Reviews Wrestling

Shimmer Weekend June 2016: Day 3 Live Thoughts

June 26, 2016 in Berwyn, IL


Volume 84

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.

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.


Pic with the champ during intermission.


Volume 85

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 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. 🙂

Reviews Wrestling

Shimmer Weekend June 2016: Day 2 Live Thoughts

June 25, 2016 in Chicago, IL

Volume 82

After the end of the previous night’s taping of Volume 81 anticipation was through the roof for a possible Eagles vs Nakajima match. Sure, enough, in the morning it was announced as the main event for Volume 82. 🙂



The opening match for the first taping of the day built off tensions from Volume 81’s 4-way and saw Vanessa Kraven take on Lufisto. This was a great way to start, as it was high energy and felt appropriately heated for a contest between rivals who don’t like each other. Tessa Blanchard was back in Kraven’s corner after her absence the previous night, and ended up costing Kraven the match to further the slow building tensions between the two.

Amusing side note: at one point Kraven was distracting the ref by complaining about the audience taking pictures, so I lifted my camera and got a pic just as she turned her accusing finger at me.

Shayna Baszler and Viper both continued their dominating debuts defeating  Solo Darling and Heidi Lovelace respectively. Shayna continued to look awesome, displaying good instincts and complete commitment to pro-wrestling details and conventions, including applying a “tail-bar” on Solo like she was trying to torture the latter. Big crowd reaction for it. Little touches like the spade gesture and dumping a deck of cards over her fallen opponent add a lot to her mystique.

Still wasn’t completely sold on Viper here, but she got to show more of her agility against the quick Lovelace and Heidi’s an established enough name in Shimmer that defeating her continued Viper’s rapid march up the card.

Another two teams new to Shimmer as pairs faced off as Balespin (Xandra Bale & KC Spinelli) faced Crazy Mary Dobson & Samantha Heights in a decent little match that would play into the (brisk) tag team booking that continue all weekend. It went well enough given the lack of established teams, so no big complaints. Odd dynamic here as Mary and Samantha were slightly portrayed as the heel team, but Mary is not getting booed in Shimmer so it didn’t work quite as well as they perhaps expected. I preferred Dobson and Heights as a team a bit over Balespin, but the latter was fine too.

After a nice showing in defeat at the end of Volume 81’s 4-way against Kellie Skater, Shazza McKenzie got a huge upset victory here against Evie in a great back and forth contest. Shazza continues to improve and looked quite a bit better in all of her matches this weekend than in her previous visits to Shimmer.

Portia’s Interview Segment Spectacular (who ok’s these acronyms?!) debuted next, and was brutal. I adore Portia on commentary and she’s generally a fantastic heel, but this did not come across well. Portia and Nicole got booed themselves, but this segment significantly cooled off a hot crowd overall. Nicole declares herself locker room leader and says she’s going to give opportunities to the younger members of the roster.

Nixon Newell comes out to take Nicole Matthews up on her challenge, and does manage to get the crowd into the match somewhat by the end. Foregone conclusion though both due to Matthews’ level and her just established gimmick.

Thunderkitty comes out and cuts a very good promo about feeling disrespected, but it shouldn’t have been placed so close to Portia’s segment. That made it seem longer than it was, and when Tessa Blanchard answered TK’s open challenge all remaining momentum the show had was gone. Not bad, but Tessa’s getting more “we don’t want to see you” heat than “we want someone to beat you” heat, and TK’s ring style is not one to re-energize the crowd. Kraven stole the spotlight here, as her mannerisms on the outside and the way she reacted to Tessa were perfect.

Nitpick: “The following match is scheduled for one fall with a twenty minute time limit” should not be announced when someone is coming out for an interview to make an open challenge.

Courtney Rush continues to be incredibly intimidating and a serious threat despite coming up short in her Shimmer title match. Her presence is just amazing and Kellie Skater was not only the perfect foil for her, but playing off the fact that they’ve both been mainstays in Shimmer and asking “what happened to you Courtney?!” added a touch of depth and increased the intensity.

Kellie’s roll continued with a tough victory over a top competitor, and it was becoming clearer that she’d be challenging for a singles title before the weekend was up. This got the crowd going again.

Nicole Savoy defended her Heart of SHIMMER Championship against the ultra-popular Ryo Mizunami. Tough challenge early in Nicole’s reign, even if Baszler’s trajectory seemed headed this way and made a title change here extremely unlikely. It was everything I expected and hoped for from these two, with the cocky heel defending champion trying to ground the powerhouse, who often responded by running through and/or over the champion. Great showing for both.

Viper hit the ring for an interview before the next match, and talked about her big wins and how her aspirations were to climb to “where Eagles nest,” foreshadowing the champion’s next feud. Wish she had cut this AFTER the main to leave her involvement a surprise.

The breakneck booking of the tag division I was referring to early was on display as Flying High WDSS (Kay Lee Ray & Mia Yim) received a Shimmer Tag Team Championship match against Cherry Bomb & Kimber Lee after a single victory against another duo who had never teamed in Shimmer before. Still, at least there was that one victory to establish them a little and I understand that they were doing the best they could with all the last minute changes to the roster.

The good news is all the new teams worked well together and looked good in the ring over the course of the weekend. Yim and KLR in particular wrestled like a well oiled machine here, performing double teams like they’d been teaming for years. Good title match that saw the Bombs use the belts again to steal a win.

I had no greater wish going into the weekend that to see Madison Eagles face Arisa Nakajima, and boy did they deliver.  The SHIMMER Championship being on the line (as well as how early in the weekend this was happening and Viper’s promo) clearly pointed to a non-finish, but they completely tore the house down leading up to it.

It was an absolute joy to watch two of the best in the world battle, and my memory won’t do it justice. Definitely go out of your way to see this when it’s available.


Though I’ll admit the finish was flat. Even for a DQ run-in it didn’t come off well, as Viper choked an already tied up Eagles in the corner instead of leveling her with some impressive looking strike or slam first. Strategically it made more sense, but as the end of a hard-hitting, anticipated title match it was a poor choice. Still, the JWP champion was neither winning the Shimmer title nor dropping a fall here, so if that finish was the price paid for being able to have the wonderful match that preceded it at all in the first place I have no complaints.

Afterward Viper had left the area Arisa recovered from the spider suplex that had left her out of the confrontation and helped Madison to the back to a round of cheers.

Beware of lurking ninjas!

During intermission I got to talk to Kellyanne English a bit, who was out for the weekend due to medical issues. She was in relatively good spirits regardless, and I hope to see her back in the ring soon. She was extremely impressive in her debut Shimmer events last fall.

Volume 83

Suitable opener saw Veda Scott against Crazy Mary Dobson in a simple case of hated heel against beloved underdog. Good effort from both and they got the crowd properly riled.

Taylor Made made her only appearance of the weekend against Heidi Lovelace. Fine match that saw Heidi get the expected win with a senton from the top.

I was extremely disappointed to see Shazza McKenzie come out to face Nicole Matthews so early into Nicole’s new gimmick. It was obvious Shazza was going to lose and seemed a waste of upsetting Evie on the previous volume (even more so the next day when I saw who Shazza faced then: continued momentum would’ve added a lot to that match). Regardless, I do understand the opportunity she was given here against a former Shimmer champion and she looked good in the ring with Nicole.

The crowd (rightfully) got extremely excited as Allysin Kay, Mia Yim, Yumi Ohka, and Jessicka Havok made their way out for a 4-way contest. It was excellent. The competitors really took advantage of the format, from the expected awesome tower of doom and four person submission spots to individual encounters like Havok and Kay laying into each other and Ohka mocking Yim’s usual posing routine.

Incredibly hot end too, as Yumi just NAILED poor Mia in the face with her whip behind the ref’s back, but Havok leveled her in turn sending Yumi out to the floor hard right in front of me. Havok covered the still dead Yim for the win. They were clicking on all cylinders all the way through this.

Rhia O’Reilly’s opportunities against high level competition continued as she faced Kay Lee Ray (and she’d face even tougher competition on Sunday). Rhia is solid in the ring and can adapt to the style of her opponents, so it was wonderful to see her get these chances to continue to up her game and show what she can do. KLR eventually staved off Rhia’s assault and picked up the win with the Gory Bomb.

Also continuing was Evie’s tough weekend, as she lost to Tessa Blanchard after interference from Vanessa Kraven. This was fine, and Tessa generates a lot of heat, but she can’t quite keep up with someone like Evie.

After the match Lufisto came out and cut a fantastic short, to the point promo mocking Tessa for riding her father’s name and pointing out Kraven helps Tessa win matches while every time Tessa tries to help Kraven it backfires. She challenges Tessa to a match on Volume 84 with Kraven banned from ringside, and an irate Tessa accepts. If Lufi’s always this good on the mic she needs to be given it more often.


It was surprising to see Shayna Baszler get a shot at Nicole Savoy and the Heart of SHIMMER Championship so soon, but all would make sense later. This was a very short match, but quite good while it lasted. The double finish (with Savoy just putting Baszler’s shoulders down for a pin a second before tapping) kept Baszler strong while getting her first loss out of the way. Baszler shook her head after realizing she didn’t win but presented the belt back to Savoy in a show of respect. It seemed certain to set up a rematch where Baszler took the title, but we ended up with something even better.


