SHIMMER for Beginners: A Primer ahead of Volumes 114-117 on November 2-3

SHIMMER
Photo / Orlando Live Events
What is SHIMMER?

SHIMMER Women Athletes is an all-female wrestling company based out of Chicago. Before WWE’s women’s revolution, before TNA’s Knockouts division, before Women of Honor, there was SHIMMER. SHIMMER was founded in 2005 by Dave Prazak and Allison Danger because, as a manager in ROH and on the indies, Prazak got to know a lot of women in wrestling who felt underutilized and marginalized to being managers or valets because quite often they were the only women on the card. With Danger and a group of other women, Prazak put on the first SHIMMER shows, and the project snowballed from there. As Allison Danger said in a promo after Volume 1, they proved that American Joshi was possible.

What is SHIMMER Wrestling like?

SHIMMER is stylistically diverse. They have WWE “main event” style matches, lucha, Joshi, Britwres, ROH pure style, comedy, and more. Most matches are 8-20 minutes long. Singles, tag team, triple threat, and four-corner matches are their most common formats, and they rarely do stipulation matches. When they do, they build them as a big deal with the storyline build. Most volumes tend to run 2-3 hours (more toward 3 hours on more recent volumes) and feature 10-12 matches. SHIMMER is fairly work-rate focused, and very much in the vein of early ROH. There is comedy to be found, but it’s rare to have a comedy match as such, and even those are done with care for the match as a whole.

Because of SHIMMER’s taping schedule (four volumes over two days, twice annually, with a Wrestlemania weekend show as well), most stories tend to cluster around four-volume sets because of talent availability. This isn’t to say longer-form storytelling doesn’t happen in SHIMMER. The story of Trifecta (Mercedes Martinez, Nicole Savoy, and Shayna Baszler), for example, began at Volume 85 on June 2016, saw the trio break up over volumes 96-97 and Nicole Savoy win the SHIMMER Title from Mercedes on volume 99 in November 2017, and wasn’t put to rest until Volume 100 in April 2018 (Mercedes has continued to have a bone to pick with Savoy, but the breakup of Trifecta has given way to a broader “all the veterans against the young champion and the other new blood” kind of story since Volume 101).

One thing you’ll never see in SHIMMER is a vacant title. Dave Prazak has made it abundantly clear in interviews that SHIMMER will never vacate a title – they will always find a way to work around the circumstances of an injury or signing (One example: Sara Del Rey was SHIMMER Tag champion at the time she got signed to WWE, so SHIMMER authorized a title change at an NCW Femmes Fatales show to get the title off her. Nicole Savoy and Cherry Bomb have been injured as champions, and in both cases, they were able to heal before dropping the titles). Currently, the Heart of SHIMMER champion Samantha Heights is out with injury, and due to her surgery being pushed back, SHIMMER will crown its first interim champion during the tapings of volumes 114-117.

What are the rules for SHIMMER matches?
  • For most matches, victories come via 3 count pinfalls or submissions. Submissions may be registered verbally, via tap-out, or via the arm dropping three times if the referee checks for that.
  • There is a 10 count outside the ring
  • There is a 5 count for rope breaks or general misbehavior inside the ring.
  • Disqualifications are possible but uncommon. SHIMMER is generally very honorable wrestling – fewer than thirty matches have ended in disqualification.
  • Four-way matches, whether tag team or singles are always contested under four-corners elimination rules, with only two legal participants at a time.
How often do SHIMMER shows run?

SHIMMER runs two taping weekends, one in the spring and one in the fall, taping two shows a day over the weekend. On Wrestlemania weekend they tape another volume, and this year SHIMMER also cooperated with RISE, SMASH, and Femmes Fatales to put on The Summit the day before Summerslam.

Who wrestles for SHIMMER?

