Desperation drives people to extremes. Some will steal to put an end to their poverty, others will kill to end years of torment or jealousy, and a select few will let the forces of evil cloud their vision just to get a taste of the glory they feel they deserve.
On Friday night at SHINE 18, Su Yung did just that, turning to the dark side and finding herself in the clutches of not one, but two despicable entities of sin: the dastardly Saraya Knight and the ruthless stable Valkyrie, under new leadership in the shape of Serena Deeb.
Saraya was facing SHINE Champion Ivelisse in the main event, and being her usual angry self. The end to the match (which was aggressive and fun to watch, if a little short for a title match at just nine minutes) saw Ivelisse hit a vicious Vertigo Kick to retain her gold, only for Valkyrie to run in and attack their former comrade, accompanied by none other than Su Yung! Some babyfaces intervened to stop the carnage, including Yung’s tag partner Tracy Taylor, but Yung, at Saraya’s command, put an end to their friendship unceremoniously with a devastating neckbreaker. Valkyrie were too much for the reinforcements to handle, and as the dust cleared Serena took the microphone and sent an ominous message to Ivelisse: that the SHINE Championship was on its way back to the new Valkyrie. Saraya then beckoned Yung over to her with a wag of her finger and took her to the back, Yung obeying every order.
This shouts back to earlier on in the night, when Yung had fought Rhia O’Reilly in a highly enjoyable match that saw Saraya come out halfway through and pay close attention to both women, O’Reilly being something of a protégé of Knight’s. Following Yung’s victory with Yellow Fever, Saraya entered the ring and attacked Yung, and she and O’Reilly dragged her out of the ring.
Now, if you read these reviews regularly you’ll know I’m a big fan of Su Yung. I think she’s hugely talented and grossly underrated. If you’ve been watching the shows for a while you’ll also have noticed that Su has been in the opening match of EIGHT of the past eighteen SHINE events. That’s almost half. As of now nobody knows why or how she has found herself caught in Valkyrie and Saraya’s maelstrom of evil, but given how little she’s been able to achieve as a happy-go-lucky babyface, who can blame her for snapping and giving in to the darkness?
Valkyrie’s shenanigans didn’t end there. The penultimate match saw Allysin Kay and Jessicka Havok‘s bitter feud reach new heights in a chaotic Ybor City Street Fight. Taking the match all over the place, from ringside to the stage to out on the street, the pair threw everything at each other, taking some wince-worthy bumps in the process. However, as the match reached its crescendo in the venue car park, Havok was suddenly knocked over by a rather flash-looking car, which then drove off…with Allysin Kay inside! We’re assuming that’s a no-contest, but the far more pressing question that needs asking is who on earth was the driver? Su Yung? Taylor Made? Someone entirely different?
Elsewhere, Valkyrie leader Serena Deeb had her own battle to win as she took on Mercedes Martinez in what was undoubtedly the match of the night. Hitting each other with everything they had, the match twisted and turned, with April Hunter at ringside playing her role as Valkyrie’s enforcer splendidly, saving Serena from defeat on more than one occasion and taking Martinez’s foot off the rope to allow Deeb to get the pinfall following a spear. A superb match that gives a huge amount of momentum to Serena towards her inevitable SHINE Championship clash with Ivelisse.
Another standout tie of the show was the SHINE Tag Team Championship match between champions Leva Bates and Mia Yim and the makeshift team of Evie and Kellie Skater, who was taking the place of the injured Madison Eagles. As one would expect from such a match-up, there were more than one’s fair share of kicks throughout the match, particularly from Yim and Evie, though all four women were in fine striking form. It ended in scintillating fashion too, as Evie was hit with the double-team offense of a Superhero Kick from Leva right into a Package Piledriver from Mia allowing the Lucha Sisters to retain their titles.
Skater pulled double-duty on the show, also working (and winning) the show’s opening Four Way Freestyle match against Kay Lee Ray, Kimberly and SHINE debutante Justine Silver. Newcomer Silver put in a fine performance, wrestling the majority of the match and turning several heads in the process, Kay Lee Ray and Kimberly both took the opportunity to show off their skills with aplomb, while the eclectic mix of styles made for some fun spots throughout, and culminated in Skater pinning Silver after an International Incident.
In addition, Nikki Storm probably bit off ever so slightly more than she could chew against Amazing Kong, playing the cheap and sneaky heel role to perfection as usual but being physically overpowered in pretty much every way by Kong. Storm did her best to maintain an advantage, using her speed in her favour and pulling Kong’s hair, but in the end Kong was simply too much for her, taking the Scots firebrand out with an Implant Buster for the victory in a fun match, albeit one that was slightly too short and made the brilliant Storm look perhaps a little too weak for my liking.
Also, Portugal’s Shanna completed the extensive list of European talent on the card, taking on La Rosa Negra in a great, fast-paced winning effort which saw near-fall after near-fall in the final couple of minutes, leaving this viewer on the edge of his seat before culminating in a hard-hitting Dragon Suplex from Shanna to Rosa for the win, while Tracy Taylor (with pre-brainwash Su Yung accompanying her at ringside) picked up a fine win against Amber O’Neal in a solid match between two veterans, and assuring that Taylor’s night at least had some silver lining to it.
This was another great show from SHINE. The crowd were really into the matches, which is the opposite of how SHINE crowds usually sound, at least to me watching on iPPV – and it helped a ton, turning every match into a contest that you genuinely wanted to see happen. The stream was smooth all night long, save for a brief hiccup of about thirty seconds, and the matches all ranged from decent to superb. Booking-wise it’s fantastic to finally see Su Yung start getting the push she deserved, and for the different storylines to start intertwining. With Valkyrie seemingly now stronger than ever, Saraya Knight now acting both independently and alongside them and Su Yung caught up in the web, things are only going to get more exciting, especially now Serena has her title shot against Ivelisse. All in all, everything you want from a wrestling show – solid ring work, clever booking and storylines that leave you asking all the right questions. Bring on SHINE 19!
Miss the show? You can order the replay on WWNLive.com.