(used the ROH tag since they are affiliated to a degree)
On the chance that anyone waits for the dvd's to come out and hopes to be surprised, stop reading now. Also, this, like the taping, is kind of long, so be prepared
So a couple of friends and I decided to drive out to Berwyn, IL to take in the marathon taping session for SHIMMER's (shimmerwrestling.com) next two dvd's, Volumes 17 and 18. Over the last year or so this promotion has become my favorite group to watch, even beyond ROH. I like the way that they give the lower card wrestlers easy to grasp characters, but if the reaction/work moves them up the card, or if they are placed higher on the card, the gimmick fades into the background and they are simply themselves. While Amber O'Neal gets booed for being a rich prissy bitch, Lacey gets booed simply for being Lacey.
So onto the tapings: Volume 17 Tag-Team Match: Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew (Rain & Jetta) def. Jennifer Blake & Danyah Shark Girl (aka Daffney) def. Nicole Matthews Tag-Team Match: The Experience (Malia Hosaka & Lexie Fyfe) def. Hot Blondes (Ashley Lane & Nevaeh) Amber O'Neal def. Loralei Lee Daizee Haze def. "The Definition of Technician" Cindy Rogers "The Portuguese Princess" Ariel def. Amazing Kong via DQ Mercedes Martinez def. "The Croatian Panther" Wesna "Dark Angel" Sarah Stock def. Lacey Main Event - Non-Title Tag-Team Match Cheerleader Melissa & MsChif def. The Dangerous Angels (Allison Danger & SHIMMER Champion Sara Del Rey)
Volume 18 Volume 18 Shark Girl def. Amber O'Neal Nicole Matthews def. Loralei Lee Daizee Haze def. Jetta Tag-Team match: The Experience def. Jennifer Blake & Danyah "The Portuguese Princess" Ariel def. Kat Powers Mercedes Martinez def. "The Definition of Technician" Cindy Rogers Tag-Team match: Hot Blondes (Ashley Lane & Nevaeh) def. Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew (Lacey & Rain) Amazing Kong def. "The Croatian Panther" Wesna Cheerleader Melissa def. "Dark Angel" Sarah Stock Main Event - SHIMMER Championship Match MsChif def. "American Angel" Sara Del Rey to become the NEW SHIMMER Champion
My thoughts: The Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew combines a great name with awesome heel work. Usually consisting of Lacey and Rain (Peyton Banks from TNA), they added Jetta from the UK to make a wonderfully evil trio. The crowd loves to hate all three of them, waving dollar bills at Lacey. Their opponents were kind of bland, although Jennifer Blake is a bigger girl with some potential.
Shark Girl is awesome. Just once I would love to see her and Curry Man together as a tag team. It was kind of odd, especially considering what was to come, that Daffney only appeared as Shark Girl for the evening (usually she and Ms Chif are a team). I wish Nicole Matthews had been accompanied by her tag partner Portia Perez, but oh well.
Lexie Fife drew the requisite "Hillary" chants after her appearance on Raw. Her and Malia Hosaka are a fun old-school heel group. They play the dirty, wily veterans quite well. Highlight was a fan chanting "USA" and Malia Hosaka yelling "I'm from Honolulu you moron!" at him.
Daizee Haze is ridiculously over with the Berwyn SHIMMER crowd. Cindy Rogers styles herself as something of a female Bret Hart, leather jacket and all. Daizee worked an odd style tonight, because there was a TON of comedy in both her matches. But then when the matches get going she works a hard hitting style. I'm surprised TNA hasn't picked her up long-term. I would say that about WWE, but with the wellness policy and all, I don't think she'd be a very good fit, as, like RVD, no one gets as high as Daizee Haze.