SHIMMER features a mix of the US and international talent. The international talent comes from the UK, Mexico, Japan, and Europe. Big non-US names such as Aja Kong, Kana, Nikki Storm, Brittani and Saraya Knight, Sexy Star (as Dulce Garcia), Wesna, Ayako Hamada, Kay Lee Ray, Viper, and more have appeared for SHIMMER. Several current WWE talents (Cesaro, Becky Lynch, Bayley, the IIconics, Nikki Cross, Asuka, Ember Moon, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Mickie James, Natalya, Beth Phoenix, Shayna Baszler, Mia Yim, Candice LeRae, Chelsea Green, Dakota Kai, Deonna Purrazzo, Tegan Nox, Jinny, Toni Storm, Rachael Ellering, Piper Niven, and Kay Lee Ray) have worked for SHIMMER. Of the 32 women in each Mae Young Classic, 17 from 2017’s tournament and 12 from 2018’s tournament have been inside a SHIMMER ring.

A breakdown of the SHIMMER roster:

I’m basing this largely on the last tapings. SHIMMER roster turnover means there’s a bit of churn due to wrestler availability, but some names have become pretty constant. Due to some wrestlers being signed by WWE since the last tapings (like Kay Lee Ray, Viper, and Rachael Ellering) or injured (Vanessa Kraven), I may be speculating in some of the below because of the major holes put in the upper card and serious mid-card.

