At SHIMMER last month, we saw Evie and Kimber Lee earn their roster spots and Jessicka Havok take her spot, whether we liked it or not. We saw Serena Deeb and Madison Eagles make their first trip back to Berwyn after long absences due to injury, and they did not miss a beat. We saw Allysin Kay TwitPic mid-match. We saw Mercedes Martinez and Ayako Hamada try their absolute best to destroy each other. We saw one of the most wild, goofy, amazing spectacles of a four-way match that wrestling has seen. We saw Nicole Matthews and Portia Perez cheat and cheat and cheat and cheat and cheat and be dicks. We saw Cheerleader Melissa take a very dark turn as she began her second reign as champion. We saw that the Global Green Gangsters, Kellie Skater and Tomoka Nakagawa, truly “Got this.” We saw the end of an era as Allison Danger, one of the founders of the company and a pioneer in the world of “American joshi” wrestling, compete in the final match of her career.
This is the first of our four part gallery for the SHIMMER weekend, enjoy.
And now, our favorite wrestlers from last year. Again we’re joined by our friends Thomas Holzerman from The Wrestling Blog, Jamie from Dramatic DDT, T.J. Hawke from Free Pro Wrestling, Ciara Reid of Angry Marks, Jae of iheartDG, Alyssa, Alex, Benjamin, and Senor Lariato. By Leslie, Greg, Chris C., Chris J., Sonny, Aoikougei, Sarah (and her brother), Steph, and Martin.
ACW, AAW, SLA, ROH, DGUSA, CHIKARA, Resistance Pro
Thomas: This man busted out of Austin in a big way this year. Dragon Gate USA only had the bright idea to book him at the end of the year. Ring of Honor had the chance to blow the doors off the arena in Chicago, but instead he was a sacrificial lamb for Kyle O’Reilly. I certainly didn’t love the treatment he got from promoters who apparently “know” wrestling, but this isn’t a gripe-fest. It’s a love-fest. What ACH was able to do this year was nothing short of revolutionize what wrestling was all about.
Whether as the standard bearer in ACW, a man who helped make Cleveland a destination for wrestling in AIW, or the forever-frustrated rival of Mark Angelosetti in Chikara, he did things only thought possible by dreamers who wrote matches for e-feds. Four-fifty splash from the second rope? Easy. Texas Cloverleaf big swing? Pfft, don’t trifle me with your doubts, son. He went 30 minutes with AR Fox, warred with Johnny Gargano, clashed with Willie Mack, and even helped put eyes on Kansas City through an excellent series with Jeremy Wyatt.
If ACH isn’t on your radar, you don’t watch enough wrestling, and if you watch enough wrestling and aren’t impressed by ACH, then good lord, man, you’re made of stone.
Photo Courtesy Joel Loeschman
Ciara: I can’t think of anyone else in Ring of Honor that has stood out for me in 2012 besides Adam Cole. Earlier last year, Future Shock disbanded with Kyle O’Reilly joining Davey Richards and Adam Cole aligning with Eddie Edwards. At ROH’s 10th Anniversary Show in March, Adam Cole scored an upset as he pinned then ROH World Champion Davey Richards with a Crossbody during a tag team match. Cole would go onto to defeat Kyle O’Reilly in a Hybrid Rules Match and defeat Roderick Strong for the ROH Television Championship in June. Cole has successfully retained his championship against Eddie Edwards and Mike Mondo and defeated Matt Hardy in a non-title match.
Adam continued his success over in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla as he won the 2012 Battle of Los Angeles Tournament to earn a shot at Kevin Steen’s PWG World Championship. In November, Cole defeated Caleb Konley for the Premiere Wrestling Xperience Heavyweight Championship. Adam has since won the PWG World Championship from Kevin Steen and formed the Dojo Brothers with Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong. I was already aware of Adam Cole’s work in Combat Zone Wrestling, but this past year he has really stepped it up and became one of my favorites.
Leslie: Ayako Hamada is Wrestler of the Year, Every Year. It’s redundant to talk about how great she is at this point, you just need to watch her. Watch her in Mexico. Watch her in Japan. Watch her in in the states (especially her SHIMMER match against Kana). Watch her, year after year, effortlessly put on amazing matches. Ayako Hamada is an international treasure and the best of her generation.
Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi
Lariato: In the first half of 2012 especially, Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi marked themselves as one of the best tag teams on the planet with a series of amazing matches in AJPW and home promotion BJW. Both guys are freakishly strong and I never tire of watching them in matches against other heavy hitting teams like Get Wild of Manabu Soya & Takao Omori.
Click here to watch 5 hours of Sekimoto & Okabayashi matches.
Dash Chisako and Sendai Sachiko
Sendai Girls, JWP, CHIKARA
Sonny: The Kanari sisters slowly emerged from the humongous shadow of Meiko Satomura in 2012, showcasing their great tag team skills versus a wide variety of opponents.
In May they debuted in CHIKARA, and defeated The Bravado Brothers. On June 25, they defeated Manami Toyota and Kyoko Inoue. In September they teamed with Meiko Satomura in CHIKARA’s King of Trios to defeat Green Ant, Red Ant and AssailAnt. In round 2 they defeated Jigsaw, Manami Toyota and Mike Quackenbush. In round 3 they lost to the team of The Young Bucks and Mike Bennett in what may have been the best match of the entire weekend.
PWG, BJW, CZW
Alex: Drake Younger’s 2012 has been a powerful journey to be able to watch, one that made him one of the best wrestlers of the year. A resolution to clean himself up led to him getting in the best shape of his life. That then led to a renaissance for Younger as a wrestler. In 2012 he delivered some of his strongest matches, including wars with Sami Callihan, B-Boy, Rickey Shane Page, Roderick Strong, and MASADA, peaking with an awe inspiring Iron Man with Sami Callihan.
Moving out to Los Angeles and finding another home with PWG turned out to be a great move for him, allowing him to show new audiences what the Combat Zone faithful already knew: Drake Younger is one of the most well rounded wrestlers in the world, able to deliver with a wide variety of opponents. An inspiration, in ring and out, making him a clear choice for this write up.
Ben: Forget the broken glass and death matches, Drake Younger can do it all, and regularly does. To me, he is the definition of a hybrid wrestler, and I love the diversity this brings.
Having changed his life this year (in more ways than one), and moved to California, a whole new horizon has opened up for him, including PWG, where he continues to have increasingly fantastic matches to sit alongside 2012 classics such as 60-minute Iron Man vs Callihan.
As I type this, he is completing his 4th tour of Japan, and has already signed a contract for his 5th tour. Every time he returns to the States following one of these tours, he seems to have grown again. It’s a pleasure to watch someone so humble, positive and joyful about their chosen craft, and long may it continue.
Lots of stuff happened at Wrestlecon, most of which you can buy on iPPV at WWNLive.com and you can already download the CHIKARA show here at Smartmarkvideo. Greg was on-hand for plenty of it. Here are his pics from SHIMMER and CHIKARA, featuring the returns of Serena Deeb, Madison Eagles, and Amazing Kong, Ayumi Kurihara’s final US match, and Cheerleader Melissa taking back what’s hers. Oh, and a bit of Jyushin “Thunder” Lyger.
Here’s our final gallery from the most recent SHIMMER tapings. This was the one where Allysin Kay, as she long ago prophesized, got in the ring with The World Famous Kana (although rumor has it she’s still looking forward to a one-on-one confrontation). Also, Athena continued making her case that she is the best by taking on the best in Ayako Hamada. All this, and lots of ninjas. Enjoy!
SHIMMER Volume 50 saw the cross-generational Joshi dream match of Kana versus Ayako Hamada come to American soil, in what is now largely considered, “the best fucking match ever.” There was also the welcome return of SHIMMER original Lexie Fyfe, who looked fantastic in the main event elimination match. Please enjoy our photos, volume 51 and 52 are coming soon!
Greg, boss that he is, attended yet another three day international wrestling summit with the AAW/SHIMMER Weekend. Here’s his wonderful photos from the first of the four SHIMMER shows. This was the one where Athena found herself in the main event, Courtney Rush lost herself in the past, and, delivering on months of trash talk, Portia Perez actually, finally, for real beat Kana. Enjoy!
One of the hidden gems of 2011, Davina Rose is a name fans slowly are becoming more aware of. With her appearances for SHIMMER and ArenaChicks, Northern California’s Rose has made an impressive step into the national spotlight and is severing as a worthy ambassador for her home promotion, Big Time Wrestling. Her passion, heart, and constant smile reminds fans of the woman who happens to be her mentor, the amazing Serena Deeb. An admirable, but daunting, comparison. Filling those boots won’t be any easier with the likes of Portia Perez and Nicole Matthews already gunning for her. Luckily, she has an Egyptian god watching her back. DDS is proud to present, Davina Rose!
