Okay, this is a long one. If I'm fuzzy on any details, forgive me, it is a LONG day of wrestling.
So after missing chunks of the last SHIMMER taping due to a wedding (I did succeed in catching about ½ the show by going in between the wedding and reception, and coming back after the wedded couple had their first dance and cut their cake), this time my friend Kelly and I settled in for a full taping. SHIMMER was experimenting with a Sunday taping with an earlier start time, which meant a lot of people very thankful for announcer Joey Eastman’s updates on the insanely high-scoring Bears game.
Before the card even started was the awkward moment of running into someone I know, who I had no idea was a wrestling fan. Running into such a person at a wrestling show is kind of like seeing someone you know at a fetish club. You’re both ashamed someone saw you there, but you also know neither of you is going to be running out to share the news with all your friends, which is good. Other than that crowd was the usual mix of wrestling nerds and kids. Funniest running thread throughout the night was the adventures of an independent female wrestler desperately trying to get someone from SHIMMER to talk to her about getting booked. This woman seriously walked around for 6 hours networking with anyone who might have a hope of hooking her up. We decided she might have a better chance if she didn’t have Jewel meets Kirsten Dunst level snaggleteeth.
Before the SHIMMER taping were the SPARKLE matches. Usually those are local men’s wrestlers warming the crowd up briefly, but this time they had women’s SHIMMER tryout matches as well. On the men’s side I will say Egotistico Fantastico, from Mexico City, Berwyn, at an announced weight of 33,333 million pounds was pretty awesome.
In the SPARKLE tryout matches. 1. MELANIE CRUISE defeated CHERRY BOMB. I don’t really remember much of this match. I do remember Melanie Cruise looked decent, bigger girl with a good look. Cherry Bomb seemed to have no clue what she was doing, and seemed kind of bored with the whole thing. The work was incredibly loose and light, a sharp contrast to the upper-card style of SHIMMER.
2. RACHEL SUMMERLYN defeated "Sassy" STEPHIE SINCLAIR with the Texas Cloverleaf. Rachel Summerlyn needs new ring gear. I know these girls don’t make a ton, and I’m not complaining about the quality. But it just didn’t fit very well. Summerlyn is a girl with a good sized stomach and big boobs, and her top just seemed designed for a much smaller person. It becomes distracting after a while, especially when you’re tugging on the shirt every time you get up. She is a big strong girl who seems to have some potential. Her problem in this match was she wasn’t good at seeming like she was overpowering her much smaller opponent. Of the four tryout girls she was the one who seemed the most polished. Sinclair, like Cherry Bomb, just seemed very blasé.
Vol. 21 The show proper started with Serena Deeb in the ring. After getting her ass handed to her at the Vol. 18-19 tapings by Sara Del Rey, she wanted a rematch, claiming that her knee wasn’t 100% last time, but she is healthy now. Del Rey came out and proclaimed Deeb to be a “bottom of the barrel” worker, and demanded better competition (last taping she fought Deeb and Ariel, neither one at the time considered upper-card). Eventually a match took place and…
1. SARA DEL REY defeated SERENA DEEB. Despite getting some hope spots here and there, Del Rey pretty much dominated the match in keeping with her new, harder-edged, pissed off persona. Even though she is not as big as Amazing Kong, she has a great sense of how to seem like she is enjoying causing her opponent pain, and has become probably the best upper-card pure heel in SHIMMER at this point.
2. MISS NATURAL defeated LORELEI LEE. Lorelei Lee is the most boring worker on the SHIMMER roster. Miss Natural has a very boring name, and is not very interesting in the ring. They did establish Natural as a decent worker I guess, but honestly I spent most of this match at the dvd table debating whether to buy a comp dvd of American workers in Japan in the 70’s.
3. DAFFNEY defeated CAT POWER. Daffney is just an awesome comedy wrestler. She is willing to be ridiculous and keep the crowd entertained. Her pre-match interview where every sentence had “meow” in it was a hoot. They wrestled a basic comedy match, with Cat Power using lots of scratching, and Daffney distracting Cat Power with a ball of string. The comedy would be a trend, as this was probably the most light-hearted SHIMMER show I’ve seen (with one exception coming later), and also one where there was a LOT of talking to the audience.
4. NIKKI ROXX defeated DANYAH. Nikki is just insanely over in SHIMMER. Even though Danyah has been a face in her time in SHIMMER, she did a solid job of assuming the heel role in this match, doing it subtly and gradually so that the fans came around to booing her for her work. Eventually Nikki would overwhelm Danyah with her strength and nail her with the Barbie Crusher/Voodoo Drop. Afterwards Nikki would raise Danyah’s hand, bringing her back to face status for the next taping. Also of note is that Danyah has the most incredible abs of any female worker I’ve ever seen. You could grate cheese on this woman’s stomach.
