Category: Reviews

Beyond Wrestling: Crises Precipitate Change Review

Featuring: ACH, Drew Gulak, Johnny Cockstrong, Nick Talent, Doug Summers, AR Fox, Brian Fury, Julian Starr, Mark Angel, JT Dunn, Steve “The Turtle” Weiner, Anthony Stone, Jonny Mangue, Sugar Dunkerton, Pinkie Sanchez, Aaron Epic, Mikaze, Mark Shurman, Darius Carter, Taka Suzuki

Available on Demand: YouTube -$9.99  and Smart Mark Video – $9.99

Upstart existentialist promotion Beyond Wrestling held their Crises Precipitate Change show over the weekend of November 19th and 20th, 2011 in North Andover, MA. As some of you may well be aware, Beyond Wrestling is built on the concept of wrestling for wrestlers – there’s typically no fans in the audience, only the other wrestlers on the card watching on as the wrestlers express themselves. In the months leading up this event, Beyond began its expansion into fan attended shows with About Time and Back In Flesh. Crisis was a return to the original formula. However many Beyond mainstays, like Chris Dickinson, Corvis Fear, and Team Beyond, were unavailable due to injury or retirement. This led to multiple new faces making their first appearances in the true Beyond environment, hence the title.

Another big change is that this is the first show in Beyond Wrestling’s new partnership with YouTube. The video is available On Demand for $9.99 there as well as on Smart Mark Video.

Note: Beyond Wrestling applies a ranking system for its wrestlers, which affords wrestlers certain privileges and perks for building up wins, such as making their own matches. I’ll be including each wrestler’s rank with their name, so if you see them with a +, they’re doing well, a – means they need to do better, so here we go…

Your announcer is the almighty Denver Colorado (the man, not the place).

AR Fox [-2] vs. Johnny Cockstrong [+12]

Cockstrong is the current leader in Beyond Wrestling. Most of Cockstrong’s offence involves him trying to stick Fox’s head in his trunks. No wonder he has such a good record. AR Fox comes in intimidated by “the cock,” understandably.

Fox pulls off a nice delayed stomp on Cockstrong. He follows it up with a sweet Skin the Cat into a dropkick in the corner. However, he soon runs into the “Cock of Steel”. Cockstrong spins Fox around in a chair, and then hits the Shining Cock on him. Cockstrong may well be one of my new favourite wrestlers. Fox jumps into the other ring in the building and hits a Tope Con Hilo out of it onto Cockstrong on the floor. Fox then leaps off the other ring, hitting a legdrop onto Cockstrong on the apron of the official ring. Why wasn’t World War 3 like this? Cockstrong shrugs off the Lo Mein Pain and hits the In The Pants Piledriver to put AR Fox away. Cockstrong moves onto +13 points, dropping Fox down to -3. Really fun opener, and I’m happy to see there’s another Cockstrong match later on this show.

Nick Talent [+1] vs. Doug Summers [0]

Sugar Dunkerton is so happy to be at Nitro… then realises it’s not the year 2000. Talent is a member of the Academy of Anatomy, with teammate Mark Angel seconding him at ringside. This is Summers’ Beyond Wrestling debut, I’ve previously seen him in a 10 person tag in CHIKARA that didn’t particularly impress me with the way it went, so let’s see how he fares here in singles competition.

Both men take time to figure each other out, and it’s Summers who utilises his conservative style to take the early advantage. Talent takes a couple of shortcuts to try and get ahead. Funny moment at this point – Dunkerton takes Talent’s entrance gear and puts it on to goof about. Summers hits a superkick on the outside, but in a bid to take control, Talent careers him into the ringpost, and then hits a facebuster on Summers to the outside.

Talent makes a lot of easy mistakes throughout this match, which Colorado puts down to not having Anthony Stone in his corner anymore, instead of the less experienced Mark Angel. However, Talent does take control, but it doesn’t last long, and Summers hits a Shining Wizard to put him down. Summers lays waste on Talent in the corner, but as the ref tries to break it up, Talent pokes him in the eye, and hits a spin out facebuster for the pin. Talent moves onto +2, dropping Summers to -1.

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PWG: Fear DVD Review

Photos courtesy Devin Chen (chdevinphotos.com / @chdevin).

In 2011, not many American promotions had as big and consistent a year as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Based in American Legion Post #308 in Reseda, CA, PWG has gathered a major cult following in its eight year existence, and is able to bring some of the best wrestlers in the world to the often-starved West Coast scene, whilst also showcasing the best local talent and giving them a platform to shine.

