Celebrating their sixth anniversary, SHINE returned to their spiritual home in Ybor City, as more focus seemed to be placed on the next show…

The show opened with Trevin Adams announcing that LuFisto had vacated the SHINE title due to health issues… and so a new champion would be crowned on the next SHINE show in an 8-woman tournament. The crowd booed that… which begs the question, why announce it (or even vacate the title) if the title wasn’t to be resolved on this show? On an unrelated note, this was the first show that was streaming live on Club WWN – a service that previously was $10 a month for delayed WWN shows (and discounts to live streams). Well, now your $10 gets you live streams of EVOLVE, SHINE, FIP and the rest… something that was pushed live and on commentary by Lenny Leonard throughout.

Alex Garcia vs. Dynamite DiDi
Garcia is apparently pretty new to wrestling with only five months’ experience. DiDi’s back after missing the last show in New York, and she offers a handshake right out of the gate, which doesn’t lead to a cheapshot.

Garcia instantly goes for a headlock takedown, while DiDi returns the favour from a collar-and-elbow tie-up as they keep things on the mat. Some pinning attempts see the pair swap near-falls early on, before another handshake was pulled up on, leading to DiDi scoring with shoulder tackles. They exchange whips into the corners, with Garcia countering with a springboard crossbody for a near-fall, then a wheelbarrow… but DiDi counters it into a facebuster as those two-counts keep on coming. From there, DiDi lays into Garcia with chops in the corner, but the match remained exceedingly even with DiDi having to get rather aggressive as she blasted into Garcia with a clothesline.

DiDi heads up top, but her legdrop off the middle rope misses as Garcia gets back into it with some chops of her own, then some headscissors that take DiDi back into the corner. Unfortunately, Garcia’s running knees get caught, although she’s able to make a save with a bulldog for a two-count. However, Alex couldn’t make it pay, and she’s quickly caught with a TKO as DiDi gets the win. Considering how brief she’s been in wrestling, Alex Garcia impressed – although it’ll be the follow-up that’ll be key in terms of her career in SHINE. **½

Trevin Adam announces the first entrant in the SHINE Championship tournament: Candy Cartwright.

Tesha Price vs. Jenna
It’s a SHINE debut for Jenna, who you may remember from NXT a year ago as being a “Charlotte look-alike”… but before we start, Rain comes out to tell us that both of these are her “wrestling babies”, so she’s going to be doing commentary.

Jenna’s all over Tesha from the start, throwing her down to the mat as she made use of her size advantage, but Tesha was able to stick and move, throwing in some kicks and a lucha armdrag before she ran into a punch from Jenna. There’s chops in the corner from Jenna after that as Rain sounded extremely happy at this display on the commentary track. Some wonky headscissors take Jenna down, as she resorts to another punch that the referee ignores, as the one-way traffic continued. A leap into Jenna just sees Tesha used as a barbell ahead of a fallaway slam, who then took a clothesline so weirdly I wasn’t sure what they were going for. Clothesline? Uranage? Whatever?

They put the brakes on from there with a surfboard keeping Tesha on the mat… she escaped and manages to avoid a shoulder charge in the corner, but Jenna is right back in it as she blocks a sunset flip, picking up Tesha only to get her arm worked on again. A low dropkick takes Jenna into the corner for a back elbow, then a handspring into a head kick that almost went bad… before a Shining Wizard attempt was countered into a powerbomb by the much bigger Jenna. From there, Jenna literally walks all over Tesha in the corner before a Vader Bomb misses, allowing Tesha to head up top and score the pin with a flying seated senton. This was fine – it was a little rough in the middle, and this came across as a banana peel win since Jenna had been dominating all the way up until the shoulder charge. **¼

They announce another tournament entrant for next month: Ivelisse. She’ll face Candy in the first round. Oh boy.

Amber Nova vs. Brandi Lauren
A battle of recent NXT “enhancement talent” here, and it’s notable that Brandi punched out a photo of Allysin Kay that a fan in the front row held. Water that plant, eh?

We started with Lauren taking Nova into the corner for a decidedly unclean break, but Amber’s able to hit back with some armdrags before she gets thrown onto the apron and met with a hotshot. Lauren keeps up on her with a dropkick through the ropes, taking down Amber on the floor, as she continued the beating. Some choking in the ropes follow, as does a back elbow off the ropes as Nova (ironically) couldn’t get into gear.

A Dragon sleeper sees Brandi try to get a submission, but Brandi playing to the crowd gave Nova a chance to fight back… only for her to quickly collapse to her knees as she looked to be running on fumes. Second time was the charm as Nova leaps over a charging Lauren in the corner to lock on a sleeperhold, but that too is broken. Nova keeps up the pressure with some headscissors taking Brandi into the corner, before some dropkicks and a Northern Lights suplex drew a near-fall. She goes into a front guillotine, but Brandy’s able to charge her into the corner only to get caught with a crossbody as Nova came close to the upset. Out of nowhere, Brandi lands a cutter for a two-count, then traps Amber in a Rings of Saturn for the quick submission. This was fine, if not slow-paced stuff. **½

Our next tournament entrant is named: Mercedes Martinez.