The Ariel v. Kong match was a textbook example of how someone can get over without harming the other person. Ariel is a very bubbly young woman, who until this point was a fairly average mid-card worker for them. Over the last couple of volumes she had been getting some decent reactions. So tonight she gets the ultimate test in Kong. The crowd begins totally pro-Kong, hitting the "Kong is gonna kill you!" chant while Ariel gamely tries to stay confident. The first few minutes of the match go as expected with Kong knocking Ariel all over the ring. But as the match goes on Ariel keeps hanging in, fighting off a couple of near-falls, and gets in some offense. The crowd begins to buzz, sensing that maybe something shocking will happen. Kong keeps giving her hope spots and cutting her off, but with each new shift in momentum, Ariel seems to be more and more effective, taking Kong off her feet, and beginning to get closer and closer near-falls. Finally the crowd is chanting for Ariel in unison, as Kong becomes so annoyed at being unable to put away the plucky challenger that she hits the Awesome Bomb on the ref who was trying to enfore the rules. At the end of the match Kong was still a beast and a top contender, but suddenly SHIMMER had a new upper card player as the crowd was able to believe that Ariel could have won that match.
The fact Sarah Stock does not have a job in WWE or TNA stuns me. She is one of the best female workers in North America, and possibly the most attractive woman in wrestling. Also, her outfit in this match might possibly not be legal in certain states. I tend to avoid the more base instincts when talking about SHIMMER, but seriously, this woman is gorgeous and talented. Her match with Lacey was excellent, and reestablished Stock as a contender after losing to Del Rey in the last volume.
Mercedes Martinez made her return to SHIMMER for the first time in over a year after a shoulder injury to take on a newcomer. The crowd was extremely hot for Mercedes, who going into the taping was the only person to have beaten Sara Del Rey, the SHIMMER champion, in the history of the promotion. Wesna was something of an unknown quantity, and took a backseat to the returning Martinez in this match. A very hard hitting match, the stiffest of the night, as both ladies beat the hell out of each other, with Martinez winning with a sick half-nelson suplex. After the match one of the rare interview segments of the evening took place, with Martinez establishing herself as a title contender now that she has returned. They don't do a lot of in-ring interviews, but the ones they do are usually excellent at advancing storyline.
The Vol. 17 main event was very much out of the old NWA playbook. The champ, Sara Del Rey, was teaming with her old tag partner Allison Danger, against two top challengers, Cheerleader Melissa (sans burqa) and MsChif. This match had an interesting dynamic, as all 4 wrestlers tend to be crowd favorites, best seen in the 10 year old girl in front of me with a Sara Del Rey t-shirt and a Cheerleader Melissa pom pom. But the crowd decided that tonight they wanted to support Chif and Melissa, so the match slowly morphed into a traditional face vs. heel match. The big angle in the match was MsChif hitting her finisher on Del Rey and getting a 10 second visual pin without the ref in the ring. Eventually Danger ate the pinfall, injuring her clavicle on the finish.
Vol. 18 opened with Danger coming out to announce she would be out of action for this taping due to the injury.
In this volume Ariel came across as a big star. The crowd was hot for her, and she won fairly easily. I am looking forward to seeing her continued elevation at the next tapings in July.
The biggest shocker of the night came when Hot Blondes (a team that seriously seems pulled right from David McLane's mind) pulled the upset on the MN Home Wrecking Crew. No one in the crowd saw that one coming.
The Kong v. Wesna match was built around Wesna's attempts to lift Kong into various manuvers. She failed at least 5 times before finally hitting Kong with a Samoan Drop to a huge pop. An even larger pop came when she hit Kong with a giant release German Suplex, sending Kong flying 3/4 of the way across the ring. Kong would eventually hit the Awesome Bomb, but once again despite not getting a clean win someone got over as Wesna got a standing ovation on her way out. This whole night was textbook in how to use a big star. Kong made two new stars without losing an iota of her own star power.