The Current Upper Card: These are the women currently hanging around the title picture/most likely to be matched up with visiting legends:
SHIMMER
Nicole Savoy
Photo / YouTube
  • Nicole Savoy Current SHIMMER Champion, queen of suplexes. The face of the new blood challenging the dominance of the veterans in SHIMMER, she has recently set the record for the longest and most dominant reign of any champion, surpassing MsChif’s legendary reign.
  • Cheerleader Melissa and Mercedes Martinez – SHIMMER originals and current SHIMMER Tag Champions, both are perennial challengers for any damn title they want, and right now they want to show the younger talent what tag team wrestling is all about.
  • LuFisto A perennial championship contender who has never quite gotten the job done, she is a vicious, embittered fighter who sees it as her due to be SHIMMER Champion. She hasn’t been in since last fall’s tapings, but she did just unannonce her retirement, so never say never
  • Shazza Mckenzie She’s heartcore! She’s heartcore! An Aussie import, Shazza’s gentle appearance belies her tenacity in the ring. Really endearing babyface, hard to understate that.
  • Kimber Lee She borders on an upper card/serious mid-card. A veteran and former SHIMMER Tag Champ, she’s surprisingly agile. A heel aligned with other veterans, but not especially a part of the clique (last taping she, Mercedes, LuFisto, and Cheerleader Melissa were the team of the “SHIMMER Originals… and Kim”).
The Serious Midcard: These are regulars who win more than they lose, but aren’t in the main event as often as the bunch listed above.
SHIMMER
DUST
Photo / Twitter
  • Dust – Former Heart of SHIMMER Champion, managed by Rosemary. Very small, but very crafty heel with the support of the Shadow. She’s a lot tougher than she looks.
  • Delilah Doom – The Queen of Aerobics Style, Doom is a former the SHIMMER Tag Team champion with Leva Bates. She’s always a threat but doesn’t seem to have a clear direction.
  • Su Yung – The Bloody Undead Bride is always a threat. Don’t sleep on her, as she brings a supernatural element that is hard to tackle effectively.
  • Shotzi Blackheart – The Ballsy Badass is a total dynamo. She’s able to compete on the level with legends like Cheerleader Melissa, despite not having the win-loss record you’d expect for someone doing so. This will be her final set of independent dates, as she just signed with WWE.
  • The Killer Death Machines – An absolute tag team threat, Nevaeh and Havok are bastard heels doing bastard heel things and use Havok’s size to their advantage very well. Quite the team.
  • Blue Nation – The Aussie duo of Charli Evans and Jessica Troy aren’t quite as set as the Killer Death Machines, but they compete well and have earned their way into serious contendership as a tag team.
The Comedy Midcard: What it says on the tin; these are midcarders with primarily comedic gimmicks, though that doesn’t mean they aren’t serious threats.
  • Thunderkitty – It’s uncertain if a time vortex opened up in the SHIMMER locker room one day or not, but she’s been wrestling since she turned 25 all the way back in 1946. You can tell by her style that she’s more Mildred Burke than Charlotte Flair, but she brings a good fight.
  • Allie Kat – Literally a cat found in the alley, I’m pretty sure. She licks herself, chases cat toys and laser beams, and is at least as feline as Battle Kat was.
The Lower Midcard: They lose more than they win, but they’re generally treated as credible.
  • Team Sea Stars – Delmi Exo and Ashley Vox are a new tag team to SHIMMER, but they’re a reel catch. They’ve already won over the audience, and there’s some clamoring from the SHIMMER faithful for them to rise up the ranks and knock off Melissa and Mercedes – expect them to get that chance.
  • KC Spinelli – 2 Scoops! Two scoops of what? Nobody knows. Unless its muscle, she’s got a bit of that. Maybe tenacity, too.
  • Steph De Lander – This really tall Australian used to go by FaceBrooke, but she’s developed a mean streak as wide as her wingspan.
  • Kiera Hogan – The girl on fire hasn’t accomplished much in SHIMMER, but she’s constantly improving and getting to wrestle bigger names, so it’s only a matter of time before she breaks through to the next level.
  • Veda Scott – Veda’s become a bit odd lately and wore that cat head thing to the ring the last taping. She’s mostly here to help put over younger talent.
  • Solo Darling – She’s leaner than a pint of ice cream, and her high fives sting. She’s gotten really good lately.
  • Dynamite DiDi – Really solid heel who plays up both strength and beauty.
  • The Twisted Sisterz – Holidead and Thunder Rosa – Recent additions to the SHIMMER roster, they had a really good attempt at winning the tag titles. Holidead brings the muscle, Rosa brings the shimmy.
SHIMMER
Saraya Knight
Photo / SEScoops
Foreign Stars: Around a little less than the rest of the roster, these women are nonetheless treated as main-event caliber threats and often headline the shows they’re on.
  • Madison Eagles – Australian wrestling legend, she’s big, strong, and super technically skilled. Trained nearly every Australian woman in wrestling who isn’t Tenille.
  • Saraya Knight – Paige’s mother. She kicks you in the…yeah. If there’s a final boss type person in SHIMMER, she’s it. You won’t find anyone quite like her anywhere else unless you find her. Doesn’t get beaten often, but when she does it’s usually someone they think highly of. She’s gonna be here at this one.
  • Zoe Lucas – A UK import, Zoe Lucas is just all kinds of effective at making you hate her.
  • Rhia O’Reilly – An Irish wrestler who occasionally shows up in SHIMMER, Rhia is quite accomplished and always a threat. Current Pro-Wrestling: EVE Champion.
  • Hiroyo Matsumoto – The Lady Destroyer. She’s a former SHIMMER Tag champ and returned in the Spring tapings to try for the gold once again.
Other people who matter: Significant people not covered above.
Week in Review 10/27/19
Photo / IMPACT
  • Samantha Heights – The Lost Girl. Current Heart of SHIMMER champion. She’s a very trusting babyface, but she can turn it up in the ring a bit. Out with injury.
  • Tessa Blanchard Undeniable, a third-generation wrestler who occasionally makes it in for SHIMMER shows. Tessa fights hard and is a threat at any spot on the card, though she likes to team with Indi Hartwell lately.
  • Vanessa Kraven The Mountain. She’s on the shelf with a broken leg, but she’s a constant upper mid-card threat when healthy. 6’1” legit and her chops hurt like hell – I should know, I’ve taken one.
  • Rosemary SHIMMERverse Rosemary. She’s not competed in SHIMMER for a while, but this might be the original incarnation? Part of her possession and control over former SHIMMER Tag Champ Courtney Rush happened in SHIMMER, so it makes some sense that she might be. Lately been managing Dust, but whispers say she’s ready to compete again in the SHIMMERverse.
  • Dave Prazak Founder and owner of SHIMMER, former manager in ROH to guys like CM Punk, Chris Hero, and Steve Corino. He heads up commentary duties and is generally swell to talk to.
  • Allison Danger Another founder of SHIMMER, Allison Danger is retired and hasn’t been around much of late, but she was once one of the central stars of the promotion, even winning the tag titles with Leva Bates as Regeneration-X. It’s her birthday this Berwyn weekend, so if you’re coming bring a brand new stuffed animal, because she’s doing a toy drive for the local children’s hospital.
  • Portia Perez A former tag team champion who has since retired, Portia Perez is an occasional heel commentary voice, and she does an excellent job of pushing Dave’s buttons (except for in the bizarre Thunderkitty vs. Spider Lady match where their alignments stayed the same, but Perez seemed to be the voice of reason).
  • Lexi Fyfe Retired SHIMMER alumna who serves as the on-screen commissioner of SHIMMER, also the founder of SHINE. She might make a match or two happen during a taping weekend.
  • There are a bunch of other workers who’ve either made a little impact or haven’t shown up in long enough that I didn’t cover them here. Apologies to that whole bunch, but this thing is gonna be long as it is.
Does NXT UK stuff apply here?

