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BANK ON HISTORY #1 - When Larry Sweeney Went to SHIMMER

On October 19, 2008, a true time capsule moment happened in independent wrestling that symbolized quite many things in one five-minute segment:

It was the beginning of the end of the “golden era” of Ring of Honor.

It was the first and only time a male performer made an appearance for SHIMMER Women Athletes.

It further symbolized the alliance between both promotions.

The moment might not actually have meant anything at the time, but in complete hindsight almost fifteen and a half years later, it was massive.

BANK ON HISTORY remembers the time Larry Sweeney from Ring of Honor’s Sweet and Sour Inc made an appearance on SHIMMER Volume 22, representing his client, Sara Del Rey.


At ROH International Challenge on December 22, 2006, “Sweet and Sour” Larry Sweeney, a brash, ultra-charismatic performer, trained at the CHIKARA Wrestle Factory, made his surprise Ring of Honor debut, helping Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli - the Kings of Wrestling - to defeat Jay and Mark Briscoe. However, Sweeney wouldn’t be in ROH, representing the ICW/ICWA as its Texarkana Television Champion. He had bigger fish to fry.

The next night, after the former ROH Tag Team Champions lost a rematch to the Briscoes, Sweeney announced that Chris Hero signed an exclusive contract with him as his agent and the Kings of Wrestling would be no more.

What people forget about this time is that originally, Claudio signed a contract with WWE and was scheduled to have Final Battle as his last date with ROH. However, due to reasons not known to this day, Castagnoli was released prematurely and would be staying in the indies. But with Final Battle announced as his “farewell”, the end was actually the finale of the KOW, and Hero would be going on his own with Sweeney.

Heading into 2007, Sweeney would start his agency Sweet and Sour Incorporated, building an entire organization of money-first athletes. The “Super Agent” spared no expense on helping his talent, including hiring “the All Natural Superior Athlete” Tank Toland to be the group’s inclusive trainer. Throughout the next two years, Sweet and Sour Inc signed a plethora of great talent and orchestrated mergers to only enhance the greatness of the agency.

Sweeney signed Matt Sydal in the Summer of 2007 and orchestrated a deal to bring him to the WWE. Bobby Dempsey joined the group to be molded into what a Sweet and Sour Inc performer needed to be to become a star. During Final Battle weekend in 2007, 2004 WWE Tough Enough Winner Daniel Puder was hired to be the Sweet and Sour shooter and the mercenary to destroy Claudio. 

In 2008, Sweet and Sour Inc merged with the Hangmen Three and broke up the No Remorse Corps, gaining exclusive access to future ROH World Champion Davey Richards. He even brought in Eddie Edwards as a blue-chip, can’t miss prospect.

But the one signing he made in the Spring of 2007 during the “Respect Is Earned” pay-per-view debut was one of long-term significance that became one of the biggest coos for all of professional wrestling: SARA DEL REY.


You cannot talk about the women’s revolution in professional wrestling without mentioning “the Death Rey” Sara Del Rey.

Trained at the All Pro Wrestling school in 2001 by Donovan Morgan and a relative unknown by the name of Bryan Danielson, Del Rey quickly developed a unique wrestling style and combined with her power and size, became a can’t miss commodity in professional wrestling. During the initial “golden era” days of ROH, Del Rey, alongside Allison Danger, Daizee Haze, and Lacey, were stalwarts, helping establish a new generation of women’s wrestling to the independents: hard-hitting, technically sound, and in your face.

In 2008, Del Rey even became a “champion” in ROH, holding the ROH Intergender Tag Team Championships with Hero; sadly, those belts were not officially recognized by the promotion, as it was only a power play by Sweet and Sour Inc to force more money to go into the pockets of Sweeney and his talents.

Del Rey was respected by ROH and independent wrestling fans for her no-nonsense attitude and her ability to take it to every opponent she faced. At the time, she was an anomaly.

But in 2005, along with a group of immensely talented female performers, Del Rey helped change the game in the American independent scene, being a part of the original talent roster of SHIMMER Women Athletes.


SHIMMER was founded in 2005 by Dave Prazak and Allison Danger. Prazak, an independent wrestling manager and standout commentator, and Danger, the sister of the “King of Old School” Steve Corino and an outstanding women’s wrestler, best known for being the right hand to Christopher Daniels in the Prophecy in ROH, started the promotion to help create a platform for women’s wrestling and to help establish a legitimate entity to where female combatants could perform; a complete 180 from how WWE, at the time, were showcasing their women as “Divas”.

Almost instantly, the DVD volumes of SHIMMER were a hot seller at The promotion quickly grew on the indies as a must-see entity. Fans would make the trek to the Eagles Club in Berwyn, IL to watch the best women’s wrestling in the United States every three months or so. Talent like Danger, MsChif, Cheerleader Melissa, Rain, and Nikki Roxx stood out instantly.

Del Rey was no different. In fact, she had an absolute fight with the great Mercedes Martinez, going to a twenty-minute draw, during Volume 1 on November 6. From that point on, Del Rey was frequently at the top of the card, putting on great matches with Daizee Haze, Nattie Neidhart, the Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew, and two more with Martinez.

On June 1-2, 2007, “the Death Rey” won a sixteen-woman, single elimination tournament during Volumes 11 and 12 to become the first ever SHIMMER Champion, defeating Cindy Rogers, Alicia, Sarah Stock, and Roxx in the finals to accomplish this feat.

