SHINE returned to New York for their latest outing – and it was a card that was going oh so well before it hit a bit of a roadbump in the middle as the company built for their sixth anniversary event.

Well, we were planning to have a little EVOLVE catch-up, but for whatever reason Club WWN isn’t letting me play those videos. We’re in La Boom again as SHINE seems to be flitting between Ybor City and Queens for these shows. Trevin Adams is your ring announcer while Lenny Leonard’s flying solo on commentary.

Allie Recks vs. Rain
This was Allie’s second appearance here, having lost to Stormie Lee on SHINE’s last sojourn to NYC, while Rain’s bizarrely in the opener having been towards the top of the card on her last few appearances.

They start with some standard grappling, as Recks reversed a wristlock before Rain elbowed free. A backslide barely gets a one-count, as a crucifix struggled to get Recks a near-fall as she was all about the pinning attempts here, before a handstand into a forearm seemed to wake up Rain, who takes down Recks and drops an uppercut to the back. Knees and a back suplex get Rain a near-fall, as Recks was firmly being put on the back foot here.

Rain catches Recks on the top rope with some uppercuts, before Allie mounted a brief comeback and hits Rain with Eat Defeat. A flurry of strikes takes Rain into the ropes for a 619 for a near-fall, before a lungblower from Rain turned it back around… or so she thought, as Allie’s back in with a missile dropkick, only for Rain to sidestep a shoulder charge. Once Recks hits the ring post, all that’s left is for the Acid Rain DDT to be hit, as Rain takes the win. Solid back-and-forth contest, and given how WWN place things, I’d not be surprised if Rain is back later in the show to issue a challenge. **¾

Willow Nightingale vs. Natalia Markova vs. Aja Perera
Originally advertised as a four-way, Amber Nova was pulled for… reasons they didn’t say. It wasn’t injury, as she wrestled the very next night, so… *Yano shrug*.

The debuting Willow Nightingale sings for Aja Perera’s birthday, but that just allowed Natalia Markova to sucker-punch everyone… and get an instant receipt. Fair enough! Perera then takes over on Nightingale, before backfisting Markova out of the ring, as Willow then got to show off some agility, cartwheeling away before superkicking Aja in the corner. A running PK and a back senton for Willow looked to get a near-fall, but Markova breaks it up, before she enjoyed a flurry of offence, dumping Nightingale with a German suplex as she moved onto kicks with Aja. Some headscissors take Perera down, as does a crossbody, but Willow’s back to break it up, before she gets caught in a Samoan drop from Markova… helped down with a spear from Perera for a near-fall. Markova goes flying next with a tope, as does Aja, who gets a near-fall from her dive.

Perera whiffs on a body splash, as Markova does with a crossbody off the top… and of course, we complete the trifecta as Willow misses her top rope moonsault. Markova goes back up, but gets caught with an uppercut from Aja, only for Nightingale to return for a Tower of Doom that turned into a super brainbuster for Natalia! Willow tries to get the pin from there, but instead it turns into a slugfest with forearms, with Markova joining in on a chop battle, only to get kicked away. She’s back to break up pins as we’re still in that phase, with Perera almost winning with a short hammerlock DDT… but Natalia broke that up and steals the pin. Must have been a hell of a DDT! This was an enjoyable outing, but I was surprised they had so little focus on Willow at the end, as they seem to be heading to Natalia/Aja down the line? ***¼

After the match, Markova tries to give Aja a birthday present, but her cheapshot kick’s caught and met with another Down To Earth hammerlock DDT.

