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411ís LIVE SHIMMER: Women Athletes DVD Taping Report 7.05.08
Posted by Ryan Byers on 07.06.2008

On Saturday, July 5, 2008, SHIMMER: Women Athletes returned to the Eagles' Club in Berwyn, Illinois to tape Volumes 19 and 20 of its popular DVD series. Despite the holiday weekend and despite the fact that several regular attendees were not present, the company still managed to sell out its (relatively small) venue, making this the third consecutive taping with standing room only. The crowd was energetic throughout their roughly six hours in the building, and they were treated to the following wrestling action.

In a SPARKLE dark match, Jordan McIntyre defeated T.D., who apparently has no last name. McIntyre looked good for the most part, but there were a couple of badly blown spots, seemingly due more to miscommunication between the two men if nothing else. The award for Idiotic Fan Comment during this match goes to the guy who tried to start a "boring" chant. Newsflash, buddy, it's a dark match. It's not supposed to be as good as anything on the main show. McIntyre finished his opponent off with the top rope elbow drop.

In SPARKLE dark match number two of the evening, Egotistico Fantastico pinned Jeff (?) Brooks. Brooks came out looking like the offspring of Larry Sweeney and Claudio Castagnoli, while Ego has done a gimmick for several years in which he's essentially a hybrid of Delirious and El Generico. There was plenty of comedy during and immediately after the wrestlers' entrances, prompting ring announcer Joey Eastman (who normally announces time cues during SHIMMER matches) to let the audience know that "five minutes have gone by in this match, five minutes remaining" immediately after the opening bell. Once things got going, they were decent though unspectacular.

Taped for Volume 19

Match #1: The show proper opened with a SHIMMER Battle Royale. This was a Royal Rumble-style match with thirty second intervals between entrances and every woman wrestling on the tapings participating. It was announced that the winner would be receiving a title shot in the Volume 19 main event. Normally I'm not a huge fan of battles royale, but with the thirty second intervals things were moving at such a rapid pace that it didn't have time to get boring. There was a scary elimination early, as Serena Deeb went over the top at a bad angle and seemingly landed on the ring steps. (I couldn't get a good look at exactly what happened from my seat.) She showed no ill effects of the landing later on, though. Nikki Roxx made her return to the promotion in this match, which was announced in advance through the company's website. Unannounced, however, was LUFISTO, who ran in out of nowhere to a great reaction. Another surprise was the debut of Veronica Vice, a young talent from the Great White North. LuFi and Cheerleader Melissa engaged in a massive forearm battle in the center of the ring that may have received the longest sustained heat of anything on the first half of the tapings. Sara Del Rey was on the match and dominant, using the look she recently adopted in Ring of Honor and wrestling a new, more violent style based on the likes of Bull Nakano and other badass heels from the glory days of joshi.

Also dominant was the Amazing Kong, who garnered several eliminations and had an awesome spot in which she military pressed poor Portia Perez out of the ring and down on to a pile of wrestlers. Unfortunately for Kong, this move left her back exposed, which allowed Portuguese Princess Ariel to organize a team of three wrestlers to eliminate the TNA Women's Champ. Fortunately, her top stayed on this time. Ariel continued to have a very good showing in the match, also scoring a surprise elimination on Del Rey. This left Ariel, who was one of the first two women in the match, alone in the ring with Jetta. The Princess looked to have things well in hand, but she was attacked by the previously eliminated Del Rey and thrown out of the ring while Jetta was having a conversation with the referee. When the ref turned around, he saw that Ariel was on the floor and awarded the match to Jetta, who won the match and the title shot despite the fact that she didn't even see how Ariel was eliminated.

After the final bell, Death Rey continued her assault on Ariel, lifting her up for the tree slam on the floor and throwing her in to the guardrail. I think the idea was for Ariel's back to hit the steel, but it looked more like she got her head slammed in to the structure.

Daizee Haze did an in-ring promo with Becky Bayless. Daizee announced that she injured her ribs training at the ROH Academy earlier this week and would not be wrestling on the tapings as a result.

