This Saturday and Sunday, the premier Women's Wrestling Promotion in North America, SHIMMER, will be holding their fall DVD tapings in the Eagles Club in Berwyn, Illinois.
Following up on their last DVD tapings, which saw not one but two Tag Team Title changes, as well as the SHIMMER debut of recent WWE Developmental Signee, Britani Knight, the continuation of the instantly classic feud between Nicole Matthews and Jessie McKay, and the first-ever North American meeting of Ayako Hamada and Ayumi Kurihara, SHIMMER is looking to, once again, raise the bar for Women's Professional Wrestling in the United States this weekend.
The following women have all been advertised to appear this weekend, including:
SHIMMER ChampionMadison Eagles
SHIMMER Tag Team ChampionsDaizee Haze and
The Queen of Wrestling
Sara Del Rey
Former TNA Knockout
Your Soul's Tormentor
and former SHIMMER Champion
The Latina Sensation (and current WSU Champion)
Former TNA Knockout
"Portuguese Princess" Ariel
- Allison Danger and
The Canadian Ninjas
- Portia Perez and
The Rate Tank
Kana, making her American Debut
Everybody's Favorite Girlfriend,
The Wrestling Goddess
Former SHIMMER Tag Team Champion
Former SHIMMER Tag Team Champion
Yumi Ohka, also making her American Debut
Hailey Hatred, making her SHIMMER Debut
Former TNA Knockout
Joshi Wrestling Sensation
Christina Von Eerie, about to make her Impact Wrestling debut
The Knight Dynasty
, Britani and
Mia Yim, better known to most of you as Prince Nana's "Princess Mia", a member of ROH's Embassy
Veda Scott, also making her SHIMMER debut
Former WSU Spirit Champion
Some of you may be wondering what the big deal is.
After all, SHIMMER is, at best, a Showcase Promotion, holding shows over two, maybe three weekends a year, tops, featuring a bunch of women that most of you, for the most part, have never even heard of.
What you may not realize, though, is that this is the company responsible for the virtual Renaissance of Women's Independent Wrestling going on in today's Independent Wrestling Scene.
When SHIMMER was founded in 2005, serious All-Women's Wrestling Organizations were virtually non-existent, with the few existing companies being either cartoonish parodies of Pro Wrestling (such as the infamous Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, or its Modern-Day equivalent, Wrestlicious), or various levels of pornography disguised as a wrestling show (such as Women's Extreme/Erotic Wrestling, the Dangerous Women of Wrestling, or the infamous Naked Women's Wrestling League).
For the most part, Women's Wrestling has always been portrayed either as a joke, or softcore porn.
Sadly, this is because the few honest attempts at a serious women's wrestling division over the last few decades fell flat.
Some may remember both of WWE's attempts at promoting serious Women's Wrestling, first in the 1980s, centered around the likes of Wendi Richter and Lelani Kai.
Unfortunately, contract negotiations went sour between WWE and Wendi Richter, and once she left, the division, as well as Richter's career, faded into obscurity.
The second attempt, centered on Alundra Blaze, Bull Nakano, and later, Bertha Faye, was considered a flop by all means, as both the utter ridiculousness of Bertha Faye as a villain, and Blaze's lack of charisma or charm as a babyface doomed the division from the start.
Because of this, as well as the ultimate failure of All Women's Organizations such as the aforementioned GLOW and the Ladies Professional Wrestling Association of the early 90s, it's been common knowledge in wrestling that "women's wrestling doesn't draw".
Meanwhile, every few years or so, we are shown evidence to the contrary, as Wendi Richter, Trish Stratus, Lita, Mickie James, Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, and yes, even Angelina Love and Velvet Sky have all proven to be major stars and legitimate draws for their respective companies.
Even now, TNA's Knockouts Division continues to draw some of Impact's highest quarter-hour ratings, oftentimes beating out segments that feature more established draws, such as Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ric Flair, Jeff Hardy, and Kurt Angle.
This is where SHIMMER comes in.
