Editor’s note: SHIMMER 91 provided us with a women’s wrestling showcase on internet pay-per-view (iPPV) during the crazy busy WrestleMania weekend of shows in Orlando. ReverendKain kept up a live results post here, but with roughly 8000 other shows to cover this week, Vidence kindly offered to give him a break and recap this event. Here’s his look at what Dave Prazak & company offered up on Saturday afternoon (April 1).
Cherry Bomb vs. Alex Windsor
As "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons hit to start the show I immediately got my earplugs out because I knew Cherry Bomb and her lovely and not at all ear-splittingly high pitched voice was on its way to the ring. This was a pretty standard opener with Bomb getting a convincing win over Windsor, who’s relatively new to Shimmer, with a Superkick. One thing I really like about Bomb is that she’s a heel that actually plays a heel in her matches, whether it’s cheating in every way she can or jaw-jacking with the crowd to build heat.
And on that crowd note, one of the biggest highlights of the show was a young girl in the crowd who was consistently antagonizing the heels to great comedic effect. Throughout the show, the heels were consistently gotten to by Indie Izzy, as she was christened on twitter, and Bomb was no exception, telling her that "No one likes her" after she had said the same to Bomb and generally feuding with this small child throughout the match.
Samantha Heights v. Britt Baker v. Neveah v. Veda Scott
This match was a four way match with tag team rules, meaning two people are in the match at a time, and anyone can tag anyone to get into the match. The big standout of this one was Britt Baker. I had seen her work primarily in gif form up to this point, aside from being one of Nia’s first victims, but she impressed me so much here. She looked on a completely different level than the other three women in the match. She simply looks so much more natural in the ring. When she was in, everything was much smoother and crisp whereas it was fairly messy otherwise. She needs to be getting booked everywhere.
Veda is a trooper for wrestling with multiple broken teeth after the kick to the face she took at Janela’s Spring Break, though.
LuFisto v. Leva Bates
LuFisto had a big task in front of her here to get something out of Leva Bates in this one. She’s been fantastic as the grumpy grizzled vet and she did her best here, but Leva just has very little to give in the wrestling ring. Her cosplay this time around was Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers which meant much butt based shenanigans throughout which did not in fact add very much to this match. Aside from that she didn’t do much except deliver weak offense that LuFi had to sell. Thankfully LuFisto has great offense so the match wasn’t a total loss. LuFisto won with the Burning Hammer. Very excited for LuFisto versus Su Yung later tonight, though!
Shayna Baszler v. Santana Garrett
This was really fun. Shayna continues to impress anytime out, and Santana is always game with a good opponent. As someone that is not a huge fan of Santana’s all-wasted-motion offense, I was a huge fan of Santana going for a rope climb armdrag being reversed right into a Fujiwara Armbar out of mid air by Baszler who has no time for that type of offense. The match was a good show of Garrett trying to use her speed to avoid getting caught in one of Shayna’s many holds. Unfortunately that only worked for so long before the awesome finish of Shayna hitting a Falcon Arrow that landed Santana Garrett right into a Sleeper Hold and she was forced to submit.
Cat Power v. Jessicka Havok
Solid outing by two of the hossier women in Shimmer here. As commentary mentioned, Jessicka Havok looked in great shape in this one, likely wanting to be at her best for her upcoming tour of Stardom, and she looked so much better in the ring than she did last year when she wasn’t very mobile at all. Prazak talking about Havok being in great shape enabled a wonderful line from Portia Perez who has had many run-ins with the Havok Death Machine asking whether she can "find a way to work out her personality."
I haven’t mentioned the great commentary stylings of Portia Perez so far because if I shouted out every funny line, this review would take me forever, but suffice it to say she delivered as always. WWE would be making a huge mistake if they don’t give her a call to commentate the upcoming Women’s Tournament this summer.
Nicole Matthews v. Shotzki Blackheart
This was the first standout match of the show, and one of my favorites of the weekend so far. It’s always great to see Nicole Matthews wrestle. She’s a really talented performer in the ring, a great heel, and more than anything, she has presence. The Shimmertaker persona may be tongue and cheek, but she absolutely does have that gravitas when she performs. She’s the type of person to bring the most out of a match like this with a young up and comer because she carries herself in such a way that having a big performance against her really means something. And Blackheart for her part did really well playing the underdog working underneath the overconfident veteran who was taking her lightly. With both nailing their roles so well, the match really came together as something special, and the crowd really got behind Blackheart as the match went on, hoping to see her topple the obnoxious and arrogant Matthews who continued to show her little respect.