Match #2: Portia Perez defeated Shark Girl. Perez got a fairly positive reaction after missing the last set of tapings. Shark Girl is also fairly well-loved, though there was a small contingent in the crowd that passionately hated her. I guess that will happen any time you do a wacky comedy character in front of an audience spun off of ROH's fans. There wasn't much of note here aside from a botched bodyslam. Even that wouldn't have been notable if not for the fact that it, oddly enough, played in to a storyline later on. The finish came when Shark Girl did the ten punches in the corner, only for Portia to powerbomb her out of that position and get the pin with her feet on the ropes.

Match #3: Serena Deeb pinned Danyah. Tonight was Deeb's first appearance in the promotion after apparently getting some plastic surgery. This was Danyah's first singles match with the company, and, though she wasn't bad, I liked her better as a tag team wrestler. She had great comebacks in the tag matches but wasn't quite as good at taking a beating, which she obviously had to do here. Deeb eventually got the clean win with her breathtaking spear.

Match #4: Ashley Lane and Neveah beat Cat Power and Veronica Vice. Lane and Neveah gel better as a team every time I see them, and they're getting to the point where they could be really awesome in a couple of years. Power and Vice appeared to be perfectly serviceable. Lane and Neveah both took turns being beaten on for a while before making the firey comeback and getting an easy win with their single legged dropkick/flatliner combination.

Match #5: Lorelei Lee was sacrificed to the Amazing Kong. This was the biggest squash in SHIMMER in quite some time, which was disappointing because Lorelei had a good showing on the last set of tapings, and I was hoping that would result in her having a more prominent role. Unfortunately, she got all of two offensive moves against the monster and was otherwise decimated in a quick match. Kong hit her with two hard backhands and then the spinning backfist to get the pin. Lorelei was visibly crying after the match and wasn't seen for the rest of the night. Word after the show was that she had suffered some sort of jaw injury.

Match #6: Nikki Roxx made her return to one-on-one SHIMMER competition against Nicole Matthews. Not surprisingly, Roxx got a hearty reaction from the crowd. She was decked out in her TNA gear, which is a bit surprising since she's used her old Nikki Roxx look in other indies even after the head shaving. As any good heel would, Nicole misinterpreted the crowd's pro-Nikki chants as support for her until the audience went back and clarified that Nikki "Roxx" while Nicole "Suxx." Nikki has improved so much since going to TNA that it's not even funny. I'm not exactly the biggest fan of that promotion, but even I have to admit that it's great for young indy talent like Roxx to go there and learn the lessons that they can be taught by the numerous veterans in the locker room. Matthews, who turned a lot of heads with her singles performances on Volumes 17 and 18, got a respectable amount of offense in against her more seasoned opponent, though she ultimately fell to the Barbie Crusher.

Match #7: Allison Danger went one-on-one with "Girl Dynamite" Jennifer Blake. The story of this match seemed to be that Blake would continually try for big offense but that Danger would use her experience advantage to avoid it. This was apparent from the first spot in the match, in which Danger locked up with Blake and tricked her in to walking up the ropes, only to drop the young Canadian on her face seconds later. Danger also managed to avoid Blake's running dropkick on the floor, nailing Girl Dynamite with a clothesline as she charged in for the maneuver. Blake eventually did make a bit of a comeback, including an insane number of Kobashi chops in the corner. (She in fact did so many that it almost became a comedy spot, which I don't think was her intent.) Danger responded with the second rope version of the Old School Expulsion and got a rollup for the victory.

Once the match concluded, Danger got on the stick and called Blake the greatest young Canadian talent that she'd seen in some time. This was the cue for "Edge of Seventeen" by Stevie Nicks to play, bringing out Portia Perez and Nicole Matthews. Portia was nibbling on a chocolate chip cookie, seemingly for no reason other than to set up a Danger joke about her looking young. Perez and Matthews objected to Danger calling Blake the best young Canadian talent in the promotion, saying that they actually held that distinction. Danger was also referred to as a "Diet Canadian" by Perez. All of the women did very well in this interview, particularly Portia, who has displayed quality heel charisma for a while but hasn't had much of a chance to express it on the mic.