While SHIMMER's philosophy of portraying women wrestlers as athletes is not particularly novel, it remains rather unique in the overall world of professional wrestling, simply because it does take women's wrestling seriously.
In the 6 years since its first show, SHIMMER has become the Premier Name in Women's Wrestling in the United States, as well as an internationally respected and revered promotion, spawning several clones, such as Canada's NCW: Femme Fatales and the UK's Pro Wrestling EVE.
Its success has also lead to other all-women's promotions, such as Women Superstars Uncensored, which takes more of the ECW approach to Women's Wrestling, and World Independent Ladies' Division, which is really nothing more than a confederation of Independent Promotions who all sanction matches in this division, as well as several other Direct-to-DVD women's wrestling series, such as Amber O'Neil's ArenaChicks and Jessica Havok's DropKick Divas.
If anything, SHIMMER has not only proven that there is a market and an audience for serious women's wrestling in the United States, but is directly responsible for the growing American Joshi Movement in Independent Wrestling, where serious women's divisions are becoming the norm, all-women's shows are becoming major semi-annual events for otherwise male-dominated companies, and women, at least at the Independent Level, are starting to be taken more seriously as legitimate athletes.
Taking the best Independent Women Athletes from the United States, as well as some of the best Wrestlers from Canada, Australia, Europe and Japan, SHIMMER has strived these last 6 years to present the absolute best in women's wrestling possible, and in the process, sparked a revolution in Pro Wrestling that is, as we speak, radically changing the face of the Industry.
Because of SHIMMER, more opportunities for women in wrestling exist now than in any other time in the modern era.
There are more places for women to get work, more promotions willing to give ring time to female talent, and more opportunities for women to break out, become stars, and make a living in the wrestling business.
Hell, in the past year, even the glorified fan-fiction that is Pro Wrestling Illustrated has been forced to acknowledge the American Joshi Movement, as the current SHIMMER champion, Madison Eagles, was ranked #1 in their 2011 Top 50 Females, while the current WSU Champion, Mercedes Martinez, was ranked #2.
When even the Apter Mags are being forced to take a couple of admittedly small-time Indy Promotions' champions more seriously than anyone currently in WWE or TNA, you know something is up.
So, with that said, what should you expect from this weekend's events?
Well, perhaps, first, we need to get you caught up on what all has been going on in SHIMMER lately...
Previously, on SHIMMER Women Athletes: Australian Wrestling Stand-Out Madison Eagles returned to SHIMMER competition after being forced to sit out a year due to injury (and, of course, giving birth to her second child) with something of a bloated ego, thanks to some complimentary words by Mercedes Martinez back on Volume 24, claiming Madison could become the next SHIMMER champion.
Madison quickly weaseled her way up the rankings, defeating Cheerleader Melissa in a #1 Contender's Match on Volume 30 by putting her feet up on the ropes to pin Melissa, then, in perhaps the most shocking upset in SHIMMER history, defeated MsChif for the SHIMMER Title on Volume 31, ending MsChif's two-year Reign of Torment.
Madison then returned to competition on Volume 33, defeating Cheerleader Melissa in her first title defense.
Madison has since successfully defended her title against the likes of Ayumi Kurihara, Mercedes Martinez, Jessie McKay, Nicole Matthews, and Ayako Hamada.
This weekend, Madison looks to continue her reign of dominance as SHIMMER Champion.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Ninjas, Portia Perez and Nicole Matthews, lost their SHIMMER Tag Team Championships on Volume 37 to the team of Misaki Ohata and Hiroyo Matsumoto.
Ohata and Matsumoto's reign would be short-lived, though, as they would lose the Tag Team Titles to the team of Daizee Haze and Tomoka Nakagawa on Volume 40.
Losing the Tag Titles did not slow down the Canadian Ninjas, though, as both Portia and Nicole have been working their way up the singles' ranks in SHIMMER.
Portia began a feud with Serena Deeb, who had just returned to SHIMMER after being released by WWE, back on Volume 34, when Portia confronted Deeb in the ring, claiming Serena sold out her heart and talent for a WWE Paycheck.
