The third-ever Ace of Eve was crowned this past weekend, as the apple core trophy found a new home.

As ever, the finals came from the Resistance Gallery, with Leah Owens and Sierra Loxton on commentary.

SHE-1 2019 Block B Playoff: Gisele Shaw vs. Millie McKenzie vs. Laura Di Matteo
The winner of this faces Mercedes Martinez and Rhia O’Reilly in the final later on tonight… Millie’s getting more maniacal with her “Emily’s my best friend” shtick, it seems.

Gisele jumps both opponents before the bell, but Millie’s quickly back to drop her with a neckbreaker before di Matteo locked horns with Millie. They picked up where they left off hours earlier, but Shaw provided that X-factor, taking Millie outside before going to work on Laura. An elbow keeps the Italian in the corner, but di Matteo’s back… and takes Shaw outside as Millie swapped in. Duelling forearms are next, before commentary picked up Shaw on the balcony. Ring crew hit the ring as she decided to hit the Air Canada tornillo off the balcony, which was enough for her to get a bunch of two-counts on di Matteo.

Laura returns fire with a lungblower, only for Rhia O’Reilly’s music to hit. Since this isn’t WWE, Laura doesn’t instantly freeze, but instead got distracted when Rhia got to the ring… it left her open for a knee and a DDT from Shaw, before Millie came back with spears to Shaw, then di Matteo for the win. Well, that keeps the thread between di Matteo and Rhia going, and I guess it’s done without them even touching. Good job on that, although this entire match was over in ten minutes – entrances and all, so perhaps a touch rushed ***

O’Reilly rushes the ring and curb stomps di Matteo after the match. Eh, if it was like the ones Jetta got earlier, she’ll be fine. Laura shoves down Dann Read afterwards, and I’m sure that new Charlie Morgan shirt that people are wearing is just an awkward case of people not coordinating their wardrobes.

We’re still not done though: Gisele hung back to tell the crowd that she’s proven she is the “Golden Standard of EVE”, even if she couldn’t win the Ace of EVE trophy. She gets mouthy, telling the crowd she’s shown she’s fearless… and that’s the cue. Right on time, Jessie J hits, as Charlie Morgan hits the ring to correct Gisele. Charlie told the crowd that “if you’re not the first, you’re not making history”, in reference to the SHE-1, while Gisele showed her human soundboarding skills. Shaw mocked Charlie’s bad leg, and got superkicked for it… If you’re thinking this was the seeds of a Charlie Morgan return, you might want to pump the brakes – EVE posted on social media afterwards that that’s not the plan, but we all know what wrestling and retirements are like…

Mei Suruga vs. Lulu Pencil
Baliyan Akki was on hand to be the special guest referee for this unofficial Gatoh Move offer match.

These two had one prior singles match, about a month earlier, with Suruga taking the win. Lulu Pencil’s literally only FOUR MONTHS IN, so this is quite a big opportunity for her. There’s a lot of vocalisation going on as commentary’s nearly drowned out by the sounds of struggle in the ring, as the pair traded wristlocks and escapes. Lulu Pencil rolls free and wrings the arm, before she spun herself dizzy. Ah well. Mei makes it worse with rolling bodyscissors on the mat, forcing a near-fall before Lulu hooked the ropes with her arm and leg to stop an Irish whip. Lulu tries to get into the ring, but pratfalls as Lulu got dragged around the ring en route to a double ankle lock. Mei follows up with a bow-and-arrow hold, torquing Lulu over her knees, but they lean too far back as Lulu Pencil rolled free.