While SHIMMER isn’t in the UK, they do like to bring over British talents, and so they have been hit a bit with the NXT UK contracts preventing wrestlers from doing appearances. This isn’t as big an issue to SHIMMER as it might be for us. Toni Storm, Viper, Kay Lee Ray, and Jinny are confirmed as no longer available to work SHIMMER because of this. Don’t be sour, because Prazak just sees this as opening up slots for hungry new talent to step in and prove themselves. Considering Dave Prazak was behind the curtain consulting during the first Mae Young Classic, there’s at least a friendly-ish relationship between WWE and SHIMMER, so who knows. Only WWE and SHIMMER know the score, so we just have to trust they know what they’re doing.

Who are the current SHIMMER Champions?
Are there any annual tournaments or special events?

Not annually, but SHIMMER occasionally puts together a special match. Their SHIMMvivor series match from Volume 50, the ChickFight Tournament from volume 71, and the Rumble-style battle royal from volume 19 are good examples. Their annual Wrestlemania weekend shows don’t always feature such matches, but Volume 53’s steel cage match was the first in SHIMMER history. It was only possible on Wrestlemania weekend because they can’t fit a cage in the Eagles Club.

Are there SHIMMER power rankings?

Not officially, but if you need some, these are based on my read of recent tapings plus Saraya:

  • S Level – Saraya Knight (you have to be A level to stand a chance with her)
  • A Level – Mercedes Martinez, Cheerleader Melissa, Nicole Savoy
  • B Level – Jessicka Havok, Shazza McKenzie, Hiroyo Matsumoto, LuFisto, Shotzi Blackheart, Delilah Doom, Kimber Lee, Ashley Vox, Delmi Exo
  • C Level – Dust, Zoe Lucas, Samantha Heights, Nevaeh, Charli Evans, Indi Hartwell, Steph De Lander, Jessica Troy
  • D Level – Veda Scott, Dynamite DiDi, Kiera Hogan
  • E Level –. Nobody, really, that I can think of

That doesn’t cover everyone, but it gives you a general idea. These tiers are not rigid, and a given worker can generally lose to anyone one tier below them or conceivably beat anyone one tier above them.

How can I watch SHIMMER?

If you want to select matches only, and the ability to download them, SHIMMER offers matches on Clickwrestle. They also have DVDs for the physical-media collectors and their streaming site StreamShimmer. The streaming site costs $9.99 a month. For that, you get every SHIMMER show from volume 1 to vol. 79 (they’re currently catching up to the physical releases).

There will be no streaming of 114-117, unfortunately.

I’m new to SHIMMER, where should I start?

Option one is to start at the beginning. There’s a bit of a regrettable gap, currently, between where the DVDs/StreamSHIMMER are at, and current shows. Unfortunately, the company is dealing with the death of their physical media sales and attempting to adapt to building their business off their streaming site. In April they put up pre-orders for volumes 82-83. But there simply have not been enough pre-orders for physical releases to justify the cost of making the DVDs. And there’s no point sinking money into producing physical media if you won’t even profit off it, so there’s a debate on just pushing through with the release or issuing refunds. Either way, it seems as if physical media may be dead for SHIMMER. It’s a tough period for SHIMMER as a business.

