Monday, October 31, 2016

SHIMMER 80 Review

SHIMMER holds a one-day tournament to crown the first-ever Heart of SHIMMER Champion!!

Last year in San Jose during WrestleMania Weekend, SHIMMER held the ChickFight Tournament, with the winner getting a future shot at the SHIMMER Title. This year in Dallas, they decided to hold another tournament, but this time, it would be for a newly created title called the Heart of SHIMMER Title, which is essentially a mid-card title for the SHIMMER roster. I thought this was a good idea on multiple fronts. As I mentioned in my review of SHIMMER 71: The ChickFight Tournament, I think having a single-show tournament is a very smart move for a big weekend like this. For people who don’t follow SHIMMER regularly (both fans in attendance and those who order the iPPV), it’s easy show to digest because you really don’t need to know anything about what’s going on in the promotion from a storyline perspective. You can just jump right in a get into the tournament. I’m also like the idea that they’re creating a secondary title. I don’t follow SHIMMER regularly, but I do notice that whenever they have one of their DVD Tapings, they use a TON of talent. I think adding a secondary title like this gives more of those talents in the mid-card, who aren’t necessarily in contention for the SHIMMER Title or the SHIMMER Tag Team Titles, something to do.

Dallas, Texas 4/2/16

1.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Cheerleader Melissa vs. Leva Bates: **1/4

The first match of the opening round saw Cheerleader Melissa, a SHIMMER original, taking on Leva Bates, who came out dressed like Sora from Kingdom Hearts (I think she even had a Keyblade!). For the most part, I thought the match was fine. It wasn’t spectacular by any means, but as an opener, it was perfectly solid. The match felt a little slow at certain points, but that’s my only real complaint. Cheerleader Melissa gets the win here to advance to the next round.

2.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Candice LeRae vs. SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Cherry Bomb: ***

Candice LeRae appeared in the ChickFight Tournament last year at SHIMMER 71, but was shockingly eliminated in the first round by Nicole Savoy. This year, she was successfully able to avoid a repeat, as she defeated Cherry Bomb, one-half of the SHIMMER Tag Team Champions, to advance to the next round. I thought this was a much better match, compared to the opener. It had a quicker pace, and as a whole, was a little more entertaining. Candice LeRae is just so good, but I think credit has to go to Cherry Bomb here as well. Her heel persona is great (including her high-pitched screaming), and I think she played a good opposite to LeRae’s babyface role. The finish was actually pretty interesting, as Cherry Bomb went for a cover after hitting a Death Valley Driver, but LeRae reversed it into a cradle pin for the victory.

3.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – LuFisto vs. Nicole Savoy: ***3/4

LuFisto is easily one of the biggest names in the tournament, while Savoy has seemingly been on the rise since having an impressive outing in the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71. This match was totally different than the two matches that preceded it. These two went at each other right from the opening bell, and from start to finish, this was a pretty aggressive match. It was a really good match that had a ton of action. It was easily the best match of the first round, without question. Savoy would end up getting the victory after getting LuFisto to tap out. She moves on to the next round.

4.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Jessicka Havok vs. SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Kimber Lee: **

Jessicka Havok was arguably the low point of the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71, having some less-than-stellar matches, while also being involved in a botched-interference attempt. Here’s she taking on Kimber Lee, who is the other half of the SHIMMER Tag Team Champions alongside Cherry Bomb. Kimber Lee has been making some headlines over the last year, particular in December 2015, when she won the CHIKARA Grand Championship. This wasn’t one of her best outings, however. I’d say this was the worst match of the first round, and probably the worst match of the tournament. That’s not to say it was necessarily a “stinker”. The match was ok, but pretty forgettable. There was also a bit of weird dynamic to this one as, with regards to size, you had a monster babyface in Havoc taking on a smaller heel in Kimber Lee. In the end, interference from Cherry Bomb would lead to Kimber Lee getting the win to advance the next round.

5.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Heidi Lovelace vs. Veda Scott: ***1/4

I believe Heidi Lovelace missed the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71 because she was still on her several month long tour of Japan. Here, she defeated Veda Scott (a regular for ROH in their women’s division) to advance to the next round in a relatively good match. Heidi Lovelace is so great that it’s hard to imagine her being involved in anything less than a good match. As far as Veda Scott goes, I know she tends to get a lot slack for not being very good, but she more than held her own here against Lovelace. I think this one of the best Veda Scott matches I’ve seen in recent memory (certainly better than most of her ROH work). She definitely over-delivered here. It wasn’t the best of the match of the first round, but it was certainly one of the better ones.

