This past weekend, we were at the Resistance Gallery for two days of Pro Wrestling EVE – and a trio of shows that left us feeling positive about the overall wrestling scene.

We’ve covered EVE once on this site before – their “Lets Make History!” show from March 2016, in what was their return after almost three years off. Since then, they’re run twice more – May’s “After The Storm” (which we’ve bought the DVD of, and will be reviewing soon), and last November’s “Never Mind The Bollocks” (which isn’t getting a formal release, but we should be covering too, as technical issues during recording left the group feeling unable to release it for sale; but if you get hold of “After The Storm”, they’re giving away the November show too). Those shows featured a number one contender’s tournament (May) and the first-ever European appearance of Manami Toyota last November.

That all led to hattrick of shows over this past weekend in their new home of Bethnal Green’s Resistance Gallery, with Japanese legend Meiko Satomura being the star attraction, with other big names on the card including Emi Sakura, Rhia O’Reilly, Nixon Newell and an EVE debutant in Martina. Going in, I was only really familiar with the names that had appeared in PROGRESS and for Southside – the likes of Nixon Newell, Laura Di Matteo, Jinny and to a lesser extent, the Owens Twins. So, a lot of unfamiliar names, and a lot of potential for pleasant surprises… and I’ll be honest, these shows delivered and then some!

We’ll do full reviews of these shows when they land on DVD, but some passing notes:

A Day At The Resistance (the afternoon show)
Only five matches, but plenty of fun here, starting with veteran Jetta taking on Martina in a match which opened my eyes to Martina. Having only seen her in OTT, this was an opportunity to see the act in a new setting. It was a comedy match, but these are only ever bad if they outstay their welcome. This didn’t, so it gets a thumbs up – everyone played their part, didn’t do more than they needed to (nor should, for an opener).

Leah Owens beat Jinny in the second match, with Jinny continuing to be the heat magnet she’s carved herself out to be. This year she’s upped her look a little, down to a high necklace that photographer-turned-ref Rob Brazier inadvertantly damaged. A single-leg crab got Leah the win here, whilst Kasey Owens beat Dahlia Black via a roll-up in a match that saw a major distraction from Martina, who’d taken to the bar after her match to provide some insight.

The afternoon show featured two co-main events: firstly, the BAE Club of Sammii Jayne and Debbie Sharpe going over Laura Di Matteo and Rhia O’Reilly. Laura took the fall after being isolated for most of the match, but the BAE Club put the exclaimation mark on things when they continued the attack after the match, singling out Rhia and dropping her with a backbreaker through a pair of chairs. That looked ultra-painful, and led to the show being stopped for a period whilst Rhia was checked on.

After that impromptu break, we got on with our main event – a six-woman tag pitting Erin Angel, Nixon Newell and Emi Sakura, against the trio of Shanna, Nina Samuels (who was not best pleased with the crowd making fun of vocalising her name to the sound of a police siren) and Meiko Satomura. A fun tag team main event, featuring an insane dive from the rafters by Shanna onto the opposing team, but it was a moonsault from Sakura to Samuels that earned the win.

A Night At The Resistance (the evening show)
A much tighter affair, starting a little bit late, with no intermission and little in the way of “between the matches banter”.

The opening match was the pay-off to an angle from the afternoon show, where Dahlia Black took on Martina. As usual, “Mr Dahlia Black” (TK Cooper) was present, and I can attest, his gimmick of staring you in the eyes as he’s making out with Dahlia is even more creepy in person than it is on tape. He was right next to us for most of the match, coaching Dahlia from the floor… and eventually getting a faceful of Martina by way of a Bronco Buster. In the end, it was something else from TK’s mouth that played into the win – a spraying of beer that blinded Martina for so long that she got rolled up and pinned.

The best part of that match? Afterwards, Martina was reunited with her can. The sheer joy on her face when she realised it was her drink… we can all relate to that!

After that was a somewhat one-sided tag match as the Owens Twins lost to Nina Samuels and Shanna. This was pretty much a handicap match as the eviltons of Nina and Shanna jumped Kasey and Leah during their entrance, leaving Kasey down for the entire match. A Dragon suplex from Shanna to Leah was enough for the W – and perhaps stake a claim for the upcoming EVE tag team title tournament… which wasn’t the only tournament that they announced over the weekend!

Next was Laura Di Matteo, who was sporting a black eye after her efforts earlier in the day, taking on Debbie Sharp. This was the first time I’d seen Sharp in singles action, and it’s no secret that Di Matteo has become one to watch, with in-ring work that belies her two years of experience (blame Cagematch if that’s off!). A lot of this match was Debbie taking shots at Laura’s eye, and a couple of fans too, before Di Matteo picked up the win with a rolling DDT.

Erin Angel picked up what’d have to be a shock win over Nixon Newell in what may well be Nixon’s final match with the promotion, if you believe the rumours. With a long-term stay in Orlando supposedly in Nixon’s imminent future, she played a quasi-heel here, apologetically putting a beating on Erin. Angel was another one of those that I’d never seen before these shows (despite having been wrestling for almost fourteen years), and she looked pretty good here, taking the win with the Southampton Destroyer, after backdropping out of Newell’s Welsh-flavoured version.

