411’s Live SHIMMER Report: April 10th and 11th
Posted by Ryan Byers on 04.12.2010
All of the action from volumes 29 through 32!
On April 10 and 11, 2010, SHIMMER: Women Athletes returned to the Eagles' Club in Berwyn, Illinois to tape Volumes 29 through 32 of its ongoing DVD series. This set of tapings was particularly special for fans, as it marked the first time that SHIMMER would fly in a set of Japanese talent to compete with its regular roster. Specifically, freelancer Ayumi Kurihara as well as IBUKI wrestlers Misaki Ohata, Tomoka Nakagawa, and Hiroyo Matsumoto all appeared to take on the best SHIMMER has to offer.
DVDs of the shows will be produced and released over the course of the next several months through ROHwrestling.com. Results from the two days of tapings are as follows.
SPARKLE Dark Matches – April 10, 2010
Match A: Knight Wagner & Joey McIntyre def. Green Man & ???. Wagner and McIntyre are Chicago-area indy wrestlers who appear constantly in SHIMMER dark matches, though this is the first time that I recall seeing the guy who I didn't get a name for. They were joined by "Green Man," based on the gag from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It seemed to be the consensus among the audience that Green Man was referee Bryce Remsburg, though this was not confirmed at any point. Whoever he was, he did not seem to have much wrestling experience, as his entire involvement in the match was getting a hot tag, hitting one clothesline, and then being rolled up for the decisive fall. There wasn't much of note in this match aside from the Green Man gimmick popping up.
Match B: Anna Minouska def. PJ Tyler. Both of these wrestlers regularly compete for Montreal's all-women's promotion, NCW Femme Fatales and were getting their first shot at SHIMMER here. Minouska was billed as hailing from Soviet Russia and is a rather hefty woman who used a lot of offense that one would expect from a bulky 1980's heel. Speaking of the 80's, Tyler apparently has the gimmick of being a rocker from that decade, as she was decked out in denim and claimed to have a hometown of "Paradise City." This was a solid if unspectacular match given the styles of the wrestlers and the time constraints.
Match C: Leva Bates def. She Nay Nay. She Nay Nay is another NCW regular making her first trip to SHIMMER, while Bates is a graduate of the Dudley Boys' wrestling school who appeared in a limited capacity last year for SHIMMER. She Nay Nay was a very vocal heel throughout the match, and Bates' Hot Topic/nerdcore look is making her a hit with the fans, many of whom appear to shop at Hot Topic and/or look like they would fit in with the nerdcore scene. There were a couple of what appeared to be mistimed spots between the wrestlers but not so many that the bout was ruined. Also noteworthy was the debut of new SHIMMER referee Carly Rae, who earned the nickname "Hot Ref" among the fans sitting in my section. She did fairly well for herself, though she really earns points for being the first person who I have seen officiating a pro wrestling match while wearing a Bump-It.
Results for SHIMMER Volume 29 – April 10, 2010
Match #1: Kelly Skater def. Neveah. Neveah was flying solo for a set of tapings for the first time in her SHIMMER career, as her regular tag team partner Ashley Lane (a.k.a. TNA's Madison Rayne) was not available for the weekend. Neveah held up as a singles competitor, though it was Skater who ultimately picked up a needed win, debuting a finisher which I can best describe as a leaping version of Daizee Haze's old Mind Trip.
Match #2: Nikki Roxx & Ariel def. Melanie Cruise & Annie Social. This was Social's debut as a wrestler in SHIMMER after having worked previous tapings as a manager for Cruise and Wesna Busic, who is currently sidelined with nagging injuries. Social did very little here, which is not surprising given that her background in terms of actually wrestling is limited. Cruise, Roxx, and Ariel worked together well to make it an entertaining tag team contest, which wrapped up when Roxx hit her Barbie Crusher finisher on Social.
Match #3: LuFisto def. Rachel Summerlyn. When I first saw Summerlyn wrestle, I was not a fan of hers at all, but in this match she began a slow process of getting me to turn the corner on her matches, in part because her wrestling looked more polished and in part because more of her natural personality seemed to be shining through. In your first goofy LuFisto comedy spot of the evening, she attempted at one point to sell a collision with Rachel's chest as though she was being smothered by Ms. Summerlyn's ample breasts. Despite the horsing around, this eventually turned into a fairly snug little match, which LuFisto won with a version of the Fujiwara armbar, a finisher that I've not seen her use before.
Match #4: Mercedes Martinez def. "Jumping" Jamilia Craft. Craft is the second graduate of the SHIMMER wrestling academy, which is tied to the ROH school and headed up by Daizee Haze. Granted, she had a high quality of opponent here and that no doubt helped, but it was very difficult to watch Jamilia here and remember that she is essentially a rookie. As was to be expected, Mercedes didn't have that much trouble putting her away with the fisherman's buster. There was not much of note to this one aside from the fact that Craft was surprisingly good given her level of experience.
