This weekend, SHIMMER Women Athletes returns for another set of tapings in the Berwyn, Illinois area. This is a pretty big deal because these tapings mark the ten year anniversary of the promotion’s existence. I admit that I didn’t start getting into the promotion until about halfway into its run and in that time, a number of my favorite female wrestlers have come and gone through its doors. In fact, the previous two weeks on the FearlessRiOT Top 10, I’ve been counting down my own personal favorites in the first three-parter of this series. And today, we finally reach the Top 10. Remember, this is just a list of my personal favorites and isn’t necessarily the top ten women who had the biggest impact on the promotion; however, it cannot be denied that every woman on the entire list has done amazing things between the SHIMMER ropes and deserve to be celebrated for it. And today, there’s a very strong chance that you’ll see a familiar face or two even if you’ve never seen a SHIMMER show in your life. That’s all I’m gonna say; let’s just get into it. This is FearlessRiOT’s 30 Favorite SHIMMER Women Athletes Stars, Part Three!
#10. Madison Eagles
Madison Eagles is not a clean fighter. The woman carries forks down to the ring, for goodness sake. I’ve never actually seen her successfully use one, but the fact that the thought even crosses her mind shows the caliber of heel that she is capable of being. That should take nothing away from Eagles’ skills as a competitor though, seeing as her resume does contain a reign as the SHIMMER Champion, a reign which saw her take on all comers, including one of my personal favorite SHIMMER matches: Eagles vs. Jessie McKay from Volume 35. She also defended it internationally in a Triple Threat with McKay and Nicole Matthews. She eventually lost the title to Cheerleader Melissa on Volume 44, and after a hiatus due to injury, she made a comeback and had some funny Team Hell No-esque moments (and a great match) with Matthews.
Kinda strange that I would put Kalamity above her mentor LuFisto, wouldn’t it? Kalamity’s career wasn’t really all that long before she decided to quietly retire in 2013 (confirmed by LuFisto). So what is it about Kalamity that made me put her this high up on this list? I honestly have to say that it’s the explosiveness she bought to the ring as well as the replay value her matches have with me. She debuted huge against Hailey Hatred on Volume 41 before tag teaming with her for a bit and since then has appeared in some of the most fun-to-watch matches in recent memory: Kalamity/Hatred vs. LuFisto/Kana on Volume 45, Kalamity vs. Ayako Hamada on Volume 49, the five-person match from Volume 53, vs. Cheerleader Melissa on Volume 56. I even found myself enjoying her undercard matches too. Kalamity was an awesome talent, and while it was devastating news to hear she was retiring, at least she gave us some good matches.
[The match below is from a WrestleReunion show.]
#8. Portia Perez
Portia Perez may be the most evil person in the SHIMMER locker room. And she both wrestles for the promotion and provides color commentary for the matches that she’s not in, so she has the chance to be despicable in more ways than one. And oh boy, does she knock it out the park! On commentary, she’s like a female Bobby “The Brain” Heenan with her mostly biased calls and hilarious insights. As far as her time in the ring goes, she’s a very crafty competitor who always seems to find a way to turn things in her favor. And maybe if she’s in the mood, she’ll steal something from you. (Did she ever return Thunderkitty’s robe?) Her rivalries are numerous (Serena Deeb, Cheerleader Melissa, Allison Danger) and she’s always on her game. She wouldn’t be a two-time SHIMMER Tag Team Champion if that wasn’t the case.
#7. Britani Knight
Who’d have thought Britani Knight would be a two-time WWE Divas Champion, the first WWE NXT Women’s Champion, and one of the all-around biggest female names in WWE in 2015? But again, this list is not about what she’s done in other federations; only what she’s done within the walls of SHIMMER. And within the walls of SHIMMER, the woman now known as Paige actually had a pretty eventful run…even though it was relatively short; she was there only one year. WWE snatched her away during her breakout Indy year, but in the eight Volumes she appeared in, she danced with Rebecca “Becky Lynch” Knox, faced Mercedes Martinez, Jessie McKay & Cheerleader Melissa, got in a brawl with her mum Saraya, defeated her mum in an awesome No DQ match, and got crazy over on the way out! So little time, so much to appreciate.
#6. Sara Del Rey
Before joining WWE as a trainer in the Performance Center, Sara Del Rey was the Queen of Independent wrestling. And in SHIMMER, that status was solidified by two things: 1) The fact that she had appeared on every SHIMMER Volume from 1 to 48 and 2) She is the very first SHIMMER Champion. If SHIMMER ever made a Hall of Fame, Del Rey would be one of the first women inducted into it; she’s done a lot under the SHIMMER banner: competed in one of SHIMMER’s most infamous matches with Ayako Hamada, taking the fight to Amazing Kong, going to a time-limit draw, facing Natalya in one of the Canadian’s only two SHIMMER matches, and of course, the hilarious Rock N Sock-esque tag team with Courtney Rush that was bought about something as simple as dancing. It would be a crime to leave Del Rey out of the Top 10; she certainly deserves this spot.
