Everyone at DDS has an abiding love for all things SHIMMER. It is an incredible promotion that captures everything we love about professional wrestling. Greg (@BigZ38) has attended SHIMMER events for the past four years and captured thousands upon thousands of fantastic shots. Here, we offer you photos from the first set of tapings he attended, Volumes 15 and 16. Ayzali (@AyzaliWali) has written her personal perspective on the recent Volumes 37-40 tapings, which were her first shows. We hope you enjoy reliving these memories, both recent and distant, with us.
I discovered SHIMMER at a time when I was phasing wrestling out my life. I remember my cousin stumbling into my room with a sense of urgency. She stated over and over that she has found someone and something to really believe in. She and I circled the T.V and there it was: volume 6 of SHIMMER. I watched overtly impressed and constantly trying to guess whom the woman she spoke of was. Each match I asked, “was it her?” seeing as I saw an overwhelming amount of talent in each performer. It was MsChif whom she spoke of, I immediately knew why as well. My cousin was able to see herself in MsChif, and that alone made this the greatest match she had ever seen.
Discovering SHIMMER meant rediscovering why I want to step in the ring myself. My cousin and I constantly rambled on about wrestling some day but we didn’t see women who looked like us. We were conditioned to talent who looked very similar to one another, rarely with alternative styles or builds. Every now and again we saw women with a different element, but they always seemed to be overlooked. In SHIMMER was a show where not only did all the women have different looks and styles, the equality among them was very apparent.
I was fortunate enough to grow up on independent wrestling in the UK, as well as the States. The first wrestling I witnessed too were two blokes in my brother’s gym performing for 30 or so people. What sold me on them was their passion, as I grew up in a military family where passion and heart is everything. Without that everything, including wrestling, comes across as stilted and mundane; my goal was to never feel that way about anything I participated in. With SHIMMER I was able to witness live the passion in every wrestler. All the girls wanted to be there and wanted to make an impression. After doing something for years it can become tedious but even the seasoned talent came across as passionate as the fresh faces.
People like Allison Danger, and Sara Del Rey, established veterans, seem to be still having fun in the ring. They feed off the vibes from the crowd and put on matches that leave imprints upon the minds of the fans. What I’ve always enjoyed about SHIMMER is that I could go into any new volume and gain another favorite. I became a Sara Del Rey fan upon seeing her perform on Volume 6, along with Mercedes Martinez. I could see myself in those two, and as a 15-year-old wannabe wrestler that was all I needed. With age came the appreciation for their wrestling but seeing Del Rey, a taller woman like myself, fight really motivated me. Martinez showed me, a Dominican mixed kid, that Hispanic women can and would be appreciated in wrestling. What has left them as my favorites all these years has been their presence and ring abilities, and when I finally met them my appreciation only grew.
In March I had the opportunity I had waited several years: the chance to see SHIMMER: Women Athletes live. I had watched the progression of the company, in awe of the caliber of talent that revolved through the Berwyn door. To say I am a fan is an understatement. I’ve had my experience in interviewing and announcing at wrestling events but my favorite role is that of a fan. As someone who aspires to be on the other side of the guardrail, I love being surrounded by other like-minded individuals, watching and gauging their reactions.
When I wasn’t mouthing off to a wrestler or another fan, I was engaged in monitoring those around me. Fortunately enough I sat in the area with fans that had the best grasp on the show. They booed and taunted the heels, and got supportive chants/stomps started for the faces. Because of that, the people around me made the show even better. I remember going back and forth with audience members who seemed dead set on shutting me up, but of course it was a failed effort on their part. [Editor’s Note: Christian Von Eerie did that for us when she defeated Sara Del Rey.] It was a pleasant surprise to annoy and garnish emotions from my fellow comrades. I had so much fun just interacting with others that that alone would be a reason to join the SHIMMER attendees, they made so-so matches seem like main event ones. You don’t find that kind of passion anywhere else. The fans would commit to certain skits and antics to irritate heels, or stood head to head with the villains at any instance. They really went out of their way to make the show interactive and unique.
One of the matches that stood out to me was Ayako Hamada versus Madison Eagles. Not just because these two are amazing performers, but it was my first time seeing a live match that spilled out into the crowd area. I found myself snatching up my laptop in fear of the two tumbling over and destroying it. My heart was racing as I moved closer, snapping shots of them, as I was convinced my camera or laptop would suffer an untimely demise (I nearly hoped one would, just to have that personal memory). Once they returned to the ring, I was able to refocus on the match. Seeing Hamada somehow survive Eagles’ finisher, had me out my seat. When she finally put her away with the second Hellbound, I booed my heart out. I was one of a very few, consistent “heel” fans but Eagles made me change my alignment which was an odd and yet thrilling feeling.
I could not get over the insanity that is Madison Eagles, she’s spiraling down into a tunnel of folly with her obsession for the SHIMMER belt, HER belt. This behavior was a show in itself; I found myself observing her body language more so than the wrestling at times. Likewise, Daizee Haze was a person you could tell was villain just by the way she would slink around the ring. I can’t recall anyone doing that better than Haze. Her stride was slow and deliberate, and her posture hung a bit low in a defiant way.
