In the fall of 2016, I take the train to Chicago to watch an all-women’s wrestling show. Not the first of its kind, not by a long shot, but it’s the first I’ve been to: a production of Shimmer Women Athletes, an independent promotion founded in 2005 with the goal of showcasing the world’s finest female wrestlers, women who — at the time — had few options when it came to plying their formidable skills on a grander stage.
A ring has been set up under the crown molding and fluorescent lights of Logan Square Auditorium, and a few hundred folding chairs surround the ropes. Heaps of merchandise form a blockade along one wall, each table helmed by a wrestler selling shirts with her own slogan on them, posters of her own face. In the 10-plus years of Shimmer’s existence, performers from Beth Phoenix to Becky Lynch (and Natalya, Paige, Bayley, Asuka, Ember Moon, Billie Kay, and more) have been part of the roster; Sara Del Rey — also known as Sara Amato, the assistant head coach of World Wrestling Entertainment’s developmental division — was Shimmer’s inaugural champion.
Tonight, the championship is carried by Mercedes Martinez, a 16-year veteran of the independent wrestling circuit and a sneering heel inside the ring. Outside of it, she’s confident and kind, sure-footed in her answers to my questions. “Respect,” she says, without a second thought, when I ask about the draw of competing for an all-women’s promotion … Read the Full Story HERE