5. "The Croatian Panther" WESNA BUSIC defeated AMBER O’NEAL. This started with Amber, playing the role of spoiled rich pretty girl to the hilt coming out and bitching at the fans, demanding a match. When Wesna’s music hit there was a short period of time between the music hitting and Wesna appearing. Amber kept insisting this had to be the wrong music. When Wesna hit the ring and the crowd started the “Wesna’s gonna kill you” chant Amber mouthed “I know!” I wasn’t a big fan of this booking (another theme of the day) simply because to bring Wesna in and match her up against someone who is basically a bottom-card comedy talent just seems like a waste where there are so many people who the fans would kill to see her matched up with (seriously, I would love to see Wesna vs. Del Rey). That said, they did a good job of letting Amber keep pace for a while, showing off her more serious wrestling skills before Wesna decided she had enough and brought violence to her.
6. The SHIMMER Tag Team Championship Gauntlet was next. Traditional gauntlet rules, last team standing becomes the first SHIMMER tag champs.
A. "The Canadian Ninjas" PORTIA PEREZ & NICOLE MATTHEWS defeated "The Pink Ladies" MADISON EAGLES & JESSIE MCKAY. The Canadian Ninjas are awesome, and it was obvious that they are dangerously close to being turned face at this point due to their charisma. The Pink Ladies are Australian, and Madison Eagles was a revelation. Her partner was sort of dead weight, but Eagles is 6 feet tall, strong, and incredibly athletic. Perhaps the best comparison I can make is that she reminded me of a female Mike Awesome when he appeared in ECW back in 1998. She flew around the ring, moving with speed that you wouldn’t dream of from a girl that big. I really hope that they can get over to these shores on a regular basis, and think TNA would be very well served to look at Eagles. The result was really secondary for me compared to how blown away I was by her performance, though the spot where Perez was way too short for a test of strength with Eagles, and so decided to climb on her partner’s shoulders, only to be foiled by having Nicole’s toes get stomped on was a hoot. The Ninjaz moved on in the gauntlet.
B. "The Suicide Blondes" LUFISTO & JENNIFER BLAKE defeated "The Canadian Ninjas" PORTIA PEREZ & NICOLE MATTHEWS. It was here I began to be a bit perplexed by the booking. The Ninjaz are insanely over, and to eliminate them second just seemed to kind of pull the air out of the crowd somewhat. This was counterbalanced by the fact that LUFISTO~! was involved. I love that woman. She is a like a bowling ball made of violence. I would love to see her work more in the States, though I don’t think either promotion would have a clue how to handle her. The finishing move of a powerbomb off the ropes into a lungblower just looked ridiculously painful.
C. "The International Home Wrecking Crew" RAIN & JETTA defeated "The Suicide Blondes" LUFISTO & JENNIFER BLAKE. The IHWC is in a weird place right now. With the departure of Lacey they seem to be trying to find their footing and not totally there yet. Partially because they have been eclipsed by the Ninjaz as the primary heel team in SHIMMER. I could almost see the IHWC going for a face turn soon courtesy of Perez and Matthews. Eventually shenanigans and such would allow the IHWC to advance by taking out Blake, the weak link of the Blondes.
D. ASHLEY LANE & NEVAEH defeated "The International Home Wrecking Crew" RAIN & JETTA. Lane and Nevaeh look like WWE divas. Sadly their wrestling is not all that far removed from them either. I do not get their push in SHIMMER, and the crowd doesn’t seem to either. It isn’t that the crowd won’t get behind attractive women, but there is something incredibly generic about the blondes. Especially when compared to Rain and Jetta who have loads of charisma and have tons of fun playing their characters.
E. ASHLEY LANE & NEVAEH defeated "The Experience" LEXIE FYFE & MALIA HOSAKA with the STO/Yakuza kick combo to become the first SHIMMER Tag Team Champions! At one point in the match someone in the crowd started chanting “USA!” which drew a response of “I’m from Honolulu moron!” Remember this for later. I personally love the Fyfe/Hosaka team because they are so old-school JCP in their heel work. Their stuff would fit in perfectly on any of the episodes of WCW from 1986 that are showing on WWE 24/7 these days. They wrestle excellent tag team formula matches. The blondes won with an STO/Superkick combo. This whole gauntlet lasted about 45 minutes or so.
