Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Blu-Ray Review: SHINE 8 (March 23rd, 2013 / Ybor City, FL)

As a brief introduction or what I like to think of as "How did it come to this?", let me just say that one of my deciding factors for purchasing this SHINE Blu-Ray was simply the fact that Leva Bates is on here in an I Quit/Fans Bring The Weapons match.   That fact alone sold me on it enough so that I opened up the page to order and looked to see what else was going on.    Then, I saw names I recognized like Mercedes Martinez, Mia Yim, Amazing Kong, Havok and of course Ivelisse and knew this was going to be worth checking out for the money.    Back when I watched a lot more wrestling than I do now (between 2005 and 2010 maybe?) I was really into SHIMMER.   I remember a certain amount of SHIMMER DVDs being available from Netflix and we watched as many as they had.    Then- just to date myself- Netflix split into two: streaming and physical, which lead to my canceling it for a while before I came back and decided just to do the streaming.  Remember that?   When streaming and discs were the same price on Netflix?   Yeah, that was back when I was watching more professional wrestling than anything else, though I am slowly watching more and more now.

I'm not really sure how to describe SHINE because I've never really read a reason for why it exists but I like to think of it as there simply being too much awesome to contain in SHIMMER (which must be in pretty high numbers themselves now) and so it only felt natural to have another all-female promotion, which has been referred to as the "sister promotion".    Without looking up how many events (and DVDs) SHIMMER has right now, I can only imagine that it is enough to justify there being a second all-female promotion created by some of the same people who made SHIMMER so great.   I do want to at some point go through and watch all of the various SHIMMER events that I can, but for right now, SHINE also seemed like a good place to start because this is their newest release and it is still in single digits.    Perhaps I should have started at number one and worked my way up to this, but what will likely happen is that after I watch the seven which came before this I will just watch this one again and by that time I think they'll likely be up to ten or eleven and so then I can maybe eventually get the new releases as they come out.

My first impressions of this SHINE Blu-Ray when putting it on come from the sound system.    The music they play there seems to be trying to destroy the house speakers and when that comes across with the audio on my television it doesn't mesh very well.   It's not quite as bad as those kids who make cell phone videos right near speakers at Nickelback concerts and then post them to YouTube, oblivious as to how sound travels, but it is something that they might want to look into at some point.    Daffney (God bless her) does both the in ring introductions and commentary from the table with Lenny Leonard, who is by far not the worst commentator out there today.    I wouldn't say that I like Lenny Leonard but I can tolerate him.    But yeah, Daffney's microphone both when in the ring and on commentary at times seems to be too loud but it might actually be just that she's speaking too loudly and too close into it.    This is something that I think you can't really avoid because it's part of Daffney as a person and so I just roll with it.    Daffney spent some time in both WCW and TNA so for me, she can do whatever she wants now and her ring introductions and commentary both make this worth watching in ways because it's just so unique to her.

Onto the matches!

Match 1: Nikki St. John vs. Luscious Latasha

I don't know who either of these women are going into this match but it's all right because it's the first match of the night anyway.     Luscious Latasha is introduced as being 4'11" and I immediately say outloud how short that is when both Daffney and Nikki St. John begin cracking jokes about it on the television screen.    This was about what you would expect from an opening match if you didn't know either of these two ladies.    Nikki St. John won and that might lead to her getting more impressive wins (and longer matches) in the future while wrestling bookers worldwide decide whether or not they wish to see how many cliche short jokes they can fit into a match if they should choose to book Luscious Latasha.    Yeah, this match didn't leave a lot to write about but it was on the card so there we have it.

Match 2: Su Yung vs. Brittney Savage

Brittney Savage is probably best known as being married to Jesse Neal, the guy with all the tattoos and huge mohawk who was in TNA briefly and also was trained by the Dudley Boyz.    I'm not sure what happened to Jesse Neal but, please, don't send me updates on him because I really don't care either.    Still, I don't remember a whole lot about this match as it left seemingly little to offer.    I felt confused during the match as to which character was supposed to be playing to the crowd and which was supposed to be the heel, as they seemed to be going for the vibe, but hey, maybe they didn't know either.    I thought that Su Yung was the heel and Brittney Savage was going to have that traditional babyface comeback victory but Su Yung won and it left me rather confused.