Match #5: Allison Danger def. Rayna Von Tosh. Speaking of SHIMMER academy graduates, Rayna Von Tosh is back. She is playing up the "dancer" aspect of her gimmick a lot more these days, and I think that some of the fans initially thought that meant she had turned heel because she was essentially doing stripper-esque moves in a promotion that prides itself on serious women's wrestling. However, she and Danger both wrestled as faces here, and eventually the crowd figured out Rayna's alignment. Von Tosh, like Craft, looked much better than her level of experience would lead one to believe. Danger took home the victory with her hanging neckbreaker from the second rope.
After the match finished up, Danger got on the microphone and reminded the fans that she was back in SHIMMER for one reason: Getting revenge on Portia Perez for all of the sneak attacks and comments about Danger's baby daughter which have occurred during their feud. Eventually Portia appeared on the big screen to confront Allison, but it turned out to be a ruse, as Perez jumped her rival from behind while she was distracted by the monitor. Perez's Canadian Ninja partner Nicole Matthews joined the fray, after which Leva Bates and Neveah attempted to make the save. They were cut off and laid out, however, by the intervening Annie Social and Melanie Cruise. Ariel ran down for the save as well, but she was given a lariat be Cruise and took a LOUD bump down on to the unpadded wooden floor. In the ring, Matthews detained referee Bryce Remsburg while Portia continued the beatdown on Danger. Handcuffs were introduced and it appeared that Portia was to handcuff Danger to the top rope, though the cuffs were inadvertently broken somewhere in the process. Portia wound up just using them as a weapon instead, and it worked just as well as cuffing her to the ropes would have. I thought that this was a very strong heel beatdown in the vein of the Four Horsemen, and I thought that we would be getting a new stable out of it. That did not appear to be the case as the tapings continued, though.
Match #6: Madison Eagles def. Sassy Stephie. This was Eagles' return to SHIMMER action after having to take some tapings off due an injury. She had significant upward momentum when she departed, coming off of strong matches against Sara Del Rey and Mercedes Martinez. This was nothing more than a basic match to get her back into the swing of things, though it was the first time that I have seen Madison's brutal finisher, in which she essentially gives her opponent an Air Raid Crash on to her knee. Ouch.
Match #7: Jessie McKay def. Cat Power. McKay is OVER with the Eagles' Club crowd and has the talent to back it up, which leads me to believe that she will be moving up and in to title contention within the next couple of tapings. She looked great here, convincingly taking it to the much larger Cat Power and winning with her version of the Rydeen bomb.
"Dark Angel" Sarah Stock was interviewed by Amber Gertner. Stock reminded everybody that she was the one who eliminated reigning SHIMMER Champion MsChif from the tournament to crown the first champion. Stock wanted to stake her claim to a title shot as a result of that victory, and Gertner informed her that she had in fact been selected to receive a championship match on SHIMMER Volume 30.
Match #8: Sara Del Rey def. Tenille. Without a doubt, this was the sleeper match of the weekend and a performance by Tenille that showed she can hang in a major role as opposed to simply being opening match fodder. She went over ten minutes with Death Rey and looked like she belonged the entire time, which is not at all what the audience was expecting. Ultimately, SDR was able to catch her in the royal butterfly and pin her with a suplex out of the hold, but it was a match that, if followed up on correctly, will do a ton to elevate Tenille despite her loss. It was almost reminiscent of Death Rey's earlier matches with Serena Deeb in that regard.
Match #9: Misaki Ohata def. Daizee Haze. The 5'1" Ohata was the first of the Japanese crew to make it into the ring and was greeted by a very warm reception. Haze seemed to enjoy being the same size as her opponent for once instead of playing the role of the plucky, undersized underdog. The story of the match was that Haze was busting out everything she possibly could in order to beat Misaki but couldn't quite get it done. There was one spot in which it appeared that referee Andy Long stalled while making a three count and, as a result, screwed Daizee out of the victory. It's not clear whether that was a blown spot or part of an angle, but it wound up playing into the storyline regardless of whether it was planned. What storyline, you ask? Well, Ohata ultimately got the three count over Haze with a rollup. After the bell, SHIMMER's flower child was not happy at all and turned heel, laying out the Japanese competitor with a tiger suplex. Jamilia Craft, Daizee's student, hit the ring and said that Haze taught her that wrestling was about respect and that what she had just done was not respectful. This earned Jamilia a tiger suplex of her own.
Match #10: Ayumi Kurihara def. Tomoka Nakagawa. This was easily the best match of the Volume 29 taping. Nakagawa played heel and continued to do so all weekend long, making her the only member of the Japanese contingent to do so. This was also the only joshi wrestler vs. joshi wrestler matchup of the tapings, and it was the only bout that I would say utilized a pure joshi style as opposed to a hybrid of American and Japanese wrestling. It wasn't an all-time classic joshi match, but it was still a very good one and a fine introduction to the style for those fans who have never seen it, which will probably be the majority of the people buying this show when it is released on DVD.
