Hidden amongst the glut of independent shows across WrestleMania Weekend was the latest in SHIMMER’s events, as the all-womens group held a one-night tournament to crown its first ever Heart of SHIMMER champion. By the time their Saturday afternoon show ended, they’d also have a fairly high-profile new signing as well.

So, at the start of the show, Joanna Rose revealed how you fit 12 women into a tournament format: six first round matches, three second round matches, and a triple threat final for the title. Let’s get going:

First Round: Cheerleader Melissa vs. Leva Bates
Cheerleader Melissa – perhaps better known these days as Mariposa in Lucha Underground – comes out channelling Dalton Castle with her butterfly-like ring attire. Leva Bates is cosplaying again, and after seeing her less than impressive outing for PROGRESS last month, I wasn’t expecting too much here, and that’s what I got. A slow, basic match, with extremely unconvincing strikes from Bates. Standard. After Melissa fought off an attempt at a top rope Pedigree, Leva went for a double stomp off the top rope… she missed (as in “Melissa stepped away”), before Melissa drilled Bates with the Kudo driver (Vertebreaker) for the decisive win.

First Round: Cherry Bomb vs. Candace LeRae
This’ll be interesting to see how it’s booked, given that Cherry Bomb a) is one half of the SHIMMER tag team champions, but has recently signed with TNA. She’s up against Candace LeRae, this time without her viral (not in that way) tag partner, Joey Ryan. They went at a quicker clip than the opener, with Cherry Bomb jumping LeRae at the bell, but LeRae quickly laid into her opponent with forearm strikes and diving double knees before nailing a tope to the floor. LeRae had several attempts at the move-better-known-as-the-Ballsplex (groin-clutch suplex), which had to be renamed the Family Friendly Show Plex for the evening when she finally hit it. LeRae gets the win after taking a top rope death valley driver, but crucifixed the arms of Cherry Bomb to roll her up instead.

First Round: Nicole Savoy vs. LuFisto
By this point, the PROGRESS-inspired “one fall!” and “count ahead of the ref” stuff was getting annoying…Savoy was coming in with a little bit of hype from the California indy scene, and they start out on fire, trading slaps with Savoy eating the turnbuckle early on after missing some double knees… a bad move as LuFisto squashed her with a cannonball in the corner. Savoy continually targetted the arm of LuFisto, and locked in several armbars, but had no answer for her opponent’s striking game. Savoy landed some rolling butterfly suplexes before going for another armbreaker, but LuFisto escaped and nailed a jumping Jay Driller on Savoy for a near fall. Savoy escaped a second Burning Hammer attempt before sidestepping LuFisto’s charge into the corner, as the Canadian fell to a leg-assisted armlock that gave Savoy the win. Good match, which would have been better had it gone longer in a non-tournament format.

First Round: Kimber Lee vs. Jessicka Havok
There was an obvious size disadvantage here, as Lee gave up nine inches and a few pounds to the much bigger Havok. So, a small babyface vs. a big heel.. this should be full of fun bully spots, right? Havok’s gear seemed to be inspired by Max Moon and Nia Jax’s ring gear, a multi-coloured neon bodysuit with flashes of fishnet. And that’s the end of my fashion career! Kimber Lee ducks a charging Havok in the corner, and that’s the story of the match – ducking shots to get her own offence in, before falling whenever she tries something basic like an Irish whip. Havok dominates Lee on the outside for a while, and continues the same inside, wrapping Lee up in with a Stretch Muffler. Lee goes after Havok’s arm in much the same way we saw Nicole Savoy in the last match, but at least this time Havok was able to use her size to power out of it. Havok got a near-fall with a powerbomb, then went for the Stretch Muffler again, but it took Cherry Bomb to distract Havok to break the hold, as Lee took advantage of the distraction to score the pin via roll-up. The fans were not happy with this, as the booking was brought to you by Monday Night Raw!

First Round: Veda Scott vs. Heidi Lovelace
If you looked briefly, you’d be forgiven for thinking Velma from Scooby Doo had taken up wrestling, and she’s against Heidi Lovelace, who’s found the designs for Zack Ryder’s old one-legged tights. This was a hard hitting match, and having never seen Lovelace before, I was impressed – particularly when my prior viewings of Scott left little to be desired. As well as good striking sessions, Lovelace racked up a series of crucifix variations, which she transitioned into a Rings of Saturn-like move that forced the rope break. Out on the floor, Veda tried to walk the barriers whilst holding Lovelace’s arm… only to be yanked down and met on the way with a kick to the head. Scott folds Lovelace in half with a release Regalplex that gets her a near fall, but Lovelace blocked a Saito suplex with a back elbow and a spin kick, before nailing a top rope senton bomb for the win.

First Round: Nicole Matthews vs. Mary Dobson
Dobson coming fresh off an appearance in NXT that didn’t quite go so well… up against the “Diesel of SHIMMER”. This is my first time seeing Matthews, but it’d be hard not to be better in the ring than him! This match came across as the most one-sided on paper, given that Matthews has held both of SHIMMER’s other active titles prior to this point, but Dobson held her own in the early portion, going toe-to-toe on the mat, before smashing a knee into the jaw of Matthews. Dobson went for a split-legged moonsault but got caught in the ropes, and that gave Matthews the upper hand. Matthews kept the pressure up with kicks to the chest and a diving lariat that scored a near-fall, and out of nowhere, Matthews nailed the Vancouver Maneuver (Last Rites/Rolling the Dice/Cross Rhodes) for the win to finish off the first round matches.