Balespin (Xandra Bale &KC Spinelli) were the next in line for the Kimber Bombs’ (Cherry Bomb & Kimber Lee) SHIMMER Tag Team Championship. The challengers looked fine, but never felt like they had a real chance here and as expected the Bombs retained with another cheap shot with the belts.

Afterwards things got interesting, as Slap Happy and WDSS came out to surround the Bombs and inform them that the consequences of all their recent tainted victories would be an elimination match at Volume 84 against both of them plus Balespin. The build might have become a bit predictable, but that’s not an issue when done well and at this point it looked like all of the four teams had at least some chance of winning the elimination match.

Kellie Skater was given another tough challenge to overcome, and Ryo Mizunami was given another opponent she could tear the house down with. Which they did. Two complete pros having a great match.

Building off the events of the earlier taping, Viper challenged Madison Eagles for the SHIMMER Championship. This should have started molten, and looked like it was going to when Eagles tried to rush Viper, but the ref repeatedly held her back until she turned her head and Viper got the jump on her, deflating the crowd. Viper surviving Eagles’ flurry then establishing control would have worked better, and wouldn’t have made Madsion look stupid.

They got into gear quickly after that though, and had a good back and forth match with Madison constantly trying to find a way to combat Viper’s size and a concerted attack on Madison’s weak knee. Viper still wasn’t quite up to the reputation that proceeded her, but came across as a threat and held up her end of the main event. Madison toughed out the challenge and retained her title.

After the match Madison was slumped against the ropes calling for someone to help her out of the ring and to the back. It seemed like it could have either been selling Viper’s gameplan or a legit problem with the knee. Given the story of the rest of the weekend combined with the recent unfortunate news that Madison needs knee surgery and will be out of action for a year, it was probably both.

There were a couple of hiccups here and there, but overall these were two shows well up to Shimmer’s usual standards of excellence. I had a great time.

Day 3 thoughts to follow.

Reviews Wrestling

Shimmer Weekend June 2016: Day 1 Live Thoughts

June 24, 2016 in Chicago, IL


This was both Shimmer’s first show at Logan Square and the first time they’ve run a Friday night show to start the weekend. Logan Square Auditorium is a very different atmosphere than the Berwyn Eagles Club, but I liked the venue overall and was glad to see a decent crowd for those events at the new location. Having slightly more room for the merchandise tables was particularly nice.

There was a fair bit of anticipation for this weekend due to a number of debuts. Add in several regulars missing the tapings for various reasons and there was significant potential for some new breakout stars.

Nixon Newell is a natural underdog and debuting her against uber-heel Veda Scott guaranteed her a chance to win the crowd right away. She did so, looking good despite a loss and making an impression that would last the weekend. Veda keeps improving in the ring, and really knows how to work up the crowd. After the heat she generated last tapings showing sympathy for referee Andy Long he was assigned all her matches this weekend. I understand capitalizing on opportunities, but the fact that Shimmer has a ref that that is never shown to be crooked in any way yet gets more boos than most the heels on the roster is a problem, not something that should be emphasized.

One of the biggest debuts for the weekend was next as Shayna Baszler wrestled in Shimmer for the first time against Rhia O’Reilly. Shayna seems to have transitioned well into the particularities of pro-wrestling while still keeping an MMA based style. It reminds me of the style Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak, and others have been spotlighting in Evolve. She has an edge to her character too and showed a lot of charisma. It all combined to make her seem a dominant force right off the bat. Rhia is always solid in the ring and was a great choice as a first test for Shayna. Rhia would go on to have several more high profile opponents  over the course of the weekend.

Several interesting aspects were woven into one 4-way match. Lufisto and Vanessa Kraven eventually lost all patience with each other and brawled to the back. Shazza McKenzie got to show an extra level of resiliency by lasting a while after that against top of the card mainstay Kellie Skater. Good action throughout this.

Another debut saw Viper make an immediate impact against Jessica Havok. This was an ok power match meant to emphasize Viper’s strength, but from what I understand (and saw later) what makes her unique is her agility for her size, which wasn’t much on display here. Havok’s so big Viper’s power moves didn’t come off crisply, which hurt the match a bit. Still, the main purpose of making her an immediate threat by defeating an established monster like Havok was achieved.

On a completely random note: Yumi Ohka has some of the most amazing ring robes and gear in all of wrestling.

With Cheerleader Melissa missing her first set of Shimmer tapings ever due to Lucha Underground tapings, Melanie Cruise was teamed up with newly turned Yumi Ohka in her stead. They had phenomenal chemistry as a team and I actually prefer this pairing slightly over Ohka & Melissa. Here they faced the ridiculously named new team of Flying High WDSS (Mia Yim & Kay Lee Ray).

The team name and new music essentially gave away the finish, but this was a great little match none-the-less. Ohka and Cruise’s excellent heel work agitated the crowd well and Yim and KLR are both natural babyfaces. The latter’s quick tag / jumping in and out over the top ropes sequence in particular was a nice touch to show them being on the same wavelength in a cool and unique way. Strong win for WDSS in their first teaming.

The fourth, final, and biggest debut of the night saw JWP Openweight Champion Arisa Nakajima face former Shimmer Champion Nicole Matthews. At first it seemed a lot of the crowd didn’t know Arisa or the level of this matchup. Nicole tried to cover and emphasize its importance by jumping on a fan who referred to it as a “midcard match,” but her protests about that rang a bit hollow considering it was inexplicably placed smack dab in the middle of the card. I appreciate her effort there but wish she had talked up Arisa’s reputation a bit more to get the point across.

So the initial heat wasn’t really as high as it should have been for a matchup of this caliber, but it didn’t matter by the end as Arisa’s work eventually won everyone over and the victory over a former Shimmer champ in her debut conveyed what Nicole had been trying to. Great work by both. Arisa’s a favorite of mine and it was wonderful to see her come over to the states and wrestle in Shimmer.


I’d guess KC Spinelli got the match originally intended for the injured Kellyanne English against Ryo Mizunami. If so, she certainly made the most of the opportunity. She looked better than ever here, keeping pace with the more experienced Mizunami. Speaking of which, Mizunami is on a completely different level than her last appearances in Shimmer. I got a taste of this during a trip to Japan last December, and was extremely excited when she was announced for Shimmer. Her charisma is amazing, and she makes use of little mannerisms combined with a high level of energy to really connect with the crowd and fire them up (seemingly) effortlessly. She was pitch perfect all weekend and it was great to see her back.

Nicole Savoy defended her Heart of Shimmer Championship against Crazy Mary Dobson, who was likely filling in here in place of Candice LeRae (out for the weekend with a concussion). Savoy’s heel work keeps improving, as she’s more and more able to sustain boos from the crowd despite how great she is in the ring being appreciated by most of them. Crazy Mary was a perfect opponent in that respect, as the crowd always adores her. This was decent, but held back a little by the fact that Mary never seemed a credible threat to take the title. The momentum she had from upsetting Saraya Knight at the fall tapings was gone due to her early exit from the Heart of Shimmer tournament in April.

Slap Happy (Heidi Lovelace and Evie) received the shot at the Shimmer Tag Team Championship against the Kimber Bombs (Kimber Lee and Cherry Bomb) they earned by winning a number one contenders mini-tournament during the fall. Both teams fit their roles exactly, from Cherry’s voice and the Bombs cheating antagonizing the crowd to Heidi and Evie being the perfect competitors for the crowd to get behind. Lots of good action leading to the Bombs infuriating the audience by retaining with a belt shot. This would set up future developments later in the weekend.

There isn’t anyone in wrestling right now with more command of their character than Courtney Rush (and only Dalton Castle and Su Yung even really come close). Her mannerisms are appropriately creepy and intimidating, and she blends it all seamlessly with her ring work. She was pushed heavily during the fall tapings and it was no surprise when she was announced as Madison Eagles’ next challenger for the Shimmer Championship.

Madison stopped in front of me while walking around the ring to confess she was “a little bit scared about this one.” It was a great nod to the imposing and unsettling nature of Courtney’s character, which Madison continued at the beginning of the match by making a cross out of two of her trademark forks. I’ve heard some weird chants before, but “The Power of Christ Compels You” is a new one. Courtney laughed it off, chased Madison outside, then licked the “cross.” Madison responded with a huge kick to the head, then things got REALLY odd/fun.


Madison went under the ring and took out two containers of SALT, and poured them completely around the ring to form a barrier to keep demons out. Rush sold getting “burned” every time she tried to touch the ropes/get back into the ring. But as the ref reached around 7 on the count he got too close to the edge and “broke the barrier,” allowing Rush back inside. Absurd, but done perfectly and highly amusing. This was just the right amount of humorous proceedings to start the match, and it all stemmed directly from Rush’s current character and still centered around Eagles trying to win. From there they had a solid, hard-hitting main event that Eagles won in decisive fashion.