SHINE Nova Championship: Leva Bates vs. Candy Cartwright (c)
Who did I piss off to get this? Yeah, Leva’s cosplaying Overwatch again, but it’s the same base gimmick we always have with her… and the same mixture of fans who look bored, unsure, or just don’t care.

Apparently Priscilla Kelly’s suspended again, so Candy mocks her… and our first spot is Candy getting wet through Leva’s Supersoaker. It’s enough to stun Candy for a drop toe hold and a low dropkick, before a Mr. Perfect-like neck snap proved notable for Leva’s wig NOT falling off. She’s able to keep up with a kick off the apron and a roll-through spear, again with the wig staying put. Again Candy goes for a charge in the corner and misses, allowing Leva to take her out with a sidewalk slam for a near-fall, but Candy’s straight back in with a Northern Lights suplex for a two-count. Leva responds with one of her own as she popped back to her feet, but Candy throws Leva’s gun at her for a distraction, before a slingshot into a single leg crab looked to get the champion a submission.

Only problem is, the whole slingshot thing took Leva way too close to the ropes, but it is what it is. There’s a sloppy neckbreaker next for a two-count as Candy’s all about running her mouth, and it means her handstand splash backfires. Another Leva comeback sees her throw some chops to the chest, then a couple of high kicks as I cringe, as a shotgun dropkick and some running knees catch Candy in the corner.

Leva heads up top and smashes into Candy with a double stomp, nearly getting the win in the process as Cartwright looked to her friends on the outside for inspiration, and it worked as she pulls Leva into the ropes for a 619. A crossbody’s next as Candy got frustrated because she couldn’t win after hitting two moves, so she goes for a neckbreaker… only for it to be countered into a bad Pedigree for another near-fall. Now we get the distractions and interference as Dementia D’Rose pulls Leva off the top rope as Kiera Hogan has the ref distracted… and then the Candy Crush from Cartwright follows for the win. I don’t know what the move was, but it didn’t look good. This wasn’t as bad as I feared, but yeah. Two roster members I’m not particularly enamoured with for reasons I’ve repeated ad nauseum. Lets move on, eh? *½

The next tournament entrant: Stormie Lee. The crowd goes mild.

Kimber Lee vs. Su Yung
Okay, this is a thing, I guess. Two of the bigger roster names in the mid card for no reason? This could actually have been built to something, but what do I know?

They billed this on commentary as a battle of women who’ve left WWE developmental to have another run on the indys, and it was Kimber Lee who started off a little tentatively going into a test of strength… and after winning out she’s quickly cowering as Su screams… then again when Su went for a Kendo stick. Kimber’s right back with another knuckle lock, but she’s forced to bridge backwards as Su gets some pinning attempts, before suckering her into a dive on the outside, swatting her away with a kick. The brawling on the outside quickly escalated as Kimber’s whipped into a supporting column, but Lee’s right back in it as she chopped Su around the apron, before she hits a cannonball off the apron for good measure.

There’s time for more wackiness as both women headed under the ring, just because, emerging on opposite sides as Su quickly goes for her rope. They brawl towards the bar, where the chop battle resumes, then onto the stage as Kimber clears an area as she tried to slam Su off the stage… only to get shoved off herself. Yung flies next with a cannonball off the stage, clattering into Kimber’s head, and now the countout randomly starts, with both women beating it.

The referee instantly starts the standing ten count as I guess he just likes counting… but it’s Kimber Lee who’s back to her feet first as they exchange forearms in the ropes while not learning from their mistakes. Turn before the ropes, damnit! They square off nose-to-nose before throwing more forearms as the intensity was turned up, ending with a nice Shotei from Su… who goes back to her Kendo Stick, threatening the referee with it, only for Lee to disarm her. Some kicks rock Su ahead of a German suplex, then a bridging German as the match almost came to a close. Another German suplex attempt’s countered as Su pulls Kimber Lee into the buckles, prompting Yung to pull out her Purge glove for the mandible claw… but the world’s slowest ref count gives Kimber a chance to fight back and headbutt her way free.

With Su down, Kimber looks to fly, and connects with a senton bomb… only for Su to kick out at two and roll up Lee for the win! This was a nice little match – a little slow paced for my liking, and weirdly in the middle of the card for little reason. I’d have liked this to have had stakes tied to it, but otherwise it was fine. Best match so far on the card. ***

Lets fast-forward through the interval… through to the next announcement for the SHINE title tournament: Santana.

