Shimmer: Looking Back on 10 Years of Awesome – Part 2

As 10th Anniversary weekend draws near I’m continuing to take a look back at great matches over the course of Shimmer’s history.

As a reminder, this is NOT a top 10 matches of Shimmer list, but rather a look at chosen matches I feel gives a good representation of both the quality and variety Shimmer has to offer. This time I’m looking at matches with teams of two or more wrestlers pitted against each other. Part 1 featured multi-woman matches, and part 3 will finish up with singles matches.

Tag Team Matches

Tag team wrestling is a particular art, and when done correctly can tell different stories than those available in singles matches. These selections were especially difficult to narrow down, as I ended up going with only one traditional 2 on 2 tag match, and Shimmer has had a number of excellent traditional teams over the years. There’s a lot more to look back on than what I’m able to present in this format.

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Shim-vivor Series:  Ayako Hamada, Ayumi Kurihara, Cheerleader Melissa and Serena Deeb vs Daziee Haze, Tomoka Nakagawa, Madison Eagles and Sara Del Rey – Volume 36

Shimmer capitalized on Serena Deeb’s return from her time in the WWE with a number of angles involving heels calling her out and complaining about her coming back to “their” promotion. Early on volume 36 Sara Del Rey comes out for a scathing promo claiming she a has a “big problem that is Serena Deeb.” Nice exchange when Deeb comes out to answer and Del Rey says “no one wants you here,” prompting a “yes we do” chant from the crowd. Shimmer Champion Madison Eagles comes out to agree with Del Rey, but it quickly draws Cheerleader Melissa and Ayako Hamada to reverse the odds. Out comes Daziee Haze and Tomoka Nakagawa to join Del Rey’s side, and finally Ayumi Kurihara evens things up at four apiece as several refs try to keep them apart. Head ref Bryce Remsburg plays the voice of reason, and sets up an elimination match for the main event. Deeb wants a preview brawl, but of course the heels decide to choose their own spot and bail for now.

The promo was a great way to set up the teams, allowing a central thread to align several wrestler who had differing issues with each other. It made the groupings seem somewhat less random, which is nice for this type of match. Both sides come out together as teams, which is another great touch. Hamada was her usual awesome self during the intros, leading chants for her teammates and acting like she had been punched in the face when grazed by a streamer one of the heels threw at her.

The combined talent level involved is amazing, and they really took advantage of the benefits of an elimination match. Things started out with fantastic exchanges between previously established rivalries, then transitioned into newer pairings and multi-women spots. Just great use of the format. Prazak and Perez were spot-on on commentary as well, stressing the uniqueness of this type of match in Shimmer and the significance of the history between the wresters. Early highlights included simultaneous dives to the floor from the top turnbuckles by Kurihara and Hamada on opposite sides of the ring and a seven woman headlock spot ending with Melissa attacking Eagles on the end and effectively DDTing the whole line (which did not please her teammates).

The eliminations were a very quick in the middle, going from eight wrestlers down to four in a couple of minutes, but it allowed for a lengthy opening portion with all eight involved so worked out nicely. The eliminations were also different, believable, and set up some future rivalries. Unusually the faces technically had all the numbers advantages once the eliminations started, but it was well done and never lasted long until the end. We come down to four of the best wrestlers on the planet at the time squaring of in Eagles and Del Rey vs Melissa and Hamada. As expected it was great while it lasted, until a surprise jackknife pin by Hamada eliminated Del Rey and left the Eagles all alone to face two of her toughest rivals. This allowed Melissa’s quest to win the Shimmer title to continue in a natural way and the Shimmer champion was able to show vulnerability without looking weak. Commentary again underscores the issues perfectly as Dave celebrates Melissa pinning Eagles while Perez points out it was two on one. Kurihara and Deeb come back out to celebrate with their teammates (and Hamada poses while standing on Eagles for fun). Strong end to a fantastic match.

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Shimmer Tag Team Title Match: Ayako Hamada and Ayumi Kurihara (c) vs Ray and Leon – Volume 47

After a lot of consideration I chose to feature this particular match not only because of its incredibly high quality and the wrestlers involved, but also because it really shows how effective it can be to deviate from the tried and true tag team formula when done right. All four wrestlers involved are veterans with incredible ability and awareness inside the ring. Hot, somewhat unusual start right away as Ray and Leon jump the champions during the handshake, which leads to a great sequence of both teams whipping each other into the corners and each other. Kurihara and Hamada get the better of it and drop rapid fire elbows on Ray, but Ray cartwheels through a double clothesline attempt and the challengers stereo dropkick the champs outside. First high flying of the match sees Ray do a slingshot dive out onto both Ayumi and Ayako.

Back in and Ray just wears Ayumi out with chops. Her chest is bright red already. Ayumi counters a corner charge with her hanging armbar, but Leon dropkicks her on the apron to break it. The challenger’s renewed advantage is short-lived though, as Ayumi whips them both into the corner, leading to Ayako nailing Ray with a leg lariat and Ayumi then charging in with the double knees (all with Leon sandwiched between Ray and the turnbuckles). The back and forth approach to the match is working wonderfully with these four. Ayumi holds her own for a while in a chop exchange with Ray, but the latter eventually prevails and hits a handspring elbow followed by a slingblade. Ray makes everything she does look smooth and effortless. Timekeeper announces five minutes have passed and it seems likes it’s been much longer given the action seen so far.