Cutie Pie Club (Kiera Hogan & Dementia D’Rose) vs. Rainbow Bright (Gabby Gilbert & Luscious Latasha)
This should be an easy win, particularly since Rainbow Bright are still in that bucket of “returning team from the past, with Gilbert in particular having been booked on three straight SHINE shows since she did a NXT squash. Not that I’m saying the two are connected…

Hogan and D’Rose are all over the relative veterans early, but it’s Latasha who turns it around with a snapmare and a dropkick to Hogan for a near-fall, before Gilbert wanders in for a back senton. They seemed to lose their way a little as Hogan took a low dropkick before tagging out, with D’Rose using her rear to charge away Gilbert, who gets cornered… and fights back, I guess? D’Rose prevents Gilbert from barging past her for a tag as she’s kept isolated, with Hogan coming back in to crash into her with a baseball slide dropkick in the corner for a near-fall. A series of sit-down splashes from D’Rose keeps Gilbert down, but somehow she’s able to bridge out of a cover, before she moved away from a middle rope legdrop.

Gilbert’s able to tag out to Latasha after that, who clocks D’Rose with a gamengiri in the corner before Gabby returns for a series of kicks. Why’d she tag back in so quick after being worn down for so long?! They pile onto D’Rose for a near-fall as Hogan breaks it up, before a charge from D’Rose saw her awkwardly spill to the outside, catching her leg on the guard railings. Meanwhile a Northern lights suplex from Gilbert almost gets the win over Kiera, who then rakes the eyes to avoid another suplex as the Face The Music swinging Fisherman’s suplex gets the win. That was fine, but without any sort of historical context, I think we’ve finally slotted Rainbow Bright in a rather reductive “GLOW knock-offs” category in 2018. **¼

Holidead vs. Priscilla Kelly
With Kelly having lost her rematch for the SHINE Nova Championship, she’s back on the path towards… another shot, I guess.

We’ve a rather tentative start here, as they circle each other with Kelly offering a rather bloody handshake. TMI. The mind games continue as they started with a knuckle-lock, only for Kelly to slap it away as her attempt at an armdrag was stuffed and turned into a backbreaker by Holidead. Kelly returns fire with a crucifix and a ‘rana of sorts, before she missed a dropkick that allowed Holidead right back in with a legdrop… but no cover?

Instead, we carry on with Kelly going underneath for a Euro Clutch that should have won, but the referee’s stuttering count meant we only got a two-count as some rather mechanical pinning predicaments only drew near-falls. Kelly runs her mouth a little as she tried to get under Holidead’s skin, but it just led to the two fighting around ringside, with Holidead getting posted… but she recovers and returns the favour, charging the first Nova champion into the post for good measure. Commentary’s teasing “something new” for Kelly, which she’d struggle to deliver as long as she remained on the defensive… and a legdrop on the apron made that a little harder. They briefly brawl up onto the VIP stage area, and out of sight of the cameras, before returning to the ring to trade clubbing forearms, before Kelly slipped on a springboard… that was nicely saved with a spinebuster from Holidead.

Kelly mounted a comeback, kicking Holidead off the top rope before grounding her in an Octopus-like hold, which almost got turned into a pinning predicament as Holidead rolled back up to her feet… and turns it into an Air Raid Crash for another near-fall. Holidead takes Kelly back up top, but she’s booted away as Kelly flies with a modified Slingblade off the top for the win. That was a little clunky in places, but on the whole it was fine. Hardly a dominant win though, which may well signify the road ahead isn’t going to be smooth going for her… **¾

Stormie Lee vs. Leva
Oh boy! I have no idea what Leva’s cosplaying as this time, but I’m sure you’re all bored of my usual “how the hell do you market someone whose look always changes and is almost always copyrighted”? I swear there’s a few heckles of “boring” in here…

Stormie just boots Leva in the midsection as she tried to dance, as Lee was all over her in the early going. A trip from Leva and a low dropkick turns it around, as she squashes Stormie in the corner with a splash, before missing with a clothesline. Leva does recover with a roll-through slingshot spear for a near-fall, only for Stormie to come right back with a slam for a near-fall. Commentary disappears for a spell as Stormie wore down on Leva with a chinlock, before a clotheslike took Leva down for a near-fall. Some ground and pound angers Leva, who fires up… and takes some more shots before coming back with a chinbreaker. Some chops and kicks rock Stormie, as does a bridging Northern Lights suplex, before Stormie’s cornered for some running knees. Leva heads up top for a missile dropkick, which… was charitable at best, and almost wins the match.

