Monday, 04 July 2011 11:37
SHIMMMER Volume 32
SHIMMER Women’s Athletes
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
There’s a Joshi invasion of SHIMMER, and while it’s not a complex storyline, it adds to the mix and makes for some awesome matches on this Volume of one of the big players in women’s wrestling these days.
I’m not quite sure when “Joshi” became the fashionable lingo in the women’s wrestling here, but it is the name of women’s professional wrestling in Japan, and thus to the hardcore fans, and that sense of exotic terminology, it all works.
Wrestling in Japan continues to struggle as a whole, and Women’s wrestling isn’t anywhere near what it was with the 1980’s era or the Manami Toyota era, but by the looks and talents in the ring on SHIMMER Vol. 32, there must be a revival going on.
What was interesting from a matchmaking sense was the pairing up of similar wrestlers: Ayumi Kurihara & Daizee Haze are both high speed, daredevil types with a solid foundation of talent. Hiroyo Matsumoto & Mercedes Martinez are hard-hitting, power wrestlers. And Cheerleader Melissa & Ayako Hamada are both former TNA talents, who were never used properly, and both have reputations that have endured their miserable stints (I saw only as a fan who enjoys their work).
What SHIMMER brings to women’s wrestling is a solid promotion that has all the styles, a boatload of talent and an established presence in the industry. The only complaint I have with SHIMMER is the complaint I have with the indy portion of the industry – way too many matches on a DVD, which burns through matchups and makes the mid-card matches forgettable, and forces me to write 2000 word reviews. Yeah, I blame the promotion!
And yet, with this volume, the finishes seem to be a little stronger. While SHIMMER was never ‘off’ in terms of storylines, there is a sense of connecting in character development with finishes, a sense of winning streaks and a decided avoidance of having the Champion (Madison Eagle) wrestle here.
The announce team, with Dave Prazak in the lead, and Allison Danger & Portia Perez and others mixing it up, continues to be top notch. The Australians as heels approach is interesting, especially considering the accents, and Prazak pointing out the hypocrisy of Perez’s Canada touting commentary, at the expense of fellow Canadian (by way of Mexico City) Sara Stock is priceless.
Let’s get to the matches:
Jamilia Craft vs Malia Hosaka
Veteran (can’t mention enough the Lexie Fyfe cutout and NIN entrance music) Hosaka has that solid foundation of being able to work with newcomers. Not that Craft should be considered a newbie.
Rachel Summerlyn vs Kellie Skater
Would someone please explain “Rate Tank” to me?
It’s the power of Summerlyn against the heelishness of Skater. Skater would later be the heel voice mixing it up with Prazak. She’s also still horribly marked up from a chopfest by Mercedes Martinez in a recent match.
Skater is proving herself, that’s for sure
Cat Power vs Nevaeh
Just to confuse everyone, Cat Power used to wear a mask, but does not anymore. Jamilia Craft wears a mask, but has a name that doesn’t quite imply the need to wear one. Cat Power looks like Melanie Cruise in terms of size and shape, but isn’t.
Nevaeh is a former SHIMMER Tag Team Champ, looks great, looks great in the ring. Neveah, thanks to me doing a quick Internet search, is Heaven spelled backwards. Which is confusing me even further.
Cat Power is doing this weird “I’m sexy” gimmick, obviously to mock the ‘Diva’ approach seen elsewhere. Solid undercard match with the power of the cat versus the quickness of the former Tag Champ.
Allison Danger & Jennifer Blake vs Annie Social & Melanie Cruise
Fun face vs heel approach here, especially with the Addams Family references. Annie Social can be called Wednesday, especially in the Christina Ricci role grown up. Cruise as Pugsley is rough. I’m not sure if I’d go there with Christopher Cruise, either, ‘cause that’s just mean.
Ah, Allison Danger in the ring, tagging with Girl Dynamite. There’s something fascinating to watch with this match, but I’m not so sure of the ongoing dynamics here.
Tomoka Nakagawa vs Jessie McKay
Undoubtedly another Joshi vs SHIMMER match, but here it’s the oddball Australian babyface in McKay vs Heel Nakagawa. McKay certainly is “everyone’s favorite girlfriend” and she can go.
I loved the finish, and the work to the finish, in terms of telling a good story with McKay. There’s more of a heel vs face theme with SHIMMER these days, and if it doesn’t overwhelm all the matches, it makes things more interesting.
And I can see McKay doing bigger and better things down the road, because she has something with that MMA inspired approach and a fire that cannot be taught.
Backstage spot with Madison Eagles next. I like not having the Champ wrestle on every DVD, especially when it plays her up as a heel.
Portia Perez vs Tenille
Tenille, I read, has been wrestling since she was ten?!? She’s another Australian face, but who’s counting, and I won’t anymore. The infusion of Australian talent is very deep, though, and Tenille has the combination of talent and looks that makes me wonder how long before she gets signed up to the main stage.
Portial Perez is one of my favorite heels. As one half of the Canadian Ninjas, and they hold the belts! she’s a spitfire and a top notch talent.
