November 11, 2016 in Chicago, IL
Like in June, Shimmer weekend kicked off with a Friday night show at Logan Square Auditorium. Logan Square is a nice contrast to Berwyn and I like having Friday and Saturday there and Sunday at the Eagles Club. The big points going into Friday night were Mickie James and Hudson Envy’s Shimmer debuts, Kellie Skater’s issues with the newly named Trifecta (Shimmer Champion Mercedes Martinez, Shayna Baszler, and Heart of Shimmer Champion Nicole Savoy), and possible new talent debuting as a result of Thursday night’s initial Rise show/seminar.
The show opened with Rhia O’Reilly, who’s continuing to gain crowd sympathy and support, against Kimber Lee. Great way to start, as both wrestlers are exceptional and I think generally underrated. Rhia won to perhaps start a well deserved push, and Kimber is always impressive whoever she’s in the ring with.
The aforementioned potential new talent from Rise was featured in the following two matches, with Angel Dust vs Leva Bates and Shotzi Blackheart vs Melanie Cruise. Leva came out dressed as a Predator to the audience’s delight. I was previously unfamiliar with either Rise participant (and unfortunately missed the Rise show). I personally would have preferred a different opponent for Dust given she was crowned Rise’s inaugural champion. Leva’s primarily a comedy wrestler in Shimmer (and as usual this match had humorous spots revolving around Leva’s choice of character) and if Rise’s champ had to lose her first Shimmer match a more serious competitor would’ve been more appropriate. The match was reasonably fun though and the crowd seemed impressed with Dust, so mission accomplished either way I suppose.
Shotzi got the “David vs Goliath” match as her debut against Melanie. Cruise pretty well destroyed her, but she showed fire and generated crowd sympathy, displaying good instincts and indicating she’d be a great regular member of the roster. I’d be happy to see both her and Angel Dust return.
Hudson Envy was impressive in her Shimmer debut against Xandra Bale. Envy has a unique look and strong character that makes her stand out and would be a good long term addition to Shimmer if possible. She continued to beat on Bale after the match ended, which prompted a save by Bale’s tag partner KC Spinelli. In response Christina Von Eerie made a surprise return to help Hudson, and the heels left Balespin laying to end the exchange.
Speaking of returns, with the announced Courtney Rush out with injury Shimmer brought back Cat Power as a last minute addition for the weekend. She has an EXTREMELY different look and gimmick since last we saw her, and it’s great. The self-proclaimed “Joshi Slayer” had a strong reintroduction to the Shimmer crowd as she defeated natural babyface underdog Nixon Newell.
Tessa Blanchard and Vanessa Kraven continued their somewhat rocky but beneficial association as they helped each other to victories over Jessicka Havok and Candice LeRae respectively. Tessa vs Havok was a bit of a styles clash but turned out fine and was more about the angle of Vanessa once again handing Tessa a win anyway. I feel it’s getting a bit repetitive there, but Kraven is so good at playing condescendingly tolerant to Tessa’s treatment the dynamic is still amusing. The crowd is cheering Kraven nearly as a face, and is DYING to see her finally have enough of Tessa and reduce her to her constituent atoms.
Kraven and LeRae had a good, competitive match with minimal interference from Tessa, continuing to subtly show Kraven as perhaps the more competent of the two. In addition to the crowd getting behind Kraven, they love LeRae too, so were into this. Kraven’s chokebomb finisher is great.
Slap Happy (Evie & Heidi Lovelace) defending their Shimmer Tag Team Championships against WDSS Flyin High (Mia Yim & Kay Lee Ray) was one of best matches of the entire weekend. These four are all high energy wrestlers who are sharp and crisp in everything they do, and the chemistry between them all both as teams and opponents is excellent.
Was a little bit of a shame that this was WDSS’s only tag match of the weekend, as they’re really hitting their stride as a duo, but on the other hand Mia and Kay Lee are equally great in singles so no real complaints.
A week before her WWE return to face former Shimmer wrestler and current NXT Women’s Champion Asuka at NXT Takeover Toronto, Mickie James made her Shimmer debut against former Shimmer champion Nicole Matthews. Matthews is a well established veteran in her own right and a great choice as James’ first opponent. Their match was decent. It started strong and the first few minutes were exciting, then honestly they lost a lot of momentum and the match dragged a bit until the end. It wasn’t bad by any means, it just seemed that Mickie perhaps didn’t have the ring endurance she’s used to and had to slow things down significantly a couple minutes in. Still, a good return to the ring overall for James ahead of her high profile match at NXT.
Mickie won when Nicole stole her belt and tried to use it to win the match. Saraya, who exchanged words online with Matthews regarding Matthews’ treatment of Saraya’s protege Rhia O’Reilly while Saraya was absent from Shimmer last June, stopped Nicole from using the belt and gave Mickie an opening to defeat her. Afterwards Matthews flipped out and called Saraya back to the ring, but bailed when her challenge was answered.
The main event saw Kellie Skater recruit Shazza McKenzie to face Trifecta (Shimmer Champion Mercedes Martinez & Shayna Baszler, w/ Heart of Shimmer Champion Nicole Savoy). I felt this was close to exactly what it should have been. Trifecta controlled until the end, just dominating the faces to establish them as a dangerous force. Finally Kellie got a surprise cradle pin on Mercedes, shocking the champ and setting up title match on the next volume.
I appreciate the idea of trying to elevate someone, but honestly while good Shazza is not quite at the same level as the other competitors here and it showed a bit. Also Kellie and Shazza could have used a few more hope spots to engage the crowd more. However, no one can fault the effort of any of the four and all in all this was a solid main event that kept several issues going and helped Trifecta to look like a strong, threatening unit despite the loss.
Overall, Shimmer 86 was a solid show that set the tone for the weekend nicely. There were a bunch of good debuts and returns that helped compensate for the lack of Joshi and some of Shimmer’s regular stars like Eagles, Melissa, Savoy (in ring), Rush, etc (although honestly the absences were felt a bit).
Fun stuff. 🙂 Day 2 and 3 thoughts to follow.