Orlando, Florida 4/1/17
1.) Cherry Bomb vs. Alex Windsor: **3/4
While I’m obviously familiar with Cherry Bomb, I didn’t know that much about Alex Windsor coming in. She’s from the UK, and made a few appearances in PROGRESS and RevPro, but she was a relative unknown (at least, to me). I thought this was a fine opening contest. Cherry Bomb played her role as a heel very well (as she always does), while Alex Windsor looked pretty solid. As I already mentioned, I had no idea who Windsor was coming into this event, but I thought she made a good first impression. Unfortunately, she ultimately came up short here, as Cherry Bomb got the win after hitting a superkick.
2.) Four-Corner Survival - Britt Baker vs. Naveah vs. Samantha Heights vs. Veda Scott: **1/4
As the name of the match indicates, this is the kind of four-way match we typically seen in ROH, with two legal wrestlers in the ring, with the other two on the apron waiting to tag in when the opportunity presents itself. I’ve heard of Samantha Heights, but out of these four, she was the only one I hadn’t seen before. While I wouldn’t call this match “bad”, it was certainly a step down from the opener. There was decent action in this one, but at times, the bout really felt clunky and sloppy. Again, it certainly wasn’t horrible, but I just don’t think it worked out that well. Britt Baker would eventually get the victory after catching Veda Scott (who had gotten some of her team knocked out, or at least severely damaged, the night before at Joey Janela’s Spring Break) with a rollup.
3.) Leva Bates vs. LuFisto: ***
Bates came out dressed like Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers. Going in, I wasn’t really sure how this would turn out. On one side, you had LuFisto, who is certainly one of the best women’s wrestlers on the independent scene. On the other side, you had Leva Bates who (despite being relatively entertaining with her “cosplay” gimmick) is….far from that upper echelon of women’s wrestling talents on the independent level. When the dust settled, it actually ended up being a pretty solid match. LuFisto went right after Bates at the start of the bout, and really beat her up at points. To her credit, Bates didn’t stay down, and managed to mount a comeback. In the end, however, her best efforts just weren’t enough. LuFisto scored the victory after hitting Bates with a Burning Hammer. This match proved to be a pleasant surprise.
LuFisto continued to attack Leva Bates afterwards, but then Solo Darling ran out and made the save.
Up next, Lenny Leonard came out to interview Nicole Savoy. She won Heart Of Shimmer Title a year prior at SHIMMER 80 (a great show which I would definitely recommend) during ‘Mania Weekend in Dallas. Unfortunately, she’d been out of action since October after suffering an ACL tear. Since then, she got the surgery, and was going through the physical therapy. In addition to that, she’d been training with Shayna Baszler (her stablemate in Trifecta, along with SHIMMER Champion Mercedes Martinez) & Josh Barnett. Savoy said she’d return to in-ring competition in July. She also noted that she now has a manager’s license, and introduced her Trifecta stablemate Shayna Baszler. The “Queen of Spades” said that she knew she had to do certain things to get attention, such as being devastating in the ring, along with aligning herself with like-minded individuals. Baszler said they needed a locker room leader and a veteran to be by their side, and they decided to reach out to Mercedes Martinez. This brings out the SHIMMER Champion, who talks about here title defense tonight against Candice LeRae. She calls LeRae out, saying that she’s lost more matches in SHIMMER than she’s won. Martinez then claims that there’s not going to be a title match tonight. Of course, this brings out Candice LeRae. She attacked Martinez straight away, but then the rest of Trifecta swarmed her. Santana Garrett (who was wearing Batman inspired gear) made the save, and that led straight to the next match.
4.) Shayna Baszler (with Nicole Savoy) vs. Santana Garrett: ***1/4
When I watched this show live, this was the first time I had actually seen a Shayna Baszler match (she had only been wrestling full-time for just over a year). The bout itself ended up being very solid, and a big part of that had to do with Baszler. She played her role here as the bully so well, especially against an uber-babyface like Santana Garrett. While Garrett gave it everything she had, Baszler was just dominant, using her brutal strikes and submissions to just overwhelm Garrett. Eventually, Baszler’s relentless attack proved to be too much, and Garrett tapped out to a rear naked choke. I was really impressed with how great Baszler looked here. Of course (as we all know), this was just a sign of things to come.
5.) Cat Power vs. Jessicka Havok: ***
I had no idea who Cat Power was, but she certainly came close to matching Havok in terms of size and strength. This ended up being a pretty solid contest between these two. The crowd didn’t appear to be that to it, but the action itself was good, as they brawled back and forth for just under seven minutes. I think the shorter length certainly helped this match be as solid as it ended up being. Havok would end up getting the win here (as I’m sure most expected).