Meanwhile, Nicole Matthews has been competing in a series of matches against fellow up-and-comer, Jessie McKay, culminating in a Best of 3 Match on Volume 39, which Matthews won.
Since then, the two faced off again in Australia back on September 1, when they faced Madison Eagles in a 3-Way for the SHIMMER title.
While unsuccessful in that match, both Matthews and McKay continue to have their eye on the SHIMMER Championship.
Christina Von Eerie made her debut on Volume 37, narrowly defeating Sara Del Rey by countout.
As has been Del Rey's penchant since losing the SHIMMER title back in 2008, Sara did not take this loss well, attacking Von Eerie after the match.
The ensuing pull-apart brawl quickly turned into one of the more intense feuds in SHIMMER history.
As it's entirely possible that this may be Von Eerie's final weekend as a part of the SHIMMER roster, recently being picked up by TNA, look for Christina and Sara Del Rey to settle their blood feud this weekend.
On Volume 37, SHIMMER's first true villain, Rebecca Knox, made her return to the promotion after a career-ending head injury suffered in 2007 as the manager of the Knight Dynasty, the Mother-Daughter team of Saraya and Britani Knight.
The Knights quickly became perhaps the hottest heel property in SHIMMER history, as their combined skills and "f*ck you" attitudes made them perhaps the most hated duo ever to grace a SHIMMER ring.
On the heels of news that Britani Knight has signed a Developmental Deal with WWE, look for the Knight Dynasty to go out with a bang this weekend in Berwyn.
Joshi Wrestling Legend, Ayako Hamada, has been making quite the splash in SHIMMER since debuting back on Volume 27.
In the meantime, the current Joshi generation's shining star, Ayumi Kurihara, has made quite the mark of her own since debuting on Volume 29.
The Clash of Generations between Hamada and Kurihara made its way stateside on Volume 38, as Hamada defeated Kurihara in their first-ever North American meeting.
Since then, both have set their sights on Madison Eagles and the SHIMMER championship, but don't be surprised to see these two stars clash again, this weekend, as the leader of the current generation looks to build her legacy, perhaps at the expense of Ayako Hamada.
The Joshi Invasion in SHIMMER also continues this weekend as the Second Wave of Joshi Stars, Kana and Yumi Ohka, make their SHIMMER debuts, as well as Hailey Hatred, who's made most of her name in the industry competing in Japan.
Looking to follow in the successful footsteps of First Wave Joshi Invaders, Ayumi Kurihara, Tomoka Nakagawa, Hiroyo Matsumoto, and Misaki Ohata, look for Kana, Ohka, and Hatred to leapfrog their way to the top names in SHIMMER - Cheerleader Melissa, MsChif, and Mercedes Martinez.
Then, there's the team of Regeneration X.
After testing Leva Bates' limits in singles competition back on Volume 33, SHIMMER Matriarch Allison Danger joined forces with the Cos-Player Extraordinaire on Volume 37 to form the team of Regeneration X, a celebration of all things nerdy.
Dressed as various superheroes and sci-fi favorites, RX has tried to work their way up the tag team ranks, but have not had a lot of success, thus far.
This weekend, look for RX to try and improve their record, and possibly even challenge the current Tag Champs, Haze and Nakagawa.
Considering all the recent speculation around Daizee Haze's health, as well as the severely competitive nature of the SHIMMER Tag Team Division in 2011, it's entirely possible we may see yet another tag title change this weekend.
And that's about it, really.
Beyond everything I just went over here, you have women like Mia Yim, Athena, Mena Libra, and Melanie Cruise, still looking to really make an impact and have that star-making moment that'll propel them out of the undercard.
Kellie Skater is more than likely still going to try and shift her fortunes in SHIMMER with her Open Challenge Series, which has seen her have her ass handed to her by the likes of Serena Deeb, Awesome Kong, MsChif, and Mercedes Martinez, while still serving as the Gate Keeper for undercard talent to prove themselves.
