After a rather underwhelming first round of the tournament, SHINE 44 finished it off as the promotion crowned their first ever Nova champion.

There’s noticeably fewer people in the Orpheum for the second half of the tournament, and Trevin Adams has downgraded to his regular suit.

SHINE Nova Championship Tournament – Quarter-Final: Priscilla Kelly vs. Leah Vaughan
We’ve got 30-minute time limits in the quarter-finals – which are now believable given what happened between Ivelisse and Holidead on night one. Leah’s theme music still sucks, but at least she’s not hawking deodorant anymore.

Kelly invites some chops as she then took down Vaughan with a lucha armdrag out of the corner, before a superkick took down the Canadian for an early near-fall. Vaughan responds by throwing Kelly to the outside then into some of the empty seats by the stage area as she then unloads with some chops by a supporting post… and yes, Leah did a Trent by chopping it.

Kelly tries for a PK off the apron, but Leah catches it and dumps her over the apron as she took over, stretching the Gypsy Princess in the ropes. A Gory Stretch follows from the Canadian, who used a handful of hair for good measure, before dropping Kelly into the corner for a near-fall. Eventually Kelly reverses an Irish whip, but Vaughan still maintains the upper hand, throwing Kelly into the turnbuckles… only to get thrown off the top rope a la Ric Flair!

Vaughan again comes back, dropping Priscilla with an ushigoroshi for a near-fall, before Kelly landed a roundhouse for a two-count of her own. She’s caught on the top rope though as Vaughan collides into her with a series of knees in the corner, before spearing Kelly out of her boots for another near-fall.

In the end though, Leah misses a moonsault, allowing Kelly to capitalise with a side Russian legsweep that segues into the Trapped in Sin (grounded Octopus) for the submission. A fun match, albeit a sadly heat-less one thanks to the low crowd. ***

SHINE Nova Championship Tournament – Quarter-Final: Aja Perera vs. Kiera Hogan
Of course, Hogan had the Cutie Pie Club with her as we’re in for another show of overexposure. Not like that. Perera goes straight for a full nelson as the pair looked to get a hold in early, as commentary mentioned that Aja somehow got into this tournament despite her prior SHINE appearance being a loss to someone… who didn’t.

Aja comes back off the ropes with a handspring into some headscissors, before log rolling down Hogan as a leg lariat to the back of the head collects a near-fall. Kiera comes back with a thrust kick to the head, before landing a running back elbow to keep Perera on the mat.

Perera manages to connect with a kick to the head, before getting a near-fall from a roll-up as a German suplex sends Hogan flying into the corner. More kicks follow, before a Downward Spiral nearly gets Aja the win, but Hogan quickly takes her into the corner for a running boot as the momentum continued to shift, ending with a diving ‘cutter from Aja for another near-fall.

From there, Aja picks up Kiera for a fireman’s carry, but Hogan slips out and lands a superkick before hitting the Face The Music (swinging neckbreaker with a bridge) to book her spot in the semis. Another good match, not helped by the crowd as it seemed that Hogan could well be a quiet underdog for the title. **¾

SHINE Nova Championship Tournament – Quarter-Final: Jordynne Grace vs. Aria Blake
Yes, the Cutie Pie Club were straight back out, with Kiera Hogan selling the effects of match that she literally just had.

Grace instantly goes after Blake with power moves – starting with scoop slams, before ragdolling Aria with a waistlock that she turns into a grounded abdominal stretch that Blake tries to escape by biting. In the end, it’s a cross armbreaker that gets Blake free, at least until Grace powerbombed her…

A stalling Jackhammer almost gets Grace the win, as did a wheelbarrow facebuster as Grace turned it into a strangle hold straight from the facebuster impact. Kiera Hogan gets onto the apron to distract the ref, which prompts Grace to let go so she can knock her down, allowing Blake to throw a couple of kicks to take Grace down for a near-fall.

Grace rebounds with a muscle buster though, collecting a couple of near-falls out of it, before catching a crossbody and turning it into a ragdolling bear hug as Aria’s forced to quit. This felt pretty short, but a really good way to establish Grace as something of a threat… and since she’s got Candy Cartwright in the semis, of course that means more of the CPC. Joy! **¾

Shotzi Blackheart vs. Dementia D’Rose vs. Natalia Marcova
Not all of the losing first-round entrants came back for night two – in fact, Shotzi was the only one as she took part in this bonus match, featuring Natalia Marcova’s Eurovision theme and her Nakamura-inspired entrance.