Match #11: The Canadian Ninjas (Porita Perez & Nicole Matthews) def. MsChif & Cheerleader Melissa to retain the SHIMMER Tag Team Championships. This was an interesting contrast of styles, as Melissa and MsChif tend to put on tag team matches that resemble the matches put on by male independent wrestlers from the modern day, whereas the Ninjas are, at least in my mind, more reminiscent of a heel team from 1980's Memphis or some other southern territory, relying a lot more on stalling, cheating, and cutting off the ring than contemporary highspots. The potential for a clash of styles was essentially overcome by allowing MelissChif to destroy the champions with their signature offense early on, including an INSANE spot in which Nicole was laid up against the guardrail while Melissa picked up Portia and wheelbarrow whipped her into her own partner. Ultimately, the Ninjas were able to confuse their opponents and get them out of position, which resulted in the champs isolating MsChif and hitting her with a superkick/German suplex combination that gave Nicole the pin.
Oddly, this did not result in Matthews getting a shot at MsChif's SHIMMER Title. It did, however, lead to a pre-taped promo airing during Volume 30 in which Melissa told 'Chif that their two back-to-back tag team losses were leading to her dissolve the team and focus on her singles career.
Results for SHIMMER Volume 30 – April 10, 2010
Match #1: Malia Hosaka w/ Lexie Fyfe on a Stick def. Leva Bates. This was Bates' debut in a taped match for SHIMMER, and it was Hosaka's continuation of a gimmick in which she comes to the ring with a cardboard cutout of her tag team partner Lexie Fyfe, who has recently been sidelined due to her pregnancy and subsequent childbirth. Not much stuck out about this match except that Malia has adopted the nickname "Modern Day Moolah" in reference to her twenty years of experience. Hosaka got the win, pinning Leva with a version of the Jazz/Beth Phoenix Bitch Clamp.
Match #2: Annie Social & Melanie Cruise def. Rachel & Jessica's Excellent Tag Team (Rachel Summerlyn & Jessica James). Jessica James, a product of Booker T.'s wrestling school, was debuting in SHIMMER here as half of a team that she regularly competes in for Texas indy group Anarchy Championship Wrestling. Memo to the guys who sat behind me and said the name of the Jessica/Rachel team reminded them of Wayne's World: There was a little movie by the name of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure that was probably the real inspiration for the name. Again, Social's time in the ring was fairly limited, though Cruise continued to impress with power-based spots, especially against James, who she quite literally dwarfed. Social and Cruise took home their first SHIMMER tag team victory by pinning Jessica with a spinebuster/chokeslam combination.
Match #3: LuFisto def. Cat Power. For a while, Power was quite popular amongst SHIMMER fans because she had a good look and did some amusing comedy spots, but it seemed like the bloom came off the rose this weekend, as she was just sort of . . . there. Case in point: She had this match against a very game LuFisto, and it was nothing more than a garden variety, unremarkable micard bout. The only thing that stuck out were the post-match happenings, in which it appeared that Cat either jammed her neck as a result of LuFisto's burning hammer finish or did an exemplary job of selling it that way.
An EXCELLENT pre-taped promo from Daizee Haze played. She addressed the events that transpired between her and Jamilia Craft on the prior volume, claiming that, even though Craft thinks that what Daizee did to Ohata was disrespectful, it was nothing compared to the disrespect shown when Jamilia questioned the actions of her mentor, Daizee. Haze seemed to be tearing up at one point, which was awesome because she managed to do it while still coming off as a big time heel. She was being just rational enough that you could see her point of view if you tried to, but she was still "off" just enough that you would never actually agree with her. That is many times the hallmark of a great heel character.
Match #4: Mercedes Martinez def. Kellie Skater. This was a good, old fashioned, CHOP WAR. Yes, other wrestling moves were used, but the focal point of the match was the two women lighting each other up with open-handed strikes to the chest. Needless to say, Mercedes got the better of her adversary, chopping the Rate Tank to the point that she was bleeding from her chest and to the point that portions of the poor girl's body looked like hamburger meat for the rest of the weekend. Even though chops were the focus, they usually can't get you a pinfall, which is why Martinez busted out her fisherman's buster to earn the three count.
A pre-taped promo from Madison Eagles played. She essentially turned heel in her thirty seconds on screen, talking about her acclaimed matches against Martinez and Dely Rey and using them to come to the conclusion that she's significantly more awesome than anybody else in the promotion.
Match #5: Ayumi Kurihara def. Nikki Roxx. There was a lot of comedy in this one early on, including a great subtle spot which probably won't make the DVD. Roxx was in a submission hold applied by Kurihara, and Nikki called out for the cameraman of all people to give her an assist by pushing the ropes inward and making them easier to reach. The camera guy complied, after which the Japanese photographer who accompanied Kurihara and company to the US pulled the ropes back AWAY from Nikki. Nothing like a healthy athletic rivalry between nations. In any event, after the comedy, things opened up with hard-hitting blows and the two did a great job of setting it up to look like Nikki had the match all but won only for Kurihara to sneak out of pinning predicaments at the last second. That's exactly what happened in the finish as well, as Roxx had Ayumi set for a Barbie Crusher but got it reversed into a rollup for the flash pinfall.
