SHIMMER Volume 80
Saturday, April 2
Eddie Deen’s Ranch – Dallas, Texas
When SHIMMER (we’re canning the all caps from here on in) struck the tents last October they had finished their 10th Anniversary weekend with a ten-woman tag match including shocking appearances from original roster members Lacey and Daizee Haze. This match was Portia Perez’s retirement match, so instead of competing here, Portia is dealing with trying to handle a Shoot Job. Evie and Heidi Lovelace became the #1 contenders for the belts currently held by Kimber Lee and Cherry Bomb. Tomoka Nakagawa retired, and AJA F’n KONG WAS IN BERWYN TO SEND HER OFF! Madison Eagles became the new Shimmer champion by defeating Nicole Matthews, the sole remaining Canadian Ninja. And earlier this year it was announced that Vol. 80 would be a one-day tournament to crown a champion for the new Heart of Shimmer title.
The format for the tournament is:
- First Round: Six singles matches
- Second Round: First Round winners in three singles matches
- Third Round: Second Round winners in three-way dance
Since Dave Prazak not only failed to release the brackets to the public, but is now taunting me about this fact, I will be previewing the event by what I believe is the likelihood of each competitor winning the Heart of Shimmer championship. Unlike previous years, Shimmer is not running in Chicago until June. Because of this the tournament roster is entirely North American. The usual Aussies and Brits and Joshi will not be getting the first crack at this new title, which makes the field pretty wide open. Looking at the competitors I could make a legitimate case for ⅔ of them walking out with the new belt. Of course some have stronger cases than others. Just to make sure I’m not crazy, I also reached out to Twitter for opinions on who will win the tournament. These good folks will Back Me Up, or perhaps Say I’m Wrong.
The Top Contenders
1 – Nicole Savoy: I don’t know which is more amazing to me, how quickly Savoy has risen up the ranks of Shimmer in just over one year, or how she improves dramatically each time I see her. I believe this belt is here to be their version of the Intercontinental Title (before it became hexed by an ancient blood curse), so it would make the most sense to put the belt on their most promising young talent. Last year on Mania weekend Nicole had her first really good Shimmer match against Evie. Since then her hard strikes, beautiful suplexes, and great heel mannerisms propelled her to her first Shimmer title shot in October 2015, after wins against big names such as Hiroyo Matsumoto, Evie, and Mia Yim. She didn’t claim the belt that night, but I think April 2 will be a very different story. If she wins, the biggest threat to her reign might not be Heidi Lovelace or LuFisto, but from HHH coming to call. There’s still time to get on the Savoy bandwagon before she’s main eventing a Takeover show in a couple years. Back Me Up: @MikeVsPhilly – “I thought she was incredibly impressive last year and I think this will be even better.” @TGD287 – “Savoy, no question.”
2 – Heidi Lovelace: While not quite a prodigy like Savoy, Lovelace has been coming on very strong the last few years. She has expanded her skillset from hardcore wrestler who gets her ass kicked by guys, to being able to keep up with some of the most skilled women in the world. She spent a good chunk of last year in Shimmer with Evie as their team went 4-0 in 2015. And recently she helped make history as part of the first woman vs. woman match for a non-gendered title in a major indie promotion, losing her shot against CHIKARA champion Kimber Lee. As a fan of the promotion I feel like I’ve watched Heidi growing up in the Shimmer ring. I feel, and I know I’m not alone on this, the same sense of pride when the band you saw play the local bar ends up selling out an arena. It would be a fitting decision to give the belt to someone who has come of age in Shimmer, and still has a lot to give the business.Back Me Up: @jeromepweditor – “Heidi Is a rising star in wrestling and deserves a chance to hold a singles title. Many of the other wrestlers have held numerous titles. I see this as a chance to build a new star and bring Heidi into Shimmer’s upper midcard.”
