oh, sorry, Mr. All-time angry Adam Riggs and Edrax face Fuerza Recia. Harry William and Baltazar Bruno are virtually unbeatable (I’m still waiting for Mike Mendoza & Mark Davidson against the duo) and now have two experienced fighters who can also achieve a lot through blind rage. William and Edrax had a great feud at IWA Puerto Rico, worth seeing if you want to check it out on YouTube. But here we are in the dojo and that has its own rules. William and Riggs meet, then Edrax and Bruno. I think if the giant stood in front of me and yelled at me, I would die of fear. The man is terrifying – but also very likeable, as you could see recently on the Espiritu podcast. In any case, there is a lot going on in the ring. The match is not fast, but challenging and brutal in a beautiful, bloodless way. Referee Jordy soon has his hands full to at least comply with the rules. But what do you have to oppose Fuerza Recia? Edrax quite a lot, at least a certain stubbornness, because he just can’t be pinned, no matter what the tag team tries. While Edrax is more than battered in the ring, Bruno and William seem totally relaxed, which is apparently not even a training fight for the two of them. And then he pulls himself up, Edrax can apply a few kicks, then both of them lie down. How it happens that Riggs and William are suddenly in the ring is not quite clear to me, the game picks up speed, the ring bell irritates, because it starts ringing in the middle of it, but it goes on. We still see a few nice moves, a suplex that prevents the brief superiority of Edrax and Riggs. But it’s still not enough to end the match. After all, Edrax is the one who has the most strength and now also incapacitates William. That’s it – no. William puts his foot on the rope at the last second. In the meantime, it is no longer known who came on and why, it is like a bloodless slaughter that is being offered, the superiority of Furza Recia is crumbling. It looks like this tag team is now learning to lose, because Bruno has rolled out of the ring, William is just a puppet for the attacks of the two, but then he throws himself aside, Riggs kicks out his own teammate, who briefly falls to the ground and is then overwhelmed by his anger. He interrupts his colleague’s pin himself and then goes off on Riggs before he leaves the ring. Riggs now faces Furza Recia, who have since recovered, alone. Fun Fact: Riggs is pinned, the ring bell remains silent, which also causes a bit of confusion among the audience. Riggs is still lounging a little in the ring, well, you know what’s coming at the next event: Edrax vs. Riggs, of course.
Our great Nathalya Perez has Sabath in tow and competes against the one and only Nahir Robles with Niche. If I had to bet, I would have no idea who to bet on. Both tag teams have great strengths. Nathalya Perez and Niche begin – this was also the originally announced match – and the woman has her opponent under control. He leaves the ring and flees to the bar to escape Perez. Well, then just a change. Although Robles is more than a head shorter, she makes Sabath look quite old. First of all, a fat slap in the face and because it was so beautiful, another one. That’s what girls do. And she, too, plays with her opponent. How good this woman has become in such a short time! Somewhere in the audience someone shouts “Te amo!”, oh, beautiful, only the red roses that are thrown to her are missing. But Sabath sees it a little differently and now begins to fight back, then the change. The two women go at each other, they are not yet in fury mode, but they still don’t give each other anything. Quick change, Niche and Sabath literally collide, but it’s not enough for the pin. To be honest, sometimes I don’t quite get along with these substitutions, it seems like Puerto Rico (not just EPW) has its own substitution rules. For no reason, Perez storms into the ring as Sabath lies battered in the corner. She can’t keep Niche on the ground, tries to kill Robles, has to admit defeat, Sabath pounces on her, Robles fends off, Niche intervenes, rolls out of the ring together with Sabath, the two women want to end the whole thing, Nathalya finally succeeds. Strangely enough, Niche celebrates at the edge of the ring. Then he pounces on Sabath, Perez intervenes, the girls scream, the boys want to fight, the spectators cheer on – oh come on, let’s see that! Without rules, my friends. In the past, El Gentil would have stormed into the ring here in a death-defying manner , but not today. Oh yes, I miss him. Big shouting in the dojo, that was already an idea of how she likes it.
