One Year.....One Title..........One Destiny.
That is the moniker or tagline, if you will, for tomorrow night's SHINE #11 internet pay-per-view that is taking place from the Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida. Tomorrow night, SHINE celebrates its one year anniversary as an independent women's wrestling promotion that was founded by Lexie Fyfe, Daffney & the folks at WWNLive.com to give women on the independent scene another place to work on a monthly to bi-monthly basis.
Through ten internet pay-per-views, SHINE has been the epicenter for many different classifications of female talent on the independent scene. Its been a place for the women wrestling stars of the future to hone their craft with someone like Santana or Made in Sin. Its been a place for women in other promotions, who may have not received as much work beforehand due to their home promotion's schedule, to gain more work on a more consistent basis with someone like Jessicka Havok, Mercedes Martinez or Mia Yim. Its been a place for the veterans of the women's wrestling scene to show any doubters of their ability in the second half of their career that they still have a lot of gas left in the tank with someone like Nikki Roxx, Angelina Love or Rain. And finally, SHINE has been a place where the women wrestling stars of today have been able to try new things and gain newfounded notoriety with someone like Su Yung, Kimberly, Ivelisse or Leva Bates.
In podcast form here on the Wrestleview Radio Network alongside a slew of co-hosts such as Nicholas Gray, Greg McNeish and Clinton Bowman, I have been fortunate enough to cover all ten SHINE shows since their inception. This year, beginning with SHINE #7, I have been fortunate enough to be able to write about the shows and cover them live as they take place on WWNLive.com. While like any other promotion, SHINE went through some growing pains during its first couple of shows, but once they got into a groove, starting with in my opinion the SHINE #6 show in January with the formation of VALKYRIE, SHINE has never looked back and has put out the most consistent shows of not just any independent women's promotion, but I dare say any independent promotion in North America so far in 2013.
So, now we arrive at SHINE #11 tomorrow night where SHINE will crown its first ever champion. The SHINE Title belt, done by the folks at Wild Kat Belts, is one of the more beautiful looking belts out there on the independent scene. Whomever is the person to be crowned the first champion will have a very nice looking six pounds of gold to put on their mantle.
There have been many ups and downs in determining the qualifiers for this one-night tournament tomorrow evening. We've had suspensions, injuries, people pulling out; you name it, its probably happened in the road to determining these challengers. But we have our field and the matches are as follows:
1. Bracket A Fatal Four Way Qualifier - Winner Faces Rain in the First Round
Mercedes Martinez vs. Nikki Roxx vs. LuFisto vs. Su Yung
2. Bracket B Fatal Four Way Qualifier - Winner Faces Santana in the First Round
Amazing Kong vs. Angelina Love vs. Ivelisse vs. Kimberly
Bracket A First Round Matches
3. Rain w/ April Hunter vs. Fatal Four Way Winner
4. Saraya Knight vs. Jessicka Havok
Bracket B First Round Matches
5. Santana vs. Fatal Four Way Winner
6. Leva vs. Mia Yim
- Plus, the semi-finals and finals of the tournament.
Looking at the brackets for this tournament, there are a ton of questions to ponder and take into account.
1. Mercedes Martinez and Nikki Roxx have had quite the rivalry going on after the last few shows. They have split matches at 1 win apiece, there has been an attack by Mercedes to Roxx at Roxx's birthday celebration, there has even been the inclusion of Daffney to the mix where Mercedes piefaced her in the same attack, causing Daffney to remove herself as Live Event Hostess and begin to scout talent to potentially manage. At SHINE 10, Mercedes being constantly distracted by Daffney's presence at ringside caused her to lose her qualifier to Mia Yim.
* Will Daffney play a factor in the first qualifying match?
* Will the new heat into the rivalry between Mercedes and Nikki Roxx be too much of a distraction into either of them keeping their eye on the prize?
2. After showing off a new intensity in her qualifying match against Saraya Knight at SHINE 9, even earning the grizzled veteran's respect afterwards, Su Yung has gone over to Japan and came back with a new in-ring style that she has dubbed, Sexy Strong Style. She feels with this new style, she finally has the focus she needs to become the first SHINE champion.