A battering ram into the buckles is stopped as Lulu shoves off, but she couldn’t follow in with a roll-up, instead taking Mei into the corner for a near-fall. Lulu slips on the ropes before she went old-school – using the scaffolding to help her on her way – but she “tweaks her knee” after jumping off the middle rope. Suruga goes straight after the knee, rolling her down before Lulu ducked a pair of forearms in the corner. Third time wasn’t the charm, as Lulu sidestepped a dropkick before she joined Mei on the apron for a mini Benny Hill chase. They end up on the scaffolding again, swinging like it was a makeshift version of Hang Tough (for those of you who remember Gladiators…)

The ref breaks them up and saved the crowd from doom, heading them back into the ring as Lulu log rolled into Mei, following in with a pencil splash for a two-count. A backslide from Mei nearly does it, before she splashed Lulu’s back out of nowhere for the win. Considering the pair don’t have two year’s experience between them, this was fine – you sensed that only a small number of the crowd knew of Lulu Pencil, but the rest of the crowd played along and made this a fun match, even if the joke threatened to wear out at the end. **¼

Kasey vs. Jetta
This was a rematch from last year’s SHE-1, where Jetta became the “one point queen” with a time limit draw over Kasey. Both women have bettered it this year mind you, but apparently there’s still a grudge…

Dann’s sort-of on commentary, cackling at Jetta’s karaoke and other bits of comedy… and everyone’s oblivious to the bell having rung as we start with some trash talking. Jetta sends Kasey cowering into the corner to avoid a boob punch, but the Northern Irishwoman attacks her from behind as she did her damndest to avoid being hit there. Clubbering forearms send Jetta down, ahead of an armbar and a little pinch to the armpit. Another spot of cowering allows Jetta back in with a roll-up, before Kasey caught a punch and turned it into an arm whip as she went back to the armbar. Jetta tried to cling on, but Kasey bites it away as Jetta bit the back of Kasey’s knee to get free. Fair’s fair.

It’s back to the armbar as Jetta continued to teeth, but she switched it up with a nose rake and a big boot before a suplex dropped Kasey for a near-fall. From there, Jetta positions Kasey for a People’s Elbow… then eventually hit a back cracker for a near-fall. Kasey’s back with running knees and a DDT for another two-count, before a modified strangle hold was escaped. Jetta finally launches in with boob punches and a lungblower, only to get caught in a stranglehold. A mule kick gets her free as the back cracker’s repeated, ahead of the Jetta Lock for the submission. An enjoyable match this, although I’m glad they didn’t play too much off their result last year, with Jetta getting a decisive win… although where that leaves Kasey remains to be seen. ***

Chakara vs. Rebel Kinney vs. Mercedez Blaze vs. Jazz
This was Chakara’s first outing since April… and only her seventh match for EVE in total. Rebel’s got her “EVE crew” tee stuffed in her gear, which is a nice touch. As was her clipping the patch Emily gave her earlier…

On paper, this was Jazz giving three (relative) rookies a trial by fire, but we start with Jazz on the apron. Chakara and Mercedes Blaze double-team Rebel as commentary tells us this was a fatal four way with tags, which I guess is where the “it was almost a tag match” confusion came from live. A slap from Blaze stung Rebel for a near-fall, as Chakara and Blaze made use of frequent tags to keep Kinney down.

A slam from Rebel nearly does the trick, but her earlier arm injury meant she couldn’t go for a pin, and it’s not long before Chakara’s choking her in the ropes. Blaze is back with a running dropkick for a near-fall as Jazz watched on helplessly from the apron… although part of me is glad she didn’t do the usual wrestler thing of rushing in “to make a save” and end up tying the ref. Knees to the head of Kinney had her back down, but Chakara’s poking the bear on the apron too often. A camel clutch with hooks stretches Rebel, before the eventual turnaround saw Kinney block a superplex with a headbutt. Mercedez Blaze rushes the ring to knock Jazz off the apron though, before Rebel countered a double-team suplex and landed a DDT.