Match #6: Daizee Haze & Tomoka Nakagawa def. Misaki Ohata & Jamilia Craft. This was obviously set up by the events of Volume 29 with Tomoka being brought on board as Haze's answer to Ohata. I don't know whether it was a coincidence or whether Daizee designed something for this occasion, but she and Nakagawa had great gear with complimentary colors and designs despite the fact that they usually wrestle on different continents. Very solid tag team action here with the joshi girls obviously mixing well and the real surprise being that JAMILIA CRAFT DOES NOT WRESTLE LIKE A ROOKIE AT ALL. Seriously, if I didn't know any better, I would guess that she has at least five years of wrestling under her belt. However, the reality is that she's still a newcomer, which is probably why she ate the pinfall here, with Haze getting the duke.
Match #7: Nicole Matthews def. Jessie McKay. I am one of several people in my section of the audience who regarded this as a potential future match for the SHIMMER Title. The two young wrestlers had a very strong back and forth, with Matthews having recently proven that she can hang with the likes of Daizee Haze and Cheerleader Melissa and McKay now proving that she can hang with Matthews. This was the third in a string of very solid matches, each of which built in quality. Matthews was the one who took home the victory, pinning Jessie after a roll of the dice.
Match #8: Sara Del Rey def. Hiroyo Matsumoto. Okay, here's the story on Matsumoto: She wrestled on a show in Japan which took place late Friday night in terms of US time. After she finished that match, she got on a plane to fly to the US for SHIMMER. Originally, because of her schedule, she was only going to wrestle on Sunday's tapings, but it was announced in between matches during Volume 29 that Matsumoto's flight had landed and that she had made it to the venue, intending to compete on Volume 30. So, to sum it all up, she had two matches on two different continents on opposite sides of the world within twenty-four hours of one another. Now that is hardcore. She showed no signs of fatigue or jet lag here either, as she went head-to-head with Dely Rey for quite some time and put on an entertaining match built around the fact that both women use a fair amount of power-based offense. Ultimately, it was Sara who proved to be more powerful, catching Hiroyo with a piledriver to put her away.
Match #9: Allison Danger def. Portia Perez in a last woman standing match. This will presumably put an end of their feud, which has now been ongoing for over a year. The majority of the match took place among the fans, so it is hard to comment on exactly what happened due to my obstructed view. Perez's big bit of offense was a cross body block in which she leapt off of the ring steps and over the security rail, landing on Danger amid a sea of fans. Nicole Matthews ran in and attempted to get a chair to her partner, but "Girl Dynamite" Jennifer Blake made a surprise appearance and ran her off (surprise as in Blake was not at all advertised as appearing for the weekend). With Matthews out of the equation, Danger got hold of the chair and gave Portia an STO and then an Old School Expulsion on to it in order to win the match and the feud. In what I thought was a good decision, they did not do a ton of last woman standing "nearfalls," which oftentimes will slow things down and take the wind out of the sails of a battle like this one.
Match #10: Madison Eagles def. Cheerleader Melissa to become the number one contender to the SHIMMER Title. This was set up by a pre-tape in which Melissa, Eagles, and Sarah Stock all having words about who would be the next champion, with MsChif deciding that the best way to resolve this situation would be Stock receiving her previously scheduled title match and Melissa and Eagles doing battle for the next title shot. The crowd was big into Melissa and the prospect of her winning this match, which make sense because, all weekend long, virtually every fan I talked to had expressed their desire to see MsChif and Melissa lock it up for the championship. That's why Eagles winning, especially by wrapping her legs around the ropes during the final pin attempt, got a HYUGE amount of heat from the 250 or so fans in attendance. The match itself was not bad, though it was a bit disappointing in that each of the preceding four matches had built in terms of quality and intensity, while this one represented a bit of a step back from the Danger/Perez match that preceded it.
Match #11: MsChif def. Sarah Stock to retain the SHIMMER Title. Most people in attendance who I heard comment on this one were disappointed in how short it was, with some people stating that it ran less than ten minutes. I wasn't that annoyed about the length personally, but I will say that it didn't quite have the amount of time that it needed in order to develop into a truly epic championship match. The wrestlers put on a very good match for the amount of time that they were allotted, but I think everybody would have been a lot happier if it had just gone five more minutes.
SPARKLE Dark Matches – April 11, 2010
Match A: Knight Wagner def. Ninja #46. Yes, the ROH tradition of random ninja jobbers bleeds over into SHIMMER. This particular ninja came equipped with a plastic sword, which played into the finishing sequence a bit before Knight put him away.