And in 2011, it’s hard to deny that PWG was dominated by one man – “Mr. Wrestling” Kevin Steen.

Steen had made his comeback to PWG in late 2010 after missing a couple of years. He vowed to make up for lost time. Steen went on to wrestle in 16 matches in just 9 shows. On July’s Eight, in his third match that night, Steen won the PWG World Championship from the outgoing Claudio Castagnoli. However, he would run into an old nemesis.

El Generico defeated Steen to win the 2011 Battle of Los Angeles tournament in August, and parlayed that into a title shot against his old tag team partner and biggest rival. He took his shot at Steen Wolf in one of the most vicious Ladder matches in wrestling history. It would be the Generic Luchador who would come out on top, winning the PWG Title from Steen.

But Steen’s night wasn’t over as he had other rivals to deal with. Matt and Nick Jackson, the Young Bucks, had major issues with Steen and decided to jump him after he lost his title. They also decided to challenge Steen to a Tag Team Guerrilla Warfare Match for their Tag Team Championships at the next show, thinking that Steen would not have a partner. Big mistake.

The lights suddenly went out, and all of a sudden, for the first time in over three years, Super Dragon appeared in a wrestling ring, the fans in Reseda went wild, and all hell broke loose. The Young Bucks were finished off, and Kevin Steen had a partner in one of his former rivals.

That all leads us to this show, simply titled, Fear.

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Puroresu Evolution: Part 1

Professional wrestling has always been a test of skill, strength and athleticism, but also a test of perseverance and resiliency. The best wrestlers today, were all nobodies at one point of their careers. They were all virtually unknown, unsure of how their career might turn out. This is a look back through some of their stories, highlighting the very humble beginnings of some of the world’s best wrestlers. We see how, over the years, their different styles and experiences have molded them into the best performers of their generation.

Kenta Kobayashi, better known as KENTA, started his career in AJPW at the age of 19. After training under Kenta Kobashi and Yoshihiro Takayama’s watch he debuted in 2000, against none other than his future tag team partner and rival, Naomichi Marufuji.

During his very short stay in AJPW, he also had a match with Yoshinobu Kanemaru (competing in Bermuda shorts and boots). Here is that match from June 9th, 2000:

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Review: Beyond Wrestling – All Dude Review and High Five Academy

Featuring: Corvis Fear, Chris Dickinson, Chris Dickinson, Hailey Hatred, Christian Faith, Vincent Nothing, Jonny Mangue, Sean Maluta, Chase Burnett, Zane Silver, Eric Ryan, Bobby Beverly, Louis Lyndon, Flip Kendrick, Luis Diamante, Joey The Snake, Denver Colorado

DVD available from SmartMarkVideo.com – $15.00

One of the benefits of being a forward looking company is that even your older material can appear timely and relevant. That is the case with Beyond Wrestling‘s latest release, a double disc set of All Dude Review and High Five Academy. Taped over a year and a half ago, the DVD features several matches that were not only good, but significant to the history of Beyond and precursors to some trends seen throughout today.

Although the company has begun producing traditional live wrestling events, Beyond’s initial concept was to present a show by wrestlers for wrestlers. There were no fans in the audience and grapplers fought how they wanted for as long as they wanted. Wrestlers were given full creative freedom to express themselves in the ring, to be judged only by their peers in attendance. This lead to some great performances, but left the company light on narratives. That changed with these tapings. Here we see exactly what began the Clark Kent/Lex Luthor-like eternal, company consuming feud between Chris Dickinson and Corvis Fear. It is essential viewing for Beyond fans, but what makes this release relevant on a wrestling wide scale though, are the three matches with Hailey Hatred.

Since these shows occurred, Hailey has ascended to the top of the Joshi Puroresu scene. She’s captured numerous titles, most notably the JWP Open-Weight Championship, the most prestigious women’s title in Japan. Seeing a Japanese star in a still growing US promotion is pretty interesting in its own right, but the matches themselves were spectacular. Hailey appears in three bouts: against Chris Dickinson, Louis Lyndon and Corvis Fear. Yes, all men and including the two top guys in Beyond. In the past year companies like RCW, ACW, and CHIKARA in the US, as well as companies like SMASH and FREEDOMS in Japan, have put on big matches featuring some of the top women in the country against their top male athletes. Beyond Wrestling got in on the ground floor of  this movement, with some of the grittiest inter-gender matches you’ll see.