Meiko Satomura armbars Sammii Jayne (Pro Wrestling EVE, February 18, 2017)

Two singles matches headlined the evening show: first up, Sammii Jayne against Meiko Satomura. Add both names to the “not seen before” list, but I came out of the shows incredibly impressed, particularly since (I hope) both laid into each other and pulled no punches. In the end, Jayne was forced to tap to an armbar, but earned the respect of Satomura in the end.

Finally for Saturday night, the main event for the title, with Rhia O’Reilly taking on Emi Sakura in a rematch from November’s “Never Mind The Bollocks…” show. Again, another fun match, with Sakura ending the night two-for-two in terms of leaving the ring with a bloodied mouth (and, according to Meiko Satomura’s Twitter, a broken tooth). As a former champion, there was no issue with the whole “suspension of disbelief” in thinking that she might not win… and when she almost dropped O’Reilly on her head with a Tiger Driver, that could have been it! In the end though, the Rhiadjustment (double underhook DDT) was enough to retain the title.

In terms of follow-up shows, EVE have announced their next two sets: May 20th and 21st back at the Resistance Gallery, along with another four-shows-in-two-days pairing for the first ever SHE-1 Climax. A tournament isn’t going to have an insane number of wrestlers, but will have a name that’s so bad it’s good!

Whilst the format of that SHE-1 isn’t clear yet, there’s also the EVE tag team title tournament on the horizon. The previous incarnation of EVE was mid-way through a tag title tournament in 2013, which seemed to stop at the semi-final stages… and with one-half of those semi-finalists now retired (Carmel Jacobs), this’ll likely be a refresh featuring the BAE Club, Shanna/Nina, possibly Rhia/Laura and whatever other combinations we get – assuming the upcoming-but-still-only-rumoured WWE women’s tournament doesn’t hoover up any more talent!

The next day saw EVE host a training seminar with Emi Sakura (sans broken tooth, sadly). Whilst that seminar, for the obvious reasons, wasn’t open to the public, there was a free show (“Fight Like A Girl”) held in the afternoon featuring trainees and some names who (if you squint) might have been familiar to you!

With injuries to trainees and other talent curtailing the show, we were left with a four-match card, which considering the relative experience levels and the nerves that no doubt would have been somewhere (given who was training them and organising the show), was really good. Definitely, nobody disgraced themselves on the show, with the crowd of around thirty having a good time. Even if a familiar face pushed the “family show” envelope!

Ashleigh Stark and Lola (or Miss Lola Sparks, as she wrestles as in the Anglian Falling Starr promotion) kicked us off, before Voodoo Queen Amarah made an appearance. Once they found the right music! In terms of character, I enjoyed Amarah’s act the most out of the trainees, fully invested in an act that some could simplify down to the Boogey-woman. Except with much better wrestling.

Amarah’s opponent here was Evelyn – a “girl next door” kind, almost in the mould of a Nixon Newell. The final two matches featured some sort-of familiar faces, with a “weird atmospheric storm” overnight giving us a reimagining… first-up, we had Debbie Jayne BaeBae, who was certainly not Rhia O’Reilly in one of the BAE Club’s outfits, against Nye-oh – a Londoner who’s been trained at Robbie Brookside’s school. Nye-oh looked pretty good here against a more experienced opponent, despite going down in defeat to a powerbomb after being caught on the top rope.

Our main event saw another familiar face, as “Shonda” (nope, not Shanna playing a version of White Goodman from Dodgeball… or Simon Dean on acid) took on Mischa East, a name that’s familiar to hardcore PROGRESS fans for the last few years. As for Shonda, let’s just say that having a character of a fitness model works in a comedy sense – especially the power-walking off an Irish whip, and mocking her opponent with squat thrusts.

All-in-all, for my first live exposure to Pro Wrestling EVE (and all-women’s shows in general), this was massively enjoyable. From the intimate atmosphere of the Resistance Gallery – a venue which is quickly becoming a favourite for wrestling – down to the unique feel to the shows themselves, this felt like an event, rather than “just another show”. After all, where else are you going to see a wrestling show with imagery of maybe-Donald Trump being piledriven?

Going behind the shows, promotions like EVE are important for the wrestling scene as a whole. Without groups like this giving exposure to up and coming talent, there’s the real risk of a vacuum being left when the big names leave for pastures new (either temporarily or permanently). Sure, there are promotions who make a point of running women’s matches, and in some cases, all-female shows, but without being too negative, those shows do tend to run the same names over and over again.

You can only get better through experience, and as long as there’s groups like EVE (and other all-womens groups such as Empress Pro and Bellatrix), then the whole of the British wrestling scene can continue to prosper. Equally. It’s no surprise to existing fans, but Dann and Emily Read have something really special going on with EVE. No matter what views you have on their “Piledrive a Fascist” t-shirt (I for one think it’s an awesome design – and message!), this is a promotion that’s built from the heart, and has real feeling to it. It’s not just another pro wrestling show!  If it’s a journey you can make, it’s well worth making your way to the inconspicuous industrial unit underneath the railway arches in a backstreet in Bethnal Green…

Tickets for EVE’s next batches of shows in May and November will be on-sale shortly – check them out on Twitter and Facebook for more details.