3 – LuFisto: I honestly think the happiest I would be this weekend is if LuFisto took the title. This woman has fought governments, bled with Necro Butcher, faced God Damned Death and gave it’s puny ass a Burning Hammer. LuFisto is a hero and an inspiration, and if anyone should have been given a chance to be part of the “Diva’s Revolution” and hopefully make scads of money and fame for wrestling it is her. All of which would be lovely but meaningless if she still couldn’t tear it up in the ring. But she is a cannonball that plows into her opponent and drops them on their heads. I wouldn’t bet against her winning the title and damn it I would love to see it. Back Me Up: @PocketVolcano – “Because she’s the true heart of Shimmer.” @lovablebill – “LuFisto all the way. She needs some gold around her waist.” @jameseus18 – “My bet would be for LuFisto.”
4 – Nicole Matthews: The former champ is always a threat. Sure as her Preview video shows, she might be taking her loss to Madison Eagles a bit hard, and maybe she is finding solace in the grapy arms of red wine, and sure maybe she seems uninterested in training or getting ready for the tournament. But the chance to become not only the first Heart of Shimmer champion, but become a Triple Crown champ should get her moving around and in fighting shape by April 2. Matthews is coming off a year where she went 6-1 in singles matches, including wins over fellow tournament participants Jessicka Havok and Candice LeRae. The big question is how will Nicole fare with her fellow ninja, Portia Perez, now retired? Or does Nicole have a surprise up her sleeves. I don’t know that Matthews would be my choice to win this, but if you want to give the belt instant credibility she’s probably the best choice in the field.
Don’t Count Them Out
5 – Kimber Lee: If Lee wasn’t current one half of the Shimmer tag champs with Cherry Bomb she might have been at the very top of the list. In my recent review of SHINE Vol. 33 I said she is becoming one of the aces on the American scene, and I can’t think of a woman who had a better 2015 than Kimber. The Kimber Bombs won the Shimmer tag belts at Vol. 73, and successfully defended the belts two times in the spring. When Cherry Bomb went on the sidelines with a collarbone injury Lee spent the fall taping working singles and having some of the best matches of the weekend with Heidi Lovelace and Sonoko Kato. Her position in Shimmer was made clear when she was chosen to be part of the main event of Vol. 79, one of the biggest matches in company history. She also won the Shine tag titles with Cherry Bomb, and became the CHIKARA Grand Champion. Her versatility in the ring means she can put on a good match with almost anyone, and a great match with the right opponent. She would be a great choice for the belt. However, I don’t know how her partner would feel about it, and that could present some problems on April 2. Kimber Lee Vol. 80 Preview
6 – Cheerleader Melissa: I feel like this is an excellent time to point out that this list is in order of who I think will win, not in order of who I hope will win. Melissa is a Shimmer original, and one of the foundation stones of the promotion, and the women’s wrestling scene of the last 15 years in the U.S. I give her all due respect. For years her matches could be counted on to be among the best of the weekend, taping after taping. But something happened, and people noticed. It is much quieter during her matches than before. Even though the audience seems to have moved beyond Melissa, she’s still booked very strong. After making the finals of the ChickFight tournament at Vol. 71, and only being eliminated because of a distraction after looking dominant. She went on to win 7 out of her next 8 matches, including wins over Candice LeRae and “Crazy” Mary Dobson. She is still a big deal in Shimmer. While I admit there might be some humor to be found in Melissa being crowned the Heart of Shimmer and being hated for it, that wouldn’t justify the feeling of stagnation that would come with her winning this tournament. I really really don’t want to see that come to pass. Cheerleader Melissa Vol. 80 Preview
7 – Leva Bates: What is the Heart of Shimmer championship meant to be? Is it the path for the best young wrestlers to be groomed for the jump to the main event scene? Is it the more pure wrestling title, devoid of the chairs and fireballs that crop up from time to time in Shimmer Championship matches? If that’s the case then Bates should be ranked 13th on this list of 12. But what if it is really about heart? When people fall in love with Shimmer they are attracted to the international all-stars and the superb matches. They may love the idea of a space where women are able to perform to the best of their abilities without concern for how men around them might feel. But one underrated aspect is the fun. This promotion, wrestlers and the fans, is not afraid to be silly, to laugh at dumb things, encourage juvenile behavior, and embrace the Nerd Within. What if that is what this title is going to be about? A way to honor the wrestlers who bring joy and light to the show, even if they don’t bring in-ring classics with them? I don’t think that’s going to be the case, but if it is, the Queen of Cosplay has to be considered one of the favorites. The problem though is before the belt could be all mirth and frivolity, someone has to win it, and I’m not sure that the rest of the field is looking to laugh all that much.