7. "Portuguese Princess" ARIEL defeated CHEERLEADER MELISSA & AMAZING KONG & "The Latina Sensation" MERCEDES MARTINEZ in a Four Corner Survival Match to determine who would get a SHIMMER Title Match on Volume 22. Ariel looked nervous as the match began, and it is a testament to how solid Prazak’s booking has been over the last year or so that Ariel seemed to fit in with these big names who bring huge strikes and deadly finishers. She seemed like a game underdog but not one who had no business being there. The crowd was in the position of liking all 4 wrestlers so the heat was kind of odd. Early on the match seemed to center around Melissa and Martinez respecting each other enough to work together against Kong, but not respecting Ariel enough to fight Kong 3-on-1. Spot of the night came when Mercedes and Melissa went up to the top rope to deliver a double superplex to Ariel, only to be caught by Kong, who hit both of them with a modified power bomb pulling Ariel off into the Superplex. Absolutely amazing. Martinez, Melissa, and Kong are three of the hardest hitting women on the planet. Eventually after Kong broke up a pin attempt by Martinez, leading to their fighting on the floor, Ariel was able to surprise Melissa with the Dariel, leading to the shocking upset. Ariel, after a year of being built up from plucky mid-card face to legitimate contender would finally get a shot at the gold in Vol. 22. And the crowd seemed to buy it readily, happy to support someone they feel they have seen grow before their eyes. Keep that in mind going forward.
8. SHIMMER Champion "Your Soul's Tormentor" MsCHIF defeated DAIZEE HAZE to retain the SHIMMER Championship. This was the return of the Haze to SHIMMER, after missing her first tapings a few months back due to an injury. Daizee is insanely popular with the SHIMMER crowds, again leading to a face vs. face match. If there is something bad to say about SHIMMER, it is that they desperately need some more heels, especially now that Lacey has gone on indefinite hiatus from wrestling. The fans just love damn near everyone on the roster, and most of the heels tend to not be able to work at the high level of the top guns of the promotion. This was a intense, fast-paced match reminiscent of an old-school 80’s face vs. face match. Both competitors knew each other’s moves very well, and had respect for the other. Haze was unable to connect with the Heart Punch/Mind Trip combo, leading to Chif connecting with the Desecrator after about 20-25 minutes.
At the end of Vol. 21 Serena Deeb came out and said that despite her loss to Del Rey she still wanted a shot at the belt. MsChif appeared and said that if she can finally beat Del Rey that she’d be willing to give her a chance at the title.
The intermission took forever. We entertained ourselves watching the snaggletooth wrestler still trying to make contacts and debating which members of the crowd are most likely to get a restraining order filed against them by a SHIMMER competitor.
Volume 22. 1. RAIN of "The International Home Wrecking Crew" defeated DAFFNEY. Rain still just seems kind of lost without Lacey. This was pretty much a comedy match, just to get the crowd back into the show. And a good one it was. Rain and Jetta have hilarious chemistry before matches with the repeated high-fives that actually SET THEIR HANDS ON FIRE! Well not really, but close.
2. DANYAH defeated CAT POWER. Danyah’s evilness was quickly forgotten in this match. I don’t know if Cat Power can ever be taken seriously with her name, even though she is a solid worker. Danyah seems like someone who could have potential to move up to one of the Big Two. She doesn’t wrestle a super-indie style like some of the other women, and has some charisma. She might need some “enhancement” if ever she wanted to go to WWE, but other than that she could be good.
3. AMAZING KONG defeated RACHEL SUMMERLYN. Rachel, congratulations on joining SHIMMER’s main roster, hope you enjoy your brief stay. Third time tonight that a wrestler seemed scared of their opponent as Summerlyn was visibly nervous about facing Kong. A much better match for Summerlyn this time out as she was able to work much tighter and stiffer with Kong. She looked like she has potential to fit on the roster. Eventually Kong would squash her like a bug with a giant splash off the second rope. The crowd just loves Kong and everything she does. Least likely fan favorite ever I say.
Since Becky Bayless had to go and get a DUI we get a new in-ring interviewer, Valerie Malone. She introduced ALLISON DANGER to the ring. On a night full of good humor this segment seemed to be going that way with Danger pointing out how visibly pregnant she is, and laughing about training the next generation of SHIMMER talent. The interview continued to be entertaining when Portia Perez came out and started to berate Danger for gaining weight, leaving Danger looking puzzled. Things took quite the turn though when Perez threatened to “end more than just your career right now.” She proceeded to charge off the ropes at Danger, being stopped by a perfect tackle by referee Bryce Remsburg, followed by all the refs dogpiling her. On the SHIMMER boards this has gotten a lot of flak, but I think, even with the Snitsky overtones of it, this was necessary. Like all really funny heels, Perez had started to get over with the crowd. She’s tiny, wears pink, calls herself a ninja, and eats cookies in the ring. She’s funny and sarcastic and was not likely to keep true heel heat much longer. The crowd liked booing her in the way they like to boo anyone who is a feisty little heel, but was just waiting for the eventual reason to cheer her. In a promotion with only one true top-level heel (Sara Del Rey) they desperately needed someone else the crowd would despise, and Perez now fills that role.
