June 26, 2016 in Berwyn, IL
With Madison Eagles having survived the challenges of Rush, Arisa, and Viper, and Kellie Skater having won tough matches against top competitors all weekend, it was announced in the morning that the latter would receive a well deserved shot at Madison and the Shimmer Championship in the main event of Volume 84.
The opening match was a rematch of Volume 81’s opener, as Nixon Newell looked to avenge the loss Veda Scott handed her in her Shimmer debut. These two have good chemistry and the underdog vs established, hated heel dynamic worked well once again in this rematch. Veda’s streak of stealing matches came to an end as Nixon earned her first Shimmer victory.
Next the new team of Solo Darling & the debuting Scarlett Bordeaux faced Melanie Cruise & Yumi Ohka. This was a blast, as Cruise and Ohka are really clicking as a team and were great as bullying/dismissive heels against Darling and Bordeaux.
Along with some great action and Yumi working the crowd into a frenzy using her whip behind the ref’s back, the highlight was Cruise and Ohka appropriating Solo’s sugar drink and Bordeaux’s wine for a taste. Their reactions were priceless.
While Logan Square has a lot going for it as a venue, the atmosphere was definitely different from the Eagles Club. Back in the latter for Volumes 84 and 85, Arisa was greeted with a huge “Nakajima” chant in her Berwyn debut as her match with Rhia O’Reilly began. She was clearly surprised and was smiling from ear to ear as she looked around the crowd.
I feel Rhia is somewhat underrated at times and as I’ve mentioned before she’s quite versatile and adaptable, so seeing her given the opportunity to up her game against top level opponents this weekend was awesome. She held her own against the JWP Champion, and they had a great hard hitting contest. Arisa eventually won with her trademark German suplex.
During the introductions someone jumps the railing and it’s former announcer Kevin Harvey! He steps in for Lenny to do his trademark “Thunder…Thunder…THUNDERKITTY!” intro for her, then disappears as fast as he came. Amusing touch. Match was ok, but it was a tad slow and there was never any doubt Nicole would be stealing a win.
Tessa Blanchard came out for her match against LuFisto without Kraven at ringside and if you can’t see where this is going you’ve never watched wrestling. 😉 This was the best Tessa looked all weekend, as she and Lufisto had an intense back and forth match. Lufisto always seemed just a little too much for her, and sure enough as soon as the proper opportunity arose Kraven dashed out and grabbed Lufisto’s feet from the outside, holding her down out of sight of the ref or Tessa so Tessa could get the win. Nice touch afterward as Tessa was totally oblivious to the interference and told Kraven how nice it was that Kraven came out to congratulate her.
If I had a remaining dream opponent for Ryo Mizunami this weekend Courtney Rush was definitely it. They’re two of the most charismatic performers on the shows in addition to being phenomenal wrestlers and this was all kinds of fun.
Mizunami repeatedly just kind of shrugging off Rush’s strangeness and the two waging war with each other was pitch perfect. Strong finish to a great weekend for Mizunami.
Coming off a victory in the 4-way on Volume 83, Jessicka Havok received a shot at the Heart of SHIMMER Championship held by Nicole Savoy. Was surprised not to see a Baszler rematch, but that would be explained soon enough. Savoy makes a big deal about Havok having a weapon with her and insists the bat be sent to the back. That seemed significant.
Indeed late in the match the ref is knocked out, and Shayna Baszler comes running from the back with Havok’s bat. She teases revenge on Savoy, but blasts Havok instead. Savoy retains and has a powerful new ally. This was executed very well and I love the pairing of Baszler and Savoy.
The Kimber Bombs (Kimber Lee and Cherry Bomb) finally had to face the consequences of their suspect methods for retaining their titles as they defended the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship in an elimination match against Slap Happy (Evie & Heidi Lovelace), Balespin (Xandra Bale & KC Spinelli), and WDSS (Kay Lee Ray & Mia Yim).
Early on the challengers all ganged up on the champions and completely dominated them for quite a while, including isolating Cherry Bomb and putting tape over her mouth to stop her angelic voice. It was such a comeuppance to begin the match I started to suspect the Bombs might escape with their titles at the end and drop them next volume.