Match 3: Brandi Wine vs. Jayme Jameson

This was really the first match where I felt like something was actually going on other than just "hey, here are two women fighting each other".   Jayme Jameson for one thing sounds like they name of an adult film star and so, yeah, you might want to consider changing that so Jenna doesn't sue or is that the point of the gimmick?   I don't know, but apparently she's married to Gunner.  (Yes, *that* Gunner)    And yet Brandi Wine has the gimmick as she comes out with a cardboard cut out type of deal for her tag team partner Malia Hosaka.   But as Brandi Wine is entering, she is stopped by Lexie Fyfe (!!!) who says that instead of bringing out the fake version they have the real thing and so the two enter together.    From what I can tell from reading online, Lexie Fyfe is one of the main people behind SHINE and that actually is pretty cool to me because I remember seeing her fight in SHIMMER and was always a fan.    A lot of stock was put into the idea that Brandi Wine and Malia Hosaka look alike though they really don't so I was kind of wondering why anyone thought that wrestling fans would be that stupid but it didn't really come off as offensive as it did somewhat fun.    I was expecting Brandi Wine to win using the numbers game but she didn't and so that felt kind of surprising.   You know, Brandi WIne and Malia Hosaka did play the heels and so you would have expected the match to go in favor of them but since it didn't it was a nice surprise and made for a better match than the formulaic ending I would have predicted.   So this was really kind of the first match on the card to have me wake up and realize we were getting into a wrestling show here.

Match 4: Santana vs. Sojo Bolt

Our fourth match of the night was the first match where I really felt like I knew who both of the competitors were.    Santana used to be in TNA as "Brittany", which I remember reading about but I don't know that I ever actually saw her fight because I may or may not have been watching Impact Wrestling at the time (I still have trouble picking Taryn Terrell out of a crowd though)  I also remember seeing news articles about how she won her first title since leaving TNA and I think it was in the NWA.    Sojo Bolt I actually believe fought for a bit in SHIMMER back when I was watching SHIMMER and then she had a stint in TNA as well after that as she accepted an open challenge by then Knockouts Champion Awesome Kong.   So both of these women have been in TNA if only for a short time and were now out to prove that they had merit beyond that and that despite TNA treating their women pretty well they both were under-utilized.

This match seemed to go about as long as the match before it which was strange because I feel like as we get later into the card the matches should be a bit longer.   It's not even just a name recognition thing (Although in some ways it is, since I recognized both of these women and not the two before as much) Sojo Bolt just remains one of those women that you feel like could be leading the division in any major promotion and yet for whatever reason isn't.    Santana had this headband of power- which Daffney kept talking about because Santana gave her one- and to me the Santana character felt like a cross between a super hero and a hippy, though Sojo Bolt also just feels like a super hero in her own right.     In a lot of  ways, Santana just reminded me of Daizee Haze, which I'm not really sure if that's a good or bad thing but time shall be the decider ultimately.

Really though this was one of the first *must watch* matches on the show and I'm not saying that you should go out of your way to avoid the matches up to this because maybe you'll find something in those that I didn't or you could at least get that cheap pop for Lexie Fyfe, but yes, the card really started in some ways for me right here.    In a lot of ways ignoring the opening matches would be like going to a show and arriving late on purpose so as to avoid the opening bands if you didn't know who they were.    You can't really go to a show to see The White Stripes and then say "Oh, I don't know who those openers are, screw them, we'll get there in time to see Jack White.  WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"   You should still go check out the opening bands because you might just hear something you like.     That's how I feel about the first three matches- give them a shot because you never know.    But, for me, yes, this match set the pace for the rest of the card and just turned on that light in my head which said we were in for something special for the rest of this show.   I tip my hat to both ladies because even though Santana scored that W they were both winners in my eyes.

Match 5: Mercedes Martinez vs. Nikki Roxx

Remember when I said that I bought this Blu-Ray because of the Leva Bates match but then also saw some familiar faces on here such as Amazing Kong and Ivelisse?   Yeah, well, this is one of the matches which really stood out to me as well just by looking at the match listing because you get Mercedes Martinez- perhaps one of the most accomplished women wrestlers out there today who hasn't really been in TNA or WWE or anything like that and she's fighting Nikki Roxx who is likely best known for shaving her head in TNA and yet she is a great all around wrestler as well.   This just takes me back to when I was first watching Shimmer and professional wrestling more than anything else.    These are just two women you know are going to hit hard and hold nothing back because they are seasoned veterans now it would seem, even though thinking of them as such makes me feel somewhat old.

