SHIMMER 53 in Review: Two’s a Charm For Melissa

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After over seven years as one of the world’s top female wrestling promotions, with a host of international stars at every show and arguably the most prestigious women’s championship in the business today as its crown jewel, it’s a wonder that it took SHIMMER so long to broadcast their first Internet Pay-Per-View. They’ve had their reasons, but for many viewers – particularly those of us across the pond in Europe – the opportunity to see the stars of SHIMMER live has been an elusive, long-awaited dream. DVDs are expensive, you know!

So when it was announced that the company would be venturing out of their usual haunt of the Berwyn Eagles club to take part in WrestleCon, and that they’d be airing the show live for the rest of the world to see, women’s wrestling fans around the globe made a collective exclamation of joy. And when the day came, we certainly weren’t disappointed!

The main event looked set to be one of the biggest matches of SHIMMER’s history, as Cheerleader Melissa was aiming to become the first two-time SHIMMER Champion. However, it would be no easy task, as to achieve her goal she would have to end the 384-day reign of her bitter longtime rival and the woman she lost the title from in the first place, Saraya Knight, in SHIMMER’s first-ever Steel Cage match. Saraya was in her usual bad mood, setting a potential example of things to come by taking out two members of security on her way to the ring, but Melissa showed no fear, ready to reclaim what she believed was rightfully hers.

The match was a vicious, aggressive war of attrition, with the cage being used as a weapon numerous times and plenty of superb highspots – Saraya’s Fisherman Buster from the top rope in particular standing out as an “ouch!” moment. In the end, it was a top rope powerbomb attempt from Saraya reversed into a hurricanrana by Melissa and followed up by a devastating Air Raid Crash that proved to be the difference between these two mighty warrioresses, resulting in Melissa becoming the first ever person to win the SHIMMER title for a second time. At fifteen minutes, the match may have been a little too short for such a high-profile match (especially considering the half-hour or so it took to set up the cage) but both used the time they had wisely, working the New Jersey crowd’s emotions to perfection.

On the undercard, two matches stood out among the rest as surefire “match of the day” contenders. Both were rematches from previous SHIMMER shows, the first of which was between two Australians both making their returns to SHIMMER after long absences: The recently-healed former champion Madison Eagles and “Everybody’s Favourite Girlfriend” Jessie McKay. The pair had had an instant classic back at SHIMMER 35, and this was no different, having a stunning back-and-forth affair that ended in Eagles taking advantage of some high-risk offense by McKay to unleash a gruesome Hellbound for the victory.

The other was between women’s wrestling icon Ayako Hamada and the “Wrestling Goddess”, rising star Athena, in a rematch of their match at SHIMMER 52 in which Hamada walked out victorious. If their first outing was great, then this was magnificent, with the two unleashing an incredible display of athleticism and power which resulted in Athena hitting her trademark O-Face out of nowhere to get the pinfall and pick up the biggest victory of her career, and continue her meteoric rise towards the top of women’s wrestling.

Alongside those two wrestling clinics, we saw the career of Ayumi Kurihara come one step closer to its finish as she wrestled her final match on US soil against Mercedes Martinez, who picked up the win in a fine contest which ended with a standing ovation from the SHIMMER crowd to this much-loved Japanese star who had provided them with so many memorable moments in the past. The SHIMMER Tag Team Championships were also defended in a frantic, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it four-way elimination match that saw The Canadian Ninjas (Nicole Matthews & Portia Perez) use some sneaky tactics to help them retain their belts against Made in Sin, LuFisto & Kana and Kellie Skater & Tomoka Nakagawa. The match was most memorable, however, for a wayward moonsault attempt to the outside by LuFisto that had a somewhat painful-looking landing. To her credit, she got up and continued the match – even hitting Allysin Kay with the Burning Hammer and eliminating Made in Sin – but it was revealed on Twitter later that she had sustained a swollen knee. Luckily it wasn’t anything more serious, and hopefully we’ll see her back in perfect condition sooner than we think!

From one sustained injury to another healed one – Serena Deeb made her first appearance inside a SHIMMER ring since a nasty concussion put her on the sidelines a year and a half ago. However, as she made her return speech, Jessicka Havok – by no means a member of the SHIMMER roster up to this point – came out and attacked her, accompanied by her cohorts Sassy Stephie, Nevaeh and Madamoiselle Rachelle. Leva Bates and Allison Danger of Regeneration X came out to make the save, and a 3-on-3 tag match was suddenly on the cards for later in the show! The match (which featured a surprise appearance at ringside from Daffney in the face team’s corner) didn’t quite live up to expectations, trying to do too many things at once, but wasn’t without its moments, and ended with a massive spear from Serena to Nevaeah to top off a fine performance on her return to the SHIMMER ring. After the match, Havok took out Serena from behind, planting the seeds of a new feud. Havok vs Serena at a future SHIMMER show? I hope so!

In the opening match Amazing Kong made her first appearance back at SHIMMER for some time, defeating Mia Yim in a short but sweet bout that saw Yim more than hold her own against the monstrous Kong. Elsewhere, Veda Scott and Shazza McKenzie picked up a tag team victory over Cherry Bomb and Kimber Lee in a forgettable contest and Christina Von Eerie won a five-way match against Kalamity, Rhia O’Reilly, Yuu Yamagata and debuting New Zealander Evie that, while fun, consisted mostly just of breaking up each other’s pins (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing!).

All in all, SHIMMER’s iPPV debut will go down as a success. With a record crowd in attendance and a historic main event, it’s certainly a must-see for women’s wrestling fans. The good matches were truly great, and more than made up for the below-par ones, and where the below-par ones slipped up from a wrestling standpoint, they compensated for it with great storytelling. If on the off-chance you have any money left after getting skinned to the bone for WrestleMania 29, be sure to check SHIMMER 53 out. It’s a damn sight cheaper, and you won’t regret it!

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