Friday, October 7, 2016
I used to follow SHIMMER religiously. I still own Volumes 9-28 on DVD. However, I unfortunately fell out of regular watching. I’m trying to fix that. I’ll be going back and reviewing those old volumes as well, but for right now, I was able to get my hands on Volume 71, which took place over WrestleMania 31 weekend. It features the Chickfight Tournament, which was a tournament that used to run even before SHIMMER began. The winner earns a future shot at the SHIMMER Championship.
Dave Prazak and Veda Scott handle commentary for now.
Portia Perez has been a SHIMMER mainstay for a long time. Evie is one of the most likable women on the indies right now. Portia coming out to Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” will never not be amazing. Evie started with some flash pin attempts, so an annoyed Perez just chopped her in the throat. Perez continued to be vicious, walking smack and roughing up Evie. Evie started in with the kicks. TEAM F’N KICK! Perez still managed to stay in control though. Evie nailed the big Yakuza Kick and both women were down. SHIMMER Champion (and Perez’s partner) Nicole Matthews came down to distract Evie. Evie ducked a Portia shot and Nicole got knocked off the apron. Evie hit the TTYL (GTS variation) and advanced. Good match with some old school heel work from Portia and good fire from Evie. The more Evie the better. I would have booked Portia to go over someone else to build up drama for a potential Canadian Ninjas match.
I haven’t seen much of Savoy but LeRae is pretty much known from all over the indies, especially in PWG. Savoy declined a handshake. They worked at a quick pace to open the match, with LeRae snapping off a head scissors and doing a trademark kick that we’ve seen her future husband, Johnny Gargano, use. Savoy nailed a weak looking axe kick. Seriously, Booker T would be upset. Candice sent Savoy outside and followed with a tope suicida into a tornado DDT. Savoy survived some submissions. Candice only got one on a lung blower with Savoy showing her power. Savoy came back with a tiger suplex that got the win. Solid match. They hyped this as an upset. Savoy was the bigger competitor, but pretty much got her ass handed to her, which was surprising since LeRae works best as the plucky underdog.
Nikki Storm came out to “Larger Than Life” by Backstreet Boys, getting a pop from me. She cut a promo before the match about all of her accomplishments since coming to the States, including having the Golden Gate Bridge renamed the Golden Nikki Bridge. It’s great stuff. The two charismatic women scoffed at one another once Cherry entered the ring. They talked smack and shoved each other. We got double toe stomps, kicks and clotheslines to show how evenly matched they were. Cherry Bomb took control and began to wear down Storm. Lots of yells from both ladies, with Cherry’s being more of screeches. Storm eventually countered a DVD and superkick before winning with the fisherman neckbreaker. The other matches may have been better from a pure wrestling standpoint, but this was highly entertaining thanks to the personalities involved. Lots of fun.
Prazak tricked me because he said this would be Yim/Athena but it isn’t. Another good theme song tonight for Ray. Kimber Lee recently made history by winning the CHIKARA Grand Championship. She went outside for a breather and avoided dive from Ray. Ray still followed her around the ring and scored on a dropkick. Her high risk style cost her when Lee caught a springboard move into a backbreaker. Lee then nailed a really impressive stalling vertical for two. Lee showed some cockiness at times. She was confident that she had Ray’s high flying stuff scouted. Lee hit a superplex and swanton bomb but her lackluster cover allowed Ray to turn it over into a rollup and steal it. I dug this match. Both girls worked hard and the finish played into the story of overconfident Kimber Lee. The Kimber Bombs are both eliminated already.
This was easily the most exciting matchup on the card. “You’re both awesome” chants to start. They instantly went with a fast paced open and though not all of it came off clean, it was mostly fun. They traded forearms before Mia did the “latch onto the ropes like a spider” gimmick, only for Athena to dropkick her outside. Once there, Athena connected on three straight suicide dives. Mia came back with a stiff kick from the apron. The hits got harder once inside and Athena got two on a fisherman buster. Athena began to stretch Mia but once Mia got out, these two just beat the shit out of each other with forearms. Mia stopped it with a headbutt. Athena came close with a head and leg suplex so Mia responded with a German. After some near falls, Mia hit a package piledriver and won with a 450 splash. Easily the best match so far. They hit each other hard, brought some mat work and busted out the high risk stuff. Great stuff and the only gripe I had was some of the slip ups in the first few minutes.
Portia Perez replaced Veda Scott on commentary for this.
Cheerleader Melissa is a Chickfight Tournament veteran, having competed in all of them in the past. She is also a two-time SHIMMER Champion, appeared on nearly every volume, works in Lucha Underground as Mariposa and is arguably the best American female wrestler of the past decade. Havok is pretty much a monster most known for her time in TNA. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a ton of hard hitting in this one. Melissa grounded Havok and cut her down to size, leading to some curb stomps. Havok started to fight back and get in some shots. Melissa came off the top with a missile dropkick. Melissa then pinned Havok with her feet on the ropes to steal the win. Disappointing and the first thing on the show so far that I didn’t really get interested in. I wanted them to go to war but they seemed to maybe be saving that for a future match.