Becoming a wrestler isn’t something the average person aspires to. Who or what captured your imagination and made you a fan? What was the defining moment when you knew you wanted to become a wrestler?
Well, I was always a tomboy growing up (and still am), playing all kinds of sports everyday so I already had that love for sports in my blood. The first time I saw wrestling, my Dad and brother were watching it and I honestly thought nothing of it until I saw Randy “The Macho Man” Savage. All I saw was huge muscles, bright colors, and a big smile on this guys face. It looked like he was having the time of his life. That was when I was when I got hooked into wrestling. It wasn’t until I saw the women wrestling, like Ivory, that I knew I wanted to actually be a part of it. Throughout time like my teenage years I fell in love with the Hardy Boyz and Lita, and they are definitely a big part of me being a wrestler right now.
Tell us about your gear. You of course have a rose, but you also have an Egyptian symbol. Can you explain the symbol’s significance to you?
I try to keep my gear very athletic looking. Ever since I was younger, I knew I wanted to treat wrestling as the sport that it is and not use my body or showing off skin to get any other attention. As for the rose on most of my tights, it obviously symbolizes my name. “Rose” is actually my middle name. My Mom gave me that name because ever since she can remember, my Grandpa would give my Grandma a dozen roses every week, so it meant a lot to her, which made it mean a lot to me. Even more now that my Tadgu (Grandpa in Welsh) recently passed away in June.
The Egyptian symbol is the “Eye of Ra” which symbolizes protection. Before my first wrestling match my family was excited but, of course, worried about me. So a few days before my match I got the Eye of Ra tattooed on the back of my neck to feel protected and know that someone is always watching my back. It’s also just a cool design; I was getting bored of the roses!
Big time wrestling seems to be your home promotion, give us some insight on that company and how you discovered them? Who were you trained by and what was your training like?
Yes, Big Time Wrestling is one of the biggest promotions in Northern California and it is run by Kirk White. My Dad first found out about them back in 2001, because he saw a sign outside of the San José Boys and Girls Club near his work and it had Buff Bagwell on it. I was 11 and that was the first live wrestling show I had ever been to. Since that night I never missed any of the Big Time Wrestling shows.
I began training in 2008 when I was 18 with my head trainer Jason Styles, along with Ryan Von Kool, Kimo Kanaloa, Chico Navarro, Mike Silva, and Shane Kody. My first day there were also 3 other guys starting who were all best friends. I was the only girl there, and still am to this day. We trained twice a week for 2 hours in this small warehouse that barely had enough room for the ring and no bathroom! It was perfect. It was a very intimidating being a teenage girl with all these men, in a man’s world, but I loved it.
Southern California wrestling gained a lot of national attention last year. As someone in Northern California, how do you view the scene? Would you say you’ve had great opportunities there?
I believe Northern Cali and Southern Cali are two very different wrestling worlds. Southern Cali has way more promotions, way more exposure, and way more women wrestlers! I’ve only wrestled there a few times for NWA Hollywood and I had a great time.
When I first started, all the girls I wrestled were from SoCal. With the exception of Christina Von Eerie, whom I had the pleasure of working with a few times, I think I’m the only NorCal girl around right now. But honestly, I cannot complain one bit. Kirk White has given me the biggest opportunities with BTW and I couldn’t ask for more. He has never let me down since day one, I was never left out of a show and he’s always brought someone in for me to wrestle. Through Kirk and BTW shows I’ve had the opportunity to wrestle ODB, Awesome Kong, Daffney, Serena, and many more great women.
Is there any place you’re very interested in working or training outside the country? Any promotions you have on your radar to perform for?
I want to go anywhere! The more I wrestle, and the more people I meet, the more anxious I get to see the world. Like any other wrestler I would love to go to Japan, Mexico and Australia being that wrestling is very big and respected in those places. But I’ve got my eye on Canada for the next place I want to train and wrestle in. I love the Canadian style; I believe it will add so much to me as a wrestler. I would love to work for ECCW over there. In the states, WSU in New Jersey is the next promotion I’d like to wrestle for.