Match #8: LuFisto pinned Rain. LuFisto got a big "welcome back" chant and looked every bit as good as she did prior to her sabbatical. Rain has her good nights and her bad nights, and fortunately this was one of her better nights. As a result, this wasn't a main event level match, but it was exactly what it needed to be for its position on the card. A burning hammer got LuFisto the duke.

Match #9: Sara Del Rey mauled Ariel. Sara entered first and then ambushed Ariel as soon as she walked through the curtain. Del Rey's new in-ring style was on full display here, complete with torturous submission holds and many more stiff kicks than what she would lay in during her babyface days. Because Ariel was still selling the post-battle royale beating and because she got attacked before the bell, this was not as competitive of a match as I would have otherwise expected. The Portuguese Princess did have her offensive flurries and was good during them, but it felt like the structure of the match and the storyline was preventing her from putting her best on display. The end of the match came when Ariel (billed at 160 pounds) climbed for the top rope and went for a cross body, only to be caught in midair by Death Rey and maneuvered in to the Royal Butterfly. That, of course, resulted in the three count.

Match #10: Mercedes Martinez took on Cheerleader Melissa. These two were beating on each other like they owed each other money, though that shouldn't come as much of a surprise to those who are familiar with their styles. After the expected brutal chops and strikes, the women headed in to a boatload of finisher reversals, with Melissa looking for the Kudoh Driver and the Air Raid Crash and Mercedes looking for the fisherman buster. The buster was the first of those moves to hit, and it resulted in the Latina Sensation getting the victory.

Match #11: MsChif defended her SHIMMER Championship against Jetta. This was an interesting match, because Jetta always seems to do a lot of comedy when she's in the ring with MsChif, and I was curious to see whether she could do that and simultaneously take the kind of serious tack necessary for an effective main event title match. Oddly enough, it worked very well. There was plenty of screaming by MsChif and plenty of reacting by Jetta, but, when the two needed to get serious and actually wrestle, they did a fine job of it without completely destroying the characters established during the comedy. The highlight of the match was a big superplex from Jetta, which is a fairly old school move but was a big shock coming out of her given that she's a relatively low impact, low risk wrestler (which is exactly what the indies need more of these days). MsChif retained her championship, though, hitting the Desecrator for the pin in the center of the ring.

Intermission. In the rush to and from the gimmick table, a young man lost his duct tape wallet. Thanks to Joey Eastman's announcing and Cheerleader Melissa leading the crowd in a "duct tape" chant. It was returned to him.

Taped for Volume 20

Match #1: Shark Girl pinned Veronica Vice. In her first SHIMMER singles match, Vice's basics looked pretty good, thought she had some problems when she went for more advanced moves, including a springboard something or other that did not end well. Fortunately the veteran Shark Girl did a good job of covering for the blown moves . . . or at least she did until the finish. I believe it was supposed to be Sharky reversing a move in to a stunner, but, at least from the angle I had, the manner in which the women fell resulted in it being fairly difficult to tell exactly who was supposed to be hurt by whatever they did. The fish pinned her opponent anyway.

Match #2: In the special challenge match set up on Volume 19, Allison Danger and Jennifer Blake took on the "Canadian Ninjas," Portia Perez and Nicole Matthews. Matthews and Perez came out in matching, "Just to Let You Know, I am a Ninja" t-shirts. I have a new favorite tag team. Once everybody got in to the ring, Portia informed the other three that she has determined that she is the master of avoiding the bodyslam. (Perhaps a reference to the botched slam in the Volume 19 match? If so, AWESOME. If not, still cool.) She put one thousand dollars CANADIAN on the line, claiming that Danger could not slam her in the first minute of the match. Of course, Portia immediately tagged out after making the challenge and stayed on the apron until the first minute expired. I am so in to this character that it's not even funny.