According to Prazak, both women are known for their kicking. They traded some of those early before Savoy caught Evie in the middle of a leap frog with a knee bar. It was pretty great. Evie showed off her fast paced offense before Savoy busted out a sweet suplex for two. Savoy was aggressive, choking Evie with her boot and trash talking some fans. She cut off an Evie comeback and pulled her into an armbar, which she transitioned into a crossface. Evie slipped free and hit a big kick but her next one got caught into another submission. Again, Evie got free and ended up nailing a missile dropkick to get some breathing room. She started in with the running kick spots but Savoy countered the Yakuza Kick by catching it into a suplex variation. Evie also survived a great high arching German. They battled up top where Evie got Savoy in a tree of woe position and came off with a big double stomp that got her the win. Right up there with Athena/Yim for MOTN. Savoy looked miles better here than she did in the first round. Crisp, brutal suplexes and submissions galore. Evie played the great underdog and it all just came together so well. A little more leg selling from Evie would have sent it to the next level.
More pre-match promo work from the “Best in the Galaxy” Nikki Storm. She also called herself the “white chocolate cheesecake of sports entertainment.” Nikki did a lot of talking after the match began too, causing a loud fan to shout “SHUT UP AND WRESTLE!” They did a handshake and Ray attacked. Storm still took control and most of the match saw her in charge. Her work there was fine but unspectacular. Kay Lee Ray eventually rallied and hit a Gory Bomb, followed by a swanton bomb to advance. This was fine, I just couldn’t get into it as much as I hoped.
On Volume 65, these two met in a SHIMMER Title match. Melissa retained due to Yim having an injury. I came in way excited for this. Yim can flat out go and Melissa is Melissa. Yim seemed to have the upper hand, being one step ahead of the former SHIMMER Champion. She even made Melissa take a powder but Melissa stopped a tope suicida with a shot. Melissa went to the leg and worked a submission. Mia got free but still found herself in some trouble. She started the comeback but Melissa pulled the referee into harm’s way. A ref bump in SHIMMER? I don’t know if I’ve seen that before. Jessica Havok returned and beat up Melissa. The referee saw it and called for the DQ. A massive disappointment. I’m sure these two could have a great match. Instead, we got a small tease and a shit finish.
Veda Scott switched back with Portia Perez for commentary.
I love Nicole Matthews. This is part of the retirement tour for Nakagawa, who is one half of the current SHIMMER Tag Team Champions. She wants to retire with the SHIMMER titles. Matthews stalled early and killed time outside. Once things actually got going, Matthews tossed her around the ring and into the guardrails outside. The focus of her offense was on Nakagawa’s back. Matthews was great at talking smack throughout this. The Canadian Ninjas nail that usually. Nakagawa rallied and hit a suplex on the apron. She scored on a big kick but Matthews responded with a release German suplex. They began to trade forearm strikes until Nakagawa got two on a fisherman’s suplex. Matthews got two on a brainbuster so Portia Perez came out and slid a chair in the ring. Matthews tried to use the title but Nakagawa rolled her up, only for Perez to distract the referee. They again did the distraction pin spot, which allowed Nicole to use the chair and retain with the Vancouver Maneuver. If Nakagawa is retiring, couldn’t Matthews have gotten a clean win? I get that she’s a heel and the Ninjas are a team, but that killed a match that was going so well.
Looking at the brackets, this is pretty much the finals I would have booked. Melissa is the veteran and the other two are the hungry youngsters. Things got off to an awkward start until Melissa double suplexed both opponents. As Melissa worked over both girls, Havok’s theme played to distract her. She dared Havok to show up but got nothing. It played again and Havok stood on the stage. Evie nailed her from behind, sent her into the corner and nailed the Yakuza Kick. Ray came off the top with the swanton onto both and pinned to eliminate Melissa. Ray and Evie fought around the ring. Ray leapt off of the barricade with a clothesline. Evie took a rough rana on the outside that got a near fall. Now inside, the women trade offense and move at a pretty quick pace. Evie got two on a running kick. She looked for TTYL but Kay Lee Ray countered and got two on a Gory bomb. She would go on to use a springboard dropkick and swanton bomb to win the tournament. Good final match. I wasn’t a fan of the Melissa stuff but once Evie and Ray went at it alone, they did well with the opportunity and had some fun back and forth.
Overall: An overall good outing from the ladies of SHIMMER here. None of the matches overstay their welcome and having it all part of a tournament made each match feel important. I wasn’t too keen on the booking of the Melissa/Havok situation, which took up a large chunk of the show, but the work mostly overcame that. I loved the performances from Mia Yim, Athena, Evie and Nicole Savoy at points. This was an easy watch.