But we weren’t quite done yet. As Eagles went to leave ringside, Arisa came back out with the JWP title over her shoulder and gave Madison a little bump while smiling slyly. They both got back in the ring, raised their titles at each other, then shook hands in a show of mutual respect. The crowd picked up on this as a huge development and there was a lot of buzz about a potential match between the two as everyone exited. Eagles vs Arisa is the match I most hoped for when Nakajima was announced, so I was thrilled with this end to the taping.

Fun start to the weekend. 🙂

Day 2 and 3 thoughts to follow.



Reviews Wrestling

Shimmer 80 ippv Live Thoughts

April 2, 2016 in Dallas, TX

Big show for Shimmer as they crown their first Heart of Shimmer Champion, a secondary title being introduced on this show in a 12-woman tournament.


First round match: Leva Bates vs Cheerleader Melissa. 

Leva out in Kingdom Hearts Sora cosplay. Leva calls the fans the true heart of Shimmer. This was fine, but they didn’t mesh particularly well and there were awkward exchanges. Leva also never felt like she really had a chance. On the plus side – Kudo Driver.

First round match: Candice LeRae vs. Cherry Bomb 

Nice to see Cherry back from injury. Candice on fire to start, and wakes the crowd up with a dive to the outside. Cherry takes over with a kick and screams at Candice to strong crowd reaction. Good back and forth match, with Candice advancing with a quick crucifix after Cherry hit her with a Death Valley Driver. This should have opened the show.

First round match: Lufisto vs Nicole Savoy.

Savoy gets right into Lufisto’s face during the intros, and kicks at her hand when offered a handshake. I adore Savoy. They light into each other with strikes and it’s a million miles an hour already. Savoy gets the advantage and is all over Lufisto. Lufisto responds in kind once she’s able to take over. Nicole eventual traps Lufisto… and makes her tap!!! Great match and a nice surprise. I was sure Lufisto would be in the finals. With Lufisto gone Savoy is the favorite to win I think, although not entirely sure a heel will take it.

First round match: Kimber Lee vs Jessica Havok. 

Rematch from the last set of tapings. Lee looking good finding ways to deal with Havok’s size. Continues throughout the match, as Havok uses her size and power to press the advantage, and Lee counters with strikes and holds. Havok gets the stretch muffler, but Cherry out for the distraction and Lee wins with a rollup. Interesting. Dave usually keeps the face/heel balance in matchups, but we’ve got Savoy/Lee in the second round. Good match.

First round match: Heidi Lovelace vs Veda Scott.

Veda cheating at every opportunity like a good heel should. Nice spot on the outside where Heidi pulls Veda off the barricade and kicks her in face. Split crowd. Started slow and basic but picked up a lot as the match went. Heidi wins with a big senton off the top. Veda gets an ovation after the match, but says she still hates the audience like a good heel should.

First round match:  Nicole Matthews vs Crazy Mary Dobson. 

Interesting match, as Mary upset former Shimmer champion Saraya Knight at the last taped show.  Was disappointed when this match was announced. A loss here and Mary’s momentum from upsetting Knight is gone. Yet back to back wins over former champs and she’d pretty much have to take the tourney. Decent match with Mary playing the underdog and Matthews getting the expected win. Bit of a waste.


Semi-final match: Candice Lerae vs Cheerleader Melissa. 

Candice dives onto Melissa during her entrance, skipping ring intros. Melissa takes over and destroys Candice with her signature wheelbarrow swing into the guardrail repeatedly. This got intense down the stretch, with Candice shaking off numerous double stomps to hits multiple of her signature “boxplexes” to upset Melissa. Hard hitting battle with a definitive finish over a two time Shimmer champ to really establish Candice as a contender.

Semi-final match: Kimber Lee vs Nicole Savoy.

Cherry Bomb’s sent to the back immediately, upsetting the tag champs. Both stay in character, leading to an interesting dynamic, but Savoy is the crowd favorite. Good showing for Lee, but Savoy is too much for her and wins with her second submission victory of the evening. Savoy’s looking like a world beater.

Semi-final match: Heidi Lovelace vs Nicole Matthews. 

Another good match with Heidi defeating the former champ and ending Matthews’ triple crown quest with the senton she beat Mary with. I like that all three finalists were made to look extremely strong going into the deciding match, and Heidi’s senton now already has credibility as a finish.


The interview segment with Shayna Baszler fell kind of flat. She was fine explaining her qualifications and talking about bringing catch wrestling style back to pro-wrestling, but she just kind of threw out the fact that she’ll be wrestling at Shimmer 81 as an aside at the end. Didn’t come across as the big announcement it should have been.


Final elimination match: Candice Lerae vs Nicole Savoy vs Heidi Lovelace.

Excellent final and a fitting end to the tournament. Heidi powered out of the ring early on and after some good exchanges Savoy eliminated Candice in pretty quick fashion. Heidi and Nicole have good chemistry, and the end portion of the match was exciting. Savoy kicked out Heidi’s new senton finish at one point in a big near fall.

One misstep as Savoy locked in the submission she beat Lufisto with and Heidi looked around for the ropes without selling pain at all. I understand she should be trying to escape, but scream or something while doing so when both arms are supposedly being pulled near out of their sockets. Savoy later locks in the cross arm breaker (which she beat Lee with) for the win and the championship. Dominating tournament for Savoy, much to my delight.


Great effort from all involved and good wrestling up and down the card. Savoy is the perfect choice to showcase the new title and it gives the spotlight to a deserving up and coming star.

Reviews Wrestling

Top 5 Matches of 2015 (so far): Live

I have a fair bit of wrestling to watch remaining on the 2015 calendar, but mid-December still seems like a good time to look back at the best 2015 had to offer. Here I’ll list the Top 5 matches I was lucky enough to see live, in chronological order. This was a great year and this was a tough list to make. There’s a LOT of great stuff that just missed the cut.

Match reviews copied from my show specific blogs when possible.

1. Aja Kong, Dynamite Kansai, Kyoko Kimura, and Mayumi Ozaki vs. 3G (Kellie Skater and Tomoka Nakagawa) and 3S (Misaki Ohata and Hiroyo Matsumoto)


This match is not available on dvd yet and I will in no way be able to do it justice from memory. Legitimate legends making their Shimmer debuts, eight amazing athletes, and a bitter sweet goodbye weekend for Tomoka Nakagawa made this an amazing experience. I consider myself honored to have been there.


I just barely picked this over Nakagawa’s final match (with Skater) against the Canadian Ninjas, because while both were great this match was a touch better, where the aftermath and  Tomoka’s farewell were the larger part of the atmosphere for the Ninjas match.


2. Evolve Title Match: Timothy Thatcher (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr.

This is the match I went to Evolve 47 to see, and it was everything I hope for. Thatcher is my favorite wrestler at the moment and what I’ve seen of Sabre so far has been extremely impressive, so to say I was psyched for this match would be a vast understatement.


I think the term “wrestling clinic” is thrown around too much, but if ever it was appropriate it’s here. Thatcher and Sabre spent the entire match fighting over holds and reversals trying to get an advantage. And that was the key: they FOUGHT for everything. Nothing looked like a “sequence,” it always looked like two guys desperately trying to gain an advantage over one another and win the match.


It’s extremely difficult to keep an entirely grappling based match gripping throughout and never lose the crowd, especially in the main event of a card that featured high flying, strikefests, and no-DQ savagery. It’s an accomplishment that speaks volumes about the skills of both men. I remember a particularly great stretch that featured an exchange of strangleholds for several minutes, and there were tons of innovative reversals and holds that had the fans oohing and aahing.


Sabre added some stiff kicks late in the match and Thatcher some suplexes, but it came back down to the grappling with Sabre focusing on Thatcher’s arm and Thatcher going after Sabre’s legs. In the end Thatcher reversed into a heel hook Sabre couldn’t get out of. Phenomenal match I’m ecstatic I got to see live.

3. Sasha Banks (c) vs Bailey was next for the NXT Women’s Championship. It’s weird how HHH comes across as supportive and important to NXT while Steph seems to be trying to make the spotlight rub off on her and claim credit for other’s success when their promos really aren’t that different. Still, I’ll take the extra attention for the women’s division and having her declare the women’s title match a co-main event was pretty cool.

Again the video package summarizing the feud was excellent and effectively conveyed Banks’ dominating, bullying persona and Bailey’s struggle to prove herself and prove herself while being outpaced by her compatriots. Bailey’s another former member of the Shimmer roster, but didn’t get too much time to shine there before being signed to WWE developmental. Both wrestlers were phenomenal here, and this easily took match of the night on a card filled with more established superstars and great performances.

Everything was pitch perfect. The in-ring story built move by move and had the crowd captivated the whole way. Banks is so good she had to work insanely hard to get booed by the New York crowd, and still managed it well enough to give the key moments extra impact. The meta-story of Bailey’s struggle and hard fought victory finally proving her legitimacy was amazing, and the crowd erupted for her win. And I’ll be damned if I ever thought someone could make a bell-to-belly suplex a believable finisher in 2015. The “curtain call” moment with Charlotte, Becky, Banks and Bailey was just right.

4. No DQ Shimmer Title Match: Nicole Matthews (c) vs Madison Eagles


This 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.


