SHINE made returned to the Astoria in Ybor City for their latest outing, with a former champion returning to try and reclaim their title.

Lindsay Snow vs. Aria Blake
We opened with a Sparkle Showcase, which seems to be the norm. Snow wrestles in a Lince Dorado-esque mask, whilst Aria Blake has popped up on both FIP cards so far this year.

Snow grabs an armbar as she capitalised on Blake trying to escape a wristlock, before scoring with a gutbuster. Lindsay goes back to the armbar as she lost a power-up-by-the-arm spot, but Blake easily made that extremely loose bottom rope – another WWN trademark!

Blake catches a baseball slide and traps Snow in the ring apron, before cinching back with a Dragon sleeper, finally rolling Snow in for a near-fall. Some kicks to Snow’s lower back get another near-fall, but we get a comeback as Snow lands a clothesline, then a dropkick before a bulldog out of the corner proved to be good enough for a near-fall. Blake slips out of a suplex and tries for a backslide, instead getting flipped out into a Tiger bomb… but for some reason Candy Cartwright comes to the ring to provide a distraction. Blake capitalises with the referee distracted, and scores a backslide with a jack-knife pin to win the match, despite Snow’s shoulders not being on the mat. Ah well, at least it seems to be leading to something, as Blake and Cartwright looked to be forming a partnership. Not much to the match before that finish though… **

We cut to Lenny Leonard in the ring who tells us that the advertised Tessa Blanchard vs. Thea Trinidad match is off because Tessa’s stuck in the UK. A new opponent will be revealed, but before he can say any more, Brandi Lauren heads to the ring. Lauren, who’s about to debut in Impact, noted that Trinidad was also making that movie, but she made it here okay, before promising to make a name at Thea’s expense. Hopefully she lasts better than she did against Malia Hosaka in January!

Aerial Monroe vs. Priscilla Kelly
Introduced as a member of the Carnies here – as opposed to one of Uncle John’s Friends – Kelly was back in SHINE for the first time since losing to Malia Hosaka back in December…

We started with hammerlocks from Monroe, who then ate a back elbow and a springboard armdrag after sending Kelly into the corner, before another armdrag seemed to catch Monroe offguard. A series of Japanese armdrags came next for Priscilla, who then swung and missed with a kick only to get rolled up for a near-fall as the initial back and forth continued.

Monroe gets a near-fall out of a dropkick, before a sliding Flatliner got a similar result. Kelly nearly decapitated Monroe with a reverse legsweep into knee strike, before she looked to sink her teeth into Monroe’s neck. So, Priscilla’s a vampire now? Kelly cops a feel before she stretched Monroe in the ropes, as she then ruffled up Monroe’s hair by rubbing it into her midsection. Eventually Monroe swerved a kick from Kelly before hitting a palm strike to get retribution for the hair stuff, getting a two-count from it as Kelly managed to come back with a superkick for another near-fall. A sit-out spinebuster came next for Monroe, who was then hit with Crippling Depression from Kelly (a back suplex that folded her in half), but that too was only good for a near-fall.

The match descended into a striking battle, before Monroe landed the Dirty Dancing (ripcord forearm) for the win. This was alright, but I just couldn’t get past some of their basics… I don’t know whether it was the ring, but the rope running in this early match just felt a little weird – like both Aerial and Priscilla were shuffling across the ring, rather than running. **¼

Malia Hosaka made her way to the ring after the match, and declared the match “absolutely pathetic” because people in the crowd were laughing at them. Hosaka was not happy with Kelly, who she compared to Luna Vachon, before telling Kelly to go back to school and figure out what it takes. Hosaka then turned her attention to her opponent for the night – Angel Rose…

Malia Hosaka vs. Angel Rose
Rose, who lost in a four-way last time on SHINE, will be appearing on NXT very soon. Against Asuka. Guess how that one goes…

For some reason Rose was dressed like a guest referee, but at least she started out hot, taking out Hosaka with a dropkick before an eye rake took the veteran Hosaka on top, where she just threw her forearm into Rose’s throat. Angel tried to fight back, but she was shoved into the corner quickly, before Hosaka choked her on the mat with a knee to the throat.