4. "The Experience" LEXIE FYFE & MALIA HOSAKA defeated "The Pink Ladies" MADISON EAGLES & JESSIE McKAY. Eagles again was the star of the match, with her size and strength shining through against two solid veteran opponents. Moment of the match though was Hosaka in the ring in a spot of trouble. Suddenly the chant of “USA! USA!” breaks out from the crowd. I thought Lexie Fyfe was going to bust out laughing as she admonished the crowd to stop chanting. After the match the crowd gave the Pink Ladies the “Please Come Back!” chant.
5. "The Latina Sensation" MERCEDES MARTINEZ defeated AMBER O'NEAL. Amber’s night of pain continues as she gets to face the hard-hitting Mercedes. When the music hit for her opponent Amber had the look of Ric Flair in the 1992 Royal Rumble when Rodney the Piper appears. To Amber’s credit she took a hell of a beating in this match as well, and showed off some wrestling skills. It seemed interesting to me that on the same card where one mid-carder finished her climb up the card, a few more mid-carders seemed to be getting the first nudges of that sort of push. After seeing this match I was less upset at the usage of Wesna against O’Neal in the first half of the show, as they can now credibly give O’Neal bigger matches. I know it is surely easier to book when you only run a few shows a year like SHIMMER does, but both big groups could take a few lessons from Prazak, as even when he misses (like with Lane/Neveah IMO) they are still shots at doing the right thing.
6. CHEERLEADER MELISSA defeated "Girl Dynamite" JENNIFER I had no interest in Blake coming into the match. I was wrong. She and Melissa put on one of the best matches of the night. Melissa threw everything at Blake, including taking her out of the ring, draping her over one part of the outside railing, and proceeding to slam another part of the railing into her repeatedly. They brawled all around the ring, and then beat the hell out of each other in the ring. Eventually Melissa hit her with the Air Raid Crash for the pin, but Blake came out much better despite having lost. Before this match she was a random Canadian who would team up with various folks. Now she’s the woman who hung with Melissa.
7. DAIZEE HAZE defeated MISS NATURAL. This match was one of those matches that really just seemed put in there to let Haze get a win. No one ever thought Natural had a shot, or really seemed to care. But after losing in Vol. 21 it was probably a good thing to let Haze get a decisive win to keep her strong.
SARA DEL REY came out to the ring and was pissed off about the discussion between Serena Deeb and MsChif. She demanded her own shot at the SHIMMER title instead of letting someone she beat twice get a shot at the belt. Then in a historic moment for SHIMMER she announced that someone else handled these contract issues for her, and the fans were treated to the arrival of “SWEET AND SOUR” LARRY SWEENEY. Sweeney proceeded to give a manic promo about what a terrible place Berwyn, IL is (half the crowd cheered that), and telling Del Rey that she wouldn’t waste her time fighting Deeb, and would not appear in front of SHIMMER crowds any more, rather she would only wrestle on Ring of Honor cards going forward. This marks the first appearance of any male in a non-support role (refs/ring announcer) in SHIMMER, and goes against what Prazak had said about men in the promotion. I wouldn’t want this to happen all the time, but as a way to set up why SHIMMER matches are being contested over the winter (when SHIMMER is dark) on ROH cards, and to get Del Rey even more over as a heel, I supported it. Plus it involved Larry Sweeney, who is just beyond awesome.
8. JETTA of "The International Home Wrecking Crew" defeated NIKKI ROXX. This match took forever to start due to Jetta demanding the crowd say that she rocks. Despite the fact she does rock, the crowd would not give that satisfaction. A surprising result as Jetta goes over Nikki, reversing the Barbie Crusher into a small package. Hard hitting match once it going again, and one more example of using the established stars to try and get the newer talent over.