6.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Nicole Matthews vs. “Crazy” Mary Dobson: **1/2

A lot has changed for Nicole Matthews in the last year. For starters, she wasn’t even in the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71, as she was in a non-tournament match defending her SHIMMER Title against Tomoka Nakagawa. Since then, not only has she lost the SHIMMER Title (to Madison Eagles at the SHIMMER Tapings in October 2015), but she also lost her longtime Canadian Ninjas tag team partner Portia Perez, who had to retire due to a number of different injuries. Here, she defeated “Crazy” Mary Dobson in the final match of the first round. This was a relatively decent match. It wasn’t the worst match of the first round, but it was nowhere near some of the best matches in the first round.

7.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – Semi-Finals – Cheerleader Melissa vs. Candice LeRae: ***3/4

The opening match of the second round, or essentially the Semi-Finals, saw Candice LaRae picking up a bit of an upset over the SHIMMER stalwart Cheerleader Melissa to advance to the Finals. I really liked this match. There was some really solid action between these two. It was right on par with Nicole Savoy/LuFisto from earlier in the night, but it had to pick, I would say that this match was a tad bit below that first round encounter. Both are really good performers, so nobody should be surprised that this was really good. LeRae getting the win here was certainly a nice surprise.

8.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – Semi-Finals – Nicole Savoy vs. SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Kimber Lee: ***1/4

Cherry Bomb came down to the ring with Kimber Lee, but thankfully, the referee quickly sent her to the back. As for the match, it was pretty good. It wasn’t nearly as good as the match that preceded it, but it was still very enjoyable. Both women are incredibly talented workers, and we certainly got to see why in this match, which had some nice back & forth action throughout. In the end, Nicole Savoy would get the win, once again via submission, to advance the Finals.

9.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – Semi-Finals – Heidi Lovelace vs. Nicole Matthews: ****

The winner of this match would join Candice LeRae & Nicole Savoy in the Finals. I thought this match was great! It was first match on the card, for me at least, to crack the **** mark. While the match was a little slow to get going, it definitely picked up. Not only was the action really good for most of the match, but they also had a great face vs. heel dynamic, with Matthews being the heel, while Lovelace was awesome as the babyface who kept fighting and just wouldn’t quit. Eventually, Lovelace was able to put away Matthews to secure the victory, advancing to the Finals. Awesome stuff from these two.

While there were no non-tournament matches on this show, we thankfully (for Heidi Lovelace’s sake) got a break before the finals, in the form of an in-ring segment with Lenny Leonard & Shayna Baszler. For those who don’t know, Baszler is, or was (I guess she’s not doing MMA anymore?) an MMA fighter who’s best known for being part of Ronda Rousey’s Four Horsewomen. She’s also a big wrestling fan, as she’s been spotted in the front row at several PWG shows, and also made an appearance on a ROH PPV in the corner of reDRagon. She talked about some of her background and training, before announced that she would be making her SHIMMER debut in June.

10.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – Finals – Triple-Threat Elimination Match – Candice LeRae vs. Nicole Savoy vs. Heidi Lovelace: ****

Much like the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71 the year prior, the Finals was a Triple Threat Elimination Match. Candice LeRae was eliminated by first by Nicole Savoy, about five or so minutes into the match (also, in a nice bit of continuity, when Savoy make LeRae tap out, she went after the leg that had been targeted by Cheerleader Melissa earlier in the night). This meant the match came down to Nicole Savoy & Heidi Lovelace. They had a great back & forth match, and in the end, Savoy got Lovelace to tap out, becoming the first-ever Heart of SHIMMER Champion in the process. I thought this was a great match. Personally, I’d say it’s a tossup between this one and Heidi Lovelace vs. Nicole Matthews for the best match on the show. I was a little disappointed that Candice LeRae got eliminated so quickly from the match, but obviously she had been weakened from her matches earlier in the night, so that’s understandable. The last portion of that match between Lovelace & Savoy was particularly awesome. I really liked how they were able to kick out and/or escape from finishers that had put other opponents away earlier in the night. They did a really nice job building up those finishers. It’s really cool to see Nicole Savoy get this title on a big weekend like this. She seemingly came from relative obscurity to one of the best women’s prospects on the independent scene.

Overall: 8.25/10

Compared to SHIMMER 71 from the year prior, this year’s WrestleMania Weekend showing from SHIMMER was significantly better. I haven’t watched a lot of SHIMMER, but from start to finish, this was a really enjoyable show. The matches, for the most part, ranged from average to good to great, and most of the matches were in that good to great range. Nicole Savoy/LuFisto, Cheerleader Melissa/Candice LeRae, Heidi Lovelace/Nicole Matthews, and the Triple Threat Elimination Finals are all worth checking out. The booking of this tournament was also really good as well. Pretty much everyone who should have won their matches, did so, and I think the three women who made the Finals were the perfect picks to go with. Like I said earlier, Nicole Savoy came out of this looking like a new star for SHIMMER, and was a great pick to be the first-ever Heart of SHIMMER Champion. As a whole, this was an incredibly easy show to watch, and I would definitely recommend checking it out.

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