Ayako comes in and downs Ray with several running boots, but after some crisscrossing Ray hits a flying headscissors and goes up top. Ray  cartwheels along the rope (!!!) in a kick attempt, but Hamada rushes in to avoid it and nails Leon on the apron. Things keep going back and forth in wonderful sequences that look fluid and logical. The challengers start building momentum after Hamada misses a moonsault, and Ray transitions from being elevated onto Hamada’s shoulders into a hurricanrana for a close nearfall. Leon in and Hamada reverses her attempt at a powerbomb into a backdrop, but Leon right back up and springs off the ropes into a bulldog. A subtle but important point is on glorious display in throughout this match – the disadvantaged wrestler NEVER stops fighting back. Sometimes it’s just a punch or isn’t very effective and thus the other team stays on offense, but every second of this match genuinely feels like everyone involved desperately wants to win.

Leon spears Hamada against the ropes, and Ray hits here rope cartwheel dropkick. Not to be outdone Leon goes up, then walks the ropes into a dropkick of her own on Hamada. Leon continues the assault with a spear in the corner, then goes up top after a close pin attempt. She hits a missile dropkick, but Hamada kips up and takes over with Ayumi’s help. Ray gets by Ayumi to save Leon after a huge kick to the face by Hamada. Ayumi successfully holds Ray back as Hamada plants Leon with a sitout powerbomb, but Leon kicks out just before three. The energy is off the charts and I’m captivated watching even though I’ve seen this match several times. And somehow we’re still only at ten minutes passed. Picture perfect missile dropkick from Ayumi, but she gets caught in a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and the challengers apply stereo submission holds. Hamada frees them both, only for Ayumi to eat a 619 from Ray followed by another missile dropkick by Leon.

Leon hits a frog splash on Ayumi and Hamada just barely makes it past Ray to save the pin and the titles. Ray rewards her with a release German and the challengers go up top in opposite corners. The champs move and Ray misses a moonsault as Leon misses a somersault. Now the champs go up but they’re intercepted. Ayumi’s knocked down in the corner by Leon and Ray hits superplex on Hamada. Leon goes up to capitalize, but Ayako nails her with a dropkick on the way down. Ayumi with the uranagi, but Ray dives in to break up the pin. Cartwheel bomb counters another uranagi attempt on Leon, and then Leon wipes out Ayumi with the spear. Kurihara gets her shoulder up a fraction of a second before three. Ray holding Hamada in the corner as Leon scoops up Kurihara, but Ayumi breaks free and ducks a clothesline, Ayako hits Leon with a spinning kick then grabs back onto Ray, and Ayumi small packages Leon for the win. Just phenomenal from start to finish.

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3G and Mia Yim vs Tsukasa Fujimoto, Kaori Yoneyama and Akino – Volume 67

Faced with the debut of three incredible Joshi stars, Shimmer decided to go all out and put them in the ring with three of the most technically proficient (and most beloved) regulars and let them tear the house down. And of course they did. In anticipation of the insane pace to be set, Prazak and Perez give up on play by play commentary before the match even starts.

Crowd is on fire from the get go, with loud dueling “Yoneyama” “Mia Yim” chants. Prazak with more helpful context explaining how much experience Kellie and Mia have in Japan, and that all six wrestlers have familiarity with each other. I love it when matches like this open with rotating pairs of opponents, and it was very well done here. That section ends with the first of many triple-team attacks of the contest, as Fujimoto whips both her partners into Nakagawa in the corner, then Akino and Yoneyama form steps for Tsukasa to run up and dropkick Nakagawa. Great spot.

The Joshi trio with extended domination of Nakagawa, which establishes them as the threats they are for a crowd that is somewhat unfamiliar with them. They culminate with the pyramid picture pose on top with Tomoka tied up at the bottom. The Shimmer trio then gets control and takes turns showing their own skills against Fujimoto (including Mia and Kellie calling out Akino in the corner as she kicks Tuskasa as counter mindgames).  The requisite everybody involved submission hold was an amusing chain headscissors, and later on the Shimmer contingent hit all of their opponents at once with a triple suplex.

Things keep picking up, including some amazing back and forth multi-woman sequences and vicious exchanges of kicks between Akino and Mia. It’s a pleasure to watch masters of their craft build a technical core of the match and then appropriately work in double and triple team spots, high risk maneuvers, etc on top of it. The timing and execution of everything here is just fantastic. And as an aside, I immediately love anyone who uses Chaos Theory. Yoneyama picks up the win for her team after hitting a gorgeous top rope senton on Skater, which sets up her and Tsukasa for a future Shimmer Tag Team title shot.
Great action, booking, and use of the format. Amazing debut for three top stars. Words really can’t properly do this match justice. You have to watch it for yourself.
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Thanks for joining me for part 2  of my trip down memory lane. Part 3 to come.
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