Sara Del Rey vs Misaki Ohata
A very good Joshi vs SHIMMER match, but not quite a mirror image one. Here, Ohata is the young babyface doing everything in her power, especially with submissions and just taking it to Del Rey, but just can’t overcome the experience of the former SHIMMER Champ.
Another backstage promo, and Ayumi Kurihara is coming for gold.
MsChif vs Daffney
Great storyline build up here, as the former Scream Queens do battle. Daffney calls out MsChif, who then comes out and ends up her response with “It breaks my heart that it has come to this”. Sort of a weird dynamic for two gals who love to scream, but the underlying emotion made it work even better.
The match, featuring tag team partners well familiar with each other and playing similar styles, worked well. Daffney’s not exactly known for her submissions, but pulls out a few, and MsChif is anything if not a contortionist.
Loved the match, but I love the two gals in the ring, so go figure.
Sara Stock vs Nicole Mathews
I’ll show some hard fought constraint and not talk about Stock’s other ring names. Here, she’s happily the Dark Angel, and taking on the other half of the Canadian Ninjas.
Two ladies showing what they’ve got, and Bryce Remsburg is again the envy of wrestling fans in getting caught up in the middle of this sort of action.
Loved the finish, with a twist on heel interference that shows a cleverness that escapes the grasp of Hollywood types.
Daizee Haze vs Ayumi Kurihara
Another well worked match with storylines and a clever finish. But let’s not overlook that these two can go, and go and go. Fast action and high risk maneuvers galore.
The Haze looked striking with her hairdo. Well, I hate to go there, but she’s usually doing this zonked out character, but now she’s the heel, and that plays into the finish, and she’s also changed up her appearance just enough to show a difference.
What I liked was that the setup for the match, the winning streak and the ramifications, plus Haze as the heel, all collided in an interesting fashion. It leads to a possible rematch, but also was sold by Kurihara as meaningful, which is one reason there was a great ovation afterwards.
Mercedes Martinez vs Hiroyo Matsumoto
The style was a good changeup. These two are mirror images from different continents, and both displayed power, chops and big strikes, plus never backed down from each other.
I’ve never seen anyone handle Martinez like this. Matsumoto looked awesome, putting Martinez up in Torture Racks twice, and dropping her into a gutbuster the second time. From the Irish Whips to the turnbuckle to the unrelenting exchanges of strikes, this was as hard-hitting as you’ll see.
The finish was a bit too quick for my tastes, but the concept of blocking the big finisher and delivering one’s own made sense. How Martinez reacted to almost going up for the Saito Suplex was pretty strong, though, and it continues a run by Martinez that further establishes her name among the best in the business these days.
Afterwards, the show of respect was emotional, and a fan presented Matsumoto with a poster of the Joshi girls (manga style) on it, with Japanese writing. She was clearly overwhelmed by this and the “Please Come Back” chant.
Cheerleader Melissa vs Ayako Hamada
Can I please get through a pro wrestling DVD without having to rip on TNA? I mean, I’m trying to avoid it, I really am. But with TNA and watching any wrestling, anywhere, it’s like walking down the street after a Fourth of July parade that included a Cavalry regiment.
Both these ladies were part of the TNA roster, and if they could have had a match half as long as this one, and watered it down ½ as much from there, they’d still outshine their male counterparts of various age groups, and we all know that’s why neither of them were allowed to appear very often on TV.
Its too bad …. Oh, yeah, why even go there. Ironically, Dave Prazak, who by most accounts, is not a female but happens to run a strong promotion that features only women wrestling, well, he seems to know that featuring talented wrestlers in the ring is the proper way to run a WRESTLING promotion.
Otherwise, can you imagine SHIMMER done with the TNA style? Medusa Micelli & Wendy Richter would be on top, and, well, ¾ the roster would be held down, and some former WWE Diva would be touted as better than the home grown roster.
Oh, yeah, I keep digging deeper.
Hamada pulls out a Frankensteiner, a superkick and threatens a shooting star press from the top to the floor – all in two minutes – and that was already ten minutes past the finish of a “Diva” or a “Knockout” and then a minute later she hits that aforementioned high spot, which would have initiated a heart attack in the feeble minds of foolish decision makers in both big companies in this industry.
There’s a series of pin attempts that was rather ugly, but in that fashion where it was what it was supposed to be, and I’d rather watch the realistic approach than the overly safe one any day. And that series was surrounded by some hard hitting exchanges of palm strikes, punches and slaps that defies description – because if you’re unfamiliar with what wrestling is all about, then you won’t believe me.
If you want to completely ruin your perspective of Cable TV women’s wrestling, watch this match, let alone this DVD. The “This is awesome” chant was heartfelt, and I loved the post match show of respect.
The post match confrontation with SHIMMER Champ Madison Eagles to build up that match was the way it should be done. This promotion and these ladies just ‘get it’ which leads me to more anti-establishment rants, but let’s avoid distractions: with 32 DVDs and counting, SHIMMER is doing it right, and that number is a pretty strong indication that there is an audience for this kind of thing.