10 SHIMMER matches (available on StreamSHIMMER or SHIMMER’s youtube channel)

These aren’t necessarily the best 10 matches, as I prioritized the diversity of workers and styles over sheer quality. These matches should give you a good idea of both the roster SHIMMER sports and the variety it offers. That said, some of these may spoil long-run storylines so if you’re planning to start at a point before any of them, use your discretion when deciding what’s safe to skip to. In no particular order:

  • Mercedes Martinez vs. Sara Del Rey, vol. 1 – This is the match that put SHIMMER on the map.
  • Kana vs. Ayako Hamada, vol. 50 – This might be the greatest match in SHIMMER history
  • Kana vs. Cheerleader Melissa, vol. 67 – What is it like when you take one of the very best of Japan and pit her against one of the best of the US? This match. Extremely physical as you would expect, and the finish is one of those where the loser looks monstrous in defeat.
  • Ayumi Kurihara & Tomoka Nakagawa vs. Madison Eagles & Sara Del Rey for the SHIMMER Tag Team Championship, vol. 43 – Two of SHIMMER’s greatest singles champions try to wrest the tag titles away from the Joshis. This is top tier work all around.
  • Deonna Purrazzo vs. Madison Eagles, vol. 100 – This is a technical wrestling match par excellence. Do you want to see SHIMMER’s best match of 2018? This is the one.
  • Nicole Matthews vs. Athena vs. Cheerleader Melissa vs. Madison Eagles for the SHIMMER Championship, vol. 68 – This match is fire, literally. Anything more would be spoilers.
  • Lacey vs. Sara Del Rey, inaugural SHIMMER Championship tournament final, vol. 12 – SHIMMER wanted to wait until they had some shows under their belt and some recognizable, recurring names in the roster before crowning a champion.
  • Thunderkitty vs. Spider Lady, vol. 65 – It’s not often SHIMMER does straight-up comedy, but this example shows how they can do it very well by revisiting the Original Screwjob.
  • MsChif vs. Amazing Kong, vol. 9 Everyone’s favorite heavy metal banshee MsChif tries to do the impossible and knock off the undefeated Amazing Kong.
  • Allison Danger vs. Rebecca Knox, vol. 3 – This match is an early gem both in SHIMMER’s catalog, as well as Becky Lynch’s career. You owe it to yourself to watch this match. I’m not spoiling any of what happens here.
How can I find out what’s coming up?

Following SHIMMER on Twitter or Facebook is your best bet.

I don’t want to play catch-up, what are the big storylines right now?

Heading into volumes 114-117, as usual, I’d say the title pictures are the three most important things happening, and they’re all a bit open-ended:

  • Nicole Savoy’s current run of dominance has had her beat all-comers, and she’s now the longest-reigning and most successful champion ever. She’s proven herself and her place in SHIMMER history, so now the hunt is on: who can knock her off?
  • Cheerleader Melissa and Mercedes Martinez are huge targets in the tag division. As basically the last of the originals, they’re here for tradition and showing these young talents how it’s done. But the youths are hungry, so expect a young team to make a good run at the titles and quite possibly win. They will defend the titles against Nicole Savoy and Aerial Monroe in the main event of volume 114.
  • Samantha Heights is sidelined with an injury and now may not be able to make the Spring tapings either. SHIMMER will be crowning an interim Heart of SHIMMER champion. Once Heights is back in the ring, we can expect a unification match.
  • Only one match has been announced as yet, but other names listed for the weekend include Rhia O’Reilly, Saraya Knight, Su Yung, Shotzi Blackheart (in her last indy appearances), Jessicka Havok, Allysin Kay, Kimber Lee, Dust, Delmi Exo, Ashley Vox, Marti Belle, Priscilla Kelly, Charli Evans, Kris Statlander, Willow Nightingale, Skylar, Davienne, Solo Darling, Nevaeh, Brittany Blake, and more.
I have other questions!