More choking followed, before Rose was taken back down for a headbutt, and this was quickly giving me flashbacks to Daniel Puder at the Royal Rumble. Hosaka dropkicked Rose to the outside, sending her past that worryingly-wobbly bottom rope, before nearly getting an upset with a cradle back inside. After kicking out, Hosaka goes back with a forearm, then a figure-four headscissor that she used to drill Rose’s head into the mat as the veteran firmly remained in control.

Rose tried to fight back, kicking away a back body drop for a two-count, but Hosaka was able promptly ended things with a sit-out slam, grabbing Rose’s legs for the pin. I like the current role Hosaka is playing here, being the grizzled veteran unhappy with the youngsters coming into the picture that she sees as nowhere near her level. It may make for unbalanced squashes like this, but for now the character’s fun. **¼

Priscilla Kelly returned to the ring after the match, giving the comeback she should have given moments earlier. Kelly laid into Hosaka for being jealous at “not being the hot young thing anymore”, then begged for patience by explaining her inexperience. Apparently the two are facing off on May 12, and that leads to a pull-apart.

Brandi Lauren vs. Thea Trinidad
This had a ten minute time limit, which makes me happy. Short undercard matches for the win! Lauren was a replacement for Tessa Blanchard, as per the show-opening storyline, with Thea Trinidad as sorta-Harley Quinn playing the opposition here.

The early exchanges saw Trinidad school Lauren with a waistlock take down, before they went to exchange wristlocks… until Lauren grabbed some hair en route to throwing Trinidad to the mat. Thea made a comeback with some forearms in the ropes, before using a crucifix in the ropes to wear down her relatively inexperienced opponent.

Trinidad lands a crossbody for a near-fall, before running into a side slam as Lauren looked to ground Thea, eventually pushing her down for another two-count. A big boot choke in the corner continues to wear down Trinidad, who kicks out at two after a snapmare, before Lauren caught Thea in a variation of a camel clutch. Lauren released the hold, and that led to her downfall as Thea made a comeback with some clotheslines and elbows.

Brandi almost stole it with a roll-up with her feet on the ropes. After admonishing the referee, she was caught in an Octopus that started as tiltawhirl headscissors, but Lauren was able to make the ropes with relative ease. Lauren rolled to the outside and hit Thea with a neckbreaker in the ropes, then a spinning heel kick back inside for a two-count. Another comeback from Thea led to a neckbreaker, then a flipping legdrop as she went up top for a moonsault to win the match. Pretty decent given Lauren’s relative inexperience, but I’d have liked them to have started much quicker given the time limit. **¾

Dynamite Didi vs. ACR (Amanda Carolina Rodriguez) vs. Jayme Jameson vs. Leva Bates
Leva continued her run of cosplay here with her take on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with bleach blonde hair in honor of the 20th anniversary of that show starting. I don’t think Sarah Michelle Gellar ever had hair that blonde… Her entrance sees her “stabbing” random fans with wooden stakes whilst the show’s theme played, which I think marked the first bit of distinctive ring music on the entire show.

Didi starts by ripping of Leva’s wig, before Jameson came in to try and pick apart at Leva as the old war between La Sicarias and C4 resumed (ACR/Jameson). Jameson gets thrown into Didi out of the corner, and this seems to be falling apart early on, as Leva randomly gets on her hands and knees to pratfall Jameson.

The camera shows a nothing-happening ring as we miss Didi and Jameson brawling on the outside with La Rosa Negra – which allowed ACR to hit a tope into the trio. Leva inched outside to join in, but she decided to just skulk around the bar and climb onto it for a breather as ACR and Jameson fought around the ring. Eventually Leva jumped off the bar, leaping into Didi, Jameson and ACR, before throwing Didi back into the ring for a near-fall.

An avalanche from Leva doesn’t amount to much as Didi pulls her off the middle turnbuckles in mid-leg trip, before the cameraman reminded us that ACR and Jameson were still brawling outside. Leva takes some hip attacks from Didi, before she’s trapped int he corner for a trio of Shattered Dreams from everyone else.