Seeing Athena hit her diving top rope stunner left me speechless. I’ve seen it several times online but seeing it live was brilliant. I had never been as impressed with one performer as I was with her. Each of her matches she gave something different even competing with the veteran Cheerleader Melissa, I saw her hold her own. Melissa is an absolute seasoned wrestler. She can deliver a range of vicious maneuvers that would leave most trembling. Melissa, I felt, would be the biggest test for Athena, and even though she didn’t win the crowd was supportive of her performance against one of SHIMMER’ greatest athletes. She was one I had personally built up with a lot of hype, and she delivered over and over again.
I also can’t say enough about how impressive The Knight Dynasty, Britani and Saraya Knight, and their manager Rebecca Knox were. Seeing them online, I was drawn to them being as they are also from the UK, but seeing them in person made me a true believer. Knox is an amazing actress, I couldn’t get over the time she performed a dirty move then snuck over to our side of the ring, feigning a search to avoid detection by the referee, “Where’s my cellular phone, I’ve lost my cellular phone,” to avoid detection by the referee. I truly have never laughed so hard at a manager. Saraya legitimately terrified me; her glare and posture showed she was legitimately badass, and once she had the mic in her hand, holy cow, brilliance! Even after the fact, when she hugged me and we talked, I was a bit frightened. Britani was an amazing talent whom I hoped to connect with due to us being around the same age. She was great in the ring and outside, I really can’t praise those three enough.
Hiroyo Matsumoto and Tomoka Nakagawa, respectively, were my favorite face and heel of the weekend. Their ability to engage the crowd in spite of the language barrier shows they have something special. I remember Tomoka yelling in my direction as I shot a photo of her and I never felt happier. Meeting her, while stumbling over my limited Japanese speaking ability, was truly memorable. Matsumoto was amazing to see as she really was able to get the crowd behind her and Misaki Ohata, and keep them there. I feel the crowds were the most interactive and consistent when 3S were performing. When they won the belts I was shocked and then the joy overcame me and I cheered like a mad woman. Once they lost I felt a sharp pain in my chest and I lurched over defeated. I feel so blessed for those two moments, where the raw emotion can really be seen and I can’t wait to see it once again on my tele.
I also found myself fascinated by Amber Gertner SHIMMER’s backstage and in-ring interviewer. I praised her work because I truly appreciated everyone and what they offered to me as a consumer. It doesn’t hurt that she’s ridiculously amazing, endearing, and sweet.
Mercedes’ first match on the tapings was my first time seeing one of the two lasses who inspired me, and as she walked around ring side I leaped over the front row at the chance to smack her hand. Unfortunately I fell over and took a nice tumble trying to get that a hand slap, but I’d do it again because I was so caught in the moment, which is something valuable in itself!
Something else I adored was the fact that, as a fan, I felt so appreciated by the performers. It meant a lot walking up to a performer and hearing ‘Thank you’ from them or them remembering me from a previous meeting. At one point someone mentioned that the Sara Del Rey merchandise table was short on fans and I saw this as my time to approach my biggest influence. I walked over, nervous and excited at the same time. I knew if I could have a successful conversation with her that none of the others would be a problem. I stumbled over my words and rocked nervously, trying to craft a few sentences explaining her influence on me. There I was speaking to one of the few individuals I could honestly admit to idolizing and I was at a loss for words. I remember making my purchases and moving on until something hit me: If I could speak in front of thousands of people and be a radio personality I could at least give her one sentence. I may have said more but all I remember telling her was “ You’re the reason I came here, and I believe you deserve whatever it is you want in this business.” I didn’t know exactly how she took, but she thanked me and that was more than enough as an admirer of her work.
I had these ideas of who I needed to meet, but after seeing it live I found myself praising individuals I never thought I would like. I saw something in them that I could only see from ringside, something I hadn’t seen in years. I initially went in saying I must meet my idol Del Rey, Knights Dynasty, Danger, Haze, Mercedes, and the Joshi. When it was all said and done those who I admired in ring still held that place in my heart, but others solidified their spot as well. The “Wrestling Goddess Athena” as well as Nicole Matthews, Melanie Cruise, Mena Libra, and Lufisto cemented themselves as must see talents for me, no easy task.
At the end of the day I found something I admired in all the ladies. I wanted to ask questions and pick their brains because I knew they call could teach me something, but opportunities like that rarely occur. At SHIMMER though, there was such a multitude of talent that it was easy. Everyone I knew that had a part I thanked, I made it my operation to do so. Mr. Prazak and I shared a chuckle as I paid my respect for his work ethic and commitment to improving and strengthening women in professional wrestling.
I’m still chattering about my amazing SHIMtastic weekend to whoever is willing to listen. To those who aren’t, I tell them about it until they forcibly make me stop. I’ve already convinced several people to attend the next tapings and, including two of my hardcore MMA training mates to attend. When they said yes I felt I had personally achieved something. I cared enough to make someone else care and that’s the most amazing thing the SHIMMER weekend gave me. I hope to continue to see SHIMMER religiously from now to however long it’s available. It gave me back my passion and fire for wrestling, and I want to keep that for as long as possible.