The Melissa vs. Stock match was hurt by a couple of drunken tools in the crowd (wearing Cubs jerseys...what a shock) who had been indulging in the $2 beers for 6 hours and now began randomly yelling things like "Where's the Chokeslam?" and just generally shitting on the match Admittedly most of the crowd was quiet at this point, but I didn't sense they weren't paying attention. They just weren't buzzing for everything. Its a shame because this was an incredibly stiff and hard-hitting match, with some chops that had us wincing in our seats.
Finally it was time for the main event, and the crowd was solidly behind the challenger. This despite the fact it didn't seem very likely to see a title change. For a long time now SHIMMER had seemingly been building up either Daizee Haze or Mercedes Martinez as the heir apparent. Suffice it to say the crowd was stunned when Chif won clean in the center of the ring. There was a moment of shock before the crowd popped for the upset victory.
I have to say it was quite a long day. We arrived at the Eagle Club in Berwyn at 3:30 and much of the crowd was already filled in. MsChif won the title sometime around 11:15 or so. By the end of the day the stamina does begin to lag a bit. I understand why they do things as they do, and I'm not complaining, but it does get hard. One thing they might want to do is cut off beer sales between volumes, as letting people drink cheap beer for 7 hours is not the best idea for either crowd behavior or safe driving.
Best match of the night: Wesna vs. Kong MVP of the night: Kong in a landslide Coolest moment of the night: Daizee Haze and her repeated stealing of her opponent's clothes in response to them pilfering her stuffed flowers. Biggest disappointment of the night: my cameraphone not working at the afterparty when I tried to take a photo with Mercedes Martinez (who is incredibly attractive in her normal civvies). Funniest moment of the night: tie between Rain at the afterparty coming up the bar with a bustier on and having Berwyn guys fall over themselves to buy her a drink and Allsion Danger getting very excited about "Don't Stop Believin'" playing on the jukebox.
For anyone looking for an alternative to WWE, anyone who enjoys the TNA knockouts, and anyone who likes a well-booked promotion, I would highly recommend giving SHIMMER a shot.
I wanted to go to this. But tickets sold out, what, two months ahead of time? I didn't want to go that bad, though now I'm looking at the ad for the next taping and thinking about it.
Like, if I knew this person was going to be there...
The fact Sarah Stock does not have a job in WWE or TNA stuns me.
...I totally would've. But I think they never can advertise her because her schedule is a bit unpredictable. You wonder about those two, I wonder why CMLL's never gone all the way with her. While she's still popular in Mexico, they missed their moment with her by not giving her the title or giving her anything meaningful to do in the meantime. She's really marketable and learned Spanish, and yet she's still slipping thru the cracks. I dunno.
I imagine she's not in TNA because she's getting (slightly) better pay thru CMLL. A few years ago, Sarah sounded anti-WWE, the usual "models, not wrestlers" complaints, but there was an interview late last year where she softened her tone quite a bit. I figure she's either going to a top pushed star in CMLL or signed with WWE by mid '09, if not sooner.
I think Daizee Haze worked TNA's Explosion tapings back when they were in Nashville.
We arrived at the Eagle Club in Berwyn at 3:30 and much of the crowd was already filled in. MsChif won the title sometime around 11:15 or so.
This was the problem with the taping I went to. There weren't the drunks, but the crowd was pretty exhausted by the end. Two DVD tapings makes for a long night.
With Sara del Ray losing and the MHWC losing, I wonder if there's some concern about possibly losing the TNA-signed crew. SHIMMER's not a big commitment of time, but working the crossover matches with ROH adds some more weekends. I guess one measure of SHIMMER's success is they have same concerns about losing talent of any other high end indy.
You can also usually find Sara and Daizee at shows where Claudio Castagnoli and Delirious are working. They aren't always working, but can often be found worth the gimmick tables. This is at least true at CHIKARA shows.
It's troubling that even a few years ago, these videos would've gotten Ryder a push out of respect to how hard he was trying to get himself over. Now, it's just as likely he'll be punished for some esoteric reason.