Heir apparent Kellie Skater faced Madison Eagles for the SHIMMER Championship that was exactly as good as expected from two wrestlers the calibre of Kellie and Madison. It was even throughout and constantly felt like it could go either way.
The end came while they were on the top turnbuckle and Kellie blocked a kick and fell inside the ring while holding Madison’s leg, torquing the latter’s knee over the top rope. Madison fell to the outside and failed to make it back in before ten, giving Kellie the countout victory but not the title. In the spirit of competition Madison says she’s not going to let her knee rob Kellie or the fans of the title match, and sets up a rematch for the title on Volume 85. That announcement got a big ovation.
This volume had a different feel, as it was much shorter than usual. It was still totally a complete and satisfying show though, and outside of a couple matches that felt abbreviated almost everything was given enough time to breathe.
Lufisto bounced back after her loss to Tessa and defeated Amanda Carolina Rodriguez in her only appearance this weekend to open the taping. Brisk match that let the newcomer fight back a bit before the veteran put her away.
Nicole Matthews expanded on her “Locker Room Leader” gimmick by declaring herself the “Shimmertaker.” Her challenge this time was Rhia O’Reilly, who instantly became the defacto face. Rhia’s impressive weekend continued and her mannerisms, presence, etc in this match were fantastic. Right after the bell she told Matthews “you are the locker room leader” and laid down for her, only to small package her for a close 2 when she tried to cover Rhia. That got a big pop. Later after taking a bit to much of Nicole’s abuse she told a seated Nicole “Saraya says Hi!” and hit Knight’s signature dropkick between the legs.
After current TNA Women’s Champion Allysin Kay scored a dominant win over Xandra Bale, the table and chairs came back much to my chagrin. This time Portia’s guest was Kellyanne, out to explain her absence from competition.
Portia got a ton of boos and the expected “PISS Break” chant broke out several times and loudly (I still can’t believe they went with that acronym), but it really felt like the audience was trying to hijack/end the segment instead of it generating the desired kind of heel heat. This one in particular was way too long for what it was, and Kellyanne wasn’t quite good enough on the mic to draw the crowd in enough to keep them engaged.
There’s potential here, but as Portia’s retired and there’s no physical consequences in her future she needs to find a way to get heat on her GUESTS, not herself. Streamlining is also needed, as dropping pointless stuff like cheating Kellyanne in table hockey before getting to the actual interview will bring these down to a better length and they won’t sap the crowd’s energy and disrupt the pace of the show so much.
Case in point, Arisa Nakajima got nowhere near the same reaction from the crowd to start her match against Shazza McKenzie that she did earlier in the day. There was applause, but the audience had been cooled down considerably by PISS (I hate myself for having to type that). Thankfully with two fast paced wrestlers squaring off they woke back up quick.
Like Rhia, Shazza was given great opportunities this weekend against Matthews and Nakajima. Also like Rhia, she looked good against the veterans. This is the match that I most would have like to see go longer, as it seemed it was just getting going when Arisa finished Shazza with the German about five minutes in. Fun while it lasted. Expectedly and deservedly, Arisa got a huge “please come back” chant as she left the ring.
Kimber Lee was out next and pouted dejectedly as the crowd taunted her about losing the tag titles. Her match with Thunderkitty was heavily humor based, as they stole the similar flowers they wear from each other’s hair at various points.
I cannot say enough about how little things like Shayna Baszler and Nicole Savoy taking out a stool from under the ring for their corner before the match enhance their characters and general immersion so much. Mia Yim fought valiantly, but she was just taken apart here by Baszler (with opportune help from Savoy).
One slight problem with all the teams established this weekend is it makes the faces look bad when Mia is getting attacked behind the ref’s back by Savoy and KLR never comes out to help. That aside this was another strong showing for Baszler and a good introduction for her partnership with Savoy. Odd that Havok didn’t come looking for blood, but that may have been addressed in the next match.
Viper, Vanessa Kraven, and Courtney Rush made their way out for a 4-way, and Jessica Havok’s music played. There was some talk about it being a mistake by the music guy who didn’t know a change had been made, but given that has never happened in Shimmer and something similar with the music would happen later in the show quite deliberately I’m guessing this will make the dvd and commentary will explain Havok’s too injured to compete, thus explaining why she didn’t spend this volume chasing Savoy and Baszler with her bat.