Hailey Hatred vs Chris Dickinson is the first match on All Dude Review, and the best bout on either show. It was brilliant to put Hailey and Dickinson against one another. Dickinson is a hard-hitting, hard-kicking, hard-chopping no-nonsense striker. Hailey was the first woman in Beyond, and she prides herself on being a pretty big badass as well (in fact she outsized Dickinson). There was a lot of tension at the start of this match. Some of the wrestlers surrounding ringside weren’t very fond of Hailey and, frankly, wanted to see Dickinson kick the shit out of her. In the early going both focused on mat wrestling and Dickinson actually held back on delivering strikes. This was met with taunts from the crowd, and Hailey who wanted to be treated like any other wrestler. That’s when things got nuts.

Dickinson “snapped” and wailed on Hailey with sick chops and kicks, causing the crowd of wrestlers to leave their seats, screaming and pounding on the mat. Hailey was no pushover though. She took everything Dickinson had and gave it back to him in the form of her signature head-kicks and brain scrambling suplexes. The match seemed to just get more brutal over time, with Hailey’s Cut Throat Backdrop driver being answered with a deadlift Lyger Bomb. The reactions of the audience made what happened in the ring seem even more insane. While gender was a factor going on, eventually the match turned into just two brutal wrestlers giving their all against one another. It was fantastic. You will rarely ever see a match like this anywhere, and it alone is probably worth the price of the DVD.

Besides unique match ups like Hailey and Dickinson, Beyond also gives opportunities for a lot of younger wrestlers to perform without the pressure of a live wrestling crowd or limitations on their matches. At times, this environment drives them them to put on matches well avove their experience level. We have an example of that in the Team Beyond (Chase Burnett and Zane Silver) vs Young Studs (Eric Ryan and Bobby Beverly) tag match from All Dude Review. While the Young Studs were the then AIW champions, Chase and Zane were two relative unknowns put together because of the potential seen in their early Beyond appearances. The match was an exciting, innovative, fast paced bout. It comes across as all the more fresh since even dedicated US wrestling fans probably have not seen a lot from any of these wrestlers. It is a testament to the effectiveness of the Beyond formula that with less experienced athletes, you still see matches that meet the standards set by all-star companies.

Another great match was Chris Dickinson against his childhood best friend Johnny Mangue. As Dickinson puts it, these guys have been wrestling since they were nine, and it shows. The match is fluid, but gritty, and just drags you in as it goes along. It starts off pure wrestling, then breaks down with Mangue getting sent into a guardrail, before diving over a huge wooden desk and burying Dickinson under it (for some reason a framed autographed picture of Kevin Nash came into play).  While Dickinson is a breakout star in the making, Mangue showed that he has just as much raw potential here. Great showing!

High Five Academy featured an eight man tournament, as that was about the number of wrestlers who were able to brave the blizzard that day and make it to the show. Those wrestlers included Flip Kendrick and Louis Lyndon, so it wasn’t all bad. The tournament format also aided in building towards the first Corvis Fear and Chris Dickinson encounter, which closed out the show.

Again, Hailey Hatred found herself in the opening match. This time against Saturday-afternoon-movie-kung-fu specialist Louis Lyndon. We’re informed on commentary that this match had the most single day hits on youtube for Beyond, a demonstration of the novelty of a serious inter-gender match between two quality wrestlers. It was also just really good. Lyndon’s Wu Tang Fu plus Hailey in lucha mode produced several rewind worthy moments. Again, Hailey defied the gender stereotype with her strength, at one point catching Lyndon coming off the ropes in mid-air and bringing him down with a Northern Lights Suplex. Beastly!

Corvis Fear’s match with Lyndon’s tag partner, Flip Kendrick, was equally impressive. Corvis is one of the most innovative people wrestling today. He comes up with things no one’s ever done before, only to use them once. Of course, Flip can fly with the best of them and has top tier athletic ability. The two complemented each other extremely well. Later, Corvis faced Hailey and it nearly matched the Dickinson bout.