A short-arm clothesline from Didi takes down Jameson, as Bates decides to climb up and land a dropkick to take down all three opponents. Someone must have taken a phantom bump unless Leva grew a third leg… she follows that up with a camel clutch to Jayme, before Didi catches a Dragon sleeper on Leva, whilst Didi gets an ankle lock from ACR as the submission pile drag their way to the ropes for the break.

The match descended into a series of punches as all four women got back to their feet, ending with a Samoan Drop from Didi to ACR that Jameson broke up at the count of two. A facebuster from Jameson sees her take down Didi, before Leva tried to use her wooden stake on Jayme. That doesn’t work, so she goes for an RKO, before taking a Famouser from ACR for a near-fall, as ACR then dropped Didi with a roundhouse for the win. Eh, this felt way too disjointed to me – aside from the La Sicarias/C4 stuff, there was little in the way of cohesion to anything here. **

Candy Cartwright vs. Su Yung
Cartwright was out with Aria Blake after they formed a partnership earlier in the show. If you’ve not seen her, Candy looks a lot like Natalya back in the early days of her career, but so far I’ve not exactly been sold on her in SHINE. Granted, one of those matches was against Leva Bates…

Candy acts like she’s scared of Su, which is a reasonable reaction, I feel, and she starts the “match” by running away. They gradually lock-up, as Yung goes for a biting armbar, which Candy escaped by rolling to the floor, where she spends so long arguing with her new best friend that she turns around into Su Yung, like in a horror movie! Ear-piercing squeals follow as she runs around the ring, before Candy accidentally pratfalls over Aria, and now Su’s running after the referee.

Eventually they return to the ring, where Candy stomps over Su, then lands a suplex before Yung rolls towards Blake, who just chokes away at her. A Miz-like clothesline in the corner, then a bulldog, take down Yung, but Cartwright goes for a bow-and-arrow lock rather than a pin, which Su again bites free of. When does that actually become a DQ?

Cartwright hangs Su on the middle rope before running back in to score a two-count, before she rolls out under that stupidly-loose bottom rope for another Benny Hill chase. This time with Su Yung grabbing a chair… but Candy heads up onto the stage whilst Aria provides a distraction, allowing her to hit a crossbody off the stage! Like in every horror B-movie, Candy and Aria celebrate like they’ve defeated the monster, who of course, was still living.

Blake gets some mist from Su, as she then joined Cartwright on the apron to exchange some forearms back and forth. Candy blasts Su with some roundhouse kicks to the head on the apron, before they returned to the ring where Candy Matrix’s out of a Purge attempt. Instead, we get a Northern Lights suplex from Cartwright for a near-fall, but Yung comes back with a headscissors into the turnbuckles.

Candy blocks a Fisherman’s suplex, then turns it into a small package for a near-fall, then followed up with a pair of 619s. A third one was caught, but Candy was able to push herself free, only to get caught in the corner as Yung went to chop Candy. She fights free and screams for Aria, but Blake’s still down and of no use to Cartwright, who fell into the Panic Switch (Samoan Driver) for the loss. A really fun match here, with the Su Yung ascent continuing unabated. ***

During the brief interval, the hard camera went on the wonk as we came back to a rather slanted view for the rest of the show…

SHINE Tag Team Championships: Kennadi Brink & Vanessa Kraven vs. Santana Garrett & Chelsea Green (c)
Gabi Castrovinci/Raquel was MIA for some reason, so she was replaced here by her “interim tag team partner” Chelsea Green – or Impact’s Laurel Van Ness, if you prefer. Who accidentally played up to the chants of “Better Than Gabi”. Whoops! On the other side, Kraven replaced Amber O’Neal as Kennadi’s tag partner, so this is a tag title match between two makeshift teams.