A missed clothesline from Leva allowed Lee to come back with a stalling Samoan drop, but it’s not enough, and after Leva fires back with some chops, she catches Lee with a Pedigree… for another near-fall. Leva tries to head up top, and gets press slammed off it, as the producer cuts away from a lungblower that would have won the match… because Rain’s wandered out to ringside. Told you she’d be back! Stormie Lee gets distracted by Rain’s presence, but she’s able to stop a roll-up from Leva, only to get caught with a small package instead for the win. Let’s all move on, eh? This wasn’t particularly good, and I’m beyond over with the cosplayer. *

Rain gets the microphone and cuts a promo that’s barely audible, referring to her matches with Stormie, claiming that she didn’t quit last time they met. She wants one more match, and if she can’t beat Stormie, she’ll retire from wrestling and training. That offer was too good for Stormie to refuse, and it’ll be an I Quit match on the next SHINE show.

SHINE Nova Championship: Santana vs. Candy Cartwright (c)
Santana’s back to challenge for the only title she’s not won in SHINE…

Candy’s not alone, and she throws a fit as the crowd chanted for a “new champ” before the bell. When we get going, we’re all about the armbasics as they exchanged wristlocks and headlocks in a search for an early win. Shoulder charges follow, as does a cheeky kick from Santana, but Candy’s up at two, only to get taken down with a lucha-style armdrag from Santana. Candy powders to the outside for respite, and when Santana came out after her, she was suckered by D’Rose and Hogan on the outside… because Distracted Referee is Distracted. Back inside, Candy nearly wins with a bulldog, before she shrugs off some forearms and takes Santana into the ropes for a 619. The crowd didn’t like that one…

We’re onto back-and-forth boo/yay elbows, before Santana has to fight free of an attempted trip from Kiera Hogan on the outside as Candy’s shortcuts weren’t quite going to plan. A handspring elbow into the corner keeps Candy down, as does a side Russian legsweep, before Candy’s attempt at a German suplex is stopped, with Santana pulling her down ahead of a Muta lock. The crowd woke up as they sensed a new champion, but Dementia D’Rose takes the referee as Candy pulled herself to the ropes… just because. With the referee still distracted, Candy holds up Santana for a belt shot… but Kiera misses and lays out Candy instead, as Priscilla Kelly heads out to clear Hogan from the ring. D’Rose, meanwhile doesn’t care, and all of a sudden the referee’s back in to call for the bell as he disqualifies Santana for something he didn’t see. Such horseshit. Santana and Kelly brawl after the match as the locker room separates them… but man, this was a garbage finish no matter how you spin it. *

SHINE Championship: Su Yung vs. LuFisto (c)
Well this is odd… the Red Wedding match that we were meant to have had at WrestleMania last year is now a title match, in the semi-main event, with a month’s build. Figures.

They actually acknowledge the Red Wedding deal, with commentary labelling Su a “runaway bride” that night… but they start out hot with the pair quickly spilling to the outside as they started off brawling. Su squashes LuFisto against the stage with a crossbody, before she stretches her over the guard railings as the referee just did nothing. Eventually they headed back into the ring as they had a staredown… is this just what they had planned a year ago and are just doing this without the build? More strikes led to LuFisto chopping on Yung in the corner, before they headed back outside so she could do it in a chair.

A diving dropkick knocks Su out of the chair and into the crowd barriers… but Yung’s back in with a chairshot as she looked to go for a pin outside. The ref doesn’t count that, and apparently this is a no-DQ match as we’re all about the chairs, with LuFisto hauling a trio of them from under the ring in one swoop. A slam onto the chairs is only good for a near-fall, but Su’s right back in with some palm strikes to take LuFisto into the corner… only for her to miss a charge as the champ returns the favour with some face-washing boots. LuFisto keeps up the pressure with a chair-assisted cannonball into the corner, before she set up a chair between the turnbuckles and got thrown into it. Su’s back in with a backcracker, but LuFisto rolls to the floor for safety, where Su followed up with some forearms before putting LuFisto into a chair… but the champions cuts her off and responds with an apron powerbomb!