Once the serious portion of the match got going, it was your standard babyface-in-peril situation, with the bad girls double teaming Blake until she got the big tag to Danger. Girl Dynamite managed to hit most of her big moves, including the Kawada chops, the dropkick on the floor, and a big tope suicida. Eventually things came down to Perez and Danger. Portia hit a fairly standard move, after which Danger came up grasping her collarbone. Of course, she legitimately broke that bone at the last set of tapings. Upon sensing that Allison was in trouble, Perez pounced and slapped on a Fujiwara armbar for the submission. She refused to break the hold after the bell, though there was no reversal of the submission victory for the Ninjas. Once the referees forced Portia to break the hold, they were distracted by Matthews, which allowed Perez to do more damage to Danger with the Divorce Court. ("It doesn't just separate the shoulder from the arm, it divorces it!")

Match #3: Danyah was eaten alive by the Amazing Kong. Danyah got a bit more offense in than Lorelei Lee did, but she was still murdered. Her doom came when she made the ill-advised move of attempting to hoist Kong up in to a fireman's carry. Needless to say, that did not work, and Danyah was powerbombed for the pin. Though I obviously miss her having main event caliber matches, it probably is a good idea to cycle Kong down the card for a while and have her destroy some younger women while new faces get an opportunity to do what they can in the top bouts.

Match #4: Cat Power made Daffney tap out. This was a very quick match that saw Cat immediately target Daffney's bad knee, making her submit to the figure four leglock. This wasn't designed to do much aside from a.) giving Power a dominant win and b.) furthering the storyline that when Daffney wrestles as Daffney heels know to attack her leg, but wrestling as Shark Girl gives her an advantage because they don't recognize her and stay away from the bum wheel. The match made those points in a couple of minutes and ended. There's nothing wrong with that at all.

Match #5: Jetta and Rain defeated Ashley Lane and Neveah. Lane and Neveah upset Lacey and Rain on the last set of tapings, though Lacey was absent here, presumably for the same reason that she hasn't been on recent Ring of Honor shows. Jetta and Rain donned t-shirts which depicted Lacey as a missing person on the side of a carton of soy milk. (Do missing person notices even get put on milk anymore?) This was quality tag team action, utilizing the standard formula very well. Rain locked in the Full Nelson Mandela on one of her opponents during the heat sequence, which always gets bonus points from yours truly. Granted, I haven't seen them together as often, but every time I've seen Rain and Jetta work with one another I feel like they're an even better duo than Lacey and Rain. It looked like the young blondes from Ohio were going to score another victory, but Rain managed to avoid their finish this time around and pinned Neveah with a handfull of tights. I guess we get the rubber match between Lane, Neveah, and some combination of the Homewrecking Crew on an upcoming taping.

Match #6: Ariel faced Nikki Roxx. These two are long-time friends from the New England independent circuit and both are much-loved by SHIMMER fans, so there was plenty of mutual admiration and pro-everybody chants flying about early on. In fact, I believe one chant from the crowd was "Cheer for both! Cheer for both!" Nikki did test the waters of playing heel by getting a cheap shot off of a clothesline, but the audience didn't turn on her. As a result, she kept wrestling like she normally would have. Having been frequent opponents in the past, the two worked together very well and put together a fine mid-show match. The finish came when Ariel looked like she was going for the luchariffic bodyscissors-in-to-a-bulldog spot but turned it in to a victory roll in mid-move to score the surprise three count. I like this result a lot, because Ariel had some serious upward momentum coming out of her match with Kong on the last tapings and the battle royale, and that all could have been undone by the Del Rey beating unless she was given a decent victory on Volume 20. They did just that.

Match #7: Sara Del Rey defeated Serena Deeb. I've been saying for a while that Deeb is the most talented up and comer on the SHIMMER roster and that she was one strong performance against a main eventer away from solidifying herself as a key performer in the promotion. Well, this was exactly the strong performance she needed. This match was GREAT and a real coming out party for young Ms. Deeb. In many ways, it reminded me of the SHIMMER Volume 5 match between Nikki Roxx and the Amazing Kong, as you expected the monstrous wrestler to have her way with the smaller woman, only for the smaller woman to show some true fire and walk away from the match being perceived as every bit the contender that her opponent is.