Kraven and Green tease a cheapshot from the opening handshake as Lenny Leonard on commentary references her alter ego’s struggles over in the land of the Anthem Owl. Chelsea grabs the hair to keep hold of a headlock, but Brink manages to come back by using the hair to pull down her opponent. A double snapmare takes Kennadi into the corner as she then tagged in Vanessa Kraven, who easily shoved Santana down. Ditto Chelsea, as the champions regroups to attack Vanessa two-on-one, before tripping her into the middle rope.

Kraven was left trapped in the ropes as the champions peppered her with some kicks for a near-fall, before Brink pulled back Chelsea by the hair as the champions looked for some more double-teaming. Vanessa sends Chelsea flying across the ring with an overhead belly-to-belly, before distracting the referee so Amber O’Neal can get some shots in herself.

Chelsea’s kept isolated as the makeshift C4 team wore down the relative newcomer, with Brink sinking in a chinlock on Green in the middle of the ring. A sunset flip from Chelsea gets a near-fall, but Brink fired back with a legdrop for a two-count of her own as C4 and Kraven triple-teamed Green whilst Santana pleaded some more. Brink misses a back senton, which allowed Green to make a tag out, and that allowed Santana to hit a Fisherman’s suplex on Brink for a near-fall, before going for the Last Chancery… which Kraven just breaks by stomping on Garrett.

Kraven tags back in and boots Santana for a near-fall, before an enziguiri allows her to tag Chelsea back in for some double-teaming on Brink. Santana lands a handspring back elbow in the corner, before Chelsea springs off of a bent-over Santana to land a forearm for a near-fall.

That’s broken up by Kraven, who takes a missile dropkick from Green moments later, before almost a curb stomp from Green leads to a Shining Star Press (handspring off the ropes into a standing moonsault) for the win. Despite the wonky teams, this was a pretty good match – Vanessa Kraven as a monster heel is on her way to being there, and the interplay at the end with C4 being unhappy with her in defeat may well lead to something interesting down the line. ***

They’ve been pushing time limits all throughout the evening, which I don’t recall SHINE ever having done before…

Mercedes Martinez vs. Allysin Kay
The winner of this becomes the number one contender to the SHINE title, and we start rather tentatively with takedowns as both women go into the ropes, ending with Mercedes landing a rope-hung armbreaker in the early going.

Martinez follows up with a hammerlock into a grounded chinlock, but Kay works out into grounded headscissors then grabs a leg grapevine to keep Mercedes on the mat. A stalling vertical suplex from Mercedes gets turned into some rolling suplexes, before Kay counters the Three Amigas and lands a bicycle kick for a near-fall.

After a cravat, Allysin takes Mercedes into the corner and follows up with an avalanche for a near-fall, before grabbing a semi-straitjacket hold. They head outside where Kay chops Martinez in the midsection, then throws her into a chair before the tables turned for a brief moment.

Some mounted punches on the mat keep Kay down… at least until Martinez throws her to the floor for some more chopping against the apron. Eventually, Kay catches a knee in the corner and lifts Martinez into a Samoan drop that led to a couple of near-falls. Allysin wrenched away with an armbar, using some biting and finger pulling, to try and force a submission, but Mercedes hung on and came back with a big spinebuster… only for that to be turned into a triangle on impact.

Mercedes stands up and almost forces a pin whilst she was in a submission, before both women pulled themselves up and knocked themselves back down with big boots. They trade some shots as they fought back up from their knees, before Kay takes a German suplex and replies with a stunner. A Saito suplex from Martinez knocks Allysin down, but she replies with a Saito suplex of her own to leave both women down again.

Kay looks to score a win with a series of roll-ups, getting nothing more than two-counts from them, before a back suplex folded Martinez in half. Yep, for another two-count. Mercedes goes for a Fisherman’s suplex, but Kay countered into a small package that led to the pair rolling around the ring as the crowd laughed. Where’s Malia Hosaka when you need her?!