5. Shimmer Title Match: Madison Eagles (c) vs. Nicole Savoy


I really just wanted to put “every match I saw Nicole Savoy in” for this last entry. She is INCREDIBLE, both in the ring and with her heel mannerisms, particularly for her relatively short amount of experience. Promoters have certainly noticed, as she’s been given matches against several of the best in the world. Half of her Berwyn Shimmer matches this year were against visiting Joshi talent, including a huge victory over Hiroyo Matsumoto and great outings against Misaki Ohata, Yumi Ohka, and Sonoko Kato. She more than held her own in the ring with the veterans.


And the greatest example of that was her first Shimmer title shot against recently crowned 2-time champion Madison Eagles. It was fantastic, highlighting Savoy’s potential and ability to hang with the very best. Besides the expected brutal strike exchanges, the grappling was excellent, and really felt like both combatants were constantly trying to gain/press the advantage and win the match. I actually found parts extremely reminiscent of Timothy Thatcher vs Zach Sabre Jr from Evolve 47 mentioned previously. Great stuff.



It’s been a great year for pro-wrestling and I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at some of the best I’ve been lucky enough to catch personally.

Reviews Wrestling

Shimmer 67 DVD Review

October 2014 in Berwyn, IL

I saw this live and remember it as one of the best Shimmer shows ever. I also recently spotlighted it as a good show for new viewers.  Looking forward to seeing how it holds up. As usual the Shimmer weekend experience is something I wholeheartedly recommend. Beyond just great wrestling, it’s a fantastic atmosphere and tons of fun.

Match 1 –The Kimber Bombs (Cherry Bomb and Kimber Lee) vs. KC Cassidy and Bambi Hall **1/2

KC Cassidy is NXT Diva Peyton Royce. Allison Danger on commentary with Dave Prazak. Quick start for the debuting duo of Cassidy and Hall as they get the btter of the more established team to establish them as a potential threat and fire up the crowd. The Bomb’s cheat to take over like all good heels and beat on Cassidy for a while. Hot tag to Hall, who looks good wiping out the Bombs for a little bit, but Cherry hits a chin breaker and then it’s right into the lungblower / release german suplex combo for the win. Basic formula tag match with the expected result that let the newcomers look good in defeat while continuing to build the Bombs towards the titles.

Match 2 – Heidi Lovelace vs. Nicole Savoy ***1/2

This is Savoy’s Berwyn debut. She immediately starts badmouthing fans as she storms out to the ring. Her poise and instincts are well beyond her relatively short experience, and it shows even here. Heidi’s been on fire as of late and was a great choice as her opponent.

Heidi offers a handshake, and Savoy with a hard kick to bat it away. “I didn’t come here to make friends and shake hands.” She’s showing such great heel mannerisms right off the bat. Heidi’s also fantastic shaking her arm to sell the effect and putting a “so this is how you want it” expression on her face.

Prazak and Danger highlight all of the debuts on this show as Savoy and Lovelace lock up. Tense exchange that Savoy seems to get the better of, but she mouths off and Heidi with a strike combination, some arm drags, then a headscissors takedown into a modified Gargano Escape. Savoy retreats outside, more insults for the fans, and wipes Heidi out with a trip on the apron as Heidi was attempting a running kick. Some vicious kicks, then back in and Savoy shows her own submission ability with a cross arm breaker attempt. Things continue in this vein, back and forth throughout the match with both wrestlers intermingling submission attempts with hard kicks.

Later on Savoy hits a brutal looking release tiger suplex, but is worn out herself and slow to cover which gives Heidi enough time to kick out. Release dragon but Heidi’s too close to the ropes. Repeated pin covers then knee strikes in the corner. All Savoy now. Sets up for a superplex but Heidi knocks her off, stunning Nicole. Frog splash gets three. Great outing for both, as Savoy definitely looked like she could hold her own against Heidi, which only made the latter look even more impressive in beating her.

Match 3 – Crazy Mary Dobson vs. Sassy Stephie: *1/2

Mademoiselle Rachelle out with Stephie as usual. Mary’s building a vocal following.  This was pretty paint by numbers – basic exchanges, Stephie gains control due to outside interference, Mary forces the heel to pull her hair out to break a hold, etc. Awkward spot in the middle where Mary tried to sell a suplex by arcing her back on impact but Stephie was trying to float over with the move and kind of bumped off of Mary’s head instead.

Stephie with an extended beat down of Mary, until Mary counters a Rude Awakening attempt with the Eye of the Hurricane (yes, I’m testing who knows their historical finishers). Cartwheel into the double knees to Stephie’s back actually hits her in the neck. Foot on the rope to prevent the pinfall.

Mary with extended offense, including foiling Rachelle interference, but Stephie eventually takes over again and hits Kiss My Sass for the victory. The chemistry wasn’t really here between these two in my opinion, but the crowd was into Mary so it was reasonably well received until the end. Stephie’s win keeps Mary playing the ultimate underdog in Shimmer.

Backstreet Boys hit the speakers and the crowd goes nuts. Speech chant is of course answered. The “white chocolate cheesecake of sports entertainment” says nothing  of consequence, but does so very emphatically and charismatically, and much to the crowds delight. After she’s done listing her nicknames and declaring her supremacy as best in the galaxy, the wrestling goddess comes out as her opponent.

Match 4 – Number 1 Contender’s Match: Nikki Storm vs. Athena ****


It’s announced that the winner of this match, as well as the winner of another match later in the card, will go on to face whoever is Shimmer Champion after this volumes main event in a three way elimination match for the title on the next show.

Nikki with her usual antics during her introduction, including correcting the pronunciation of Glasgow and shushing her weight. She jumps Athena during the latter’s intro. Nikki’s so charismatic the crowd’s having none of booing her / treating her like a heel, despite her attitude and actions. Quick back and forth action to start, which leads to a momentary stalemate and then they just start shoving each other around. Really nice display of aggression and tempers flaring by both.

Storm charges and a low bridge by Athena sends her outside. Athena with a dive to wipe Nikki out, but Nikki quickly strikes back with a hard whip into the apron. Back and forth forearms, then a shove and a hard kick by Athena to stun Storm. Running kick on the apron is countered however as Nikki sweeps her legs. Back in and Storm showing frustration, repeatedly slamming Athena’s head against the mat.

Nikki with an extended advantage, mixing hard strikes and slams with proper heel taunting and cheating. Her asking for rules explanations from the ref while “accidentally” standing on her opponents hair never gets old. She follows up a truly heartfelt apology for unintentionally breaking the rules with a back rake. Her sense of just how much tomfoolery to intermingle with her impressive ringwork is pitch perfect.

Another bout of trash talking leads to a quick rollup by Athena for an extremely close 2 count. This makes Nikki VERY angry, and she just swarms Athena and rubs her face into the mat. Snapmare and Storm locks in a brief chinlock, but Athena counters with a jawbreaker. Double boot stuns Storm and an innovative rollup gets another close 2. Storm’s not any happier with this one and bangs Athena’s head against the mat some more.

After visibly calming herself Storm ties up Athena in a leglock, then adds a chinlock. The calm doesn’t last long and she slams Athena face first into the mat to break and try something else. More pounding and mocking, but she tries a crossbody and Athena catches her. Athena’s “enough is enough” face here is great. She swings Storm into a backbreaker, converts into a faceplant, then right into the Koji Clutch. BEAUTIFUL sequence. Nikki struggles to the ropes to stay alive.

Athena calls for the O-Face and goes up top, but Nikki steadies herself against the ref and “accidentally” pushes him into the ropes, knocking Athena off-balance. A cackling Storm slams Athena and then hits a neckbreaker after some back and forth. Fisherman neckbreaker lays Athena out but she grabs the bottom rope to stop the count. Storm getting frustrated again, but regroups and goes for the Perfect Storm. Athena gets free and nails a big kick and forearm shot combo to put Nikki down. Athena up top again. The O-Face is mis-timed and doesn’t look good, but Prazak covers on commentary saying she “didn’t get as much as she usually does on it” and Athena applies a vicious looking STF variation to send her to volume 68’s title match.

Outside of the O-Face, was a great contest. I would have preferred to see Storm advance and get her first title opportunity,  but Athena is excellent as well. Storm getting overly aggressive and Athena hanging in and waiting for her opportunities was a perfect story for this match, and they executed it near flawlessly.

Recap video of Portia Perez coming out to help Jessica Havok against Heidi Lovelace and instead accidentally nailing Havok with a wrench and costing her the match.

Match 5 –Portia Perez vs. Courtney Rush: **

Portia offers a handshake. which Rush wisely declines. Rush turns her back but anticipates the cheap shot and turns right back around with fist cocked, frightening Portia to the outside. She complains about the handshake, the fist, the fans, the heat, etc on her slow way back into the ring. She taunts Courtney into giving her an opening then makes good heel use of the ref getting in between them to rake Rush’s eyes.

Basic offense from Perez, but her attitude keeps the fans booing. Recurring formula of Rush fighting back here and there with her size and strength but Portia staying in control overall via cheapshots. A Rush comeback leads to an exchange of maneuver attempts and rollups. Portia eventually clotheslines Rush over the top rope, and with Portia alone in the ring and her back to the entrance Havok storms out to kick Portia’s face off. Portia scurries away as refs restrain Havok and wins by DQ.

