It's springtime. The birds are chirping, the ice is melting and flowers are coming into bloom. It also means that the leading women's wrestling outfit in North America will be having one of their two taping conclaves, where half of its year will be played out in front of a raucous crowd at the Eagles Club in Berwyn, IL. Yes, SHIMMER Women Athletes will be settling in with the finest collection of female wrestlers on this side of the Pacific Ocean starting Saturday, and tickets, though sparse, are still available (though they may not be for long).
Obviously, women's wrestling is a sore subject for some people. In the mainstream, it is derided because basically WWE treats women like soulless automatons who happen to be hot, and TNA, no matter how high the ratings are for their Knockouts' segments, treats their women with decreasing respect from week to week. It's easy to understand why people would hold women in low regard in the wrestling ring, but it's hard to forgive, especially when there's so much good going on overseas and especially in the indies.
Some names associated with SHIMMER are familiar, while others are new to people who don't follow it. Ayako Hamada, Ashley "Madison Rayne" Lane, Cheerleader Melissa aka Alissa Flash aka Raisha Saeed, Nikki Roxx, Serena Deeb and Daffney are all women who've appeared recently who have name recognition in major promotions. Sara del Rey, Mia Yim, Rachel Summerlyn and MsChif all have appeared on ROH TV or at their house shows. Alumnae who are currently in WWE or TNA include Beth Phoenix, Nattie Neidhart, Sarita (as Sarah Stock), Kharma (as Awesome/Amazing Kong) and Winter. They actually only comprise a small portion of the width and breadth of competitor who has appeared or who will appear this weekend. Here's a list of the women to know.
Kana - She's widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, wrestlers in Japan. She made her SHIMMER debut last fall to great critical acclaim, wrestling in outstanding matches against LuFisto, Mia Yim, Sara del Rey and Cheerleader Melissa. Her hard kicks accentuate her sheer brutality, and in fact in addition to her natural good looks and her suggestive ring attire, her roundhouse is a manifestation of her sex appeal. Seriously, it is the sexiest move I've ever seen in my life. SHIMMER doesn't announce its match lineup beforehand, so we'll have to see which group of wrestlers she'll be battling this time, but the results should be fantastic.
Hailey Hatred - She's the Midwest girl done good. A sign that anyone has truly made it is that they're invited over to do a tour of Japan. Hatred, a wrestler who made her name in the early days of the indies in IWA Mid-South, was not only invited, but was actually good enough to capture the JWP Openweight Championship. To put that in perspective, zero American wrestlers before her and zero after she lost it have won the title, which has about 20 years of history behind it. She could only make it for one of the two days of taping last fall, but this time, she's around for the whole shebang. That can only mean good things.
Allison Danger - She's the den mother of the SHIMMER roster, one of the original members and currently part of the creative process with Dave Prazak. In 2009-2010, she was embroiled in a bitter, personal feud with Portia Perez that led to a pretty nasty Last Woman Standing match at Vol. 30 (their DVDs are subdivided into volumes, two of which are taped at every day of taping). Since then, she's mainly focused on her tag team with up-and-comer Leva Bates, which they've called Regeneration X. Fans of Doctor Who will appreciate the name, the gimmick and the ring attire.
The Canadian Ninjas - Speaking of Perez, she forms a tag team with Nicole Matthews called the Canadian Ninjas. They were the Tag Team Champions up until Vol. 37, and have since focused more on singles feuds. Whether as a tag team or as singles competitors, the Ninjas bring bad dispositions, mean streaks in the ring and sneaky tactics against whomever they face. They also have the best ring gear in the whole company. As a bonus, Perez also handles a good bit of the color commentary when she's not wrestling, so for those who are mainly watchers via DVD, there's a bonus.
Kellie Skater - The Rate Tank as she's called is part of the Aussie invasion that includes Jessie McKay, the rehabbing and hopefully not-retired Madison Eagles and the debuting-this-weekend Shazza McKenzie. She's a cocky yet scrappy heel who is not afraid to taunt her foes as she's kicking their behinds or even getting her rear end kicked herself. She also brings a protein shake to her to ringside for all her matches, the contents of which have come under scrutiny. Some have even gone so far as to call them "roo roids", which may or may not account for her solid rock bone structure. They don't call her 58 kilos of pure adamantium for nothing, mind you. She also has been known to take the color commentary mantel from time to time.
LuFisto - She might be more known to Canadian and CZW fans for her extreme death match exploits, which obviously are toned down in SHIMMER (think Necro Butcher in ROH). That being said, even if she's not bathed in blood and broken glass, she's still highly entertaining in the SHIMMER ring for wholly different reasons than her exploits in the extreme would suggest. Her nickname of "Super Hardcore Anime" should shed some light into her antics, which include conferring with her "manager", a goo goo doll named Pegaboo. Take her with a grain of salt at your own risk though, as she's still one of the most formidable women on the roster.
Athena - The Wrestling Goddess is sort of an up-and-comer in the SHIMMER pantheon, but don't take her lightly either. In the confines of Austin, Texas' Anarchy Championship Wrestling, she's a big friggin' deal. As a former American Joshi Champion there, she's proven that she can hang with SHIMMER mainstays such as Perez, Summerlyn and del Rey. She also has one of the most exciting finishers in all of pro wrestling, the O-Face, which is a leaping stunner from the top rope.
Again, these are only a few names to look for to tear the house down out in Berwyn. Also, for those who want to be able to take in even more SHIMMER as well as some of the best male wrestlers the Midwest has to offer, check out the Eagles Club tomorrow night, as AAW will be playing the building. SHIMMER weekend unofficially kicks off with a trios match featuring del Rey teaming with the Ninjas against Athena, MsChif and Christina Von Eerie.
Women's wrestling really is no joke, and this weekend is proof positive of that. SHIMMER may not tape live more than four days out of the year, but those days produce some of the best wrestling action, male or female, in the country. Anyone who tells you that women shouldn't wrestle because Kelly Kelly can't run the ropes should pay attention to this weekend and eat a metric ton of crow.