SHIMMER | A Comprehensive History of Wrestling’s Premier Women’s Wrestling Promotion

As I begin my History of Shimmer, let’s start at the beginning. 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.

[Photo: SHIMMER]

What is SHIMMER?

Allison was a manager in ROH and on the indies while Prazak got to know a lot of women in wrestling. Many felt underutilized and marginalized to being managers or valets just because they were the only women on the card.

With Danger and a group of other women, Prazak put on the first SHIMMER shows. Then the project snowballed. 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.

But they rarely do stipulation matches. When they do, they build them as a big deal with a lot of 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 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. Even those are done with care for the match as a whole.

History of SHIMMER

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.

We then saw the trio break up over volumes 96-97. Nicole Savoy wins the SHIMMER Title from Mercedes on volume 99 in November 2017, and wasn’t put to rest until Volume 100 in April 2018.

Mercedes 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/new blood” kind of story since Volume 101.

No Vacant Titles

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 was when Sara Del Rey was SHIMMER Tag champion, she got signed to WWE. SHIMMER authorized a title change at an NCW Femmes Fatales show to get the title from her. Nicole Savoy and Cherry Bomb have been injured as champions.

In both cases, they were able to heal before dropping the titles though. Currently (at the time of writing), the Heart of SHIMMER champion Samantha Heights is out with an injury. Due to her surgery being pushed back, SHIMMER will crown its first-ever interim champion during the tapings of volumes 114-117.

What are the rules for SHIMMER matches?

  • Victories come via 3 count pinfalls or submissions. Submissions may be registered verbally – via tap-out or via the arm dropping three times.
  • 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 a very honorable promotion. Fewer than thirty matches have ended in disqualification.
  • Four-way matches, whether tag team or singles are always contested under four-corners elimination rules. 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. They tape two shows a day over the weekend. On Wrestlemania weekend they tape another volume. This year SHIMMER also co-operated with RISE, SMASH, and Femmes Fatales to put on The Summit, the day before SummerSlam.

Who wrestled for SHIMMER?

SHIMMER features a mix of North American 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 (now WWE’s Paige), Saraya Knight, Sexy Star (as Dulce Garcia).

Wesna, Ayako Hamada, Kay Lee Ray, Viper, and more have appeared for SHIMMER. Many current WWE talents have worked for SHIMMER. They include – 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, Piper Niven, and Kay Lee Ray.

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.

Breakdown of the SHIMMER roster:

I’m basing this largely on the last tapings. The 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 and Viper or injured (Vanessa Kraven),

*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 in the title picture. Or, most likely to be matched up with visiting legends:

  • Nicole Savoy, A SHIMMER Champion. The Queen of Suplexes. The face of the New Blood and 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 title they want. 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 demands to be SHIMMER Champion. She hasn’t featured since last fall’s tapings, and has just unannounced her retirement. But as the saying goes…never say never.
  • Shazza McKenzieShe’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 LeeShe borders on the upper card/serious mid-card. A veteran and former SHIMMER Tag Champ. Surprisingly agile. A heel aligned with other veterans, but not especially a part of the clique.
  • At the last taping herself, Mercedes, LuFisto, and Cheerleader Melissa made up 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.

  • Dust – Former Heart of SHIMMER Champion. Managed by Rosemary. Very small, but 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 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 heels doing 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. 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. 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. You can 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. She is constantly improving and getting to wrestle bigger names though. It’s only a matter of time before she breaks through to the next level.
  • Veda Scott – Veda’s become a bit odd lately. She wore a cat head thing to the ring at 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. Holidead brings the muscle, Rosa brings the shimmy.

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 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. She doesn’t get beaten often, but when she does it’s usually by someone management 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. She returned in the Spring tapings to try for the gold once again.

Other people who matter: Significant people not covered above.

  • 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 an 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. 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.
  • It makes some sense that she might be. She had been managing Dust, but whispers say she’s ready to compete again in the SHIMMERverse.
  • Dave Prazak Founder and owner of SHIMMER. A 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 has retired and hasn’t been around much of late, but she was once one of the central stars of the promotion. She captured the tag titles with Leva Bates as Regeneration-X.
  • Portia Perez A former tag team champion who has since retired. Portia Perez is an occasional heel commentary voice and 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 the promotion. 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. 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. Only WWE and SHIMMER know the score. We just have to trust they know what they’re doing.

Are there any annual tournaments or special events?

Not annually, but SHIMMER occasionally puts together a special match or two. Their SHIMMvivor Series match from Volume 50,. 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.

Were there SHIMMER power rankings?

Not officially, but if you need some, these are based on tapings in 2019:

  • 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 that I can think of

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

How can one watch SHIMMER?

If you want to select matches only, 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).

Where should one 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.

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 in the US? This match. Extremely physical as you would expect. 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.

Don’t want to play catch-up? What were the big storylines?

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

  • Nicole Savoy’s current run of dominance has had her beat all-comers. She’s now the longest-reigning and most successful champion ever. She’s proven herself and her place in SHIMMER history. 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. 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.

You got something wrong/left someone out!

Tell uw about it. We’re happy to update, and 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 big company’s. WWE, IMPACT/TNA, or AEW. B

ut 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. 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 even a signing, to avoid putting a vacancy in the title history. When Sara Del Rey signed as a trainer with WWE, 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.

Ability to Adapt

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.

The big issue SHIMMER faces is not a matter of content, 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.

DVD and Subscriptions

Pressing the DVDs and having them made to a high standard also costs a lot of money. 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. We 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. It puts on at least a couple of 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.