* Will the new Sexy Strong Style be the one missing piece to the puzzle for Su Yung in her quest to become the first SHINE champion?
3. With the suspension announcement of Allysin Kay that knocked her out of the tournament, Taylor Made, who was originally scheduled to be part of the first qualifying match, decided to pull out of the tournament in a sign of solidarity to her Made in Sin tag team partner. So with that, SHINE has added world-renowned veteran, "Super Hardcore Anime" LuFisto to the tournament as part of the first qualifying match. This will be LuFisto's second match back from knee surgery from an injury she sustained at the SHIMMER #53 iPPV back in April as part of the WrestleCon convention. LuFisto recently returned to the ring last week at her home promotion, NCW Femme Fatales in Canada, defeating Kimber Lee.
* Even with one match under her belt since returning, will ring rust play a factor in LuFisto's quest to become the first SHINE champion?
* How will the late addition of LuFisto affect her other three opponents' gameplan heading into this first qualifying match?
4. Since the formation of VALKYRIE, Ivelisse has been putting out some very good performances with the likes of LuFisto at SHINE 7 and Jazz at SHINE 9. Since debuting for SHINE at SHINE 5 against Athena, Ivelisse has shown why the higher-ups up north may have made a mistake in letting her go. However, it seemed like at SHINE 9, there was a semblance of dissension within the ranks of VALKYRIE after botched interference caused Ivelisse to lose to Jazz in a qualifying match and it didn't seem like Ivelisse was too happy with her stablemates after the fact.
* Should Ivelisse and her stablemate Rain move forward in the tournament to the point that they could face off against one another, what is gonna transpire? Will Ivelisse be a good teammate and take it easy on the Radiant One, or could there be added friction and dissension within VALKYRIE if she chooses not to?
* On the flip side, will Rain look for Ivelisse to be that extra advantage to propel her into becoming the first SHINE champion?
5. SHINE's biggest rivalry in its first ten shows as been the rivalry between Leva Bates and Kimberly. It started with a losing streak by Kimberly in the first few shows; it led to her asking Leva to be her tag partner against Made in Sin at SHINE 5. When Made in Sin was victorious, Kimberly snapped and attacked Leva. This led to a series of violent and brutal matches between the two, spanning from SHINE 6 to SHINE 9. There were Last Woman Standing matches, I Quit Matches and to top it all off, an Arkham Asylum Steel Cage Match. While Leva had her hand raised at the end of SHINE 9 after strapping Kimberly up in a straitjacket, like any rivalry, there were after-effects to it.
Kimberly, through the entire feud, became more and more deranged by the show, concluding with her sewing together 2 different Thing dolls into one and then at SHINE 10, beginning to talk to the doll like it was an actual person. While Kimberly lost to Santana in a qualifying match at SHINE 10, she has the opportunity in the second qualifying match against Ivelisse, Amazing Kong & Angelina Love to redeem herself and become what she always said she has been by becoming the first SHINE champion, a WINNER!
While Kimberly went through a change in sorts through the rivalry with Leva, Leva, on the other hand, kind of went through an even more drastic change. The Leva Bates SHINE fans saw through the first five shows is now a completely different person as we head into SHINE #11. Everyone's favorite, bubbly, happy-go-lucky cos-player who liked to dress up as many different characters in the world of pop culture, suddenly went through a transformation into more of a darker, in-your-face, aggressive persona. By dressing up as Bane or the Joker or Mad Max, the Leva Bates people became accustomed to in the early days of SHINE was no more. As we head into SHINE 11, Leva faces someone very close to her as part of the Lucha Strong family in Mia Yim. But, Leva has said she will not hold back and we even saw in a promo a change from Leva wearing the Spiderman outfit she wore at SHINE 1 to wearing a Venom outfit, which goes along with the new edge fans have seen with Leva since the Kimberly rivalry kicked into high gear.
* Will the inclusion of Kimberly's Thing Doll be the springboard to Kimberly's redemption and her becoming the first SHINE champion?
* Was the new edge that Leva has shown in recent shows the final piece to the puzzle in her becoming the first SHINE champion or could that new edge prove to be her downfall? Also, have SHINE fans seen the last of the fun-loving, happy-go-lucky Leva Bates, or can something or someone be the defining factor in releasing the aggression out of Leva and bring her back to the person that she was before the rivalry with Kimberly?