Xandra Bale vs. Jordynne Grace
It’s a SHINE return for Bale, who’s not been around for 18 months… and a welcome return for Jordynne Grace as I hum the music like THAT fan in Japan did for Daisuke Sekimoto.

Grace starts by taking Bale into the corner, before her power game quickly backfires as a slam’s countered with headscissors. A missile dropkick takes Jordynne to the outside, where she’s dived onto by Xandra… but a second one’s caught as Xandra’s charged into the ring post as she went to the proverbial well once too often. A sidewalk slam onto the apron’s next as Grace turned it around for a near-fall.

A bear hug attempt from Grace is easily elbowed out of, but Jordynne’s got plenty of power left as a standing sidewalk slam dumped Bale for some near-falls. Jordynne whiffs on a Vader Bomb as that move comes up short for the second time tonight, almost leading to the finish as Bale rolled up Grace for a two-count. Xandra keeps up with some kicks, but Grace’s strikes just leave her loopy as a barrage of clotheslines followed by a nasty pumphandle driver spiked Bale on her head!

Xandra’s up at two, somehow, and worked her way up into a Blockbuster for a near-fall as her comeback began in earnest, catching Jordynne in an Octopus hold out of some headscissors… but it’s powered out of as Grace quickly snatched her in a bear hug for the submission. This was certainly something – I don’t know if the pumphandle driver meant they went straight to the finish, but this was a marked improvement over most of the rest of the card. ***

Post-match Grace gets the microphone to complain about not being in the SHINE championship tournament. She reveals she’s not in it, and reckons it’s because SHINE management are picking their favourite pin-up models over her. Rather than this being a rant for crowd to turn on, the Orpheum faithful actually agreed with Grace, who stormed off.

So, with Jordynne not in the tournament, we find out the sixth woman in the tournament is Priscilla Kelly. That gets a mixed reaction…

SHINE Tag Team Championship: Team Spam (Aja Perera & Aerial Monroe) vs. Twisted Sisterz (Holidead & Thunder Rosa) vs. Cutie Pie Club (Kiera Hogan & Dementia D’Rose) vs. Las Sicarias (Ivelisse & Mercedes Martinez) (c)
It’s a four-way elimination here, sparked by the events from SHINE 51, when the champions went to a time-limit draw against Penelope Ford & Maria Manic, who weren’t involved here.

There’s a fair bit of grandstanding before the match starts, as Holidead wiped out Perera and Monroe with a clothesline before we could really get underway. It’s the champions and the Twisted Sisterz who spark things off, but the opening spell is pretty chaotic as we quickly built up into some dives from Perera, who warmed up for it by dancing, because that’s a character trait in every babyface here. Dementia D’Rose stops Monroe after she stopped her dive, which led to a series of forearms and a sliding Flatliner for a near-fall by Aerial. Perera keeps up the momentum with a bulldog as Kiera Hogan comes in… only to get put in a Tree of Woe for a couple of kicks. D’Rose quickly turns it back around with some hip attacks to take out Monroe, and with the referee for some reason distracted by Aerial on the floor, he misses Candy Cartwright hitting Aja Perera with a beltshot as Kiera Hogan scored the first elimination.

Hey, massive credit for not having the “teams break up pins in an elimination match” accidental trope!

Thunder Rosa is in next as she’s forced to kick out of a roll-up from Hogan as she tried to end things in short order, before the pair exchanged pump kicks at the same time. Holidead’s tagged in, as is D’Rose, but neither team can maintain an advantage… and it’s rather telling that Holidead had to force Ivelisse to tag in as the champions had spent most of the match watching on the apron. When they did come in, it’s pretty brutal as Hogan eats a Fisherman’s buster for a quick elimination…and after seven minutes, we’re down to the final two teams. May as well have just had a straight-up tag match, eh?

The champions corner Thunder Rosa, who gets peppered with forearms and big boots as Ivelisse nearly retains with a Northern Lights suplex, then a bridging suplex as the Twisted Sisterz were stalling. Martinez comes in to keep up the beatdown, before a butterfly roll-through caught Rosa in the middle of the ring in a butterfly lock. A rope break gets Rosa free, and out to the corner for a tag to Holidead… who quickly gets taken down to the mat as the champions started all over again. There’s a double-arm DDT that turns into a guillotine choke after the impact from Ivelisse, but Holidead’s able to roll into the ropes. An Octopus hold traps Holidead again, but she manages to counter into a sidewalk slam to free herself, as the remaining team were finally able to mount a little bit of offence. Forearms trapped Ivelisse in the wrong corner, before Holidead coaxed Martinez into the ring to wind her up… it didn’t lead to any cheating, but rather an extended spell of isolation as the Sisterz started to edge past Ivelisse.