Meh match, but they kept the crowd into it and it told the stories it meant to. Rush confronts Havok afterwards about costing her the match. Intense staredown as Portia’s announced the winner, but Havok shrugs and walks away.

Match 6: Nevaeh vs. Jenny Rose **1/2

Prazak with useful background about how Jenny Rose went to Japan and is returning to Shimmer after 3 years since her time as the masked Jamilia Craft. Counter wrestling to start, with Rose eventually getting Nevaeh down into a camel clutch. Rose surprisingly starts cheating first, doing the alternating hands at three to keep a hair pull going. The crowd dislikes Nevaeh so much they cheer this.

Back up and Nevaeh expresses her displeasure with a huge forearm shot. Methodical offense by Nevaeh, controlling Rose with holds and nailing her with hard strikes to cut off any attempts to get up. Nice snapmare, necksnap, sliding clothesline combo gets 2. Some showboating gives Rose an opening and some offense, but another clothesline stops that. Rose is bridging up out of every pin attempt, which is unique and distinctive. They fight over a bodtscissors and then exchanges forearms on the knees until Nevaeh pokes the eyes.

Rose fires up a bit after a whip reversal. Suplex attempted, but Neveah kind of falls out of it as a reversal. DDT and a top rope clothesline gets a pair of nearfalls for Rose. Waistlock reversals lead to Nevaeh hosting her up and hitting the DVD for the win. Nevaeh’s cheering section (consisting of one five year old girl) goes wild.  Rose was a fine target for Nevaeh’s no nonsense style, and got to show some fire. Nevaeh’s choice of of holds (too many chinlocks) made this drag a little, but it was decent overall. The Gem City Queen adds a nice heel touch by blowing her defeated opponent a kiss on the way out.

Announcement made that Ozaki has stipulated in her contract that all of her matches must be no-DQ.

Match 7 – No-DQ:  Mayumi Ozaki vs. Saraya Knight ***1/2

Mum’s music hits and the aniticpation of the oncoming chaos is palpable. Saraya threatens Joey Eastman, the fans, and her opponent. Ozaki out with a chain in hand. Big cheers for her Shimmer debut. Prazak puts over Ozaki’s status in Japan and sets the backdrop of having two of the toughest wrestlers in the locker room duke it out. Perez is out for commentary, replacing Danger.


Lockup to start,  involving mutual hair pulling. They exchange hard shots and waste no time in spilling outside. Crazy brawl all around ringside, with slams to the steps, choking, eye pokes, etc. Saraya dumps Ozaki into the front row. Ozaki takes over and nails Saraya with elbows to the back of the head six inches from me. That was wild live. She ties up Knight in the guard rail and pulls back on the arm as the crowd chants “tap” and Prazak ponders if the ref will make this an impromptu fall count anywhere match. Hair pull to break and Saraya takes things back inside the ring.

Ozaki tries a Boston Crab, but Saraya keeps turning her weight to counter, so she steps on Saraya’s face instead. First official successful wrestling move of the match is a chinlock. Transitioned into a dragon sleeper, which Saraya counters with another eye rake. Dropkick, double legdrop and running side slam keep the momentum for Knight. She’s apparently had enough wrestling and drags Ozaki back outside. Runs Ozaki into the guardrail and dumps her into the other side of the crowd. They brawl through (and on) some merchandise tables. Back to the ring again and Saraya brags that no one can beat her. She pounds on Ozaki to reenforce the point, but a knee strike and huge backfist disabuse her of that notion as Ozaki gets the win. This was all spectacle, but a very good one.

Huge win for Ozaki in her debut, and they play it up as such. Saraya offers a handshake and a hug as the announcers lose their minds. “Could these two psychos be soulmates Dave Prazak?” They go to the bar together for a drink and leave arm in arm as Saraya flips off the crowd.

Match 8 – Evie vs. Kay Lee Ray****1/2

Two of Shimmer’s best up and comers here, and I recall this being fantastic live.


Extremely fast paced bit of chain wrestling and counters to start leading to a stalemate and applause from the crowd. Amusing test of strength follows centered around locking up with their respective injured and bandaged fingers. Pace quickens again and they trade leapfrogs, armdrags, and dropkicks until KLR avoids a dropkick and grabs a facelock on the fallen Evie. Dueling chants as KLR sets up the Gory Bomb, but Evie sunset flips out of it. She tries her parabola kick, but KLR somersaults out of the way and hits a hard enzugiri in the corner. She goes to the apron and nails a springboard missle dropkick for 2.

After being tied up for a bit Evie starts to fight back, but gets caught in a beautiful Northern lights suplex by KLR while trying to slingshot in from the apron. Evie rolls outside and kicks KLR in the face during a dive attempt. She lands her running kick on the apron for her first real sustained offense of the match. Back in, hard kick to KLR’s back, then Evie absolutely wipes her out with a backbreaker as KLR tried to fight back.

Some more back and forth, then KLR counters numerous Evie charges in the corner and tries to hit a headscissors off the last, but Evie with a sit out powerbomb for her own counter for 2. Evie’s turn to tie KLR in knots on the mat. Small package and a forearm from KLR stuns Evie, but as KLR runs across to the other corner Evie’s right behind her and connects with the parabola kick. KLR with a desperation enzugiri and they’re both down. Well earned “this is awesome” chant from the crowd.

Both up and exchange strikes. KLR ducks a kick and hits a falling faceplant from a suplex setup for a close nearfall. Evie off the ropes and she fights over a rollup from the wheelbarrow position, but instead rolls through and face plants KLR. TTYL reversed into the Gory Bomb for another incredibly close fall. KLR firing up the fans and goes up for the swanton, but Evie with another parabola kick. She pulls KLR off the turnbuckles and hit the TTYL for the win. Close up on some nasty welts Evie received during the contest. She helps KLR up for some mutual respect.

Fantastic match. Each wrestler got to spotlight both their offense and resiliency. This victory puts Evie in line for a title shot.

The Kimber Bombs complain about facing rookies and make their case for a Shimmer Tag Team Title shot.

Match 9 – Lufisto vs. Rhia O’Reilly **3/4

Lufisto out in her new gimmick as Wounded Owl Ronin, and Rhia taunts her about the absence of the departed Peegaboo. This proves unwise as Lufisto starts beating her from pillar to post. Diving tackle from the top sends Rhia to the mat and Lufisto locks in a double arm lock. Rhia fights up but gets sent to the corner. Lufisto attempts the running cannonball but Rhia slides outside to avoid it and pulls Lufisto out to gain control for the first time.

Back in and a chinlock is applied. Mercifully short, as Rhia releases and pushes her  advantage with strikes and chokes. Commentary stressing how far Rhia has come to be hanging in with a veteran like Lufisto, as well as the great shape Rhia’s gotten herself into. Finlay roll for 2. More choking in the ropes. Dragon sleepr and Rhia adds some forearms from that position to Lufisto’s chest for good measure. Nice T-bone suplex and more forearms, then Rhia sets up a superplex.

Lufisto counters and they just lay into each other with slaps with both sitting on the top rope. Lufisto gets the better of it and hits a double stomp with Rhia hanging in the tree of woe. Hard chops in another corner and Lufisto whips Rhia across the ring and connects with the diving forearm for 2. Rhia escapes a burning hammer attempts and hits a release tiger suplex for her own close 2. Lufisto counter a Rhia adjustment with a brainbuster variation, and the burning hammer ends it. Slow to start, but really picked up at the end. Rhia’s continually improving.

Saraya and Ozaki out to punish Lufisto for beating Saraya’s protege. Lufisto escapes as Portia expresses unease about this new alliance. Nice setup of a new faction. Lufisto being their first target doesn’t bode well for her partner’s chances of needing to defend the Shimmer Title on the next volume.

Recap of Madison Eagles inadvertently distracting Nicole Matthews in a match against Evie. Matthews comes out an announces that “friends don’t cost friends matches” and she’s finally agreed to a rematch because of a good prize at the end of it.

Match 10 –Number 1 Contender’s Match: Nicole Matthews vs. Madison Eagles ***3/4

The winner will join Athena to face the winner of Cheerleader Melissa and Kana for the Shimmer Title on volume 68. Crowd somewhat split as both are excellent wrestlers, but overall Madison is the favorite.


Madison is delighted to get streamers, and wraps them around herself and then poses like she’s going to wrestle with them on. She then carefully gathers them up and puts them in her corner. Perez comments that her and Matthews never get streamers, and Prazak answers “yeah, I wonder why. Maybe they don’t LIKE you.”

The fork skit for the evening is more ridiculous than usual, as Madison drops about fifteen plastic forks as she takes off her shirt. While Bryce is picking them up she slips two into his back pockets, then claiming them every time he turns around after confiscating one from her while Matthews flips out. Bryce loses patience and snaps one in half to end the bit.  Bell rings and Matthews pretends to bail in protest, because we haven’t had enough stalling and nonsense in this match yet.

