Four shows, two days… and a lot of upheaval. EVE’s second annual SHE-1 series is in the books, and it was quite a weekend.
We’ll look to have more in-depth coverage of some of these matches after they’ve dropped on EVE on Demand (which you really ought to subscribe to for these shows, and the rest of their library); our Flickr and Instagram feeds have dozens of photos from the weekend, but really, there’s no substitute for video. Especially when EVE on Demand has a free trial!
In the meantime though, here’s a few thoughts on most of the 23 matches that the Resistance Gallery played witness to (with apologies to the matches we’ve skipped, as the notes I’d taken on my phone disappeared into the ether…)
SHE 1 Block A: Millie McKenzie vs. Viper
We shot out of the gates with this one – the newly-crowned EVE International champion starting her campaign with a win, over a Millie McKenzie whom in recent shows has been adopting a “Young Lion” role it seems, picking up loss after loss after loss since she qualified for the tournament. A game outing that ended with Millie trapping Viper in a Cobra Clutch, dragging the champion down to the mat, only to get pinned as she lost track of where her shoulders were. A “too focused on one thing to notice something else” loss, which may not be your cup of tea, but looked to be playing into a longer-term change in attitude here.
SHE 1 Block A: Jamie Hayter vs. Madison Eagles
Maybe our favourite match of the entire weekend, this one looked to be a blow-out win for the debuting Eagles, but Jamie managed to get back into the match and ended up taking the win. There was a weird spot where there was a submission hold with both Hayter and Eagles in the ropes for the entire time – but the referee, despite looking at it throughout, didn’t call it until “it was time”. Look, if that’s a planned thing and you’re out of position, break it, do something in-between and go back to it, rather than have the referee look like a fool – unless it’s part of his act. Slight negativity aside, this was the first time we’d seen Madison wrestle live, and she left a huge impression. Hopefully this isn’t a one-and-done for Eagles in the UK, as she impressed across all four shows… and if the VOD lives up to our memory, this is making that nice long list of matches we’ve got to bookmark for the year. In fact, this outing alone instantly shot Madison up towards the top of our photographer Jen’s list of favourite wrestlers… which is saying a LOT!
SHE 1 Block B: Rhia O’Reilly vs. Kris Wolf
Perhaps memorable for all the wrong reasons – the underlying story going into this year’s SHE 1 was that Rhia O’Reilly was competing in her first tournament, having had to watch last year’s from the sidelines having broken her ankle. Unbeknownst to most of us, Rhia had tweaked her knee wrestling for Courage Wrestling in Ireland a few weeks ago, and was looking to gut through the tournament. Problem was, part-way during her match with Kris Wolf, her knee buckled, and all plans were thrown out of the window. A win for Kris in rather unfortunate circumstances… and rather than focus on the bad news coming out of this, perhaps we can grab a new euphemism out of Kris Wolf, when she noted that referee Chris Hatch “smelled like hard work”. You can take that how-e-ver you want!
SHE 1 Block C: Jetta vs. Command Bolshoi
Aside from a quick watch of a WRESTLE-1 show the day before, this was the first time I’d ever seen Command Bolshoi. I’m not in the same group as those who “weren’t blown away”, since you have to temper your expectations when someone’s in the twilight of their career, Command more than played her part across the whole weekend. Here though, she provided a base for Jetta to remind us that she’s so much more than a comedy worker (indy or otherwise!), and despite coming up short, there’s plenty in the Jetta playbook.
SHE 1 Block A: Viper vs. Madison Eagles
In the EVE pyramid, Viper is up in the so-called “God tier” of performers, picking up wins against the majority of the roster. Up against a fly-in like Eagles, this was an interesting bout, and one that had Eagles on a par with Viper for most of the match. Eagles’ submission game more than grounded Viper, but in the end it was the newly-crowned International champion who took home the win and set up a tantalising finale with Jamie Hayter.
SHE 1 Block C: Kasey vs. Command Bolshoi
Telling a crowd you’ve a fear of clowns perhaps isn’t the best thing to do when you’ve got a mob that loves to antagonise you. Sorry Kasey! Still, it didn’t overshadow the entire match – although the fear didn’t help Kasey as she fell to another loss… which set up two matches for show three: a battle of those with 100% and 0% records looking to avoid varying failures.
SHE 1 Block C: Jetta vs. Toni Storm
All the comedy here, with Jetta coming out dressed as Toni Storm… and the shenanigans continued as Toni mirrored her foe. It nearly worked, as Jetta convinced Toni to do her “signature pose” (which was “lay down and cover your eyes”)… except referee Chris Hatch refused to help Jetta to an easy win, as he’d not started the match. As for the rest… well, watch it yourself!