The next match is my highlight of the evening – and that’s not because of Chris Mendoza, but because of his opponent. During Autism Awareness Month, EPW drew attention to autism for various reasons, some of which were very personal. The whole thing was crowned by the following match and simultaneous debut of Ruben, a long-time student of the dojo. Originally, this encounter was probably not planned, because Mendoza was supposed to compete against others. But the fact that the two were then thrown together was very good for several reasons. Mendoza feels comfortable in his house, of course, for the first time without a mask, there is a different way to fight – and he fights differently. Maybe you only understand this as a wrestling fan, but a mask changes a fighter. And Ruben? He mutates into a little ramp pig who visibly enjoys the show – and makes it clear early on in the match: The prejudices against autistic people only exist in the minds of others. Mendoza incites the audience, wants a bit of atmosphere, but it comes automatically. At the beginning it looks as if Mendoza will dominate, but Ruben quickly shows that he is a student of the dojo and has something to oppose. Mendoza is a fantastic technician, but he always ends up on the mat. The audience shouts “Ruben, Ruben” and boos Mendoza as he puts Ruben on the ground. The sympathies are very clearly distributed. The first pin attempt goes wrong, but now Chris seems to have tasted blood. It is not possible that the student in his debut … Yes, it is possible. Because Ruben can free himself again and again, get up again and again and he successfully defends himself. Giving up is something for the others. Headlock? Try it, I’ll get out of there, Ruben seems to say and acknowledges the action with a few well-aimed kicks. The two know each other well from training, the fight is well choreographed so far, if you look closely, you can see how good Mendoza is, because as a good wrestler you sell the actions of the opponent well on the one hand, but on the other hand you are always concerned about the safety of the opponent and not to make him look stupid. Zack, Ruben pins Mendoza. This is so unexpected and yet so insanely wonderful! Many have thought that this will be an easy number and of course the newly unmasked will win, that it will turn out differently – and rightly so! – is therefore all the more beautiful. Ruben tears the mask off his head, walks out of the ring into the raging crowd that celebrates him. But there’s the coach who calls him back into the ring and says, “You graduated today!” You can feel a bit of the insecurity, this subtle otherness that scares off many autistic people so much when Mendoza leaves him alone in the ring and the crowd celebrates him. And yet: This fight has so much significance and is such a good, positive example for the world not to exclude autistic people, but to integrate them, to respond to special needs and to trust them with everything. In an interview later, Ruben says that he would like to fight Mecha Wolf – and we would like to see him with a title. Let’s hope that Loser Leaves Town was a start for Ruben and that we will see him often in the ring, as a likeable wrestler and as an ambassador.
We have a 4-way match before the main event. It’s about who will defend the honor of the dojo against Mecha Wolf and take back the title. El Atleta Manu, Androide787, JC Navarro and the Master himself, El Escorpion Mike Mendoza. Sure, it won’t be the latter, that’s obvious, unfortunately. It starts well, no one gives the other a breather, Manu and Mike go at each other, it seems as if the teacher has little chance – may I criticize him once again? Oh no, we see nice actions from the scorpion, but he goes down once too often and has to take the attacks of the opponents. He has already lost to the two former title holders in this ring, today again? JC Navarro grabs Androide787, while Manu is nowhere to be seen for a while. Jordy is a referee and doesn’t have much to do at first, because the four of them want to weaken each other and not pin in the first place. Of course, the host jumps out of the ring onto the three opponents, that has to be and that is celebrated by the audience. Even his mother is grinning in the background. What is striking is that the support pillar is no longer used at all. But it doesn’t hurt either. The game is fast, there is always someone ready to beat the other and make a move. In the end, it doesn’t matter who you pin, but again, this isn’t about finding a quick end. JC Navarro and Mike Mendoza put the opponents in a Boston Crab, which doesn’t look like it, but can be very painful in the long run. At some point, they stand together and kick the man next to them in the face. Oh, that could be played out very well with a little more time. This match has potential, EPW knows that too. But time is of the essence, you have to come to the end and you notice that. Moves are worked through, then Mendoza is pinned by Manu. Oh, why? So why is it going so fast, why is it Mendoza again who is losing? Because it was foreseeable, but because it’s a shame. Manu once again makes it clear that he has won and is the undisputed champ of the dojo. He’s really granted that because he’s terribly good, but I can’t get over the Mike Mendoza problem. You just want to see him back in his old form and strength – and win, really win.