Match B: Leva Bates & PJ Tyler def. Anna Minoushka & She Nay Nay. There was not much to note here. Any communication problems which may have existed between She Nay Nay and Bates in their original match appear to have been cleaned up this time around. All four women were well-received by the audience, and I wouldn't be surprised to see all of them come back in the future.
Results for SHIMMER Volume 31 – April 11, 2010
Match #1: Kellie Skater defeated Jessica James. In her first SHIMMER singles match, Jessica did not look out of place at all. This was in some ways reminiscent of the Ohata/Haze match from the prior day, in which the diminutive Daizee appeared to be overjoyed to have an opponent her size. Here, Skater, who was also one of the smallest women on the roster prior to this set of tapings, seemed thrilled to tower over the pint-sized James and took advantage of it at every opportunity. Ultimately, Skater took home the victory with the same maneuver that got her the win against Neveah.
Match #2: Jessie McKay def. Sassy Stephie. McKay seemed to be even more over with the crowd on day two than she did on day one. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she's one of the most – if not the most – conventionally attractive women on the roster, but it's not as though she's getting a reaction that she doesn't deserve based on her talent, because she's also highly skilled in between the ropes. Stephie was solid all weekend, including here, and she may be one of the most underrated women on the roster. Her bitter, mouthy heel act was a great foil for McKay's loveable, girl next door persona. It was Jessie's Rydeen bomb that again got her the victory.
Match #3: Malia Hosaka w/ Lexie Fyfe on a Stick def. Rayna Von Tosh. With the audience having figured out during her last match that Rayna is still officially a babyface, they were behind her in force this time around, including busting out a new "RVT" chant repeatedly throughout the course of the bout. This was Hosaka's typical veteran versus rookie match, peppered with Von Tosh's dancing spots. Again, Rayna looked far better than you would expect somebody with her level of experience to look.
Match #4: Mercedes Martinez def. Tomoka Nakagawa. By no means a bad match but not particularly memorable given the stronger US vs. Japan matches which happened over the course of the weekend. The best spot of the match came at the finish (as it should be), with Mercedes cutting off Nakagawa's attempts to climb to the top rope and pulling her off with a variant on the fisherman's buster.
Match #5: Melanie Cruise w/ Annie Social def. Allison Danger. Though it wasn't explicitly mentioned at any point, presumably this was taking place as a result of Cruise's involvement in the beatdown on Danger and company during Volume 29. Cruise, another of the promotion's younger wrestlers, probably looked better than she has in her prior outings, though she didn't look quite as polished as some of the other young wrestlers. She does bring something different to the table due to her size and power-based offense, however. Ultimately, she wound up getting the upset win due to interference from her manager Social. Annie interfered and got dragged into the ring by Danger, after which Cruise blatantly shoved referee Carly Rae out of her way. Danger had decked Social and sent her down to her hands and knees, and I think that what was meant to happen was that Cruise would push Danger backwards over Social so that she would take a bump and get pinned. However, Social was too close to the ropes for it to work, so instead Cruise shoved Danger, Danger fell backwards on top of Social, and Cruise was able to pin Danger even though nothing all too damaging appeared to happen. The finish wasn't well-received, in part because it looked awkward and in part because fans couldn't understand why Melanie was not immediately disqualified for putting her hands on an official, which has been part of a major angle in SHIMMER fairly recently.
After the bell, Jennifer Blake prevented a two-on-one beatdown of Danger, and a promo was cut setting up a tag team match between the four women for Volume 32. The highlight was Danger referring to Social and Cruise as "Wednesday and Lurch," a la The Addams Family.
Match #6: Daffney def. Rachel Summerlyn in a no disqualification match. A few volumes ago, Daffney turned heel by walking out on Summerlyn during a tag team match, which set up this encounter. Post-heel turn, Daff has essentially adopted her TNA character for SHIMMER. Despite the turn, the entire crowd loves Daffney and a fair number of them dislike Summerlyn, which resulted in the majority of this match getting the opposite reaction of what it was supposed to. Not much was made of the No DQ stip aside from some use of the guardrails/stairs and some choking in the ring that the referee was unable to do anything about. Daff's win was heavily cheered, and Summerlyn looked to be close to tears after she dropped the fall, though that was most likely a good acting job.
Match #7: Hiroyo Matsumoto def. LuFisto. This was quite the fun little match. Both women are capable of hard-hitting matches but also have comedic streaks in them, and this bout emphasized both of those qualities. Matsumoto does a lot of heelish moves like biting, pulling the hair, and ripping at her opponent's face while in restholds, but she does it all with such a goofy charisma that the fans can't help but cheer her for it. In this particular case, she wound up biting LuFi's backside and pulling at her nose to make her look like a piggy for the fans on all four sides of the ring. LuFisto being LuFisto, however, was able to respond in kind in addition to busting out all of her signature spots short of the burning hammer. When the match moved from comedy to serious wrestling, Matsumoto impressively got LuFisto and her low center of gravity up in to a torture rack position and ultimately got the victory with a SWANK Saito suplex that folded LuFisto in half and planted her right down on her head.