Del Rey successfully defended her SHIMMER title six times, defeating Lacey twice, Amazing Kong, Sarah Stock in a two-out-of-three falls match, Daizee Haze, and MsChif. Interesting note, the second defense against Lacey and the fifth against Haze actually happened on ROH events (Death Before Dishonor V Night 2 on 8/11/07 & Sixth Anniversary Show on 2/23/08 respectively). Although never officially stated as such, the connection between ROH and SHIMMER was evident.

On her seventh defense of the SHIMMER Title during Volume 18 on April 26, 2008 at the Eagles Club, Del Rey lost her championship to MsChif in the main event, surprising a lot of talent and fans. However, the loss of the championship began a descent into madness for “the Death Rey”.

Her look changed, with face paint above her eyes, as well as her gear and demeanor. Looking more like the American Bull Nakano, Del Rey became more violent and even more serious in both Ring of Honor and SHIMMER. Becoming a hitman for Sweet and Sour Inc, Del Rey’s perspective became domination at all costs. She even stood up to “the Gun for Hire” Brent Albright several times. No fear wasn’t just a moniker; it was a way of life.

During SHIMMER Volume 19 on July 5, a battle royal took place in which the winner would receive a SHIMMER title shot against MsChif. Surviving to the final three, Del Rey was primed to eliminate Jetta when, out of nowhere, Ariel surprised her and pulled off an elimination! Just as quick, Del Rey pulled Ariel out of the ring and started pummeling her on the floor. Technically eliminated, Jetta won the title shot against MsChif, but Del Rey unlocked pure aggression. 

Del Rey then beat Ariel later on in the night, and during the same day taping of Volume 20, Del Rey picked apart a game Serena Deeb and tapped her out for her second straight win. Consumed with gaining another title opportunity, Del Rey wanted it at any cost.

After beating Deeb AGAIN at Volume 21 on October 19 in Berwyn, Del Rey came out later in the night during the Volume 22 taping and discussed her issues regarding contracts on gaining her rematch at the SHIMMER Championship. However, one phrase came out of her mouth that instantly raised eyebrows:

“I don’t read contracts. I’m too important. I have someone who does that for me.”

Seconds later, “More, More, More” by the Andrea True Connection hit the PA. Fans thought they knew, but weren’t too sure on who and if it was who it was.

Suddenly, in his brown suit with yellow shirt, aviator sunglasses, and his crocodile skin boots, out walked the leader of Sweet and Sour Incorporated, LARRY SWEENEY.

After mocking the fans of Berwyn, IL, Sweeney started bestowing the virtues of Sara Del Rey in the middle of the ring, stating that she was the Best Women’s Wrestler in the World. After discussing how he would not grant Del Rey permission to give Deeb a third match, he stated that he would get her the mandatory rematch at the SHIMMER Championship. However, it wouldn’t be at Berwyn, IL; it would be in a Ring of Honor ring, as the “nose pickers and bedwetters” did not deserve her presence. 

He then told Del Rey to relax in the Sweet and Sour limo and rest up. After bidding them a “genuine” adieu, he followed up with “kiss my ass” and left with his client up the aisle.

Later on in the night, Del Rey wound up trying to get a sneak attack on Deeb, and an impromptu match took place. Deeb got her win finally, but after Del Rey attacked her again after the bell, MsChif made the save, and Sweeney came back out and pulled her to safety, yelling at the referee and fans alike.


This moment was truly lightning in a bottle for multiple reasons:

It was the beginning of the end of the “golden era” of Ring of Honor. Legitimately one week later, Gabe Sapolsky was fired from Ring of Honor as booker. The creative process went through a subtle but obvious change. Also, within six months, due to mental health issues, Larry Sweeney found himself outside of ROH, causing Shane Hagadorn to take over managerial duties for all of Sweeney’s clients, ultimately phasing out Sweet and Sour Inc by the Summer of 2009.

It was the first and only time a male performer made an appearance for SHIMMER Women Athletes. With the exception of commentators and ring announcers, the only on-air character to ever appear as a SHIMMER performer on every Volume of their promotion was Larry Sweeney. Of course, it was a rare exception, as Sweeney was Sara Del Rey’s “super agent” and not a wrestler, but regardless, that is an incredible distinction to have. 

It further symbolized the alliance between both promotions. Indeed, Sara Del Rey did have her SHIMMER Championship match at the ROH Rising Above pay-per-view taping on November 22 in Chicago, IL. MsChif successfully retained her championship, and “the Death Rey” never received another shot at the belt. But up until this point, the ROH/SHIMMER relationship was a solid one.

On both ends of the spectrum, this story has some interesting endings.

Sadly, on April 11, 2011, Larry Sweeney sadly took his own life at 30 years old. Even though it’s been almost thirteen years later, in this writer’s opinion, “Sweet and Sour” was the greatest manager of the modern era of pro wrestling. He took his old school spirit and mixed it with modern audiences and truly mastered the art of being a sleazy agent, only about the money. Ain’t no doubt about it that he is missed every day and he truly is one of the rare people I wonder “What If?” about when it comes to pro wrestling in 2024.

Sara Del Rey retired in 2012 from active in-ring competition, only to become a trainer down in the WWE Performance Center in Florida. She worked tirelessly to become the assistant head coach alongside Matt “A-Train” Bloom and has had a hand in developing the next generation of stars in the industry.

SHIMMER Women Athletes continued giving a platform to the best women’s wrestlers in the world until November 2021, when the company ended operations. To this day, SHIMMER possessed a “trust the process” mentality as it came towards developing a revolution, and the hard work of Prazak and Danger paid off. Their talents made a dream happen and helped make pro wrestling a stronger industry because of it.

History is always a deep dive back. Blink or you will miss it.


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