Mercedes avoids a powerbomb, but turns around into a discus lariat from Kay… she’s able to get her foot onto the floppy bottom rope to avoid being pinned. Kay pounces on Martinez, but she’s unable to make the cover… and then the bell just rings. Yep, this is why they announced time limits, and we have a draw. This just felt weird, like the match was taking place in a vacuum away from the crowd, who largely did not engage with this at all. That lack of reaction hurt the crowd, but to be fair, from the start this match just felt like they were playing for time, with no urgency at all to it. **

The crowd chanted “five more minutes”, but that gave way to someone in the crowd just telling Kay to leave the ring instead. Probably not the reaction they were looking for…

SHINE Championship: Ivelisse vs. Lufisto (c)
Ivelisse, who was stripped (I guess) of the title, pounced on Lufisto at the bell as she looked to get back the title she never lost.

They headed to the outside, where Lufisto was thrown into the bar, before Ivelisse threw her into some seats and chopped her right in the chest. The brawl continues on the stage with chops back and forth, only for Lufisto to crawl back towards the ring, then start walking away as Ivelisse looked to throw her into some unwilling fans.

Eventually Ivelisse tossed Lufisto into some chairs, but all of a sudden Kennadi Brink and Amber O’Neal appear at ringside to help their C4 leader. The rest of La Sicarias come out to even things up, but that distraction just allows Lufisto to dump Ivelisse on the apron with a powerbomb. That looked like it sucked…

Lufisto distracts the referee as Brink and O’Neal choke away on Ivelisse in the ropes, before a legdrop gets the champion a couple of near-falls. Amusingly, Lufisto is nicknamed the “Wounded Owl”, which may be a moniker a company in Orlando may be borrowing soon…

Ivelisse makes a comeback with a superkick out of the corner, then a ‘rana, before a snapmare into a kick gets a near-fall. Some headscissors look to force a submission, but Lufisto rolls up Ivelisse for a near-fall out of that hold, before hitting a kick to keep the challenger on the mat. A neck crank follows as La Rosa Negra tries to get the crowd into the match, but to little avail it feels.

A diving dropkick from Lufisto against the ropes sends Ivelisse down again, as did a running forearm and a running hip attack in the corner. Lufisto misses with a cannonball though, which sparks a comeback of sorts as Ivelisse comes back with a springboard cross body for another two-count.

More shots lead to Ivelisse landing an Exploder, but she can’t instantly make a cover, and when she does C4 drags out the referee at two. La Sicarias don’t exactly get involved immediately, and they just watch as Ivelisse is forced to kick her way out of a Tree of Woe. Eventually Ivelisse press slams Lufisto off the top rope, whilst we see ACR grabbing a chair… looking like she’s going to lay out her own stablemate?!

In the end, ACR actually lays out La Rosa Negra as Ivelisse went for a Code Red. That distraction leaves her open for a Burning Hammer… and Lufisto retains! Well, that was a decent match with a weird ending. ***

The ACR turn wasn’t too far away from Bobby Heenan “who’s side is he on?!” levels, given how much we saw her preparing to strike La Rosa Negra with a chair. It looks like ACR’s the fourth member of C4… or is it still C3, since Lufisto tells ring announcer Kid Cadet that she’s the only one she’s looking out for?

Anyway, the lights go out as dry ice fills the Orpheum. Two women dressed in black with tattoos and piercings head out, holding an envelope as some music that sounds like it ought to be a lullaby plays. They give Lufisto the envelope, but it’s Kid Cadet who’s forced to read it: and it’s a warning for a Red Wedding on April 1st. The lights go out again, but when they return we see Su Yung wearing a wedding dress in the ring, as some red stuff pours onto her from above. It didn’t all hit, but it wasn’t quite WCW bad in terms of missing the mark.

So we’ve got Su Yung vs. Lufisto for the title on the WWN Supershow on April 1!

What Worked: As a character, Su Yung is growing on me. The way she was portrayed here, as a scary, horror movie character, was a riot, helped by the way Candy Cartwright and Aria Blake reacted to her.

What Didn’t: That number one contender’s match was just a chore to get through – I don’t mind draws, but the whole match just felt like an exercise in killing time. I’d have at least done one time cue to say “X minutes remaining” rather than just have the match end abruptly.

Thumbs: Down, wavering into the middle… this show had its moments, especially the show-ending angle, but unless you’re already a fan of SHINE, this is not one to start with.