Back inside, a cradle DDT nearly gets the win as commentary again disappeared, save for a short “SHU!” from Lenny Leonard… who’s still MIA as a sit-out powerbomb almost gets LuFisto the win. In response, LuFisto stacks up some chairs in the corner as a landing pad… but Yung gets back to her feet and hits what I think was meant to be a Go To Sleep on LuFisto for a near-fall. They’re back outside again as LuFisto finally gets cannonballed through a chair, but still LuFisto kicked out back inside. So Su goes to a submission hold then, a half Axel Dieter Special, which got some of the crowd ready to chant “new champ”, but LuFisto scoots into the ropes for freedom… except Su doesn’t let go and needs to be elbowed away. A wonky roll-up out of the corner gets LuFisto a near-fall, but the champion keeps on rolling into a variation of the Sharpshooter, except they’re way too close to the ropes… and the pair end up back on the apron, where Su almost got caught in a Burning Hammer, only to hit a rope-hung Pedigree for a near-fall.

Yung’s got a glove on and looked to be going for something… but instead she grabs another chair and puts LuFisto in it. It all backfired as Su’s offence ends with a drop toe hold into the chair, before LuFisto smashed her with another chair… for a one-count?! There’s another landing pad of chairs made up, but Su traps LuFisto in the Purge – a mandible claw – and forces her down for some near-falls, before she gets some mist ready… the referee gets the brunt of it, before a burning hammer through the chairs picked up the win as a second referee handily made it to the ring to count the pin. This started off slow but got pretty good, in spite of some inopportune slips… I just wish they’d some something to recap their prior feud after they’d had it on ice for over a year… ***¼

Editor’s note: LuFisto vacated the SHINE title on June 26 after announcing that she’d had to undergo surgery in July. We wish her the best for a speedy recovery!

SHINE Tag Team Championship: Ruthless Ambition (Penelope Ford & Maria Manic) vs. Las Sicarias (Ivelisse & Mercedes Martinez) (c)
After they were so swiftly squashed at SHINE 50, how have Ruthless Ambition gotten another shot? In the main event? Maybe now the crowd’ll get their wish for a “new champ”? Meanwhile, the contrast between the champions couldn’t have been more stark, Mercedes being happy go lucky, while Ivelisse looked positively broody here.

Christ, we’ve got 50 minutes on the VOD when they start the ring announcements. Please, no.

The champions try to jump their challengers at the bell, but this time they’ve learned as Ford and Manic throw the champions into each other. Second time wasn’t the charm though as the champions get on top, dropping Ford with a pair of suplexes, including a nice stalling suplex from Martinez for a near-fall. Ivelisse is in with a bridging suplex for a near-fall, as Ford again remained on the defensive… and in the wrong corner too.

Martinez rakes away on Ford’s face in a chinlock, and yep, this is one-sided as all hell again, with Maria Manic this time being kept on the outside. Ivelisse goes back to the grounded sleeperhold as Penelope had to fight back again, surviving a series of shoulder charges in the corner and a PK-ish kick from Ivelisse. Wash, rinse and repeat as Ford’s trapped in another chinlock, before escaping a slam as she took Ivelisse into the opposite corner… and now Maria Manic’s in! Shoulders from Manic keep Ivelisse at bay, as does a grounded surfboard stretch, which Ivelisse tried to roll back out of, but Manic’s bringing the heavy fire as she tried to put the champion away. Ivelisse manages to get ahead again when Ford tagged back in, but Penelope starts to fight back with kicks and forearms as the slugfest drew another near-fall for the challengers. Manic returns with a bear hug to Ivelisse, who finally countered out of it with a DDT, as Mercedes returned to clear house, taking down Manic and Ford.