6.) Nicole Matthews vs. Shotzi Blackheart: ***1/4
Blackheart has a very unique look, to say the least. This was my first time seeing her, and she certainly had a big challenge in front of her in the form of Nicole Matthews. I thought this was a pretty good match. Similar to other wrestlers earlier in the card, the former SHIMMER Champion played her role perfectly. In this case, she was the arrogant heel who didn’t take her opponent very seriously. That made for a good story in the match itself, as Blackheart fought hard and put forth a strong showing against such an established star in the world of SHIMMER. There was good back and forth action throughout this one, and Matthews deserves a ton of credit for making Blackheart look good here. Even though Blackheart ultimately fell to the Vancouver Maneuver from Matthews, she certainly showed a ton of potential in this singles encounter.
7.) SHIMMER Tag Team Titles - Tessa Blanchard & Vanessa Kraven vs. Mia Yim & Kay Lee Ray: ***1/2
So the team collectively known as “Mount Tessa” are the defending champions here, and they appeared to be playing the role of “uneasy tag team partners”. They’re defending against a team made up of two great women’s wrestlers in Mia Yim & Kay Lee Ray. This was definitely the best match on the card, up to this point. Of course, when you consider who’s on the challenging team, that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. There was a lot of really good action throughout this bout (which lasted just over thirteen minutes), but they also continued the story with Blanchard & Kraven. There was a point towards the end when it looked like they would come to blows after some miscommunication, but they still managed to retain the titles when Blanchard used on of the title belts behind the referee’s back. As a whole, this was a very good tag team encounter. I would say that Mia Yim & Kay Lee Ray probably deserve most of the credit for the match quality here, but that’s not to say that Mount Tessa didn’t hold up their end of the bargain by any stretch. It couldn’t been a little better without the shenanigans in the final few minutes, but they were telling a story there, so I guess it achieved its goals in that regard.
8.) Dulce Garcia vs. Kellyanne: ***1/4
Well look what we have here…..an unmasked Sexy Star. There’d been a lot of controversy surrounding Sexy Star following the second and third seasons of Lucha Underground (not counting the fiascos with Rosemary & Taya, which hadn’t happened yet). It feels like she keeps going back and forth between “I’m retired from wrestling. I’m a boxer now” and “No wait, I still wrestle!”. Anyway, she was on this show, and she went up against Kellyanne, a wrestler from Australia (and another performer who I hadn’t seen before). While it wasn’t as good as the tag team bout that came before it, I would say that it was certainly one of the better matchups on this card. Say what you will about Sexy Star, but she can still deliver solid performances in the right situations, and in this case, Kellyanne (who did a nice job here in general) proved to be a good opponent for her. There was some nice back and forth action throughout this contest, but eventually, Dulce Garcia managed to pick up the win.
9.) SHIMMER Title - Mercedes Martinez (with Nicole Savoy) vs. Candice LeRae: ***3/4
While Martinez tried to wave off this main event title defense earlier in the night, it did indeed happen as scheduled. The fact that this ended up being the best match on this show shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. These two put together a really good title bout that featured some very solid action from start to finish. Candice LeRae is such an awesome performer. Anytime I see her on a card, I get excited, because I know that (nine times out of ten) she’ll deliver. As for Martinez, I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of hers, but she was pretty good in this match as well. In the middle of the bout, Nicole Savoy & Shayna Baszler (the latter wasn’t at ringside initially) tried to interfere, but they both got ejected. I’m sure most people who saw this show weren’t fans of the attempted interference. However, I was willing to give it a pass in this case, since it didn’t directly lead to the finish. Without her stablemates, Martinez was forced to take on LeRae one-on-one, and ultimately, she emerged victorious to retain her SHIMMER Title. Aside from the interference, this was a very good match and a strong way to close out the show.
SHIMMER 91 didn’t come close to topping SHIMMER 80 from the year prior, but it was still a relatively fine show as a whole. Aside from the Four-Corner Survival Match, there really wasn’t anything else on the card that was close to being bad. The two title defenses were easily the best matches on this show, and the undercard had a number of bouts in the ***-***1/4 range. While WWE signing more strong women’s wrestlers (like Evie & Kimber Lee, just to name a few) has certainly had an impact on the roster, there are still a number of talented women’s performers across the independents and in SHIMMER. This wasn’t their best outing, but it was still a mostly solid show that featured a number of good matches.