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There has been a lot of talk throughout the week about the finish of the main event of SHIMMER Volume 68 on Saturday night, in which Nicole Matthews became the sixth wrestler to win the SHIMMER Championship following a fireball thrown at the face of Madison Eagles, concluding a four way elimination match that also featured the former champion Cheerleader Melissa and Athena. In amongst the shock from people who did not attend the show that a fireball was used in a women’s promotion, a theme emerged from the conversation – namely that of overbooking.
This piece is inspired from listening to the Pro Wrestling Ponderings Weekly Newscast, where the assertion was made that Matthews’ title win was marred by the fact that three referees were knocked out of commission, and that she then resorted to using a fireball on Eagles in order to secure the championship. In case you may think I am writing this to say that’s wrong couldn’t be further from the truth. Those are the facts – three referees were indeed incapacitated in the closing stretch of the matchup, and Matthews did indeed light up some flash paper and throw it in Eagles’ face. On the surface, and to any fans who just read the results and weren’t in the Berwyn Eagles Club on Saturday night, that does indeed come across as overdoing it in order to get to an end destination that could have been easier to reach.
What I’m setting out to explain are the reasons why the finish came about the way it did, and the lengthy backstory to support it. And for this, we have to go back nearly a full year to October 19th 2013, and SHIMMER Volume 58.
On that night, following a successful comeback run in SHIMMER after 18 months out of wrestling, Eagles issued an open challenge to see if anyone could defeat her. Up stepped Matthews – even though she claimed she had an unbeaten streak of her own, this was comedy, as it came the volume after she and Portia Perez lost the Tag Team Titles to the Global Green Gangsters. Regardless, the two proceeded to have a fantastic match that ended in a 20 minute time limit draw, which both wrestlers refused to extend.
Following this, Eagles and Matthews exchanged barbs with each other, mainly based on their preferred coffee chains, and then formed an uneasy and slightly comical alliance, dubbed the “Worst Best Friends”, which included an unsuccessful attempt at 3G’s Tag Team Titles at Volume 62 in New Orleans this April. Eagles would suffer a broken wrist on Volume 63 in a match with Heidi Lovelace, which limited the storyline somewhat, although there was some development when Matthews publicly declared her intentions to ask for the rematch knowing full well that Eagles was injured – and according to Eagles, Matthews actually drove her to the hospital. This made it seem that when Eagles was 100%, the relationship with Matthews would kick up another gear.
As it turned out, it went from second to top gear. The main piece to set up the events of Volume 68 came earlier in the day on Volume 67. Upon hearing that Athena and Nikki Storm were to battle for number one contendership for the SHIMMER Championship, Eagles and Matthews agreed that they would have their rematch, but only if the same stipulation was put in place for their match. Feeling that the fans deserved a winner between the two, SHIMMER management agreed to the request.
Eagles and Matthews proceeded to have a match just as good as their Volume 58 bout, maybe even better, as there was a goal to work towards on this occasion. The finish was wonderful – in a tribute to Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin at Survivor Series 1996, Eagles had Matthews in a sleeperhold, but Matthews was able to kick off the turnbuckle pads and pin Eagles in the middle of the ring. Only problem was, unlike Hart and Austin that night at Madison Square Garden, Matthews also tapped out to Eagles’ sleeper. Referee Bryce Remsburg was only able to detect Matthews’ pin, but fellow referee PJ Drummond came out to explain to Remsburg that Matthews had submitted. It was eventually agreed that both situations cancelled each other out, and another draw was declared, resulting in both Eagles and Matthews qualifying for the Volume 68 main event.
Drummond’s availability to notice that Matthews had tapped out for me was the major Chekov’s Gun that made the Volume 68 finish work and make sense in the context of the storyline. If he had not seen the submission, Matthews would have claimed her win over Eagles, and gone into a three way with Melissa and Athena for the championship, instead of a four way with Eagles also involved. So for Nicole’s plan to work, she needed to make sure that every single referee in SHIMMER was knocked out when the time was right. If just one referee noticed that Matthews was planning to disfigure Eagles to the point of being stunned for a three count, then that would be a disqualification, even in a four way elimination match, and Matthews couldn’t take that chance. It’s similar in ways to movies where the villain needs to commit a crime so disgusting that in addition to killing the main target, they also need to kill every possible eye-witness in order to get away with it.
Sure, Matthews could have just blasted Eagles with a steel chair or something to that extent, but if you’ve watched the Canadian Ninjas for any extended period of time, then you’ll know that they’re based very heavily on Memphis territory heel tag teams, who use stalling tactics, bump all over the place for the babyface team, and then use the most nefarious means ever to steal victories. The most famous heel in the Memphis territory was a certain Jerry “The King” Lawler, and one of his most celebrated traits was the amount of fireballs he threw at opponents. So given the influences of Matthews and Perez, what else would Nicole do to cement herself in SHIMMER folklore and claim the biggest prize in the promotion?
Being there in the front row on Saturday night, I cannot forget the disgusting stench that came following the launch of the fireball. I could still smell it the next morning. And leaving the Eagles Club at gone 11pm on Saturday night (thanks to technical difficulties between the two volumes), I was kind of surprised to read that people weren’t happy about the finish due to the overbooking. And they’re entitled to think that way, but when you consider the roots of the storyline, and the roots of how Nicole Matthews has been booked over the past several years, in addition to the events of earlier in the day, then you can truly appreciate why the SHIMMER booking committee went with what they did. And the bottom line is that one of the most entertaining partnerships of the past year in the company is now it’s hottest… no pun intended.
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