8 – Cherry Bomb: The other, louder, half of the Kimber Bombs. Cherry Bomb seemed to be getting momentum, especially as a tag team wrestler, until a nasty injury put her out for the second half of 2015 and into 2016. However, even before the injury her singles history in Shimmer was spotty at best, both in terms of wins and match quality. To be fair though, most of her singles work was pre Kimber Bombs, and she has definitely been upping her game since forming the team. As a personality she gets you invested in her matches, and you really do want people to shut her up, preferably with punches or kicks to the face. Cherry Bomb would be a fun heel champ, and would guarantee that the new title starts off with heat. However, I don’t know how her partner would feel about it, and that could present some problems on April 2. Cherry Bomb Vol. 80 Preview
Not Their Year
9 – “Crazy” Mary Dobson: I went back and forth, moving Mary from the bottom of the second tier to the top of the third tier. Shimmer’s favorite part-time concessions manager and full time fearless lunatic started to show signs of inching up the card last year. She entered 2015 without having notched a single victory in Shimmer, and looked to be on the same track after losing her first match to Melanie Cruise. An upset of Portia Perez, got her on the board in spring. She opened eyes in the fall, with solid showings in defeat against Cheerleader Melissa and Courtney Rush, and then closed out her 2015 with a wild victory over Saraya Knight. 2016 is going to be good for Dobson, and she has a very strong chance to show well in this tournament. But it’s not her time yet. She won’t have the Heart of Shimmer belt, but she’s still one to watch this year. “Crazy” Mary Dobson Vol. 80 Preview
10 – Veda Scott: When reviewing what has gone on in Shimmer since last year’s Mania weekend I left out one thing. The Strange Case of Andy Long. In one of those moments that you cannot ever plan for the combination of Long’s shoddy ref work and Veda’s top notch heeling came together to create the hottest crowd I’ve ever been a part of. Hotter than Punk vs. Cena. Hotter than Hogan confronting The Rock. Seriously, buy Vol. 79 when it finally comes out. Now where was I? Oh yeah Veda Scott. She’s not winning this. Veda is an awesome personality, but it would be a major shift if she suddenly went on this kind of run. She has been a perennial .500 wrestler, never gaining momentum or having any upward trajectory. I don’t expect that to change here. Veda Scott Vol. 80 Preview Say I’m Wrong: @Ryan__W – “Got to be Veda Scott. Long overdue a good title run and is vastly underrated imo.
11 – Candice LeRae: Candice is one of the best known names on the indies and has certainly had some quality matches in Shimmer, including ones against Kay Lee Ray, Nicole Matthews, and Athena. But she has never seemed to get traction in the company. Maybe because of the sporadic nature of her appearances. Maybe because she is so closely associated with the WCTT gimmick alongside Joey Ryan. She just has yet to feel essential to the promotion, and I cannot imagine inaugurating a new belt, especially one with a title like Heart of Shimmer, to someone who does not have a deep connection with the company. Say I’m Wrong: @N_Overstreet – “I think Candice LeRae is walking away as the first Heart of Shimmer Champion.”
12 – Jessicka Havok: Havok brings an air of danger with her when she walks to the ring. Always a good thing to be a little scared of a wrestler. She has the kind of credibility needed to be elevated to work with main eventers at any time. But she is just not the person to win this tournament. She doesn’t need the belt. And if the history of the existing titles is any guide, the belts have tended to stay on people who can work a faster pace. Perhaps Shimmer needs a Hoss division title.