Last but not least: Loser Leaves Town. A match that we all feared, because we don’t want to say goodbye to Eros or Hijo del Enigma. The feud between the two has been going on for months, but today it is supposed to come to an end. As soon as they leave the improvised backstage area, they attack each other, beat each other, through the audience to the ring. Everything is allowed and the fact that Benji Lopez is back, now as a referee, becomes a side note. Ladders are laid out, chairs are thrown, kendo sticks hit the skin. Enigma looks battered, but he keeps going. The dojo is everything to him, it’s his world, his home, he has the logo tattooed on his thigh. Eros, on the other hand, is a furious fighting machine that blindly attacks the enemy on the left and eventually even tries to tear his mask off his head. Everything is allowed, so it would be this action. But then Enigma rears up, hits the other wildly with the Kendo stick, throws him through the ring. Eros flees into the corner of the ring, that’s good, Enigma thinks and takes a chair to help. After all, both are on the ground, but that’s not the end, no one wants to leave here, no one wants to admit defeat here. We see a brutal match, typically Puerto Rican, albeit still without blood. But brutal, hard, exhausting with a lot of anger and less technique. Enigma attaches a Go To Sleep, that’s it, right? No, Eros pulls his shoulder up at the last moment. So then, I threw a ladder at him, took a chair and choked him with it. The ladder still on his body, Eros lies surrendered in the ring, while Enigma climbs onto the ring rope and jumps on his opponent with a splash. But now … no, there is still no end in sight. Eros doesn’t give up, doesn’t want to admit defeat and Hijo del Enigma needs an idea. What can he do? He pulls something out from under the ring, a bag and everyone knows what’s inside. Thumbtacks. Painful, but fans love this. Now blood will flow, at least a little. But Eros has recovered, gives counters and in turn wants to throw Enigma into the sea of thumbtacks. And he succeeds. His opponent is weakened and Eros is able to win the match shortly afterwards without much effort. The dojo is quiet for a short time. Only the music of Eros sounds, then the audience screams. One is stunned. Enigma asks for the microphone. This wrestler can’t leave the Dojo! He is the Dojo! The Dojo teaches loyalty and therefore he keeps his word and this is his last match. Hijo del Enigma calls Eros a friend that he brought Eros to Espiritu and apologizes to him. Yes, yes, there is a tear – and not because Enigma gets a nice punch in the balls, but because this wrestler will simply be missing.
It is now known that the path of Hijo del Enigma led him to Mexico. He will compete for the World Lucha Libre Championship at IWRG in early June. His path continues, but at some point the dojo has become too small for him. You have to leave Puerto Rico and gain experience in the world, which is also something you learn at EPW. On 24.05.23, the popular fighter was a guest on the Espiritu Podcast and talked about his new path and goals.
What’s next for EPW? The Espiritu Fitness Center is slowly becoming too small. Rows of chairs have already been set up in front of the door, some visitors have to stand. What started as a show for the students has now become a permanent fixture in Puerto Rico and events that people want to see. EPW always has surprise guests up its sleeve and is growing. At the upcoming Wrestling Machina event, Jaime Espinal will step into the ring, along with his longtime friend Mike Mendoza. Opponents of the two will be El Atleta Manu and Chris Mendoza. In addition, Action Jackson was hired for a fight. One turns to Nilmarie Santini, a location that could hardly be more steeped in history and used to regularly host wrestling and wrestling events. Mike Mendoza, meanwhile, was awarded for the fight of the year 2022 – the Combat Pit at LAWE Summerfest. He works tirelessly to make Puerto Rico the wrestling nation it once was, and he succeeds. In his dojo, he trains young people who have the potential to become internationally successful and have even been able to show themselves at WWE Backlash. A small drop of bitterness remained in his speech and after that you have to ask yourself the question: Does Puerto Rico appreciate the sacrifice that Mike Mendoza makes for wrestling and his country?