6. Ever since the tournament brackets were announced, there was one match SHINE fans and independent women's wrestling fans have been talking about. A match that is seen as an independent women's wrestling fans' dream match with two of the baddest women on the independent scene. I'm talking about Jessicka Havok against Saraya Knight.
When you look at Jessicka Havok and Saraya Knight, you look at two women who in 2012, dominated their respective promotions with Havok in WSU and Saraya in SHIMMER. Both put out great performances, not just from an in-ring standpoint, but from an all-around standpoint with their mic work and their aura around them as two women who you do not want to meet in a dark alley.
Saraya is in my opinion, the William Regal or Dave Finlay of women's wrestling. Saraya is someone that while she had a great career in her home country of England throughout the 90s and into the new millennium, she has seen a career resurgence in the second half of her career, ever since coming into SHIMMER alongside her daughter, now NXT standout Paige. With the ready-made rivalry already set in place with arch-nemesis Cheerleader Melissa, Saraya became the SHIMMER champion and throughout 2012, has defended the title in many different countries and promotions. From places in the US like SHINE and others like mid-west promotion AAW, to her home promotion of Bellatrix in England, Saraya defended the SHIMMER title against all-comers for a little over a year before losing the title back to Cheerleader Melissa at SHIMMER #53 in the first ever SHIMMER Steel Cage Match. But now, Saraya wants to add another prestigious honor to her already storied career in becoming the first SHINE champion. But, to do that, she needs to go through the star pupil in independent women's wrestling today in Jessicka Havok.
At 6 foot tall, Jessicka Havok is one of the top standouts in not just independent women's wrestling, but in independent wrestling in general. She has made WSU her own over the last 2+ years alongside Allysin Kay and Sassy Stephie in the Mid-West Militia, with her biggest accomplishment being her win of the WSU World Title against Mercedes Martinez back last March, ending Mercedes 3-year title reign. Ever since then, she has migrated over to other promotions like NCW Femme Fatales, more recently SHIMMER, but the one new promotion Havok has had the most success has been SHINE. Wins over Mia Yim, Leva Bates, Portia Perez & Madison Eagles, along with a very under-rated rivalry with Reby Sky, Havok has refined her game within SHINE over the last year, so much so that recently, the Florida crowd has begun to get behind the newly proclaimed Havok Death Machine, a title she claimed by virtue of beating Sami Callihan at the WSU Queen & King iPPV back in May. There is very few in my honest opinion that have the all-around package, meaning charisma, aura, presence, promo ability and in-ring ability, that higher-ups up north look for, like Havok does have.
The battle that Havok and Saraya will have tomorrow night will be something fans of independent women's wrestling have been waiting to see. There might be high expectations, but I am sure they both will deliver in spades.
* Will the First Round match between Havok and Saraya take so much out of the winner that it will play a factor in their semi-final match?
* Will Saraya Knight add one more honor to her illustrious career by becoming the first SHINE Champion?
* Will the newfound support by the Ybor City crowd be the final piece to the puzzle for the Havok Death Machine to become a double champion?
So, as you have seen, there are many questions to ponder and take into account for tomorrow's SHINE #11 iPPV. I'm not a big fan of predictions, but I will say that it is anybody's ballgame between the 14 participants in the SHINE Title tournament.
I thank you all for reading this preview column. I, like the rest of you, look forward to SHINE #11 tomorrow night. There will be a detailed recap done by myself that will go up as soon as the iPPV goes offline here on Wrestleview.com. Early next week, myself, Greg McNeish and Nicholas Gray will be recording a podcast review of SHINE #11 for the Wrestleview Radio Network.
If you would like to become a VIP to listen to the review, go to vip.wrestleview.com to sign up. You can also follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Jason_Namako or if you would like to send feedback for the podcast review of SHINE #11, you can do so by shooting me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
With that being said, I wish good luck to all of the participants in the SHINE Title tournament and until tomorrow night's SHINE 11, everyone, stay SHININ'!
- Jason Namako, Wrestleview.com