And then, you have the questions surrounding both Britani Knight, whose SHIMMER tenure ends this weekend, and Christina Von Eerie, who may also be seeing her final weekend in SHIMMER, should her gig with TNA be more than just a one-off.
How will they go out?
Will Von Eerie get the last laugh over Sara Del Rey?
Will Britani and Saraya be dragged out of SHIMMER kicking and screaming?
Either way, if this is their last hurrah in SHIMMER this weekend, look for both to go out big.
Von Eerie, possibly over Del Rey in a match to remember, and Knight... well, however the Dynasty's tenure ends, it'll certainly be one of the more memorable moments in SHIMMER history.
As for me, I'm legitimately excited over the possibilities.
Since I first started following SHIMMER last spring, I have yet to watch a SHIMMER show that I didn't enjoy.
Sure, there've been a few duds in the SHIMMER Series' History, but, for the most part, the shows have always been fun, the matches decent, and the characters both enjoyable and memorable.
Creatively speaking, SHIMMER may be one of the best booked wrestling shows on the market today.
The one thing that likely keeps this show from breaking into the mainstream is simply the fact that it is an all-women's show.
The booking is solid.
The characters are interesting and entertaining.
The villains on the show are well thought-out, compelling and properly motivated.
The babyfaces are fun, relatable, and full of heart.
In short, SHIMMER has almost everything wrestling fans claim they want in a wrestling show - logic, a focus on the in-ring action, compelling characters, and well-told stories both in and out of the ring.
The only thing SHIMMER doesn't have is men.
In the near three decades I have been a wrestling fan, there have been only a few characters that have drawn me so much into their world that they actually felt real to me.
One was Macho Man, who had to suffer the indignity of seeing that goof Hulk Hogan blatantly try to steal his girl right in front of him.
Another was Steve Austin, who's outright butt-f*cking at Survivor Series 1998 led to a profanity-laced tirade that actually led to me being suspended from school.
Yes, I'm serious.
Another was Serena Deeb's series against Sara Del Rey and subsequent run for the SHIMMER Title, one of the few angles that can bring me to legit tears.
And yet another has been the recent series between Nicole Matthews and Jessie McKay, and their recent shots at Madison Eagles and the SHIMMER Title, so much so I made an hour and 15 minute mix tape for Maverick Radio previewing their 3-Way on September 1.
I care about this company, but moreso, I honestly care about the women who make this company what it is.
From the motherly mentor that Allison Danger has become, to the ego-driven competitor that is Madison Eagles, to the underdog that is Jessie McKay, the constant thorn in the side that is the Canadian Ninjas, the pure rage that is Daizee Haze's current character and the fury that is Sara Del Rey.
Hell, even Kellie Skater, who I honestly feel bad for sometimes, because she seems permanently stuck in the middle as a comedy character the likes of an Eric Young or a Santino Marella, is someone I honestly care about when she comes to the ring, even if only because she actually makes me laugh.
Because I know she's just going to end up falling on her face or getting in over her head the moment Awesome Kong comes out to answer her Open Challenge.
I care about these characters, and I find myself wanting to see more of them, an element that's hard to find today in most men's wrestling, let alone women's.
Do I recommend these shows?
I'd be there myself if I could!
The biggest favor you could do yourself as a wrestling fan right now is just to give SHIMMER a chance.
In my opinion, it's the best all-around wrestling show on the market today.
Better than Dragon Gate.
Better than Ring of Honor.
Certainly better than anything you're watching on RAW, SmackDown, or Impact.
The booking is solid.
The characters are good.
The wrestling itself is great.
Sure, it has production issues, but most Independents do.
Their production issues aren't any worse than you're already seeing from far more popular products such as ROH or DGUSA.
If anything, their shows tend to look better because of the Eagles Club, the venue where they hold their show, which is clean, well lit, and set up almost perfectly for a small, independent wrestling television show.
The only reason this company isn't bigger than it is, based on its execution or creative direction, that I can gather, is the fact that it's an all-women's wrestling show.
Beyond that, I really don't know why more of you aren't supporting this product.
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