Corvis, in a bout of temporary insanity, began the match by copping a feel and stealing a kiss from Hailey, and was then promptly dropped on his head for the trangression. If that wasn’t enough to get him to respect her, Hailey dropping a senton on his head surely was. Frankly, Hailey brutalized Corvis for much of the match and he had to dig deep in order to get the win. Corvis being one of the faces of Beyond being pushed to the limit by Hailey was great to see. At no point in this, or any, of her matches was her gender a detriment or distraction. With female wrestlers as strong as Hailey, Sara Del Rey, Cheerleader Melissa, and Rachel Summerlyn, it’s no wonder more and more companies are using them in high profile roles like this. Beyond’s forward thinking on this is commendable.

Eric Ryan vs Chris Dickinson was another methodical performance by the “Dickster.” Ryan’s sleaze-rocker demeanor belies a confident and capable foil for Dickinson. Again we see Dickinson snap and actually bring a chair into the ring, before being stopped by ref Dave Dawson (pre-sparkly shirt). The match was technically sound with Dickinson focusing on the arm the entire time, even with his strikes. It ended with a slick submission finish, and nods to yet another member of the Wolfpack.

The tournament finals finally brought Corvis Fear and Chris Dickinson together. The match was good purely from a wrestling aspect, but what makes it such a significant part of Beyond history was the ending. Dickinson and Corvis walked into this match as friends and traveling buddies, but walked out the most bitter of enemies. It began as you’d expect with Dickinson focusing on strikes and holds and Corvis using crazy moves that may or may not have come from Tekken. At the end though, Dickinson crosses the line from a guy with a few anger issues to someone truly despicable. He fakes an injury to lure Corvis in, and takes advantage to steal the win and the tournament. Understand, this marked a sea change for the company: Beyond went from a place where everyone was there for the wrestling and competition for it’s own sake, to a place where some simply put winning above everything else. It was a really cool moment that was built up over both shows, and it was a key change that helped clarify the direction of the company.

There’s several this shows worth seeing, and the audio options provide incentive to watch them more than once. First there’s the well done one-man-booth commentary of Denver Colorado (the man, not the place). Then each disc has a raw audio, no commentary option which, given how vocal the wrestlers in the audience are, is worth visiting at least for the big matches. What makes this release really special though, is a fantastic director’s commentary feature. Beyond Wrestling promoter Drew Cordeiro teams with Chris Dickinson to provide insight not only into the matches on the show, but the history and concept of Beyond itself. Given that Beyond is so different from every other wrestling company, hearing Cordeiro talk about the creative process behind it is quite eye-opening. Likewise, it’s nice to get to know the laid back, humorous guy behind the deranged sociopath that is Chris Dickinson. As he appears in 5 of the 11 included matches, you get an in depth look into his personal history, how he approaches his craft, and what it means for him personally to be “the guy” for Beyond Wrestling. He even takes the time to address criticism of his wrestling style, and the rumors that he stuffs his tights. DC and CD cover all of that, and much more in an informative and, at times, hilarious session.

When you take the quality of the matches, their significance to Beyond history, and their relevance to the next stage of evolution for women’s wrestling, you’d be hard pressed not to find some value in this DVD. There are a couple of  less than stellar matches, an odd lack of entrance music (which some wrestlers actually use to their advantage), and the drain of the tournament is sometimes visible on the competitors, but all of that is completely overshadowed by what’s good here. The Hailey Hatred matches are all phenomenal, and Dickinson and Fear put on a great showings as well. The director’s commentary is much like getting a full “shoot” interview as a bonus on this release, and it really puts it over the top as a great DVD and worthwhile purchase.

This is a must have for any Hailey Hatred, Chris Dickinson, or Beyond Wrestling fans. Everyone else should seriously consider purchasing it as well. Check the video preview below!

Score: 7.5

Links:

Beyond Wrestling – http://www.lookmanofans.com

Hailey Hatred The Dirty Dirty Sheets Interview

Contest:

Beyond provided a review copy of the DVD, and we’ll also be giving one copy away on Twitter. If you see us make a tweet wtih the #BeyondDVD tag, retweet it, once and only once, for a chance to win. We’ll make several tweets over the next week, each giving you a chance to enter our random drawing, but please don’t retweet the same thing multiple times.

Prize is one (1) copy of the All Dude Review/High Five Academy DVD. Winner must follow @BeyondWrestling and @DirtyDirtyTweet to be eligible, and provide address for shipping of DVD. Contest ends Friday, August 19th, 2011 12:00AM. Any form of spamming is prohibited and will result in disqualification. Void where inter-gender chop battles are prohibited.

