A strong wrestling promotion thrives not only on great in-ring action, but just as much on story progression and compelling heroes (faces) and villains (heels). Shimmer has always excelled in all of these respects, and in particular has featured some amazing heels that rile the crowd up to perfection. Without question, the best heel in Shimmer history is… Sweet Saraya Knight. But right behind her is Portia Perez, an incredible Shimmer mainstay who unexpectedly announced her retirement due to injury during the October 2015 tapings.
Portia’s been an integral part of Shimmer since close to the beginning, making her main show debut on volume 7. She came in as a plucky underdog babyface and teamed with Serena Deeb. It didn’t take long to abandon that approach, as in her very next match (on volume 9 against Josie) she was showing flashes of the charisma she’d become known for, infuriating fans, and using a chain behind the ref’s back to win. Despite her small size, youthful appearance, and less than impressive win-loss record early on, Portia’s natural ability to turn the crowd against her always made a win over her mean something for her opponent.
While Portia was an accomplished singles competitor, she will perhaps best be remembered for her partnership with Nicole Matthews. The Canadian Ninjas are the benchmark against which all other tag teams in Shimmer are measured. They complimented and played off each other perfectly, and are currently the only two time tag team champions (as a unit) in Shimmer history. The Ninja’s greatest rivals were likely 3G (Kellie Skater and Tomoka Nakagawa), and the wars between the four of them were a sight to behold. My personal favorite of the Ninjas’ matches was an amazing contest against Ray and Leon, which I was lucky enough to get to see live.
Portia’s individual talent for getting under people’s skin of course extended to her opponents, and she had a number of heated feuds over the years. These included taking issue with Serena Deeb returning from her time in the WWE, and making the rather huge mistakes of angering, and then mocking, Jessica Havok. Both were intense stories with logical issues and Portia fanned the flames expertly until the fans were dying for her opponent to get their hands on her (which they eventually did of course).
But the longest and perhaps most memorable of Portia’s feuds was against Allison Danger, “highlighted” by Portia repeated attacking Danger’s previously injured collarbone, a Last Woman Standing match, and Portia threatening a pregnant Danger during an in-ring interview. Tension was kept up during Danger’s retirement role as a Shimmer authority figure and the feud was revisited a bit for Portia’s farewell.
Portia announced her retirement on Saturday of Shimmer’s 10th Anniversary weekend, staying full heel and blaming the fans. Danger came out, pointed out that she had the ability to decide what Portia’s last match would be, and set up an eight-woman tag for the main event of Sunday’s tapings. It was a fun affair, serving both as a farewell to Portia and a celebration of Shimmer’s anniversary, with surprise appearances by the retired participants of Shimmer’s first main event (Dazee Haze and Lacey), as well as the involvement of Ninja rivals 3G (with the retired Nakagawa returning to second her former teammate).
After a fitting end that saw Portia’s attempt at cheating backfire to cost her the match, she had an (intentionally) awkward exchange with Danger and then Portia gave a retirement speech consisting of “I hate you all. Now I’m leaving.” It was fitting, if a tad disappointing. I personally wish she had let the kayfabe up a little here for her goodbye, but I understand the desire to perform to the bitter end and it was of course her choice. She went out of Shimmer as she spent her career – the consummate agitator.
Portia’s contributions to Shimmer did not stop in the ring. Starting around volume 36 she joined Dave Prazak during matches to provide color commentary, and the two became my favorite pair in short order. Their chemistry and banter is pitch perfect, and Portia knows the exact amount to scale back her character so her jibes at the faces never take away from the match or angle she’s trying to get over. While she’ll be missed in the ring, it’s my hope that she’ll continue to be involved in commentary and lend her unique and wonderful skills to enhancing the Shimmer product for a long time to come.
But either way always remember: Portia Hates Us.