Back in and the action finally starts. Lots of whips and tackles to reestablish how even they are until Madison takes it to the mat and applies a seated half crab. Back up after a rope break and Madison ends up with an arm submission this time. Nicole works her way out and applies a front facelock. Madison trips to counter and works the arm some more. Nicole reverses and returns the favor. Cartwheel by Madison to escape and she goes right back to it. Nice counter wrestling here. Commentary discusses the previous twenty minute draw these two had and how evenly matched they are.

Extended back and forth submission attempts. Technically proficient but the match feels a bit slow. They are constantly fighting over the holds, which is so important in this style of match to make it feel like an actual contest each wrestler is trying to win. Eagles eventually gets her leg trapped over the top rope in the corner and Matthews lays in some hard kicks to the leg and then dumps Madison outside. She slams various parts of Madison’s body into the guardrail and is in firm control now.  Count broken and Matthews does more damage to Madison’s leg on the ring apron and against the ringpost, including the ringpost figure four.

She continues to work the leg/knee as Prazak brings up Madison’s impressive streak of not being pinned or made to submit since losing the Shimmer Championship. Madison eventually fights back up and the pace quickens as they trade release German suplexes. After 2-3 apiece they both crumple to the mat. When they’re both up Madison starts to dominate, nailing a kick to the chest, a lariat, and a standing kick to the head in rapid succession. Nicole reverses a brainbuster attempt and goes for the Vancouver Maneuver. Eagles tries to fight it off so Matthews jumps up into a dragon sleeper instead in a nice spot. Numerous rolling elbows in the corner keep her in control, and when Madison tries to charge out Nicole hits a crucifix for 2. Backslide gets another 2 and she kicks at Madison’s chest, but gets caught in Hellbound position coming off the ropes. She drops down and hits a Northern lights suplex for another 2. Crowd getting into it now.

Trading submission attempts again leads to a Liontamer by Matthews. Madison counters and goes for her new submission finisher again, but Matthews grabs the ropes. Hellbound attempt escaped again, but Madison hits the brainbuster. They fight back and forth until Nicole lands a neckbreaker into a DDT then tries the Liontamer again, but Madison reverses into her STF variation. Nicole fights it off a bit and Madison transitions to a sleeper. Nicole pushes backwards out of the corner and pins Eagles, but Nicole taps during the count. Bryce didn’t see the tap while he was counting the pin, but others refs come out and it’s decided both wrestlers will advance to the title match on volume 68, which is now a four woman elimination match.

This was very good, but missing something that would’ve elevated it to truly great. Definitely picked way up at the end though. The finish made sense in the overarching storyline and keeps the stalemate between these two going, but the inconsistency with which the outside refs do and don’t involve themselves in questionable decisions gets annoying.

Match 11 – 3G and Mia Yim vs Tsukasa Fujimoto, Kaori Yoneyama and Akino ****3/4

Faced with the debut of three incredible Joshi stars, Shimmer decided to go all out and put them in the ring with three of the most technically proficient (and most beloved) regulars and let them tear the house down. And of course they did. In anticipation of the insane pace to be set, Prazak and Perez give up on play by play commentary before the match even starts.

Crowd is on fire from the get go, with loud dueling “Yoneyama” “Mia Yim” chants. Prazak with helpful context explaining how much experience Kellie and Mia have in Japan, and that all six wrestlers have familiarity with each other. I love it when matches like this open with rotating pairs of opponents, and it was very well done here. That section ends with the first of many triple-team attacks of the contest, as Fujimoto whips both her partners into Nakagawa in the corner, then Akino and Yoneyama form steps for Tsukasa to run up and dropkick Nakagawa. Great spot.


The Joshi trio with extended domination of Nakagawa, which establishes them as the threats they are for a crowd that is somewhat unfamiliar with them. They culminate with the pyramid picture pose on top with Tomoka tied up at the bottom. The Shimmer trio then gets control and takes turns showing their own skills against Fujimoto (including Mia and Kellie calling out Akino in the corner as they kick Tuskasa as counter mindgames).  The requisite everybody involved submission hold was an amusing chain headscissors, and later on the Shimmer contingent hit all of their opponents at once with a triple suplex.

Things keep picking up, including some amazing back and forth multi-woman sequences and vicious exchanges of kicks between Akino and Mia. It’s a pleasure to watch masters of their craft build a technical core of the match and then appropriately work in double and triple team spots, high risk maneuvers, etc on top of it. The timing and execution of everything here is just fantastic. And as an aside, I immediately love anyone who uses Chaos Theory. Yoneyama picks up the win for her team after hitting a gorgeous top rope senton on Skater, which sets up her and Tsukasa for a future Shimmer Tag Team title shot.


Great action, booking, and use of the format. Amazing debut for three top stars. Words really can’t properly do this match justice. You have to watch it for yourself.

Main event – Shimmer Title Match: Cheerleader Melissa (c) vs. Kana ****3/4

This is Kana’s first shot at the Shimmer Title. These two have met in Shimmer before 3 years previously (on volume 43), where Melissa earned a second shot at Madison Eagles and the Shimmer Championship by defeating Kana with the Air Raid Crash. Melissa is great as she comes out, confidently smiling and mockingly waving at any fan who boos her.

Lots of crowd support for Kana as the bell rings, countered with a smaller Melissa chant. They take turns playing to the fans for a while as they circle each other. They fight over a collar and elbow tie up for quite a bit with neither getting the advantage until Kana transitions into a front facelock. Go behind, takedown, momentary chinlock into a bodyscissors. Kana grabs Melissa arm from behind and bends her back into a pin while keeping her legs in position to reapply the body scissors when Melissa kicks out. Kana rolls to the side for another pin attempt, but Melissa breaks the bodayscissors, and grabs Kana’s arms for the seated surfboard type hold that has been very popular on this show. It’s  always great to see Kana in the ring with someone who can keep up with her chain wrestling and submissions.

Melissa really works the hold, rocking back and forth to apply more pressure. She floats over into a front facelock but Kana slips behind her again. They trade reversals and Kana grabs a grapevine. Melissa stands to counter and deadlifts Kana back to her feet, then hits a belly to back suplex. Back to neutral corners and they start to circle again as Kana shakes off the effects. They trade waistlocks again, then Kana with an arm wringer. Melissa twists out of it and into a standing, straight arm armbar. Drop toehold counters that an Kana works her way into an arm bar. Melissa rolls out into a seated position, but Kana was waiting for it and drills her with a kick to the head.


Melissa rolls to the outside to recover, and Kana waits in the center of the ring. She milks the count until 9 and comes back in only to eat several more kick. Snapmare and Kana just wears out Melissa’s back with kicks. Mocking, weak kicks to to Melissa’s head make the champ angry, and she absorbs numerous forearms with no effect before throwing Kana down by the hair and stomping away. Choke in the corner with her boot. Rammed into another turnbuckle and Melissa with another choke. Whip across the ring, running forearm, and a trio of axe kicks. Champ in firm control.

They go outside and Melissa mauls her with forearms to the back. Bodyslam to the floor and Melissa breaks the count. Whip into the barricade and Melissa grabs a waistlock. Uh-oh. And yes, she wheelbarrows Kana and begins her trademark sequence of whipping her opponent into the barricade from that position. They’re right in front of me and I remember getting totally caught up in the spot as my favorite wrestler’s head bounced off the guardrail inches from me. Melissa backs up a little as she does it, which brings her even with the steps, so she bounces Kana between the rail and the steps for a few repetitions. Ouch. The champ poses on the steps with Kana lying in a heap at her feet.

Another axe kick and she stalks Kana. Both momentarily back in, but Melissa stomps Kana back out. She goes to the ring apron for a running kick, but Kana catches it and hits a dragon screw leg  whip variation. Kana’s not going to let the guardrail abuse go unanswered, and slams Melissa’s leg into it repeatedly. She picks Melissa up and places the injured leg over the rail, then hits  a pair of wicked kicks, followed by an overhand strike to it off the steps.

Melissa desperately trying to crawl backwards out of the way as Kana follows and kicks at the leg. Snapmare and Kana hits her sliding kick to Melissa’s face. Kana back in and seems to be regrouping a bit herself ans Melissa tries to pick herself up. She’s in at 8 but Kana IMMEDIATELY grabs a kneebar on the injured leg. Transitioned into a half crab, but Melissa gets the bottom rope. More hard kicks to the leg and back down into a grapevine, into a STF variation. Melissa crawls to the rope for a break, screaming in pain along the way. Stiff forearm exchange ends when Kana decides to go back to the grapevine off a running leg takedown. Grabs Melissa after a rope break and puts her down again with a dragon screw.

Payback for the choking in corner now, as Perez marvels at how we’ve never seen Melissa dominated like this before.    Melissa tries to bail, but Kana catches her halfway and wraps her leg around the ropes for a 4 count. Both back in, an more brutal kicks to Melissa’s chest. She calls for the sliding kick again but Melissa explodes into her with a shoulder tackle  to take over. Bodyslam and a legdrop, but she aggravated her injured leg in doing so. Melissa now with the taunting weak kicks to the head, and I don’t think it’s any more of a wise move for her. Kana lays in wait and catches Melissa’s leg on a running kick attempt, then transitions into her ankle lock into a German suplex spot.