Blackheart sidesteps a clothesline as D’Rose accidentally took down Marcova early on, but D’Rose comes back to break up some covers as the almost Tough Enough-contestant (look it up) was wiped out by D’Rose’s sit-down splash. Marcova does the splits to drop down as D’Rose ran the ropes, before Dementia was low-bridged to the outside by Blackheart.

We get a dive from Shotzi, who threw herself to the outside, before Marcova’s tope kept D’Rose on the floor. Shotzi hangs up Marcova in the ropes, but left herself open for some clubbing forearms from D’Rose, who came back in to squash Natalia with a suplex as a warm-up for a vicious hip attack in the corner.

Shotzi breaks up the cover, but that just gets her taken into the corner, where she shoves down Dementia for a back senton… which she misses. Marcova recovers in time to wipe out D’Rose with a crossbody, for a two-count, before a bulldog earns a near-fall… with Shotzi taking flight straight after the kick-out, nailing a missile dropkick to the Russian. D’Rose nearly gets the win with a fallaway slam to Shotzi, who then avoids a hip attack in the corner before finishing off D’Rose with a crushing back senton off the top for the win! A pretty good three-way, with all three coming across well – although I’ve no idea if Shotzi’s going to be back in SHINE, I’d hope this wasn’t a one (weekend) and done! ***¼

SHINE Nova Championship Tournament – Semi-Final: Priscilla Kelly vs. Kiera Hogan
Kiera’s out by herself for a change, which made Poochie, sorry, Candy conspicuous by her absence.

We start with a little bit of chain wrestling as the pair exchanged hammerlocks and wristlocks, with Kelly getting an early Fujiwara armbar as she looked for a quick win, before bridging said armbar a la Axel Dieter Jr. He’s getting too many references here in this tournament!

Neither woman’s able to stake a claim in those exchanges though, so they switch it up, with Kelly scoring with some kicks to the back after a snapmare, before a PK gets a near-fall. Just like that though, a leaping leg lariat takes down Kelly, who manages to shrug it off and come back with a single leg crab as the pendulum continues to swing.

Kelly misses a charge into the corner, earning her a barrage of kicks from Hogan, as the two eventually descended into a battle of forearms and chops, before Kelly turned Face The Music into a small package… which was quickly broken via the ropes. Hogan tries again and succeeds, but Kelly gets under the ropes again to break the count as things get a little awkward.

Hogan goes for it again, but Kelly slips out and slips in Trapped In Sin… and just like that, Kiera taps! Wonky finish aside, this was alright… but that the usual perils of a one-night tournament were highlighted as this felt like half a match. **¾

SHINE Nova Championship Tournament – Semi-Final: Candy Cartwright vs. Jordynne Grace
Well, this is an interesting wrinkle… Kiera Hogan was supposedly away getting medical treatment in the last match, but was out – and still selling here – as Aria Blake was nowhere to be seen. Presumably getting the same treatment that Kiera just had… or is this leading to dissension already?

Candy had a bye in the quarter-finals remember, and I think we’re all hoping for a much better outing than the cluster we had on night one. Remember your finish, kid! We start with some mind games as Candy tries to kill some time, before finally getting into action… by being flattened with a forearm into the ropes.

On the outside, Candy catches a kick and drops Grace face-first on the apron, eventually rolling her in for not-even-a-one-count. Candy manages to take Grace into the ropes for a 619, before following up with a crossbody that’s caught and turned into a fallaway slam. Grace continues by crushing Candy (hah!) with knees and elbows in the corner, before lifting her up top for a press slam.

Grace tries for the waistlock bear hug, but Cartwright escapes before avoiding a charge into the corner. She tries for a monkey flip, and somehow gets a DDT out of it for a near-fall, before pulling up Grace into a Dragon sleeper of sorts. Again, Jordynne powers out and catches a Michinoku driver that nearly got her the win as Candy hurriedly rolled to the floor for more cover.

In the end, that leads to another bad finish, as Grace pulls Candy back into the ring by her hair… and they go for the Warrior/Rude finish… except Kiera Hogan (playing the role of Bobby Heenan) barely keeps her fingers on Grace, who fell back as she suplexed Candy in… and that’s the pin. Oh God, they’re actually teasing that they’re going to have Candy stink her way to the title aren’t they? *

Grace stormed to the back after that – with Candy and Kiera having run off first.

SHINE Championship: Allysin Kay vs. LuFisto (c)
Kay got the title shot a few days earlier by winning a five-way match under the mask of Maria Maria, whilst it seemed that LuFisto was a little aggrieved by the lack of a Canadian presence in “other women’s tournaments”.