SHE 1 Block B: Erin Angel vs. Charlie Morgan
This was not a match that anyone expected this weekend, with Angel having been a late replacement for Jinny, while Charlie Morgan was a fill-in replacement for the injured Rhia O’Reilly. Always bring your gear, folks! Despite the lack of advance warning, these two looked comfortable against each other, even if the match didn’t seem to go too long. That being said, when you look at their places in the EVE roster, there was only ever going to be one winner…
SHE 1 Block B: Charli Evans vs. Kris Wolf
…or perhaps this ought to be Charli vs. Kris & Tito, I’m guessing since Charli thought she’d have better luck against the wolf’s head. She almost did… but then had to turn to use Kris’ tail against her. Continued animal cruelty against Kris and the wolf proved to be Evans’ undoing, as an angry wolf took the win.
SHE 1 Block A: Millie McKenzie vs. Jamie Hayter
As her fifth match in two days (having gone all the way to the finals of Southside’s Queen of the Ring tournament the prior night), this was perhaps where the wheels really began to fall off of Millie’s campaign. Having already lost to Viper after being overly-focused, she was caught off guard here by Jamie Hayter using weapons. Yeah, I don’t know why that was allowed – having watched Command Attention without commentary, there may be a reason… but not knowing that, it really took you out of the match for a while. Despite Millie trying to put her through a board in the corner, your winner via making the most of her unfair advantage… Jamie Hayter, whose unbeaten singles run in EVE rolls on!
SHE 1 Block A: Millie McKenzie vs. Madison Eagles
At this point, Millie was about 10% KT tape, and with Madison Eagles looking for a win, this was pretty much a gimme as the Aussie’s submissions game helped her get the win in barely two minutes.
SHE 1 Block A: Viper vs. Jamie Hayter
… and we had a similarly quick win here. With Hayter attacking Viper with a chair on the stairway, we had a pre-match brawl in the crowd, but the use of weapons kept Hayter ahead before the bell. Once the bell did ring, Jamie made quick work of the International champion, putting Viper away with a curb stomp onto a chair in under a minute. Statement. Made.
SHE 1 Block C: Kasey vs. Jetta
Both women came into this with the Eurovision nul point, and in reality this was a dead rubber. As a testament to how well EVE have built characters, this match which could have had no real meaningful outcome was perhaps the hottest match on the card, as the crowd fully rallied behind Jetta. Kasey targeted Jetta’s arm throughout, going after it in a bid to force a submission, while Jetta’s big hope came from the back cracker and Japanese stranglehold combo, but in the end, Jetta had to really cling on and ride out the time limit… while begrudgingly getting the respect of her Northern Irish opponent. Yeah, Dann’s overly loud time checks on commentary may have tipped off the finish, but that didn’t kill any of the drama, especially after last year had a similar tease that didn’t pay off.
SHE 1 Block B: Erin Angel vs. Kris Wolf
Coming into show three having already qualified, the onus here was for Kris Wolf to get through the match unscathed… against an Erin Angel who was pretty much playing for pride. We had a bit more of the comedy here, as Kris got a little too hound-like, finding Jamie Hayter’s stick that had been left from under the ring earlier. Erin made her play fetch, before offering a treat… cooked chicken. Fortunately for Kris, the meat didn’t provide too much of a distraction and she was able to complete her campaign with a 100% record.
SHE 1 Block C: Toni Storm vs. Command Bolshoi
This was the last “big match” to finish off the SHE 1 finals, with Wolf and Hayter having already qualified. Perhaps here was where Storm’s youth paid off, as she was able to stay a step ahead of the veteran. My overthinking mind perhaps looked a little too deep into this, especially as we knew that Jamie Hayter and Kris Wolf were the other finalists – which meant that whomever won here was a moot point, since EVE had already built up something between the other block winners. Toni took the win with a Strong Zero piledriver, and that wrapped up a 100% successful block for the Mae Young Classic winner.
Charli Evans vs. Madison Eagles
Our first non-tournament match was one that Charli Evans had apparently as a dream match – and on paper, it was executed really well. With Madison’s only win in the block being the injury-curtailed victory over Millie, this was her chance to shine, and shine she did. Go out of your way to catch this on EVE On Demand, as you’ll not be disappointed – Eagles’ ground based, submissions offence edged her ahead, and made sure it was the “visiting” Aussie who left, while the UK-based Aussie was left licking her wounds, having to pick herself up for whatever’s next for her in EVE.