Firing the crowd up and hits the sliding kick this time for 2. She grabs Melissa’s ankle as the latter kicks out, but Melissa rolls out this time. Kick swatted away by Kana. Slap across Melissa’s face. Reciept is blocked, backfist lands. Melissa with a forearm, Kana with a kick to the head, running boot by Melissa before she falls and they’re both down.

Both up and Kana rolls under another running boot, then counters a strike into an inverted DDT. Back to destroying each other with forearms. They take turns following each other into the ropes with elbows then Melissa catches Kana with a Samoan drop for a close 2. She elevates Kana, but Kana drops down and they trade waistlocks until Kana converts it into an octopus. Kana transitions into a rollup for 2, then right into another grapevine. She goes from that back into the STF variation. Melissa claws her way to the ropes, with Kana making her fight for every inch. Neckbreaker gets 2 for Kana, then she hits another vicious head kick for another 2.

Melissa pulled up and Kana tries to lock in the crossface chicken wing. Melissa reverses into an air raid crash attempt, which Kana reverses into a tight sunset flip (which is how Melissa won the belt from Eagles) for 2. Melissa blocks a kick and takes Kana’s head off with a lariat. Air raid crash, which beat Kana the first time they faced, gets 2. Melissa is angry. TEN curbstomps follow. Which is just INSANE. Kana’s limp and a second air raid crash retains the championship.

Fantastic match that got Melissa over as a world beater and kept Kana looking incredibly strong as it took TWELVE signature moves from Melissa to keep her down. Equal in quality to the previous six-woman tag match(although very different of course) , and that’s saying something.

Overall: I stand by my assertion that this is one of Shimmer’s best events. Two of their greatest matches ever headline and the undercard is filled with interesting matchups in a variety of styles. Nothing was terrible and the good was beyond great.

Available at .

Reviews Wrestling

Welcome to Shimmer!

Between Shimmer’s recent 10th Anniversary weekend and more and more Shimmer regulars showing up on NXT I thought this would be a good time to do a quick spotlight on some shows that are good jumping on points for new viewers to check out this amazing promotion. You really can’t go wrong with any of the Shimmer library, and there’s MANY more volumes I could point to, but here are just a few particularly impressive shows to start with.

All three (and many more) are available for purchase at Shimmer’s website.


Edit 7/14/17: It’s been wonderful to continue to see some of the incredible athletes from Shimmer get opportunities in WWE/NXT. I’ve updated this article with notes as indicated to point out appearances of more talent that has debuted since I wrote this, including numerous wrestlers who are part of the Mae Young Classic.


Volume 44


Why it’s great in general: The undercard has a lot of interesting, strong match ups including Serena Deeb vs. Yumi Ohka, Jessie McKay vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto, Athena vs. Mercedes Martinez, etc. The top four matches are all great and wrap up several ongoing angles while setting up a couple intriguing new ones. At the very top the most successful tag team in Shimmer’s history gets a chance to regain their titles, and Cheerleader Melissa gets a long awaited second title match against Madison Eagles.

Why it’s good for new viewers: I’ll admit this one is a little odd, as again it features the end of several ongoing angles. But the background is well explained in each case, and the payoffs really do work well even standing on their own, making this a really strong show. The big draw to NXT/WWE viewers will be Britani Knight (Paige) facing her mother Sweet Saraya Knight in Britani’s last Shimmer match. Jessie McKay (Billie Kay), Leva Bates (Blue Pants), Serena Deeb (Serena), Kana (Asuka), Davina Rose (Bayley), and Athena (Ember Moon) also all appear on this volume.

Full card:

  1. Kellie Skater vs. Davina Rose
  2. Taylor Made vs. Veda Scott
  3. Tomoka Nakagawa vs. Kalamity
  4. Nevaeh and Sassy Stephie vs. Ashley Lane and Mia Yim
  5. Serena Deeb vs. Yumi Ohka
  6. Allison Danger, Christina Von Eerie, Leva Bates and MsChif vs. Bonesaw, She Nay Nay, Melanie Cruise and Mena Libra
  7. Jessie McKay vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto
  8. Sara Del Rey vs. Courtney Rush
  9. Athena vs. Mercedes Martinez
  10. Kana vs. Lufisto
  11. Britani Knight vs. Saraya Knight
  12. Shimmer Tag Team Title Match: Ayumi Kurihara and Ayako Hamada (c) vs The Canadian Ninjas (Potia Perez and Nicole Matthews)
  13. Shimmer Title Match: Madison Eagles (c) vs. Cheerleader Melissa


Edit 7/14/17: Mae Young Classic participant Mia Yim shows up here, although she’s gets much more of a chance to shine on a show I spotlight later.


Volume 50


Why it’s great in general: Volume 50 has a nice variety of matches that do a good job of showcasing what Shimmer has to offer. The main event features a lot of the biggest stars at the time in a match that both pays tribute to Shimmer history and expertly weaves in several ongoing stories. In addition the co-main event is an amazing match between Japanese superstars Ayako Hamada and Kana, which is my personal all time favorite match in Shimmer (and which I talk about in depth here).

Why it’s good for new viewers: This is another good spotlight for several wrestlers currently appearing on NXT, including signees and enhancement talent, so would be nice for people who’ve seen them there and are looking to check out their previous work. Kana (Asuka), Davina Rose (Bayley), Athena (Ember Moon), Leva Bates (Blue Pants), and Shazza McKenzie all appear on this volume. And again with the two spectacular main events and an undercard filled with interesting match ups this show is a nice snapshot of what Shimmer is.

Full card:

  1. Veda Scott vs. Miss Natural
  2. Shazza McKenzie vs. Santana Garrett
  3. Sassy Stephie vs. Su Yung
  4. Taylor Made vs. Courtney Rush
  5. Cherry Bomb vs. Christina Von Eerie vs. Kalamity vs. Ryo Mizunami
  6. Rhia O’Reilly vs. Davina Rose
  7. Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Melanie Cruise
  8. Athena vs. Tomoka Nakagawa
  9. Yumi Ohka vs. Kellie Skater
  10. Ayako Hamada vs. Kana
  11. Elimination Match: Allison Danger, Leva Bates, Cheerleader Melissa, Lufisto and MsChif vs. Saraya Knight, Mercedes Martinez, Lexie Fyfe, Portia Perez and Nicole Matthews.


Edit 7/14/17: Mae Young Classic participants Mercedes Martinez and Santana Garrett appear on this show.


Volume 67


Why it’s great in general: Volume 67 is possibly the best overall show in Shimmer history. Two of the greatest wrestlers in the world face in the main event as Kana gets her first (and only) shot at the Shimmer Championship, and the undercard is just as impressive. Rising star Nicole Savoy makes her debut here, Evie and Kay Lee Ray have an amazing contest, there’s a mind-blowingly great Joshi 6-woman tag (more on that here), Ozaki and Saraya beat each other senseless, Eagles and Matthews continue their “friendly” rivalry, and much more. Great stuff from start to finish, and a nice variety of matches and styles.

Check out my full show review here.


Why it’s good for new viewers: Besides featuring the best Shimmer has to offer, this show sets up a lot of angles for the next several dvds. It’s the perfect spot to jump on and watch forward to catch up to the most recent volumes or just to see a lot of the current roster and what Shimmer is like at present.


Full card:

  1. The Kimber Bombs (Cherry Bomb and Kimber Lee) vs. KC Cassidy and Bambi Hall
  2. Heidi Lovelace vs. Nicole Savoy
  3. Crazy Mary Dobson vs. Sassie Stephie
  4. Athena vs. Nikki Storm
  5. Portia Perez vs. Courtney Rush
  6. Nevaeh vs. Jenny Rose
  7. Mayumi Ozaki vs. Saraya Knight
  8. Evie vs. Kay Lee Ray
  9. Lufisto vs. Rhia O’Reilly
  10. Nicole Matthews vs. Madison Eagles
  11. 3G and Mia Yim vs Tsukasa Fujimoto, Kaori Yoneyama and Akino
  12. Shimmer Title Match: Cheerleader Melissa (c) vs. Kana


Edit 7/14/17: This is a particularly great show for those wanting to check out a bunch of the new faces in NXT and the Mae Young Classic, often against each other. Kimber Lee (Abbey Laith) and KC Cassiday (Peyton Royce) face of on opposite sides of the opening tag match. Nicole Savoy makes her Shimmer debut against Heidi Lovelace (Ruby Riot). Athena (Ember Moon) faces Nikki Storm (Nikki Cross). Evie (Dakota Kai) and Kay Lee Ray tear the house down.  In addition to all of that Crazy Mary (Sarah Logan) appears, and Mia Yim and Kana (Asuka) are in two of my favorite matches in all of Shimmer history.




Again this is just a small sample of the incredible wrestling Shimmer has put out. Check out more of my thoughts on some of Shimmer’s best matches, and a live perspective on the 10th Anniversary shows.

Again, all currently available Shimmer dvds can be purchased here.


The Ninja We Love to Hate: Being a Fan of Portia Perez

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).

The remains of Portia are somewhere under that pile.

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.

“You know this is awkward, right?”

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.