I only just realise at this point that the Heart of SHIMMER logo is very reminiscent of the Legends of Wrestling: Showdown video game logo. Hopefully just a coincidence…

Second Round: Cheerleader Melissa vs. Candice LeRae
Veda Scott takes over on commentary now she’s been eliminated, and talk turns to Teddy Hart and his cats. Well, he’s finding a way to keep his name out there, even if nobody’ll book him… and with that said, LeRae starts the match before the bell, nailing Melissa with a tope before Joanna Rose can even do the introductions. That displeases Melissa, and she responds by dropping LeRae with a bodyslam on the floor, before picking up LeRae in a wheelbarrow position and repeatedly swinging her into the crowd barriers. Finally inside the ring, Melissa ties up LeRae in a leg-lock and uses her free leg to batter her back at the same time before LeRae makes the ropes. Melissa stays on top with the submissions, flipping the fans the bird as she tied her up with a cloverleaf-like hold, but LeRae made the ropes and was able to mount something of a comeback, scoring a near-fall with a diving facebuster off the second rope. A Samoan drop got Melissa back in it, as she drilled LeRae with a curb stomp for another near fall, following up with three quickfire curb stomps, but those were only good for another two count. In the end, LeRae managed to nail the Definitely-Not-The-Ballsplex, then escape the Kudo driver, then a trip of Not-Ballsplexes to get the shock win and a path into the final. Good match, even if they did fall into the trap of selling a body part until it was time to hit some moves with it.

Second Round: Kimber Lee vs. Nicole Savoy
Lee is accompanied by tag team partner Cherry Bomb, but she gets ejected to the back before this can get going. They start off with mutually heelish moves, including double hair-pulls, but else they remain even in the early going. Kimber Lee goes to shake Savoy’s hand, but kicks her low and then starts with some ground and pound, which then descends into a corner chop battle as both women light the other up. Lee gets a near fall after a spin kick, but Savoy jack-knives Lee with a German suplex for a near-fall of her own. Out of nowhere, Savoy locks in the arm-breaker and secures her place to the final – a good match while it lasted, with a really really sudden finish.

Second Round: Nicole Matthews vs. Heidi Lovelace
You can tell that Dave Prazak is getting annoyed with the “one fall” stuff from the crowd at this point. They start with some ground work early on, before going to the outside as Lovelace is whipped into the barricade, but that serves to fire her up for a few headbutts before getting chopped hard as Matthews regains the advantage. A PK to the back of Lovelace keeps her seated, as Matthews returns to the chinlock, before tying Lovelace in a surfboard, and rearing back with a chinlock whilst in the hold. Some more kicks from Matthews serve to rile up Lovelace, who drills her with a Saito suplex, and it’s Heidi who’s mounting an attack, at least until her trio of boots in the corner gets cut off with a fallaway slam instead. Lovelace blocks a brainbuster and instead drops Matthews on her knee and kicks her head off (not literally). Lovelace blocks a Vancouver Maneuver and drops Matthews with a reverse DDT for a near-fall, before Matthews fires back with a lariat and a brainbuster for another two count. Heidi takes some more kicks, but cuts off Matthews with a STO, then flattens her with a senton bomb off the top to get the win and a place in the final! Easily the best match of the night (so far).

As a buffer before the finals, they bring out former UFC fighter Shayna Baszler, who announces that she’s signed with SHIMMER and will be wrestling at their next tapings in June. After being released by UFC in March 2015, Baszler has started training, and has actually had a handful of matches already for the Japanese STARDOM promotion (albeit during their USA tour) and the ECCW promotion out of Canada.

Heart of SHIMMER Championship tournament final: Candice LeRae vs. Nicole Savoy vs. Heidi Lovelace
This is an elimination style three-way, and they start by forcing Savoy into a handshake – albeit by way of a LeRae waistlock. Savoy almost immediately responds by taking down LeRae with a leg-lock, focussing on the same limb that Cheerleader Melissa targetted in the semi-final, but LeRae reversed it and made Savoy go for a rope break.

As Dave Prazak and Veda Scott on commentary note how Lovelace has had a breather on the floor, Savoy, then LeRae go for dives to the outside targetting Lovelace, as we move to LeRae and Lovelace in the ring. Lovelace rams LeRae’s head into the middle turnbuckle using her knees, before going back to the crucifix pinfall/modified Rings of Saturn submission combination to force another ring break. LeRae connects with rapid fire punches in the corner, but finds a rolling kick attempt at Savoy caught and turned into a single leg crab as LeRae is forced to tap out.

Heidi Lovelace runs in and takes down Savoy with a short huracanrana for a near-fall as LeRae exits the ring, and the pair start exchanging chops before Savoy drills Lovelace with a trio of rolling butterfly suplexes before rolling through into a butterflied guillotine choke. Lovelace escapes but gets caught on the top rope with a kick to the head, before Savoy drills her with a Dragon suplex for another near fall. Another kick to the head followed up with a Tiger suplex gets Savoy yet another near fall, as they go back to the chop battles.

Savoy catches Lovelace with a big boot and two kicks, but they fail to take her down, as Lovelace drops Savoy with a Saito suplex. Lovelace goes up for the senton bomb and lands it, only for Savoy to get her shoulder up at the last possible moment. Lovelace is stunned, and as she appeals to the crowd, Savoy catches her with another butterfly leg lock, but Lovelace gets the ropes.

More chops and open hand strikes follow, but Savoy ducks a step up enziguiri, and nails a butterfly suplex before switching to the cross-arm breaker as Nicole Savoy makes it a hattrick of wins via armbreaker and becomes the first ever winner of the Heart of SHIMMER championship.

A really fun show, and I honestly have never watched a full SHIMMER show that has left me feeling anything other than entertained. If you have even a passing interest in women’s wrestling, you’d do much worse than seek out this show and dedicate a little over two hours of your time to this.