Speaking of Madison… can one of the many bookers of intergender wrestling put her in with Chris Brookes? Maybe that’s one for Game Changer Wrestling’s Bloodsport no-ropes show… since the pair of them would easily get rope breaks…
Erin Angel & Jetta vs. Millie McKenzie & Command Bolshoi
Another fun match, originally sparking when Millie McKenzie – from Coventry – helped stake a claim that she was one of Coventry’s best wrestlers. Running through the rest of Jetta’s nicknames led us to wonder “she can’t be the Princess Diana of British wrestling, then what can she be… Jetta gave us an answer. Sarah Ferguson. I’m pretty sure Millie might have had to Google the reference… as for the match, well, we saw another glimmer of “evil Millie”, who again found herself taking the fall – and she might well have been inspired by Command Bolshoi’s gleeful responses when Millie was on top. A win for the reunited WrestleFriends – and more seeds sewn for the months ahead for all three regulars.
Kasey vs. Laura di Matteo
With Kasey still getting taunted about clowns, this was a perfect match for Laura di Matteo to come in and stake her claim for a regular spot, having been on and off the cards since failing to qualify for SHE 1. This was a pretty solid match, with both Laura and Kasey looking good, but in the end we came down to a new-ish storyline as Kasey claimed she was forced to “represent Ireland alone” because of injuries to Rhia O’Reilly, and her sister Leah as well. It backfired, as Laura di Matteo got the win – leaving Kasey fuming and win-less all weekend.
SHE 1 Final: Jamie Hayter vs. Toni Storm vs. Kris Wolf
The obvious stories in this match, first and foremost – Jamie Hayter’s unbeaten run in singles matches… the lone bad guy against two good guys, but also, Kris Wolf unusually straying from a pack mentality and wanting to win the match for herself meant that we had a three-way with only flashes of double-teaming. Hayter went even deeper into her bag of plunder, tying Wolf’s hands to the gantry to keep her out of the picture for a while. Eventually, Kris got free and fought back, almost getting the win as she looked to powerbomb Toni Storm through a table… but in the end Toni escaped and hit a Strong Zero piledriver through the (real) table, only for Hayter to throw her out and steal the win. I’m sure there’ll be some comeback from that, but in the end Jamie leaves the Resistance Gallery with the statue of an eaten apple, and becomes the new Ace of Eve…
Pro Wrestling EVE Championship: Kay Lee Ray vs. Charlie Morgan (c) vs. Nina Samuels
…which, coincidentally, was one of the titles Charlie Morgan held coming into this weekend. We started with a game of “can you top this?” between Morgan and Ray, who looked to out-daredevil each other as they went for their finishers and dives early. In the end, Charlie’s attempt at being fearless ended up being her undoing, as she went up to the gantry for a senton bomb on Kay Lee Ray… only for the Scotswoman to miss… and then…
Coming in through the (only) door, was the returning Nina Samuels, complete with her Wildcard Contract taped to a chair. While this wasn’t a quick win, we went a little longer, with Nina throwing her chair at Kay Lee Ray, before notably pinning Morgan with a Go To Sleep to complete the shock and wrap up the weekend with an unexpected title win.
Some have already brought up the Christian Jakobi saying that “it can’t be Christmas every day”, and while some may say that the Charlie Morgan reign was perhaps starting to run out of steam, it will be interesting to see where we head with Nina Samuels as champion. Much like WWE were want to do with their Money in the Bank holders, Samuels ate losses for fun before she “left”, so Nina’s got some ready made challengers… oh, and Jamie Hayter, assuming she’s still champion by the time we hit WrestleQueendom.
Across these shows, it was notable that in spite of the injuries and withdrawals, none of this felt like we were watching a show that was rewritten or rushed to make up for injuries. Outside of EVE, the sphere of women’s wrestling is one that’s seemingly being hijacked for the sake of public relations… but aside from that, it was utterly refreshing being able to see fully-fleshed characters in their element. Be it good guys, bad guys, everything inbetween… without having to rely on the crutch of “the heels can only ever call their opponents the B-word” that seems to be the template used pretty much elsewhere. Who knew that characters could be so nuanced? Or shows be so fun without it feeling forced?
You can check out our photo galleries of these four shows at our Flickr page, while all four shows will appear to stream via EVE’s on-demand service – which at time of writing has a seven day free trial. We’ll be cherry picking some of our favourite matches in the weeks ahead for those who care about star ratings!