9. SHIMMER Tag Team Champions ASHLEY LANE & NEVAEH defeated "The Canadian Ninjas" PORTIA PEREZ & NICOLE MATTHEWS. Suddenly Portia Perez has real heel heat. Quite the change. I can only imagine how much it would have been against anyone other than Lane/Nevaeh. The crowds like them, but I think there is a sense among many folks they are just not where they belong on the card. They were pushed too hard and too fast, having gone over every established tag team on the roster since their debut two tapings ago. They’ve since beaten Rain/Lacey, Jetta/Lacey, Fyfe/Hosaka, and now Perez/Matthews. As much as I like the idea of trying to get the new talent over, sometimes you need to move people up more slowly.
10. LUFISTO defeated "The Croatian Panther" WESNA BUSIC. Holy crap what a violent, angry, awesome match. These two just beat the hell out of each other. Lots of “Fighting Spirit” spots where the two would just stand toe to toe and deal at each other. Lufi would win the match with a nasty looking Burning Hammer, and at first I thought Wesna might be seriously injured. I absolutely love both of these women. This match was probably the best match of the night, and worth buying Vol. 22 for.
11. SHIMMER Champion "Your Soul's Tormentor" MsCHIF defeated "Portuguese Princess" ARIEL. This match was very odd. Ariel got a very good reaction coming out, and the crowd was willing to buy into her. Problem is that as the match went on she started working a lot of heel tactics and throwing in heel mannerisms. It started early with her wanting the ref to stop MsChif from screaming during the match. At first the crowd laughed, but it kept going until they started to turn on her. The match was solid, but it was hard to live up to the one that preceded it, as well as the fact the crowd was starting to tire. Ariel heeling it just a bit was also confusing the crowd reaction. The match had a very abrupt ending with MsChif hitting the Desecrator in the middle of the ring. I don’t know if Prazak wanted Ariel to be heelish or if it was a decision she and MsChif made, but either way it didn’t seem to work well. Rather than angering the crowd, it seemed like they just lost their emotional investment. After the match Sara Del Rey came out and attacked MsChif. Serena Deeb came out to attack Del Rey, MsChif cleared out, and ref Bryce Remsburg decided to ring the bell.
12. SERENA DEEB defeated SARA DEL REY. The heat for this was intense at points. Deeb started out again being overwhelmed, but kept getting up more fired up each time. Del Rey was attacking with nasty looking running boots to the chest, until finally Deeb got up off the mat in near Hulk Up mode. As Del Rey ran the ropes for another running boot Deeb followed her, and as Del Rey turned off the ropes Deeb hit her with a HUGE running spear. She damn near knocked her out of her boots, and got the three count. Definitely the best match Deeb has had, and the most the crowd has ever been into her. in the final match of Volume 22 with the spear. After the match Del Rey attacked Deeb, bringing MsChif back out. As Deeb and MsChif prepared for a double team attack Larry Sweeney finally emerged and pulled Del Rey from the ring, shouting how Del Rey will get her revenge on an ROH show.
Best moment of the after party was sitting at the bar as a young kid in a Sara Del Rey shirt comes to the bar with Del Rey, and she orders 2 shots of Jack Daniels and a beer that they put on his tab. 10 minutes later she comes to the bar again with him, asks him “do you have a good job? I’m sorry for spending so much of your money” as she orders six more shots of Jack Daniels. This kid now has the face of a man who realizes he is in hip deep, as he is now paying for wrestlers to drink, and no one drinks like wrestlers. Just before we left we saw her bringing him to the bar again and ordering eight kamikazes and a couple beers on his tab. As my friend told Del Rey “Don’t feel bad, you’re making a man of him.” A very poor man most likely.
All in all a very solid show. The Wesna/Lufisto, Blake/Melissa, Melissa/Ariel/Martinez/Kong, Deeb/Del Rey, and MsChif/Haze matches were all high quality, and the debut of Madison Eagles was a revelation. Lots of comedy and laughs amongst the hard-hitting matches, and despite my quibbles with a decision or two, still the best booked promotion in America. Recommended to buy when Vol. 21 and 22 come out on DVD.
I am surprised at your dismissal of Jessie McKay. She has done some CZW work the last few months, and she was really great. She came with another australian wrestler, Ryan Eagles (a guy), and they faced each other at the September show. That match was actually probably the match of the night, with a normally hardened CZW crowd rooting for Jessie hardcore.
A few weeks ago, she was in a six person match, and while she didn't do as much, she was still impressive. Admittedly, I haven't seen this Madison Eagles, but I can say that Jessie has been pretty great in CZW.
LuFisto always has good matches, so I'm happy to hear she is still kicking butt.
I got to see Rachel Summerlyn when she faced Mickie "Moose" Knuckles in a match at CZW or Chikara, and while she looked green, she was still decent.
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