October 10, 2015 in Berwyn, IL
This October’s Shimmer weekend was an even bigger deal than usual, as it fell on Shimmer’s 10th Anniversary. It’s been a great ten years and volumes 76-79 were a wonderful celebration of that, presenting numerous surprises, special events, and of course phenomenal wrestling.
Saturday started with volume 76 and a battle royal to determine the number one contender to Nicole Matthews’ Shimmer title. This is only the second battle royal in Shimmer and a nice treat to open the weekend. Top contender Madison Eagles had a strong showing, but was sabotaged by the champion and her partner Portia Perez (a lot more on her to come). Cheerleader Melissa looked to have won, but Candice LeRae returned from the outside (she had gone through the middle ropes, not over the top) for the surprise win. Great use of the format to tell several stories and vault someone new into title contention.
The Joshi contingent this time consisted of two returns and two debuts. Though new to Shimmer, Sonoko Kato is a twenty year veteran and it was wonderful to see her come to the US. For volume 76 she faced the always game Kimber Lee in a fun match that saw Kato jawing with Cherry Bomb on the outside in addition to the excellent in ring action. Was nice to see Cherry, who was recovering from surgery for a collarbone injury just two weeks prior. She was in good spirits and served as a manager for her tag team champion partner throughout the weekend.
I adore Courtney Rush’s new look and gimmick. She never really connected for me previously, but her total commitment to the vicious, crazy edge of her new character is absolutely captivating. She had a good match with Shazza McKenzie to establish it.
Portia Perez came out for an interview and announced her retirement due to needing neck surgery. It was a bit odd as she never broke out of her heel character and at first I thought it was part angle. Danger came out and set up an eight-woman tag as Portia’s final match to main event volume 79.
Kellyanne English had an impressive little match with Mia Yim in Kellyanne’s debut match. She looked great all weekend and would be a wonderful regular addition to the roster.
Another debut saw Makoto facing a fellow Joshi talent in the returning Yumi Ohka. Makoto looked good in the somewhat overmatched underdog role before falling to the dominant Ohka, who was really going after the younger talent and showing a bit of a vicious streak.
Hiroyo Matsumoto returned to singles action in Shimmer after being out with injury to face up and comer Nicole Savoy in the first dream match for me of the weekend. Fantastic contest that skyrocketed Savoy up the card when she achieved a rare pinfall on the Lady Destroyer.
The rest of the undercard was as impressive as the matches I’ve spotlighted, featuring great wrestlers and interesting matchups: Lufisto vs Taylor Made, Cheerleader Melissa vs Crazy Mary Dobson, and Kellie Skater vs Kay Lee Ray. A mini-tournament to determine number one contenders to the tag team titles (which weren’t being defended due to Cherry’s injury) was also started with Slap Happy (Heidi Lovelace and Evie) vs Saraya Knight and Rhia O-Reilly.
LeRae made good use of the main event opportunity resulting from the earlier battle royal, looking great despite a losing effort against Matthews. A post match attack by the Ninjas lead to Eagles making the save and a big pull apart brawl. Matthews vs Eagles for the championship was set for volume 77’s main event.
Due to scheduling issues saturday’s tapings began and ended early, so there was no intermission between volumes. Interesting start for volume 77, as wrestlers who didn’t appear outside of the battle royal on 76 made up 5 of the 6 competitors in the first three matches. Shows the depth of talent assembled for the weekend. Veda Scott vs KC Spinelli, Saraya Knight vs Xandra Bale, and Liberty vs Sami Baynz (both debuting) were all decent contests telling different stories, and built things up a bit for some mayhem in the way of a fun six-woman match with Kay Lee Ray, Allysin Kay, Candice LeRae, Kellie Skater, Marti Belle and Sonoko Kato.
Courtney Rush continued her winning ways, but she didn’t intimidate Crazy Mary Dobson much. Kimber Lee snuck out a victory against one half of her potential future tag team challengers in Heidi Lovelace after Cherry faked aggravating her injury to distract the ref. Slap Happy’s opponents for the next day in the mini-tag tourney were set as Vanessa Kraven and Tessa Blanchard defeated the Lucha Sisters (Mia Yim and Leva Bates). Tessa’s posturing and Kraven’s reactions were great. It’s going to be glorious when Kraven eventually gets sick of Tessa and squashes her like a bug.
In another dream match for me Jessica Havok faced Yumi Ohka. It was a great, hard-hitting affair. Ohka showed some edge again and frequently bent the rules trying to get an advantage over the larger Havok. Jessica eventually caught her in the chokeslam for a big victory.
Makoto faced more tough competition in the form of Cheerleader Melissa. She had a good showing but again fell prey to the onslaught of a relentless, more experienced foe. Melissa broke out a rare Kudo Driver to get the victory though. Given the level of her opponents Makoto looked strong despite these defeats. Melissa attacks her after the match and Ohka comes out to “save,” but instead completes her heel turn and helps Melissa destroy Makoto. They leave together in an apparent new alliance.
In the semi-main spot Nicole Savoy picked up another huge win over Evie in a fantastic back and forth match. Savoy is so “on” right now it’s almost scary and displays instincts far beyond her experience. It was wonderful seeing what she could do over the course of the weekend against high level, veteran opponents. Evie herself is also incredible and I’d love to see these two wrestle again.
The main event had been building for quite a while, as layers for the feud between Eagles and Matthews were being established even before Matthews threw a fireball into Eagles face to win the title. Given their history this Shimmer Title match was no-DQ. This was the appropriate war we all wanted, and they threw everything they could at each other (including Kay Lee Ray at one point). Eagles defeated Matthews with a Hellbound to a chair to become two-time Shimmer Champion and provide the perfect finish to the first day of tapings for 10th Anniversary weekend.
After the tapings was a special Fanfest and Q&A held nearby the venue. It was quite nice as there was more time (and space) to meet the wrestlers and get merchandise and pictures. The Q&A would have been a bit smoother with some prepared questions, but it was fun and interesting overall.
A suitable celebration of the 10th Anniversary of a phenomenal wrestling promotion. And that’s only day 1. 🙂
Day 2 thoughts to follow.