Match #8: Cheerleader Melissa def. Misaki Ohata. I originally expected this to be a match in which the tiny Ohata would be overpowered and bullied by Melissa for the majority of the contest, but it wound up being a much more even, back-and-forth battle, and I think that was for the best. Ohata was able to lock on several impressive submissions that the audience bought as potential finishes and even kicked out of one of Melissa's standard finishers, the Air Raid Crash. After several failed attempts, though, Melissa was able to hit her Kudoh Driver, which no wrestler in SHIMMER competition has ever kicked out of.
Match #9: The Canadian Ninjas (Portia Perez & Nicole Matthews) def. Nikki Roxx & Ariel to retain the SHIMMER Tag Team Titles. There was a lot of comedy early on, with the Ninjas offering to sell their t-shirts to their opponents for $20.00. When the offer was refused, the clothing was thrown into the challengers' faces to set up a sneak attack. When the faces got the upper hand, they were able to steal the shirts and put them on . . . or attempt to put them on in the case of Ariel, who was quite honest about the fact that getting Portia's shirt up and over her (ahem) torso would be near impossible. Matthews and Roxx then challenged each other to see who could do the best cartwheel, followed by Nicole asking to see Ariel bust one out. The Portuguese Princess made it clear that it is impossible for her to do a cartwheel, though she did bust out a somersault. Portia failed to make it over for a similar maneuver, and we were off to the races for some serious wrestling. These four have competed against one another in various singles and tag team matches throughout SHIMMER's history, though never in this particular combination. The result was a very solid, coherent affair which may have been one of the best tag title matches in the history of the promotion. The finish came when Ariel was laid out by a Perez superkick and Roxx was pinned by the Ninjas' superkick/German suplex combination.
Match #10: Ayako Hamada def. Daizee Haze. Some members of the audience decided to dub the newly heel-turned Haze "Lazy Daizee," which turned in to a chant with a surprisingly strong set of legs. Haze asked how she could possibly be "lazy" compared to the audience when she was wrestling and they were sitting around on their fat butts. Given that you can see Daizee's abdominal muscles flexing and releasing when she TALKS whereas there was at least one fan in the crowd who looked like Gorillla Monsoon's mini-me, it's hard to disagree with her. Hamada, despite not being a long-time member of the company's roster, was just as popular as an established performer on the level of Cheerleader Melissa or MsChif. This was something that the crowd was immediately able to accept as a dream match, and the performers did not disappoint. They performed all of their signature moves and performed them in a flawless fashion, including a heart punch from Daizee that was the loudest version of the move that I have ever heard. Ultimately, though, it was Hamada who took home with the victory with her version of the Michinoku Driver #2.
Match #11: Ayumi Kurihara def. Sara Del Rey. This was perhaps the most surprising result of the weekend. At first it looked like it might be a replay of Del Rey vs. Tenille, with SDR giving the less established wrestler just enough offense to make her appear to be a major threat but ultimately dominating at the end of the match and getting the victory. However, about three-quarters of the way through the bout, it departed from that dynamic and turned into a back-and-forth battle between two women who were portrayed as being on the same level as opposed to one woman being above the other. This resulted in some VERY close nearfalls that whipped the crowd into a frenzy despite the fact that they had started to tire out a little bit prior to this bout. Nobody in the audience seemed to believe that Ayumi could pull out the victory, though, until she actually DID by rolling up Death Rey in a jackknife hold. Del Rey was obviously enraged when the match came to an end kicked the guardrail into a fan's shins, which he did not appreciate.
Match #12: Madison Eagles def. MsChif to become the NEW SHIMMER Champion. Like the title match on Volume 30, this was a bit on the short side compared to the other matches on the card that involved the promotion's main-eventers. The main focal point of the bout appeared to be Madison using her unusual (for the promotion) height to put 'Chif in to all sorts of wacky submission holds that the majority of the roster probably couldn't execute. This wasn't a bad back and forth little match, though it was pretty clear that the majority of the crowd did not think that Madison was on the level of the champion, though they were willing to accept her as a heel despite her fairly recent turn over the course of a couple of backstage promos. However, everybody in attendance was still AMAZED when Eagles cleanly pinned MsChif in the middle of the ring with her finisher in order to become the third singles champion in SHIMMER history. Quite literally, the reaction was stunned silence, similar to what reportedly occurred when Bruno Sammartino lost his WWWF Title after eight years. This cut off 'Chif's reign from lasting two years, which would have been the case if it had gone on for just a few weeks longer.
During intermission, a fair amount of work had to be done on the ring, though whatever the issue was apparently got fixed, as there were no noticeable problems with it from a fan's perspective throughout the rest of the evening.
