Welcome to the legacy of Ralph Imabayashi. After surpassing the 281-day record held by former PHX Champion Main Maxx, the current PWR Champion is now the longest reigning champion in the history of Philippine wrestling.
2018 has been all about the dominance of Imabayashi. His historic title reign began in January at PWR LIVE: Kingdom Come when he defeated Chris Panzer. As we moved forward in the year, we witnessed how he emerged victorious against marquee contenders, both old and new—Bombay Suarez, Ruthless Miguel Rosales, Koto Hiro, and Quatro, to name a few.
*WATCH: Ralph Imabayashi defeats Chris Panzer to win the PWR Championship*
He is a two-time PWR Champion; the youngest, too. He also holds the record for the most PWR title defenses. It seems that for Imabayashi, being champion isn’t about putting your name on a belt, but turning your name into a legacy.
We spoke to the Kampeon ng Pilipinas himself to get his thoughts.
PWR CENTRAL: You’re the longest reigning champion in Philippine wrestling—literally making you the Kampeon ng Pilipinas. You’re also the youngest person to ever become PWR Champion. How does it feel to own that legacy?
Because the wrestling scene here is young, people place a lot of value on being “the first.” I believe this is arbitrary. There are so many “firsts” in Philippine wrestling that have been forgotten or stained, but my championship reign is something I built to stand the test of time. I may not be the first nor will I be the last. But I will be known as the best PWR Champion of all time.
And as you said, I am also the youngest. I could go on forever. My image will forever burn in your minds.
PWR CENTRAL: You call yourself the Best Pure Wrestler. What does that mean and how has that helped you stay champion?
I am your favorite wrestler’s favorite wrestler. Everything I do in the ring is perfect. I have no secrets as to why I am such a great champion. I’m simply good at wrestling, and people hate me for it.
*WATCH: Ralph Imabayashi’s highlights from 2017 to early 2018*
PWR CENTRAL: Over the course of your reign, was there ever a match where you felt like you were close to losing your title?
FUAHAHAHA, no. Unless you consider the Light—no, still no, never.
PWR CENTRAL: Who would you say was your greatest opponent?
The results were all the same. Does it truly matter who was great or not?
*FULL MATCH: Imabayashi extinguishes PWR’s Lightbringer, Quatro, at PWR Live: Homefront*
PWR CENTRAL: They say it’s lonely at the top, but do you think having a friend and partner—Rederick “Mainstream” Mahaba—in your corner became a big factor in being able to stay champion for as long as you have?
He’s supposed to be out there to make sure my matches are fair. I have a long history of being screwed over. But you know what the ironic part is? Mahaba is the one screwing me over nowadays. The pan shot in my match against Koto Hiro at Way of the Champion. Getting in the way of a Sonic Crusher during the Main Maxx match at Renaissance. Not to mention the huge blunders in my last two matches. I’m starting to have second thoughts about this partnership.
PWR CENTRAL: In the upcoming 4-Way PWR Championship match at Vendetta, who do you think is the biggest threat among your opponents: Mike Madrigal, Vlad Sinnsyk, or Rederick Mahaba?
I remember being decimated by Vlad back at Shawdown 2016. I want payback for that. It set me back years before I got back to the title picture because of that match. I know nothing about this guy other than being insane. So I’m going with him.
PWR CENTRAL: You already faced Mike Madrigal last month at PWR LIVE: Shake, Rassle & Roll, and you still came out as champion. What can you say about that match and are you prepared to face Madrigal’s hunger for revenge?
Make no mistake, that match was gonna go my way. He should feel lucky that Mahaba screwed things up. He’s pissed? When has that mattered to me? I’ve had pissed opponents in the past and I’ve beaten them decisively. What annoys me is the crowd support he’s getting. Is this how much you all hate me? Cheering for some kupal is the strangest thing I’ve seen.
*WATCH: The PWR Championship match at PWR LIVE: Shake, Rassle & Roll ends in turmoil*
PWR CENTRAL: How does one prepare for the madness of Sinnsyk?
My submissions are the chains that will tame the beast.
PWR CENTRAL: You put Mahaba in the match so that he could help you win. Aren’t you worried that he might turn on you? It is, after all, the PWR Championship in question. How much do you trust him to help you retain your title?
If Mahaba betrays me, then he has to deal with me. I know he’s a smart guy, and that’s the last thing he would want for his career.
PWR CENTRAL: What are you willing to do to finish strong and make 2018 the year of Ralph Imabayashi?
My heart and my soul are stained now. There’s nothing left for me if I stop being a champion now. I need this victory more than anything in the world… even if it means rejecting the one human connection I have left.
Will Ralph Imabayashi be able to defend the legacy of his reign? Witness the longest reigning champion in Philippine wrestling square off against Mike Madrigal, Vlad Sinnsyk, and Rederick “Mainstream” Mahaba in a 4 Way championship match at PWR Vendetta 2018 on November 25, 2PM at the Power Mac Center Spotlight. See full card and ticket offers here.
Article by Pat Amihan
Photos by Hub Pacheco