This match delivered on what I thought it would be.   It was everything and more.    It just had those qualities that made me feel happy that I purchased this Blu-Ray because you don't feel like you're getting it just for a match or two but rather this brings about that solid card feel which I like so much.    It can be difficult to tell stories in matches especially when this is the fifth straight singles match of the show but somehow these two women delivered on every level and this is a match I would just watch over and over.     Some matches just speak for themselves and this is one of them.  

Match 6: Leva Bates vs. Kimberly (Pick Your Poison - I Quit/Fans Bring The Weapons)

As the previous match was ending we were taken to up near where the commentators sit as this match started right away.    For my own sake and perhaps yours as well, I must note that this Kimberly is not the same person as Kimber Lee who has appeared in CHIKARA and other promotions.    Leva Bates is dressed like Bane and they trade some blows up and down steps before heading to the ring.    There is one spot up there that makes me kind of cringe because it doesn't look like it's taken right and it looks like Leva might have actually gotten hurt.  

Once they get in the ring these two just beat the hell out of each other.   It reminds me of that infamous Tommy Dreamer vs. C.W. Anderson "I Quit" match WWE likes to put on a lot of their ECW compilations.   It just had that mentality of seeing who could dish out more pain and yet neither woman was willing to surrender.   A cool moment came when Kimberly actually used a toy lightsaber, but before that they were both spending a lot of time digging through the trash can looking for a weapon they liked.   I was just like, "Come on!  Somebody hit somebody already!!"   The commentators tried to play up the beef these two had with each other and yet they're sitting there, taking their time picking out weapons.   Someone should have jumped over the trash can and taken out the other one, but yeah, after that things just picked up into the all out brawl you would expect and hope for but yet... It was between two women.

You know, I grew up with ECW and watched CZW, IWA-MS and all of that.    I've seen death matches with Mickie Knuckles and other women, but it never really still sits well with me when I watch two women beat the hell out of each other with weapons-- it always feels like the first time somehow since I don't see it so much.    It's like watching exploding ring matches between two men is nothing to me (Thanks, FMW!) but when two women get weapons and begin using them in the same way it's like "Whoa, I've never seen this before" no matter how many matches I have seen with women fighting similarly and, yeah, there were only a few but still no one can outdo Mickie Knuckles in my opinion.

Match 7: Reby Sky vs. Jessicka Havok (Career vs. Respect)

The thing that I liked about this match was that I never expected Reby Sky to lose but I was hoping at least that she could show me something that I liked.   For those who don't know, Reby Sky is the wife of Matt Hardy and a lot of people accuse her of using her status in that sense to get ahead in this business.    I'm sure she has some real life heat backstage, but I don't really care about that as much as how it can come to the surface as being this sort of angle, which I feel makes for a great wrestling match.   Again, I never expected Reby Sky to lose this match and retire because I know she's wrestled since this match, but it was if nothing else a chance for her to win over some fans who might be skeptical of her in ring career.

Jessicka Havok is this monster heel and if anyone could come out and seemingly put Reby Sky in her place I think it's her.   Havok did have a brief run in TNA where she fought Amazing Kong in a match which made every other match TNA has ever done look weak in comparison, but then she abruptly left the company and I don't quite know why because I could have watched her fight Kong fifty times if TNA wanted to do it.    But to have this sort of monster in the ring opposite Reby Sky, you feel like it's going to be hard for Reby Sky to overcome the odds and defeat Havok, but yeah, I still knew that Reby Sky's career wasn't going to be over.

I'm one of those people who have read stories on the internet (Who hasn't?) about how Reby Sky might not be the best wrestler or at least not as good as other wrestlers and she is supposedly favored because of Matt Hardy.    I don't know whether I believe that or not or to what extent, but I never really took any sides in the stories and said "Oh yeah, Reby Sky is terrible" because I hadn't ever really seen her fight before.    It is difficult for me to judge how someone wrestles if I've never seen one of their matches.    So for me this was an introduction of sorts to Reby Sky as well and I think it's a good starting point for a lot of people who have never seen her before or maybe doubted her skills.    Now I'm not saying "OMG! Reby Sky Best in the World!!" or anything, but she does have a decent showing here with Havok.