Results for SHIMMER Volume 32 – April 11, 2010
Though I don't recall exactly where it landed during the course of this evening, Madison Eagles at one point did another pre-taped interview and made it clear that she was not going to be defending her newly won title on this volume, instead deciding to "scout" possible opponents. It was a solid heel tactic, in my opinion, though I think that a few of the fans saw it as a cop out and were a bit annoyed at the lack of a title defense, let alone a match featuring the champion . . . or at least they were annoyed until the actual main event took place.
Match #1: Jamilia Craft def. Malia Hosaka w/ Lexie Fyfe on a Stick. This may have been the end of the Lexie on a Stick gimmick, as Malia used it liberally as a weapon throughout the match and at one point slingshotted Jamilia into it as it stood in the corner. The stick and cardboard Lexie didn't break, but I can't imagine that they would involve them in a spot in which they potentially would if they weren't getting rid of the gimmick . . . plus the real Lexie put in an appearance at intermission and was selling a new shirt labeling her as a MILF ("Mom I'd Like to Fight"), so presumably she will be back sooner rather than later. Craft's victory was a pleasant surprise and great way to put her over as an up and comer after several volumes worth of Hosaka triumphing over women with similar levels of experience.
Match #2: Rachel Summerlyn def. Kellie Skater. With Rachel not taking on Daffney, the crowd took to her a lot better. The match was fairly unremarkable, though, with Rachel getting a submission victory thanks to the Texas cloverleaf.
Match #3: Cat Power def. Neveah. Pretty much nothing to this one, and I think that it was hurt by the audience starting to lose some steam after watching so much professional wrestling over the course of two days. Both women looked perfectly competent in the match but not outstanding in any way. Cat's victory came thanks to a Matt Hardy-esque Side Effect, which looked particularly brutal because Neveah didn't get up quite as high as she should and wound up getting slammed down on to her ass as opposed to her back.
Match #4: Allison Danger & Jennifer Blake def. Annie Social & Melanie Cruise. In her one match of the weekend, Girl Dynamite did a great job of waking up the somewhat sleepy crowd. She busted out a couple of lucha spots that she presumably picked up on her recent tours of Mexico, including an armdrag performed after springboarding off of the ropes and a MASSIVE tope suicida down on to both heels. She also performed a few of her signature moves, including her Kobashi chops in the corner. This was the most that Annie Social attempted to wrestle during the course of the weekend, and it wasn't pretty. She bumped way too early for most of the moves she was taking and looked a lot worse than other less experienced wrestlers on the show. I like her as a manager, and I have a feeling that, after this weekend and her performance here and being out of position for the finish in the Danger/Cruise singles match, a managerial role is exactly where she should stay. Despite Social being a bit off, the crowd was big enough into Blake that the match wasn't hurt at all and built some upward momentum for Volume 32.
Match #5: Tomoka Nakagawa def. Jessie McKay. McKay remains insanely over, which made it extra-nice to see her being the only real midcard girl (aside from Jamilia) to get an opportunity to mix it up with one of the visiting joshi wrestlers. The match felt very natural despite the differing backgrounds of the wrestlers, which I think has a lot to do with the fact that one of the backbones of joshi throughout the years has been pretty young babyfaces getting brutalized by nasty heels before making the improbable comeback. Nakagawa has that great joshi heel presence, and she was able to make Jessie look like a traditional joshi babyface. Jessie got in two of her huge running Yakuza kicks towards the finish, and everybody thought that was the end until Tomoka avoided a third. Shortly thereafter, Nakagawa sprayed water into her opponent's face to put her off her game just long enough for the Japanese wrestler to log the three count with a fisherman's suplex.
Match #6: Portia Perez def. Tenille. After what was probably her breakout performance against Sara Del Rey on the Volume 29 taping, Tenille came off as a bit flat here. I think that the issue was that, though Tenille is a great athletic wrestler, she lacks an identifiable personality at this point, and, if you can't go toe-to-toe with the Eddie Gilbert-esque Portia Perez in the personality department, a match can easily turn in to the Portia Show instead of being about both wrestlers. A superkick finished the match for Perez.
Match #7: Sara Del Rey def. Misaki Ohata. This was the David vs. Goliath match that I expected Melissa vs. Ohata to be. Little Misaki showed a fire in her comebacks that nobody else on these shows did, and it translated to the crowd absolutely falling in love with her, even those fans who weren't familiar with her prior to this weekend. However, she ultimately fell to the Royal Butterfly suplex. The bout was very good, though probably a step or two below Del Rey vs. Kurihara from the prior volume. After the match, Misaki's last of the weekend, the crowd gave her chants of "arigato."
Match #8: MsChif def. Daffney. This was set up as an impromptu match, with Daffney coming out and cutting a promo on 'Chif, claiming that she turned heel because, while she was on the shelf, MsChif tossed her aside in order to chase three different championships. This lead to Daff labeling her former tag team partner a "belt mark." MsChif responded by claiming that, unlike Daffney, she had not abandoned the SHIMMER fans to pursue other interests (a not-so-thinly-veiled reference to TNA). The match focused on spots which tried to get across the fact that the two women are very similar in their wrestling styles and familiar with one another, including many counters and bits in which both women would go for the same move at the same time. Ultimately, MsChif got the clean win with the Desecrator. I was glad to see this one end cleanly, as 'Chif can do much better than an extended feud with Daffney, though it felt a bit weird leaving their former relationship hanging out there with no formal resolution.