In Review: Shinsuke Nakamura

New Japan is invading the East Coast of the United States this weekend. To commemorate that we’re sharing some great matches from one NJPW’s top stars, Shinsuke Nakamura, with reviews by Hanan. She’s got even more great matches and energetic reviews at Let Me Puroresu You. We wish New Japan the best of luck on its massive foreign excursion. Also, if any of you are going, contact us and share some pictures! Peace.

Sasaki & Suzuki vs Tanahashi & Nakamura -IWGP Tag Titles – 2004/12/11

HUGE match for the young guns who needed to prove their worth to the NJPW audience. Since this is a Nakamura special, I’ll focus on his whereabouts up until this match:

– Well, Nakamura successfully snatched the IWGP heavyweight title from Tenzan in 2003, upsetting and/or surprising everyone in the process.

-In 2004, he unified the IWGP/NWF heavyweight titles after beating Takayama! (link to the match in a previous post).

-Still in 2004, he continued earning respect from his peers by scoring important wins over Tenryu, Tenzan, Nagata. He also won the 10,000,000 Yin Tag Tournament and the Yuko Six Man Tag Team Tournament.

Cue to this match that further put Tanahashi and Nakamura on the map as THE future of NJPW. Minoru Suzuki is VICIOUS (I truly, truly love this guy). Sasaki is a squash/chopping machine! and the youngsters must survive! And this match goes on for more than 30 mins, and there’s no doubt that the combination of Suzuki and Sasaki is proving to be deadly for Tanahashi & Nakamura for the most part of the match. Props to Tanahashi & Nakamura for such GREAT selling, which  makes their comeback into the match even more impressive. The last ten minutes of the match are TO DIE FOR! Very submission driven when it comes to Nakamura and Suzuki, and very Raw power driven when it comes to Tanahashi and Sasaki. The crowd is hot, getting behind the young guns…Everyone wants them to win…How can you not like these two, now? They put a hell of a match and took more beating than they gave.

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Beyond Wrestling: Gospel of the Boards Review

"Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" TJ Marconi and Darius Carter

Gospel of the Boards

iPPV – $9.99 GoFightLive.tv

DVD – $9 or $12 with Artwork (pre-order) LookMaNoFans.com

Featuring: Corvis Fear, TJ Marconi, Danny Danger, Matt Marvel, Jarek 1:20, KJ Crush, Zack Novak, Pitboss, Chris Dickinson, Darius Carter, Jonny Mangue, Chase Barnett

Beyond Wrestling is perhaps the first truly post-modern professional wrestling federation. It eschews the one constant in every proper promotion thus far: fans. The events take place with no fans and an audience made up of the wrestlers themselves. There are no time limits. The roster is full of up and comers still looking to establish themselves in the independent wrestling scene. Wrestlers don’t fight for titles as much as they fight to prove themselves among their peers, and wins and losses are tracked with a +/- point system. In an industry where everything seems to have been done before, Beyond’s concept comes across as legitimately fresh. We were provided with a review copy of the iPPV version of Beyond’s recent Gospel of the Boards show. The DVD version comes with 5 bonus matches, some of which are available online via Beyond’s youtube channel. You can check out the preview video below before house show diving into our review.

Rating Scale: 1-10 with 10.0 being Scream (Great), 5.0 being Scream II (Good), and 1.0 being Scream III (Fast Forward). NC (No Contest) is for matches that can’t be fairly scored, i.e. extremely short matches, squash matches, etc.

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ArenaChicks Volume 1 DVD Review

Photos Courtesy Wrestlin' Wally

ArenaChicks Volume 1

$14.99 From Highspots.com

ArenaChicks is the brainchild of wrestling vet and real life Southern Belle Amber O’Neal. It’s goal, similar to that of SHIMMER and NCW Femmes Fatales, is to provide a place for women wrestlers to come together and wrestle serious, high quality matches against one another. This is their first DVD compilation of matches.

Featuring: Amber Gertner, Amber O’neal, Angel Orsini, Divina Fly, Jessicka Havok, Sara Del Rey, Sassy Stephie, Mia Svensson, Brittney Force, Fantasia, Kristin Flake, Persephone, Talia Madison, Cindy Rogers, GeeStar, Alere Little Feather, Becky Bayless, Cecil Scott, Roo-D Lewis, Ben Tyler, Michael McAllister, Chiva Kid, Coach Gemini

Rating Scale: 1-10 with 10.0 being Scream (Great), 5.0 being Scream II (Good), and 1.0 being Scream III (Fast Forward). NC (No Contest) is for matches that can’t be fairly scored, i.e. extremely short matches, squash matches, etc.