Del Rey started by using many of the same tactics from her earlier match with Ariel, primarily focusing on Deeb's arm. However, when Death Rey managed to catch Serena in the Tree of Joey Lawrence and hit a hard kick to the knee, she changed her gameplan and began destroying the Virginian's leg. Deeb regularly fired back and looked like she was primed to pull the upset on more than one occasion, but another strike to the leg would always connect at exactly the wrong time for the OVW standout. At one point Serena got a head of steam and attempted to charge Death Rey, but Sara dodged and sent her opponent FLYING out of the ring between the ropes and to the arena floor. It was essentially a suicide dive on to a nonexistent opponent. Del Rey looked like she was content to take the count out victory, but she ultimately broke the count and headed to the outside where she seemingly killed Deeb dead with a DRAGON SCREW IN TO THE GUARD RAIL. We then got a very dramatic count with Serena reentering the squared circle at nine and nine tenths. Unfortunately, she succumbed seconds later to a series of leg submissions. I command you to watch this match when it is released. If you do so and do not enjoy it, your love of wrestling may be dead.

Match #8: Cheerleader Melissa defeated LuFisto. Just when I was getting ready to give Del Rey/Deeb match of the night honors, THIS happened. There was an audible buzz in the venue when this match was announced just prior to the beginning of the Volume 20 taping, and the two women involved did not fail in their quest to live up to the crowd's expectations. You can watch plenty of matches these days in which two (or more) wrestlers go out there and throw everything but the kitchen sink at one another. However, it's rare anymore that you get a match in which the wrestlers don't actually hit everything they can while making the crowd feel that they did. That's not to say that Melissa and LuFisto didn't go out there and have an intense match that was almost primal in its physicality. They certainly did that, with hard strikes, impressive suplexes, and even Melissa's wheelbarrow whip in to the guardrail getting busted out. However, their actions meant much more than they would in other matches, because the women were smart enough to build up to them and then increase the brutality at logical intervals, capping off the match when the insanity had reached its peak. I don't wish to sound like I'm needlessly hyping on hyperbole, but I have a feeling that when it comes out on DVD, this match will become a cornerstone in any fan's argument that women's wrestling in the United States can be just as good as the men's version. Absolutely tremendous.

Match #9: MsChif successfully defended her SHIMMER Championship against Mercedes Martinez. This was not quite as good as the prior two matches, but it was still a match worthy of its main event position. Mercedes set the tone early by no-selling one of MsChif's screams and responding with an eye gouge. From there on out, the more jovial MsChif of recent tapings was completely out the window, and these two were set to have a serious battle. After seeing Del Rey and Deeb do the classic David versus Goliath match and with Melissa and LuFisto having an all-out street fight, these two went for more of a catch-as-catch-can classic. After the opening portions of the contest, it focused heavily on the two grapplers jockeying to hit their big moves. Martinez landed a pair of big spinebusters out of some fairly impressive positions. Ultimately, though, it was once again the Desecrator that lead to MsChif getting the pin and the title retention. This was definitely the right decision, as 'Chif needed to have a strong title defense just to make it clear that her originally taking home the championship wasn't a fluke.

Overall: I hate to sound like a broken record when it comes to my reviews of these shows, but this is one wrestling card that definitely managed to deliver. I will say, in all fairness, that I think Volume 19 will be a relatively weak version of the DVD series. Nothing on it was actively bad, but, outside of Melissa vs. Mercedes, not that much had the "must see" feel of the best SHIMMER matches. However, things went in to a completely different gear when it came to Volume 20. As described above, the top three matches were all phenomenal, with that roughly sixty minutes of professional wrestling being the most exciting sixty minutes that I have ever seen live. Combine that with a fun match between Ariel and Nikki Roxx, an excellent angle and promo from Portia Perez, and Amazing Kong committing near-homicide, and Volume 20 looks like a must buy, whether you regularly watch SHIMMER or not.


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