A great moment in the match saw Blackheart kick out of Matthews’ Brainbuster, which was met with a "This is Awesome" chant and a fantastic angered response from Matthews who found Shotzi kicking out of the Brainbuster much less awesome than the enthusiastic crowd. Unfortunately though, Shotzi’s game effort was not enough and Matthews got the victory with the Vancouver Maneuver. Killer match, biggest one to seek out from this show. Could easily see it being top 10-15 for the weekend. Also, Indie Izzy continued to be a highlight as she managed to get a couple shots in on Matthews when she was on the outside taking chops from Blackheart against the guardrail leading to Matthews counting along with the referee when she hit the Vancouver Maneuver and pointing the three fingers right in the little girl's face. The heels being consistently gotten to by her presence was a great throughline of the show.
Mount Tessa (Tessa Blanchard and Vanessa Kraven) vs. Flyin’ High (Mia Yim & Kay Lee Ray)
I’ve always enjoyed both Mia Yim and Kay Lee Ray, and was instantly sold on them as a duo with their entrance and theme. They really seem to have great chemistry as a pairing with both having a natural exuberance for the wrestling. They come across as a total babyface tag team.
This match was a hoot with lots of fun offense from Flyin’ High (including an awesome double jump Poetry in Motion off both KLR and Kraven’s back onto Tessa in the corner with Double Knees), and strong storytelling with the growing tension between Tessa Blanchard and her hired gun Vanessa Kraven who’s getting more than a bit sick of the Third Generation Superstar’s bossiness. The frustration was on display at the start as the ring announcer announced them as Mount Kraven and Tessa angrily corrected him to the mild chagrin of Kraven. But the chagrin got less and less mild as the match wore on with miscommunications between the team culminating in Kraven accidentally (well… maybe accidentally) leveling Tessa by mistake. Tessa angrily got in Kraven’s face and slapped her but was eventually backed down by the very scary Vanessa Kraven and got on her knees hugging Kraven’s legs to beg forgiveness. With them momentarily back on the same page Flyin’ High don’t get the easy win they were hoping for from the two heels going at it. The end of the match sees Tessa implore the referee to check on the injured Kraven in the corner allowing her to hit KLR with the title belt behind his back and steal the victory. Flyin’ High does briefly give one of the tag belts to Indie Izzy who holds it up to a loud "You Deserve It!" chant in one of the funniest moments of the show before Mount Tessa snatches it back like the jerks they are.
Dulce Garcia (fka Sexy Star) v. KellyAnne
I’m no fan of the former Sexy Star, but KellyAnne is really good so I had at least some hopes that this could be good. It being the semi-main over the title match is classic Star though. It started off surprisingly fun as Garcia thought she was in Tijuana and started brawling with KellyAnne (someone not unfamiliar with a good brawl as her great series down under against Evie showed) into the crowd and I thought we might get a wild brawl that could cover for Star’s deficiencies but the mark ref started counting them out and then they just went into the ring and had a pretty bogstandard match from then on. It was pretty stiff, though, with both women’s chests beet red from some nasty looking chops. The finish saw Garcia hitting a double stomp into the three amigos to get the pin. Garcia is not very good, and they didn’t give KellyAnne a ton here.
Candice LeRae v. Mercedes Martinez
This was really good. Candice consistently gets better every time I see her work. In the past it felt like she only thrived in intergender matches, but she’s really come into her own as a much more complete wrestler. She’s an outstanding babyface which played very well against Mercedes and her Trifecta partners. Nicole Savoy was allowed to be at ringside for the match due to her manager’s license (which is a great touch that is missed in modern wrestling) which further stacked the odds against the lovable underdog whose weight is measured in cupcakes.
Candice fought valiantly against Martinez but Savoy and later Baszler kept interfering, keeping her from getting any real momentum going. As things built to a crescendo, upstanding official Bryce Remsburg had finally seen enough of Trifecta’s antics and tossed Baszler and Savoy, but Martinez used the opening to hit a belt shot on Candice, teasing the same result as the tag title match, but Candice managed to kick out at the last moment.
Candice had a big final rush which saw her hit a Belly to Belly Suplex (an homage to her close friend and WWE Raw Women’s Champion, Bayley) and the Plex, but Martinez just kicked out. Candice went for the Reverse Rana out of desperation to finally put Mercedes away, but she got caught and hit with a backdrop suplex into the Fisherman’s Buster allowing Martinez to retain.
As exciting as Candice winning would have been given how established and beloved she is to the wider independent wrestling world, it really didn’t make sense to have her beat Mercedes, given that Trifecta is still in their early stages as a group, and Candice, as Martinez said in her promo earlier in the show, hasn’t exactly won a ton of matches in Shimmer up to that point.
Overall, SHIMMER 91 was a solid show carried by the great Blackheart/Matthews match and the two really good title matches, but was not on the level of the Heart of Shimmer tournament last year. With WWE signing pretty much everyone that isn’t nailed down, it’s going to take some time for Shimmer to refuel its depth, especially if they lose even more people like Matthews, KLR, or Candice, to name but three that have been talked about getting a look-in.
It was a bit awkward was how heel heavy the show was, but it not being a full four show taping makes it sometimes tough to do things like title changes (such as the discussion above with Candice) and I’m sure that big announcement from WWE today cut into their flexibility as well.