Well, I might have other answers. I’m not all-knowing, though, and with the gap in what’s available, I can’t answer anything that really covers between 82-99 in any kind of detail. You might try contacting SHIMMER directly if it’s a question they’re better suited to answering.

You got something wrong/left someone out!

Ok, tell me about it. I’m happy to update and I could honestly use the help.

Bottom line me: Why should I watch SHIMMER?

If you want to see the most consistently high quality and best women’s wrestling happening in the United States, SHIMMER’s the place to go. A lot of women in SHIMMER have gone on to work in WWE, Impact, ROH, or AEW, but their best work stateside has very often been in SHIMMER. There simply isn’t a better body of quality American women’s wrestling out there.

One of the best qualities of SHIMMER is its respect for its titles. The championships are the biggest thing in the promotion, and there has never been a vacancy for any of them. In an interview on Madusa’s podcast, Dave Prazak said SHIMMER will never vacate a title – he feels that it cheapens the championship to do that. They will always find a way to work around an injury or signing to avoid putting a vacancy in the title history no matter what. When Sara Del Rey signed as a trainer with WWE and they scheduled a quick title drop in Canada on an NCW Femmes Fatales show. The Samantha Heights situation is the first time SHIMMER will do an interim champion situation, as she is out for the next nine volumes at least.

If you want 40+ minute epics, SHIMMER’s not really the place for you. Their sweet spot is 10-15 minutes of excellently paced, hard-hitting wrestling. That’s not to say they don’t have long matches, but they are comparatively fewer.

As for downsides, SHIMMER can be very slow to adapt. It took until 2018 for them to put together a streaming site. While the site works well enough, it’s rather limited in its capabilities. It’s also still not caught up to physical media after a year and didn’t have far to go when it debuted. If you attend SHIMMER in person, be prepared for a very long day. Two tapings in one day, each running about 3-3.5 hours, is quite a bit to sit through. It’s absolutely worth it, but I don’t blame anyone who can’t do it.

Due to the way tapings are scheduled as a weekend marathon, SHIMMER rarely announces many matches ahead of time. They don’t need to – they pretty much sell out their venue on brand and talent announcements alone. As they approach the weekend, they’ll generally announce a few of the matches for the first volume of the taping and the stories progress from there. As of this writing, the main event of volume 114 will see Nicole Savoy and Aerial Monroe vs. Cheerleader Melissa and Mercedes Martinez. The rest of the card is speculative for now. It’s great for them, but it does mean that you have to trust the promotion as a fan. They tend to advertise matches for their Mania weekend card, as that is a standalone show.

The big issue SHIMMER faces is not a matter of content, wrestling style, or anything they have any real control over. Rather, it is their very small operating budget. Sure, the Eagle’s Club has a chandelier above the ring and that looks fancy, but SHIMMER operates on a shoestring. The small scale of the Eagle’s Club means that there’s no way to sell enough tickets to actually recoup the cost of renting the venue from ticket sales alone. And that doesn’t count SHIMMER paying for travel expenses for international talent to come in, which they do. Essentially, SHIMMER lays out a lot of money and needs to sell the physical DVDs (and now subscriptions) to cover the cost of the show.

Pressing the DVDs and having them made to a high standard also costs a lot of money, so SHIMMER pretty much lives off the sales of the DVDs and subscriptions. It’s led to them getting to the point of being a couple of years behind on DVDs. This has led to uncertainty over if they can even continue to offer physical media because they simply don’t have the money to keep up in real-time. Until SHIMMER can get their financial status situated, it’s going to be hard to close that gap. But without closing that gap it makes audiences hesitant to invest in the product, forcing a catch-22 situation. I don’t foresee SHIMMER dying, but if it were to die it would be because it simply could not maintain enough profitability to be able to continue running shows as physical media dies and internet streaming takes over.

Overall, it’s an exceedingly well-booked promotion that puts on at least a couple great matches per show and a good atmosphere. If you’re into women’s wrestling, you should probably be into SHIMMER.

American Joshi is possible.