A wheelbarrow back senton from the Sisterz squash Ivelisse for a near-fall as Mercedes was having to come in to make a save, but Ivelisse ends up firing back after she took some more chops, throwing some of her own before almost taking the win with a sunset flip. Eventually Ivelisse gets the hot tag out to Martinez, who pulls Holidead into a Romero special/Dragon sleeper combo that forces Thunder Rosa in to make a save. We’ve a mini Parade of Moves as the ring stayed full, before the challengers took too long for their spike-whatever they were aiming for.

The champions are back on top, but Ivelisse tags herself back in to set up for a punch-assisted German suplex… Holidead avoids it as Ivelisse hits Martinez by mistake, and with Thunder Rosa keeping Mercedes on the outside, some Angel’s Wings are enough to put away Martinez and give us new champions. A bit of a flat finish, truth be told, after a match that really would have been better off as a straight-up tag match. The Twisted Sisterz, save for the final stretch, didn’t look too dominant, which makes me wonder if this was the original plan? Although with rumours that Martinez is WWE-bound, the title change looked pretty much certain going into this. ***

The seventh entrant in the SHINE title tournament was announced as Brandi Lauren. Given the storylines seem to be pairing up in the first round, I wonder who the last entrant will be…

I Quit: Stormie Lee vs. Rain
Rain had put her career on the line here, vowing to be done with wrestling and training if she lost again to Stormie Lee. Tesha Price was out with her at ringside, for… reasons, I guess. Was that match with Jenna earlier for the right to watch from ringside?

Stormie instantly powders to the outside at the bell as she looked to keep her distance… but Rain pulls her into the ring by her hair after Lee got into it with someone in the crowd, before some hair-assisted snapmares took Stormie into the corner. Lee retaliated with some shots to the gut before she tried to force a submission with a reverse bear hug, then an abdominal stretch… because of Rain’s prior stomach injuries.

They perhaps have the referee ask Rain a little too frequently for her submission, but as soon as she hits back with a low dropkick to Stormie, they head outside and towards the crowd. A neckbreaker on the floor produces a satisfying thud as a front facelock choke from Rain looked to try and wear down Lee… who was repeatedly asked if she quit. Of course she wouldn’t, so they exchange forearms on the floor before Lee was sent into the front row. Stormie returns the favour as a claw onto the midsection tried to eke out a submission, before she stretched Rain around the ring post for a rather more obvious attempt. After getting free, they fight into the merch tables, but Stormie goes low as she again stomps on Rain’s midsection, before taking the fight onto the bar for a Dragon sleeper. Complete with the referee repeatedly asking…

Rain tries to go for a submission using her surroundings… with a sleeperhold on the stage steps being followed by the two of them brawling on the stage itself… but there’s chairs there, and Stormie uses one into the midsection of Rain. Eventually they make it back to the ring, just because, but Rain’s back on top with some elbows in the corner, before she pulled Stormie into a straitjacket.

Rain lets go of the hold, then heads under the ring for what looked like Su Yung’s Kendo stick… which gets used on Stormie’s back and head, before the Acid Rain DDT puts Stormie down. From there, the stick’s used again for a crossface, and that was enough to get Stormie to utter those two words as Lee gave up. This was brutal, but there’s something about venue-wide brawls in this place that don’t resonate with me. A good way to cap off the storyline and an anniversary show that on the whole barely whelmed. ***

After the match, Rain and Tesha were attached from behind by Jenna, who’d aligned herself with Brandi Lauren. A powerbomb from Jenna leaves Price down and out, while Brandi catches Rain in the Rings of Saturn as Jenna just stood and watched on with a look that resembled boredom. Eventually Brandi relents and gets the microphone, and after having to confirm Jenna’s name, she reminds us that she’s in the SHINE title tournament. But there’s one spot left… which is filled when Trevin Adams takes the mic and announces that Brandi’s first-round opponent will be…

The returning Allysin Kay!

With her TNA departure having been announced earlier in the week, Kay was back and made a beeline for Brandi Lauren… but Lauren powders as Jenna’s left behind to take a stunner as the show comes to a close.

SHINE’s sixth year anniversary felt a little disjointed for me – with LuFisto vacating the SHINE title, they really should have done something on this show rather than just announce names. Considering the next SHINE show won’t be until September, and that LuFisto has been already been announced for shows in October, we’re looking at two shows without a champion… did we really need a tournament? Missed opportunity aside, this was a typical SHINE show. Slimmed down to eight matches, we didn’t have the usual bloat of matches with folks who perhaps aren’t ready for this level. That being said, save for the tag title match, not much about this felt consequential, and with September’s show almost surely being dedicated to the title tournament, I’d imagine that we’ll be in for a lot of wheel spinning when it comes to the storylines that are in place.