Match #9: "Dark Angel" Sarah Stock def. Nicole Matthews. This seemed to be another match in the series designed to establish Nicole as a main event level singles wrestler, which began a few DVDs ago when she took on Daizee Haze and Cheerleader Melissa. All-in-all, it accomplished its purpose, as Nicole did not look out of place at all with the significantly more seasoned Stock and, as one of the taller women in the promotion, served as a pretty good base for Stock's lucha highspots. This wasn't a classic, but it was a step or two above your standard SHIMMER midcard fare. Portia Perez ran in for the finish and attempted to give Matthews one of their Tag Team Title belts to use as a weapon, but it backfired and Dark Angel dropkicked the metal into Nicole's face behind the ref's back to log the three count.
Match #10: Daizee Haze def. Ayumi Kurihara by count out. This was a weird one. The wrestlers were well on their way to having an excellent pro wrestling match until a spot in which Kurihara went up to the top rope and got knocked off to the floor by Daizee and hit the guardrail. Referee PJ Drummond began the ten count, but Haze kicked Kurihara twice as she attempted to reenter the ring and knocked her back down to the floor again, leading to a COTR victory for Daizee. The fans were PISSED, in part because they didn't get a standard finish and in part because they didn't understand why Drummond kept counting Ayumi out after the kicks, as usually a pro wrestling referee will start his count over after there has been some physical contact between the wrestlers. After delivering some rather thunderous boos for such a small crowd, the audience did change its tale once Kurihara returned to the ring, giving her a second round of "arigato" chants.
In a funny bit, referee Andy Long received thunderous cheers when he came out to referee the next match. The SHIMMER loyal have booed Andy heavily every time he has appeared for several volumes now, all stemming out of a spot in which he got in the way during a tope suicida by LuFisto and sent her crashing and burning down to the arena floor. However, after the suspect count out by Drummond, the fans decided that PJ is their new officiating heel and Long is now beloved one more.
Match #11: Mercedes Martinez def. Hiroyo Matsumoto. I know that many people prefer Kurihara, but Matsumoto was my favorite of the four joshi wrestlers coming in this weekend, so I was personally stoked to see her getting to close out their matches by wrestling Martinez of all people. This was an EXCELLENT back and forth battle built heavily around Hiroyo looking for her Saito suplex and Mercedes looking for her fisherman's buster. Eventually it was the buster that prevailed. After the bell, Matsumoto got her own "arigato" chant as well as an even louder series of "please come back" chants. She mouthed "I will" to the fans and was so moved by the reaction that she had tears streaming down her face in the middle of the squared circle. It was great to see such two-way admiration between a wrestler and wrestling fans in an era in which it seems like one side of that relationship always has to degrade the other.
Match #12: Cheerleader Melissa def. Ayako Hamada. THIS RULED. Easily the best match of the weekend, and it absolutely revitalized a crowd that had started to lose its steam after twelve hours of professional wrestling in two days. The big spots prior to the finish were Hamada giving Melissa DDT on the ring apron and then following her down to the floor with a moonsault body block from the top rope. Back inside the ropes, Melissa managed to kick out of one Michinoku Driver and then took a second, after which she reversed Hamada's pin attempt into a cradle. This sent the women back and forth with a series of nearfalls in the old "fish out of water" spot. Ultimately, it was the Kudoh Driver which put Hamada away, though I half expected her to be the first woman in the history of SHIMMER to kick out of the move. After the bell, Hamada and Melissa slapped each other across the face but shook hands and hugged immediately thereafter. Melissa got the microphone and demanded a shot at Madison Eagles' SHIMMER Title after Eagles cheated to beat her for the number one contendership. The show closed with a stare-down between Madison and Melissa, presumably setting up a championship match for the next set of tapings.
Though it's a lot of professional wrestling for a fan to take in live in one shot, this weekend's series of SHIMMER produced numerous excellent matches and memorable moments, and I can't imagine that all four DVDs taped will not be worth owning. Though I hate to sound like one of those wrestling fans who marks out for something Japanese just because it's Japanese, the foursome of Matsumoto, Kurihara, Nakagawa, and Ohata was something to behold, as they came in as unknowns to the majority of the audience and, by the end of the two days, had firmly cemented themselves in the fans' hearts and minds. This was the single greatest integration of international wrestlers that I have ever witnessed, with the foursome coming in from Japan meeting up with the many Americans, four Australians, several Canadians, and the globetrotting Stock and Hamada. If you're ever in the midwest when SHIMMER is taping, you owe it to yourself to at least stop by for one of the volumes, as it remains one of the best values in professional wrestling and would continue to be a bargain at twice the price.