#5. Jessie McKay
Billie Kay. That’s the name the WWE brain trust came up with to dub the performer previously known as “Everybody’s Favorite Girlfriend”. Well, it’s certainly a different name than WWE usually gives Divas, and not just because she actually got a last name. We can only hope she achieves some level of success in WWE, because during her time in SHIMMER, she was without a doubt one of the most popular girls they have. Gorgeous, incredibly likable, and had incredible wrestling skills to match. Not only that, but most of her matches were insanely good and have plenty of replay value. Her rivalry and matches with Nicole Matthews, her match with Athena, and especially the time she almost won the SHIMMER Championship from former tag team partner Madison Eagles. Her time there will certainly not be forgotten.
So hard to believe the Wrestling Goddess (and recent WWE signee) debuted as a heel seeing as she’s become one of the most popular women the promotion has in recent memory. There’s just too much to appreciate about Athena to boo her; she’s an interesting athlete with a unique, multi-dimensional style and one of the most dynamic finishers in the sport. And during her time in SHIMMER, the amount of great matches she had have been numerous: she faced Mercedes Martinez in three vicious matches, she went toe-to-toe with Ayako Hamada more than once, and her matches with Nicole Matthews, Candice LeRae, and Jessie McKay are also worth watching. She even got a SHIMMER Title shot before; now that she’s headed to the big leagues, more success could be in her future.
#3. Nicole Matthews
The current-reigning SHIMMER Champion is someone who’s been having a great couple of years, winning titles both in America and her native Canada. Aside from her ECCW Championship victory, her biggest championship win to date must be her SHIMMER Championship win last year. Usually a tag team specialist, she proved she could hold her own in singles competition, having some of the most entertaining one-one-one matches in recent SHIMMER history; a Two-Out-Of-Three Falls Match with Jessie McKay, a time limit draw with Madison Eagles, an undercard bout with Athena, a Kendo Stick match with Hikaru Shida. And I haven’t even mentioned her two Tag Team Championship reigns with Portia Perez. Nicole Matthews is one of my favorites and I hope you enjoy her matches just as much as I do.
And just in case you want a taste of the Canadian Ninjas’ promo skills:
#2. Ayako Hamada
The top two women on this list played a huge part in me deciding to check out women’s Indy wrestling to begin with. When I first saw Ayako Hamada, it was in her TNA run where she blew my mind with every match she competed in. When she was released from TNA, I followed her back down to the Indy scene; lo and behold, one of the places she’s a household name is SHIMMER, where she’s long been considered one of their best talents, and it’s a reputation that’s well earned. Whether putting on a can’t-miss match with Kana, helping put Athena rise up the card, brawling with Sara Del Rey, or tagging with Ayumi Kurihara, Ayako Hamada is without a doubt one of SHIMMER’s biggest names ever. Too bad she hasn’t competed for the promotion in two years. Maybe one day, she’ll grace the Berwyn Eagles Club again.
#1. Cheerleader Melissa
Coming in at #1 is the only woman who has appeared on every SHIMMER Volume in some form or another to date; you could consider her the face of the promotion. To date, she is the only person to win the SHIMMER Championship twice and she’s faced almost every top girl SHIMMER has to offer: MsChif, Amazing Kong, Leva Bates, Ayako Hamada, Jessie McKay, Britani Knight, Melanie Cruise, Mercedes Martinez, Wesna Busic, Kana, both Canadian Ninjas. And as if that wasn’t enough, her biggest rivalries are a who’s-who of women’s Indy stars: her championship feuds with Madison Eagles, LuFisto, and Saraya Knight were passionate and the epitome of tough. They call Melissa the “Female Terminator” and it’d be hard to argue; this is one cheerleader you don’t want to mess with and she’s my #1 favorite SHIMMER star and probably their greatest star period.
Honorable Mentions (Girls Who Just Missed the Top 30):
+ Cat Power
Cat Power last appeared for SHIMMER in 2010 and she’s one hell of a challenger. Plus, it’s pretty easy to admire someone who previously wrestled basically as a giant cat before.
The Scream Queen has wrestled a number of matches for SHIMMER and it’s sad that she hasn’t be able to in more recent years.
+ Kay Lee Ray
This is one of the most exciting young talents in wrestling today and she’s taking SHIMMER by storm now; check her out!
+ Kimber Lee
One half of the current Tag Team Champions and one of the best in the game today.
+ Santana Garrett
Another one of the best in the game, this beautiful athlete has a bright future ahead of her.
+ Sarah Stock
The former Sarita is too good; she may not have made the list, but she’s still one of the most skilled athletes in wrestling.
+ Serena Deeb
Another of the most popular wrestlers to step through the ropes; her appearances these days are on-and-off though.
+ Allison Danger
Gotta mention her since in-between competing, she’s one of the people who runs the place behind the scenes.
+ Daizee Haze
Yes, she’s small, but she could also handle herself in the ring. Though retired, she still has a place in SHIMMER history.
What do you think of this Tuesday Top 30? What would you like to see me do next for a Top 10? Leave a comment or tweet me up @FearlessRiOT with your opinion or even to suggest a topic for the next edition!
[All pics in this post are by Gilda Pasquil.]