Allison Danger vs. Mia Svensson – 6.5/10

The first bout was a bit of a treat for long time Allison Danger fans. Over the past few years we’ve gotten accustomed to just see the gruff but good-hearted “Momma Danger” in SHIMMER. Apparently there was something about the mid-Atlantic area that brought AD back to her rage filled, ego-maniacal Ring of Honor roots.

Mia Svensson‘s response to Danger’s new found love of hair pulls, eye gouges, and hip attacks, was a kick-kick-kick-kick-kick style offense. This suits Mia and I hope she continues to develop in that direction. Good match, with some hard hits and the coolest Old School Expulsion ever.

Post-Match: Danger threatened to put an old man in a home and emphatically told everyone emphatically to “kiss it.” Indeed.

Courtesy Wrestlin' Wally

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Guest Review: Manami Toyota’s Greatest Matches

In the lead up to Manami Toyota’s return to CHIKARA this weekend, our friend Hanan, Puroresu super fan and creator of the excellent Let Me Puroresu You, is doing a marathon review of some of Manami’s greatest matches. Her love for pro wres is downright infectious, and the perfect thing to read in the week leading up to the Flying Angel’s return. Here’s a sample of some of the great work she’s done so far, and there’s much more to come.  Check out her site and enjoy!

Manami Toyota vs Bull Nakano (for the WWWA Title 07/21/1990)

Toyota made her debut on 1987 at age 16, so she was just 19 when this match happened, her opponent being 22. This was her first attempt at the WWWA championship!

Manami goes for the offense first, attempting some dropkicks here and there, that don’t phase Bull at all. Gotta love Bull Nakano’s attitude throughout this match, she’s all: “You can’t beat me, and you won’t beat me, try harder honey!” and Toyota DOES try!! She attempts some more dropkicks, dives, she tries to submission Bull on the mat, she moves out of the way of Bull’s attacks, but she fails miserably, because on the other hand, she gets strongly lariated, slammed down brutally multiple times, and finally power bombed!

Bull Nakano is incredibly powerful and Toyota could only rely on her speed to attempt and wear her down. Toyota gets squashed, and she’s damn good at it, she doesn’t give up, she charges at Bull any given chance that she gets!

Great short match!

Rating: 9.0

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SHIMMER Volume 27 Review

Scale: 1-10 with 10 being The Impact Players (Great), 5 being Team Canada (Good), and 1 being The Un-Americans (Fast Forward). NC is for matches that can’t be fairly scored, i.e. extremely short matches, squash matches, etc.

Tenille vs. Malia Hosaka – 6/10
I’ve found all of Malia’s singles matches in SHIMMER so far to be really superb, and this was another strong outing. Tenille more than held her own against the veteran, a theme that reappears throughout the DVD.

Allison Danger vs. Kellie Skater – 7/10
“The Rate Tank” is my favorite of recent fresh to SHIMMER faces, and it’s all because of her extreme level of intensity and aggressiveness. Sitting in the crowd I felt like Danger was being pounced on by Wanderlei Silva, after he had been bitten by a werewolf ((I was contacted by Kellie Skater. She informed me that she is actually, “more bad arse than Silva and a Werewolf combined.” I regret the error.)). Tank is terrifying, in the good way. Danger was back in phenomenal wrestling shape survived the initial mauling. This is another match that played off the vet/frosh potential upset dynamic, the highpoint of which was an excellent submission sequence that had me on edge during both viewings.

Daffney & Rachel Summerlyn vs. Rain & Jetta – NC
It was reported that Daffney was dealing with a fairly serious injury coming into the SHIMMER tapings, so it was quite a pleasant surprise to see her scheduled in a match. However, the match turned out to be an extended, yet riveting, beatdown of Rachel as she desperately tried to hold her own against the IHWC. The IHWC does a good job putting the boots to her, and Rachel does a great job of garnering sympathy and making believable tag/comeback attempts. This was a nice emotional setup for a Rachel vs Daff feud (which is a continuation a long running feud from Texas’ ACW).

Ariel vs. Cat Power – 6.5/10
NCW Femmes Fatales II is the event where Cat Power made her definitive turn as a main event competitor but it’s this match that, in hindsight, began to lay the groundwork. Ariel impressed me as much as she has for the past several volumes an they both work well together to put on a solid, believable match. This really showcased how far Cat has come since her initial encounter with Ariel on SHIMMER Vol. 18. Cat brought both a Stretch Muffler and a Side Effect into her arsenal, much to my approval.