Some more kicks from Martinez leaves Manic in the ropes, as she followed in with chops to keep the champions ahead. Ivelisse tags in to try and force a submission with some crucifix elbows to Manic on the mat, eventually rolling through the crucifix for a near-fall. Manic gets back to her feet though and dumps Ivelisse with a fallaway slam, only for Ivelisse to respond with a quick kick from the bottom, with Martinez again returning with a butterfly hold and some ground and pound as the champions tried to wear down Manic, who gets dumped outside as the champions looked for a count-out.

Penelope Ford throws her partner back into the virtual wolf’s pit as Martinez keeps on stomping, with Ford losing her patience as she attempted to storm the ring… but to little avail. Out of nowhere, duelling dropkicks leave Manic and Martinez down, before both women tagged out… with Ivelisse again dumping Ford with clotheslines. There’s some receipts there from Penelope, who’s again cornered and choked on as this was starting to wear a little thin. Another fightback sees Ford hit a clothesline for a near-fall, as the momentum suddenly swung in the challenger’s favour.

Manic manages to lift up Martinez in a Fireman’s carry, but Mercedes slips out with a neckbreaker as we’re tagging back out… with Ford trying for another clothesline, only to get dumped with an Exploder from Ivelisse for a near-fall. All four women stay in the ring as Ivelisse dumps Manic to the outside, before they set up Ford for a barrage of offence, including a gutbuster and a curb stomp from Martinez… but Manic’s back in to save the pin as the crowd are no longer biting on these near-falls. Ivelisse lights up Manic with palm strikes and gets an elbow for her efforts, before the champions get squashed with a fallaway slam/Samoan drop combo from Manic. Ford’s perched up top and crashes into Ivelisse with a crossbody for a near-fall, as everyone looks to be knackered. Manic chokes on Martinez in the corner, which gets broken free of, only for Ford to trip Martinez into the corner as Manic returns with a low dropkick on the apron. Meanwhile, Ivelisse is caught with a handspring stunner as Ford had one last surge of energy, but Martinez breaks it up as I fear this match is never going to end.

The referee sort-of counts a pin on Martinez, who wasn’t legal… Ivelisse was, and she’s happily kicking away at Ford on the apron. On the outside, Ivelisse charges Manic into the guard rails, before returning to the ring as she slugs it out with Ford once more, trading forearms and kicks, while Manic on the outside is twirling a leather jacket that I assume she’s whipped Martinez with. We don’t see that… What we do see is Ford taking Ivelisse back into the corner for some shoulders and elbows… Martinez and Manic just stare at each other on the outside as Ford went for a cover, and after the kick-out, Mercedes hits the ring to blast Penelope with the Three Amigas suplex. Ivelisse is back in with a roll-through kick for a near-fall, before they exchange near-falls amid a sea of ground and pound, as Ford pulled Ivelisse to the mat in some wacky submission hold… and all of a sudden the bell goes.

Yes, they went near enough 30 minutes, and that’s a time limit draw. So that’s why everything felt so drawn out… this had no business going as long as it did, particularly as the match just dragged on and on the further it got past the 15 minute mark. A shame, because this was pretty good, but the elongated length just dragged this down… **¼

The crowd chant for five more minutes, but we don’t get that. Instead, Candy Cartwright and her Cutie Pie Club come out to challenge Las Sicarias to a tag title match on SHINE’s 6th anniversary show in July. As did Aja Perera on behalf of herself and Aerial Monroe… then Holidead (for her and Thunder Rosa), and the challenges were accepted – a four-way match at SHINE 52.

SHINE 51 wasn’t a bad show, but some questionable decisions again marred the show, not least the pretty one-sided time-limit draw. If you’re screwing Santana out of the match and “protecting” Candy Cartwright, why do you need the oh-so-bogus DQ that puts the heat onto the referee and not Candy? Leva Bates’ latest outing was just a huge disappointment for me, but it’s fair to say that I’ve not been a huge fan of her revolving door of characters, so that’ll be a “your mileage will vary” moment. That aside, the eight match card saw SHINE cut out a lot of the bloat that their recent cards had had, and had we not had the needlessly long main event, this’d have been a tidy and efficient show, so there’s those improvements, I guess!