After stomping a mudhole in LuFisto in the early stages, Kay walked it dry as she looked to make short work of the champion – but of course it wasn’t going to be a squash. There’s an early ref bump as LuFisto’s crossbody was sidestepped, and for some reason she stands on a chair to mock the ref… which puts her in perfect place to be pulled onto the apron for a load of kicks.

The brawling continues out on the floor, where a running shoulder block knocks the champ out of a chair, before Kay accidentally kicks one of the supporting columns as she did a Trent when LuFisto moved away. They continue, ending up on the stage where LuFisto slammed Kay, only to miss a running back senton as we heard a sickening thud – and this is more of a fight than a wrestling match… especially when Kay ground a Coke can into her opponent.

The referee’s bumping all over the place, almost to Chris Roberts levels, as the two continued to give us a guided tour of the Orpheum, before the ring’s eventually used once more. Kay lands a couple of suplexes, but the momentum continues to swing back and forth, with LuFisto edging ahead with a cannonball and a running boot in the corner.

LuFisto blocks a superplex and shoves down Kay for a swandive headbutt, but after the kick-out Kay accidentally takes out the ref with a clothesline, whilst Maria Maria (or at least, someone in her mask) heads out with a chair. Kay misses it as LuFisto does the comedy “I bump myself with the chair off the ropes” spot, before Kay sends Maria Maria scrambling… the referee sees Kay with a chair and LuFisto down… and calls for the bell. What a shit show. Despite being down, the ref calls for a DQ after an over-booked mess… but at least we saw that “Maria Maria” today was Brandi Lauren. Which was met with a chant from the crowd of “who’s that ginger”. Oops.

As for the match, the walk-and-brawl was pretty decent, as was the stuff in the ring, but the barrage of ref bumps had me wondering if I’d put on TNA/whatever-they’re-called by mistake. Even more so when Kay gave the ref a Stunner after the match… **¼

SHINE Nova Championship Tournament – Final: Candy Cartwright vs. Priscilla Kelly
We’ve got a sixty-minute time limit. Dear God, no. Candy’s got her crew with her, including Aria Blake in a wheelchair being pushed around by Kiera Hogan. That’s funny.

Kelly launches into Cartwright, taking her into the corner at the bell, before some strikes saw both women taken to the outside where we get a mini-Brookesing as Kelly’s thrown into some chairs. Kelly gets back to her feet as Candy jogs her way around ringside, before Candy uses some of the supporting poles to her advantage, along with that wheelchair as Priscilla’s slumped into it for a chop.

Eventually Kelly fires back with a superkick, before grabbing a chair – moments after commentary acknowledged that there had to be a winner here. So, why not make this a no DQ match? Instead, Kelly just kicks Candy’s ass, before putting her into a chair for a diving knee off the apron!

Candy returns the favour with a crossbody off the apron that wipes out a chair in the process, but it’s not enough to keep Kelly down, as she’s able to come back and keep kicking Cartwright in the rear. Candy tries to mount a comeback by throwing pom poms at Kelly, who responds by kicking Candy low and then licking her as the pair threw a fit at each other.

They make it back to the ring, where Priscilla tries for the Trapped in Sin submission, but Kiera Hogan gets on the apron and causes a distraction… which almost cost Kelly as she turned around into a roundhouse kick for a near-fall. A backdrop suplex follows as Kelly quickly goes back to Trapped in Sin, and with Aria Blake in a wheelchair, there’s no more distractions allowed as Candy tapped out! What the camera totally missed was Jordynne Grace coming out to prevent any further interference, just because we needed that extra run-in! ***

The show ended with Priscilla celebrating whilst Candy threw a tantrum… and a handful of the remaining tournament entrants clapped Kelly in the aisle… Well, it’s fair to say the final was Candy’s best performance here, and Priscilla winning the title gives her an extra string to a still-developing bow that has seen her be part of Uncle John’s Friends (if that’s still a thing), Austin Theory’s love interest, and after the sharp end to the “respect” story with Malia Hosaka, forging an in-ring career for herself on a higher level.

Compared to the first half of the tournament, this was fine… but my word, the folks at SHINE love to troll us with Candy, don’t they? Spots can be missed, but to have made it to the finals on that performance was cringe-worthy for some, but thankfully the troll job didn’t pay-off. On paper, a 16-woman tournament was ambitious, especially given some of the names unavailable to them because of the WWE tournament. In practise, it probably would have been better to have kept it as a one-night, 8-woman tournament… but you live and learn, and hopefully the over-exposure of the Cutie Pie Club doesn’t remain a theme when SHINE returns in September.