Lane & Nevaeh vs. Wesna & Melanie Cruise – 6.5/10
This was Tag Team experience vs size and strength and it’s never quite clear which is more of an advantage. Lane and Neveah are really impressive here, I can’t get enough of Lane’s kick to the head and Neveah’s Azumi Hyuga-esque running knee. Melanie didn’t get to toss the Ohio girls around as much as I expected, but the high impact finish made up for it.

Cheerleader Melissa vs. Nicole Matthews – 8.5/10
This match has everything you could possibly ask for. Cheerleader Melissa is the best in the world right now, and Nicole not only keeps up but dominates for a significant portion of the match. Nicole kicked and lariated through Melissa, and then took a some serious smashing in return. The match is epic. Props to The SHIMMER Office, as they likely had to shuffle things around due to Nicole’s fellow Canadian Ninja Portia Perez catching the swine flu before the show. When life hands you lemons, have Cheerleader Melissa beat the lemons into a pulp.

Jessie McKay vs. Sara Del Rey – 7.5/10
SDR is at the top of her game now; her wrestling and her gimmick are more engaging than they’ve ever been, which says a lot. Jessie McKay had already demonstrated with her strong vol. 25 match against Melissa that she’s decidedly not just a “cute” wrestler. Result? A fine match. The Valkyrie was in charge, but Jessie was never far out of it. She skillfully and credibly went hold for hold with one of the best. Bonus points in this match for SDR’s mockery of JMack fanboys. Sidenote: Jessie is very good, serious wrestler and some more athletic gear could help reflect this. Perhaps something from the Manami Toyota line?

LuFisto vs. Amazing Kong – 8/10
Nasty. Brutish. Short. A stiff brawl like this doesn’t need a lot of time to be great, especially between fighters like Kong and LuFisto. I could watch these two beat the crap out of each other 100 times.

Ayako Hamada vs. Mercedes Martinez – 8.5/10
This is one match that I appreciated even more on DVD, since the vol. 28 Ayako vs SDR match initially overshadowed it. As a long time Ayako fan her performance here is everything one could hope for. This was the hard hitting, high flying, power bombing Ayako that drew me into Joshi in the first place. Mercedes, of course, was an excellent first SHIMMER opponent for Ayako as their styles go hand in hand. It was a superb match that I’d love to see happen again.

MsChif vs. Nikki Roxx – 7.5/10
This is a rematch from my favorite bout of ACW’s American Joshi Queen of Queens event. There’s a significant difference due to the fact that Roxx turned rulebreaker in Texas, but kept in clean in Chicago. It still made for quite a hold for hold match that re-established Nikki’s place in the main event while also showing just how dominant a champ MsChif is. Samoa who?

Bonus Match: MsChif vs. LuFisto – 8/10
Thanks to a production malfunction Vol. 27 fans also get a chance to see the main event for the vol. 26 show, with commentary this time. The match is terrific. Hard hitting edge play wrestling lovers, this is your victory pose. Both LuFisto and MsChif get in touch with their heel side and show just how far they’ll go to win/retain the SHIMMER title.

Commentary, Inteviews, Storylines, Etc. – 9/10
In early SHIMMER volumes I thought the commentary from Dave and Allison was a bit too dry, especially considering how entertaining we knew both were. Those days are long gone as the talk on this volume was very witty, informative, and always added something to the matches.

There are several good promos on this DVD, including the hilarious Dr.’s excuse promo from P2. One of the greatest SHIMMER promos of all time occurred as Cat Power decided to taste the fear on the face of backstage correspondent Amber Gertner. You just have to see it.

As usual with SHIMMER all the booking decisions made sense, everyone looked good, storylines were started, moved forward, or resolved in rational manners, and I finished the DVD immediately wanting to see the next. SHIMMER really makes it look easy.

Overall Rating  – 9.0/10
This is easily one of best SHIMMER volumes so far. Every match is good and several are flat out great. You get over 3 hours of high quality wrestling, great promos, fresh matchups, and Lexie Fyfe on a stick for $15 or less. People will be talking about Matthews vs Melissa for a while, and I don’t think any serious wrestling fan should miss out on Ayako Hamada’s debut in the top promotion for female wrestling on this side of the Pacific. Buy it.