The music that follows brings Nixon Newell out as the final competitor, and her opponents are amused. “Please don’t die” chant from the crowd.
This was another excellent 4-way, with great highlights like Rush and Viper cornering Tessa on the outside and a spot where Viper shows hesitant trepidation when she realizes Kraven has snuck up behind her. Viper showed more personality here than she did all weekend and I think the role of cocky heel who sometime bites off more than she can chew suits her a bit better than that of unstoppable monster. Nixon continued to be a natural underdog that the crowd loved rallying behind.
Great stuff from all four and while I expected Tessa to cost Kraven another match giving Nixon the upset, instead Rush ambushed Nixon with the mist and scored her only victory of the weekend. Of course Courtney and her character are pretty much teflon at this point and can always be quickly reestablished, but the win here was good to remind the audience how dangerous she is. “Please come back” chant for Nixon as she exits.
Nicole Savoy successfully defended her Heart of SHIMMER Championship against Kay Lee Ray in another strong showing for both in a match that repeatedly featured Baszler’s involvement to incite the crowd and further establish the new duo. I’m again impressed with how well Savoy’s tweaked her act to get fully booed instead of the mixed cheers she had been getting due to how good she is.
Heidi came in for Slap Happy’s Shimmer Tag Team Title defense selling her leg heavily, and Yumi Ohka & Melanie Cruise made the most of it. They ambushed the champs right off the bat and spent a full ten minutes beating the high holy hell out of Heidi, targeting her leg, and knocking Evie off the apron at every opportunity. The champs got ZERO offense that whole time.
The challengers cheated and mocked the champs magnificently by doing everything from using Yumi’s whip to biting Heidi while in submission holds to Yumi dancing while grinding her heel into Heidi’s knee. Yumi is clearly having the time of her life with her new heel character and she’s amazing at it. Her mocking faces at the ref as she does her “release the hair pull at the count of 4 by switching to the other hand” routine are a sight to behold.
The thing that made this so special, besides the expert level at which the four wrestlers told the story, was that it was so off formula for title matches in Shimmer. Champions practically never get dominated to this extent, and it was done perfectly so that the crowd never lost interest and continued to get more and more worked up about Heidi escaping and getting Evie into the match. And when she did they went wild. The champs eventually persevered and retained with their finisher on Cruise in one of the best matches of the weekend.
Kellie Skater’s music hit for the big main event rematch, but it was not to be. After a few false starts with Kellie’s music it changes to that of Tessa Blanchard, and the crowd is ready to riot. Tessa comes out with Kraven carrying a limp Skater over her shoulders. In a clever bit Tessa claims they just found Kellie like that, which of course no one believes at that time. She says Kellie clearly can’t compete, and after defeating Evie and Lufisto she thinks she should get the title shot against Madison Eagles.
The crowd does not like where this seems to be going, but receives a pleasant surprise that blows the roof off the place when Eagles comes out, rushes Kraven and kicks her out of the ring, then grabs Tessa for Hellbound and retains in three seconds flat.
Eagles isn’t content to end the night like that however, and issues an open challenge for her title. As the crowd wonders if Kraven is going to jump in the ring, Savoy and Baszler come out of nowhere and DESTROY Madison’s knee with Havok’s bat.
The clever part I referred to comes back here, as the implication seems that maybe Tessa and Kraven really did find Kellie laid out and it was instead these two who did it. When they decide they’d done enough, they both strangely jump out of the ring, neither accepting the open challenge. Music strikes up and my jaw goes slack as Mercedes Martinez returns to Shimmer.
She tauntingly asks Eagles whether they’re going to start this challenge or not, and Eagles glares a hole through Martinez as she pulls herself up in the corner and signals the match to start. Sadly for Eagles her knee’s not up to it and Martinez shortly becomes your new Shimmer Champion. Jaw dropping angle to close out the weekend and the combination of Martinez, Savoy, and Baszler look like vicious, heartless, world beaters. Exquisitely done.
Hell of a way to finish up a Shimmer weekend filled with incredible action and major developments, including a new dominant force for the faces to try to overcome. The shows weren’t flawless, but they were excellent none-the-less. And Sunday showed Shimmer can trim some time off of their usual extra long 3+ hour shows without losing any of the quality they’re known for.
Until next time. 🙂