Finally Jazz gets the hot tag in, clearing house with right hands and superkicks before a Jazz Stinger properly spiked Chakara. Even though it was Chakara who took that, Jazz took the pin on Mercedez, who was still laid out from the superkick. Eh. Jazz’s look of “what the hell happened?” summed this up perfectly – this may as well have been a tag match, with Rebel Kinney taking a beating but getting her hand raised at the end. I’m guessing this was a “plans change” moment, but it confused the heck out of me. **

Ahead of the main event, Rhia O’Reilly was attacked by Laura di Matteo, who rushed the ring and send Rhia packing. There’s a dive too, before Laura ignored Dann Read’s bid to for her to calm down… by getting beaten up by Rhia. A chair’s pulled out next, but di Matteo ducks it and uses it on the champion repeatedly, before Dann threw it aside. That’s enough to rule out Rhia it seems, as the ringside medic checked on her… and it looks like the final’ll go on without Rhia.

SHE-1 2019 Final: Mercedes Martinez vs. Millie McKenzie
So, it’s a straight-forward singles match for the apple-core trophy, and we start with both women firing out of the gates, trading forearms before Millie ducked a chop… and teased a cutter.

Millie lands it at the second attempt, having seen a German suplex attempt not come off, but Martinez is back with a tree slam for a near-fall, before she trapped Millie in a guillotine choke. After getting free, McKenzie took Mercedes into the corner with a shotgun dropkick, but a follow-up misses as Mercedes began to put a stomping onto Millie around the ring. Mercedes uses shoulder charges and forearms to trap Millie in the corner, but she telegraphs a chop and fires back with forearms of her own, only to get obliterated with a chop anyway. It’s good for a two-count, before Millie raked the face to get free… ahead of a nasty half-nelson driver that almost drilled Millie into the mat!

A Fisherman suplex from Mercedes gets countered into a roll-up as Millie found her second wind, following up with an Octopus stretch that Mercedes broke up with a death valley driver. A spear out of nowhere from Millie left her aghast after she only got a near-fall, then again after some Angel’s Wings as Millie was going to have to dig deep to get the win. Another chop from Mercedes took Millie down… but Mercedes had to fight to take her up top as a spider German suplex was teased… and delivered! Martinez took too long to free herself and ended up only getting a two-count over Millie. A twister suplex follows for another near-fall, before Martinez looked for a Dragon sleeper… but Millie elbows free and rushed back in with a spear. She tops that off with a German suplex and another spear, and that spear sandwich is enough to get the win! Millie McKenzie becomes the third Ace of EVE, barely two years after her debut in the promotion… and now she gets the apple core trophy to take home! ***½

After getting the trophy, Millie makes Dann corpse, then revealed that she’s found a way to make more than one person make the most of the opportunity she’s gotten: she’s going for a shot at the EVE tag team titles at York Hall!

This year’s SHE-1 was a bit of a challenge in terms of names dropping out – and that’s just as far as wrestlers who were involved over the weekend! With two other all-women’s shows on the same weekend (Rev Pro’s Queen of the Ring tournament in Sheffield and a Fierce Females show in Liverpool) adding to the much-covered list of names who were gone because of retirements and NXT UK deals, this was perhaps the least experienced field in tournament history. Yet, in spite of that, the 2019 SHE-1 provided a lot of good matches and maintained the atmosphere that EVE are renowned for. On paper, I’m not wild that Millie McKenzie went through a singles tournament, needing one more match than her opponent, and cashed in her title shot for another crack at the EVE tag team titles. I mean, I get that it completes the set (after Jamie Hayter used her SHE-1 win last year for the EVE International title… remember that?), but there’s something that doesn’t sit well with me, that is unless the story ends up being something like a “Ace of EVE… and Charli”-style rift. Particularly if the Medusa Complex pairing end up winning the tag belts at WrestleQueendom at their second try…

In terms of booking, there’s some really good stuff going on here. I really like how they managed to not only keep Laura di Matteo away from Rhia O’Reilly in matches… while still giving us a storyline reason why Laura would get a title shot despite not even making the SHE-1 final. The seeds were planted just after WrestleQueendom this summer, and that’s a storyline I’m glad they’ve not pushed aside! Then we’ve got whatever is going to end up happening with Gisele Shaw after her turn across the weekend – whether that’s against Charlie Morgan or “her girlfriend” Jetta… plus whatever else WrestleQueendom offers us in just a matter of weeks on January 11.