Even though Reby Sky wins, which is expected, Havok gives her the old "I respect you but that doesn't mean I have to like you" deal.   In a lot of ways I feel like this was done to silence the naysayers, like, "You don't have to like Reby Sky but stop saying she can't wrestle".    And I wasn't one of the ones saying she couldn't wrestle because, again, this is my first time seeing her in a match as far as I can remember, but this did at least prove to me that she can hang in the ring.     I'm not saying she's the best but she's not the worst either (Sorry, Eva Marie) With that, I do feel this match is going to be one of those turning points for Reby Sky where people look at it and go, "Okay, she can wrestle", but that isn't in any way to discredit Havok either as she remains one of the most badass wrestlers on the planet.   Wow, someone send me a link to buy a Jessicka Havok compilation DVD or Blu-Ray please.

Match 8: VALKYRIE (Rain, Ivelisse, Allysin Kay & Taylor Made) vs. Amazing Kong, Angelina Love, Mia Yim & Christina Von Eerie

Now, as much as I wanted to buy this Blu-Ray because of the Leva Bates match (Which was a strong, opening seller for me) I knew the deal was sealed when I saw this main event.    Here we have veteran wrestler Rain, the baddest bitch on the planet Ivelisse and two females I've never heard of before (sorry) and together they make the faction called VALKYRIE.    On the other side is Amazing Kong, who should speak for herself based upon her name, Angelina Love, Mia Yim (who should also speak for herself based upon her name these days) and Christina Von Eerie.   I do believe that I'd heard of Christina Von Eerie to the extent that I knew who she was going into this match but this was my first time seeing her fight.

If you can watch this match and not find something to enjoy about it then I'm not sure you're really a fan of professional wrestling because as it seems on paper there is just too much goodness in here for you not to find something to like.     Someone needs to link me to an Ivelisse-Kong singles match or if it hasn't happened yet someone needs to book it (please?)    And, you know, for all of the wrestlers I knew going into this match and wanted to see and everything I have to admit that I was most taken in this match by those I didn't know.   My two favorite women to watch in this match were undoubtedly Allysin Kay- the AK-47- and Taylor Made.   They make quite the entertaining duo and being the two in VALKYRIE I didn't know really impressed me during this match.    Given the time this was filmed/shown on iPPV to the time it made it to Blu-Ray and I watched it and all that, I'm rather surprised we haven't seen Allysin Kay or Taylor Made in NXT or TNA.

To say you should buy this Blu-Ray based upon one match seems silly to me because there are so many other great matches to choose from here-- this is just such a stacked card.   But this is the match that makes you go, "Yeah, that was a main event".   VALKYRIE won and to no surprise really because they are a faction and despite the all-star team they were facing their opponents just didn't have the same level of teamwork in order to win this one.   Plus I don't like it when big names are thrown together and somehow can defeat these established factions, so this was a big win for VALKYRIE and rightfully so.

While this was my first time watching SHINE it is worth noting now that since we purchased this Blu-Ray Quentin has become quite impressed with SHINE as well.   When asked if he wanted to watch something WWE or Impact Wrestling, which is a weekly event for us, he told me no, he wanted to watch SHINE 1.   I told him we only had SHINE 8 and we had already watched it so he said he wanted to watch SHINE 8 again.   Almost as if the powers that be could hear the cries of the almost-four-year-old Quentin, there was a Black Friday week long sale (the week leading up to Black Friday) in which the majority of DVDs and Blu-Rays were half price.   Now, DVDs, for example, are usually $15 or 2 for $25.   Blu-Rays have similar deals when you buy more than one.   But nothing really beats a half price deal for ordering in a non-sale time.    

So when the email came to me and I saw that we were jumping from SHINE 8 to SHINE 29 and SHINE 30 for some reason, I ordered those two Blu-Rays for half price and then also the EVOLVE Blu-Ray I watched earlier this year but was one of my favorite wrestling shows of all-time and will write another review of for the Blu-Ray when it comes.    This was all before I went to work, mind you.   When I was at work all I could think about was how great of a deal the 50% off was and how I needed to own SHINE 1 through 7, since we were going to be owning SHINE 8 and on.   I tweeted about it because it was just such a great deal.   So when I got home from work that night, I ordered all of the SHINE DVDs which were 1 through 6 and then SHINE 7 on Blu-Ray.    Those reviews should be coming shortly as I know Quentin is rather excited to watch all of the SHINE events he can.   I'm not going to say you should also go out and buy all of the SHINE media you can, but you know... we did.

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