Reviews Wrestling

Shimmer Weekend October 2015: Day 2 Live Thoughts

October 11, 2015 in Berwyn, IL

Day 2 of Shimmer’s 10th Anniversary weekend was Sunday October 11 and it continued right where Saturday left off, providing more surprises, fun, and great wrestling. Before any action the Canadian Ninjas came out and hilariously surveyed the crowd for potential partners for Portia’s last match. Later an amusing series of vignettes was played showing some of the efforts of both captains gathering members. The full teams were kept secret until the match though.

Godzilla wins!

The compressed schedule on Sat forced one match to be skipped for time, so the tapings started with the delayed match being taped for volume 77. It was Thunderkitty vs Hiroyo Matsumoto. A lighter match with comedic overtones that still had solid action. Kitty tried to claim Hiroyo’s Godzilla mask, which didn’t end to well for Granite Cheesecake (ugh) as the Lady Destroyer (much better) lived up to her nickname and won with the backdrop driver.


Volume 78 proper got underway with a spotlight on two newer talents in Solo Darling vs Amanda Rodriguez, followed by a couple of emphatic wins for mainstays Lufisto and Allysin Kay (over Veda Scott and Shazza McKenzie, respectively). The matches were fine and featured interesting style pairings.


Leva Bates was back in full cosplay for her match with Rhia O’Reilly, portraying Batman’s most enigmatic foe. She posed several riddles throughout the match, including an amusing spot where Rhia was tied up in a submission hold and thought the answer to “What has hands but can’t clap?” was “me!” This was a bit long for what it was, and Leva needed to be louder on the riddles and answers to make it work to its full potential. Still, it was a cute idea for a comedic match and was fun overall.


The finals of the tag tourney to name number one contenders was excellent, with Slap Happy (Evie and Heidi Lovelace) overcoming Vanessa Kraven and Tessa Blanchard to earn a shot at the Kimber Bombs once Cherry’s healthy. On top of the great in ring action, Kraven’s knowing indulgence of Tessa’s posturing and bossiness is pitch perfect and highly entertaining. The slowly building tension and eventual feud should be a joy to watch unfold. Slap Happy (how I love the team but hate the name) vs the Bombs will be great too.


Speaking of the Bombs, Kimber Lee had the unenviable task of facing Jessica Havok. Another strong showing for Lee, and Havok is just perfect in her role. Hard hitting matched expected from these two, along with the also expected light comedy from both Kimber and Cherry (on the outside). Havok terrifies Cherry from ringside and, left without distractions, finishes Kimber with a chokeslam.

Kimber’s quite happy… before her opponent is announced.
Cherry’s making a poor decision.

Newcomers Liberty and Kellyanne English both looked great facing Courtney Rush and Kay Lee Ray, respectively. English in particular made quite an impression on the Shimmer faithful over the weekend. And allow me to once again profess my adoration for Rush’s new gimmick and the work she did with it. Fantastic reinvention of herself and there’s tons of potential there.


Nicole Matthews and Mia Yim had a great contest that was matched in intensity by the crowd’s heckling of Matthews. She hit the roof over “Where’s your title?” and “Former champ” chants and Mia played along and egged her on exquisitely.


Continuing the angle from 76-77 of Yumi Ohka’s heel turn and abuse of Makoto, Ohka came out with new ally Cheerleader Melissa to face Makoto and Hiroyo Matsumoto. Yumi was clearing having a blast with her new character: copious use of the whip she brought to the ring, taunting, booing the fans on her way out, etc. She and Melissa make a phenomenal team.


The reffing was frustrating (do not STARE at the heels when they’re cheating, and give some sort or reason for not DQing them when/if they grab you!!!), but a very good match otherwise which firmly established Ohka and Melissa as a dominate, reviled tag team. Makoto took her second Kudo Driver of the weekend (!) to end this one, and again looked strong despite the losses given the level of her opponents and partner.

IMG_3855 IMG_3867

In the semi-main spot Sonoko Kato faced Kellie Skater. This was as good as would be expected from two top tier athletes. Lots of back and forth momentum swings and Skater gets a huge win to keep her near the top of the contenders list.


Madison Eagles’ first Shimmer title defense was the main event of volume 78. Nicole Savoy has been incredible in her Shimmer appearances, and her two big victories on Sat leading to a title shot here was a wonderful way to capitalize on her momentum.


The match was fantastic, highlighting Savoy’s potential and ability to hang with the very best. Besides the expected brutal strike exchanges, the grappling was excellent, and really felt like both combatants were constantly trying to gain/press the advantage and win the match. I found parts extremely reminiscent of Timothy Thatcher vs Zach Sabre Jr from Evolve 47, another fantastic match. This was definitely one of the weekend’s highlights.


After intermission volume 79 opened with Shimmer’s throwback wrestler facing another old style character in Charlie Chaplin. Leva’s costume and act were spot on and Thunderkitty’s swooning was highly amusing. This was kept short and sweet and started the volume off well.


A couple of establishing victories followed, as Kraven continued to be built up as a singles threat with a win over Lufisto and Makoto got the first win of her debut weekend against Marti Belle. Marti’s temper tantrum over Makoto’s streamers was an added bonus.

Chokebomb for the win.

Some decent matches with foregone conclusions were next as new wrestlers and teams faced more established stars. Jessica Havok beat Sammi Baynz, Yumi Ohka and Cheerleader Melissa continued their partnership and defeated KC Spinelli and Xandra Bale, and Kay Lee Ray defeated Liberty. Good weekend for all of the newcomers overall.

IMG_3969 IMG_3974

The next four-way match was kind of crazy. The crowd had been on Andy Long’s back all weekend as usual, and it was getting worse thanks to some particularly poor officiating in tag matches. Veda Scott had been riling people up by complaining that us booing her made her heart hurt. During the intros here Veda expertly exploited both things, giving Andy a hug during boos and generating an insane level of heat. The fired up crowd was now fully invested, and kept up the boos as Allysin Kay was introduced and managed to get even louder with cheers for Shazza McKenzie and Mia Yim. They made the most of the atmosphere and the match was a blast. The crowd remained super-hot for the rest of the day.

Kellyanne English continued her impressive debut weekend in a competitive loss to Heidi Lovelace. Then in a brutal match that ranged all over the arena (someone really has to come up with something better than “ref’s discretion” to explain why they start counting people out and then stop for 10 minutes before continuing to count whereever they left off), Crazy Mary Dobson scored the upset of the weekend over Saraya Knight. I predict severe fallout from that.


Four matches and four international superstars as opponents for Nicole Savoy makes me VERY happy. For volume 79 she faced her second Joshi opponent for the weekend in Sonoko Kato. As with both athletes other matches this was excellent. I’m amazed at the skill and poise Savoy has at this early point in her career. Having Kato in Shimmer was a great treat and I really hope she returns.


Rhia O’Reilly tried, but her semi-main appearance ended up as just another victim of Godzilla’s path of destruction.

Main event time and Shimmer’s last match for Portia Perez. Danger (as non-wrestling captain of the opposing team) brought out Madison Eagles and Lexie Fyfe to start her team. The first shock of the match was next as Kellie Skater came out… accompanied by recently retired 3G partner Tomoka Nakagawa !!! Nice! 🙂 Tomoka was in street clothes and serving as a second for the team. Another surprise as the final member of Danger’s team was Tomoka’s other tag team champion partner and one half of the very first Shimmer’s main event, Daizee Haze (who has been retired / on hiatus for quite a while)!


The Ninjas had a counter surprise in the form of the other half of Shimmer’s first main event (and also long retired) Lacey! Tag champion Kimber Lee rounded out Portia’s team, with Cherry Bomb seconding them. This was a fun spectacle, focusing more on antics and personalities than all out action (and rightfully so given Portia’s condition and the number of regularly inactive wrestlers involved). Portia appeared to sneak a win with illegal leverage, but the refs restarted the match and Daizee rolled Portia up for the win in a fitting finale for one of Shimmer’s best heels.


Portia and Danger exchanged awkward stares and words after the match, and then Portia gave a retirement speech consisting of “I hate you all. Now I’m leaving.” It was fitting, if disappointing. I understand the desire to kayfabe to the bitter end and it’s her choice, but I personally wish she had let it up a bit during the Q&A on sat and here for her goodbye.

“You know this is awkward, right?”

As usual I had a wonderful time at Shimmer, and the weekend was a fantastic celebration of its 10th anniversary. Here’s to ten more years! 🙂

Pic with (most of) the Joshi contingent for the weekend.
Reviews Wrestling

Shimmer Weekend October 2015: Day 1 Live Thoughts

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.

Sonoko Kato had a great debut weekend and left a strong impression.

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.

Glad to get to see Cherry Bomb and that her recovery is going well.

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.

Welcome to crazytown.

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.

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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.

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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.

Kudo Driver. And that’s it.

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.

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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.

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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.

Was great to meet and get a chance to chat with Nicole Savoy. She just keeps getting better and better and is definitely one to watch going forward.

A suitable celebration of the 10th Anniversary of a phenomenal wrestling promotion. And that’s only day 1. 🙂

Day 2 thoughts to follow.

Photo op with Lady Destroyer Hiroyo Matsumoto, while wearing a shirt of hers designed by a friend of mine.