The 2019 SHE-1 kicked off this past Saturday afternoon as twelve women looked to book their place in the spotlight at WrestleQueendom 3.

Like in prior years, the SHE-1 is four shows in two days at Bethnal Green’s Resistance Gallery. This year, the first day was streamed live on YouTube, and after some hitches, we eventually get going – if you watched live, you missed a bit of show one, but the “after-the-fact” stream includes it… but not any graphics, so I’m not going to whinge about black screens where entrance videos would have “lived”.

SHE-1’s a round-robin league – two points for a win, one for a draw, and nothing for a loss, with tie-breakers counting… unless there’s a need for a play-off on show four. Got it? Commentary comes from Leah Owens and Sierra Loxton – yes, this weekend EVE were running an all-female crew for the bulk of the shows. A hearty thumbs up!

SHE-1 2019 Block B: Gisele Shaw vs. Laura Di Matteo
We start with both women scrambling for a hold early on, as di Matteo looked to take control of Shaw’s arm… but Gisele increases the speed and worked into a side headlock.

The pace stays high as Shaw and di Matteo looked for pinning attempts, before ducked head kicks led to a stand-off. Shaw’s right back with some rope-walking, which led to a lucha armdrag before a clothesline into the corner drew an early near-fall. Laura tried to fight back, but she slipped on a springboard, crashing and burning badly as Shaw began to show some aggression. A stomp, then a PK gets a near-fall, as Shaw dominated the Italian, landing a Curt Hennig-esque neck flip for good measure, before di Matteo again began to fight back. Literally. Headbutts and clotheslines had Shaw rocked briefly, as did some headscissors and a release Fisherman suplex, before Laura went up top and landed a missile dropkick that nearly ended things.

The grounded Octopus stretch ends with a rope break from Shaw, who responded with a roll-up into a knee strike and a short DDT for another two-count, before a bunch of checked kicks took us close to the end… because Laura caught Shaw in another Octopus on the mat, leaving Gisele with no choice but to tap. A solid opener, with Gisele showing some rare aggression only to get caught out on the mat. ***

SHE-1 2019 Block C: Mei Suruga vs. Rhia O’Reilly
Of course, this was Mei’s UK debut… and she’s come with wings a la Sierra Loxton and Erin Angel. Gatoh Move smartly put some of Mei’s recent matches on YouTube before her trip, so there was a little bit of buzz for her here.

Problem was, it was a real “thrown in the deep end” debut for Suruga, as her debut came against the current EVE champion Rhia O’Reilly, whose title wasn’t being defended throughout the series. At least Rhia came by herself today, with no sign of Livvii Grace… Rhia was all patronising out of the gate, lifting Mei to the top rope before she went to her knees. Yeah, there’s a size difference, put treating Mei like a child probably wasn’t a good idea. Especially when she was able to outsmart Rhia with a simple waistlock. O’Reilly’s in with a headlock takedown that’s escaped, only for O’Reilly to smash back in with a curb stomp that drew tears.

O’Reilly misses a knee strike and almost lost from there, as Mei hit back with her springboards into an armdrag, then with a dropkick into the corner. A bulldog took Rhia’s head into the middle buckle, before a crossbody was caught and turned into a simple slam for a near-fall. Suruga’s having to hit and run to avoid O’Reilly, taking her into the corner with dropkicks before a baseball slide to the outside saw Rhia catch her in the apron a la Fit Finlay. Back in the ring, Rhia hits a draping DDT for a near-fall, before Mei faked her out on the way to a takedown. A wheelbarrow roll-up eventually succeeds for a near-fall, before a series of stomps and a dropkick drew another two-count on the champion.

Mei tries her luck with Cattle Mutilation, but Rhia’s tall enough to get to the ropes, as she comes back with a simple Finlay roll… only to miss a back senton. Suruga misses a dropkick, and is quickly caught with a Rhiadjustment DDT, and that’s all folks. A brave showing from Suruga, who won over the EVE crowd on her debut… but this was too big of an ask for her debut. ***

After the match, Rhia tosses Lulu Pencil out of the ring… who was around to second Suruga all weekend.

SHE-1 2019 Block B: Millie McKenzie vs. Nicole Savoy
We’ve a battle of suplexes here, but we start with roll-ups as Savoy looked to catch Millie unawares.

Speaking of caught unawares – Nicole Savoy trying to understand crowd chants! And me trying to figure out her response because the mic was too far away… The wrestling resumes with both women looking for German suplexes, but it came to nought, before Savoy decided to throw out that plan and just put a beating to Millie. Savoy hit the first suplex, tossing McKenzie with an Exploder before she got caught with a low dropkick and a running uppercut from Millie. An Octopus stretch follows, but Nicole sidewalk slammed her way free, as it was back to the clubbering. There’s a grounded armbar that Millie flips the bird to try and get out of… eventually getting her way free with a roll-up.

Millie goes for a German suplex, but it’s Savoy who struck first as the pair traded throws, ragdolling each other around the ring for fun. A Dragon suplex from Savoy nearly gets the win, before some small packages drew two-counts, before a spear out of nowhere got Millie the win. This one didn’t click much with me – the battle of suplexes seemed to favour Nicole, but that spear at the end proved to be the difference in the end. **¾

SHE-1 2019 Block A: Aleah James vs. Angel Hayze
We fast forward past interval to get us to the battle of perhaps the least experienced entrants. Aleah James was making her EVE debut, while Hayze was making only her third outing for the promotion.

Starting with a sporting handshake, both women burst in with roll-ups at the bell, throwing in backslides, La Magistrals and the like to try and end things quickly. An armdrag’s countered into more roll-ups ahead of the stand-off, before another handshake proved to be futile as Hayze broke back with a series of kicks, catching James with a dropkick to the head for a near-fall. They switch things up, with Hayze’s Fisherman’s suplex getting nothing as James kept her shoulders off the mat… so Angel takes James into the corner for some running uppercuts before she sweeps the legs for another near-fall. Aleah breaks out of a sleeper, before she rolled past Hayze and came in with a crossbody.

A head kick from James led to another crossbody after she leapt back into the ring for… reasons? Hayze’s discus forearm gets her back in, as does a Slingblade, which seemed to jar Aleah’s back a little. She’s still able to respond with an enziguiri before an attempt at a moon-stomp misses… before she looked for a sunset flip out of the corner, only for Hayze to sit down on it for the win. I’m never not going to love the SummerSlam 92 finish, and this was a pretty good match given the time they had and experience levels on hand. Keep an eye on both these women, you’ll be seeing a LOT more of them down the road. **½

SHE-1 2019 Block C: Jetta vs. Jazz
Jetta’s out with a (new?) Charlie Morgan tee, perhaps hoping to draw inspiration from the original Ace of Eve?

We’ve got some fake Tweets from Jetta about her going to “punch Jazz in the tit”, and some other bad jokes. Hey, I was born in the 80s too… unlike Jazz, whose appearance stunned the crowd into silence. She starts by trying to rip off Jetta’s arm with a hammerlock, with Jetta doing her best Orange Cassidy as she looked to counter a waistlock. Jetta celebrates too soon and gets caught in a side headlock, which she escaped with headscissors on the mat, but Jazz escapes by removing Jetta’s kneepad and grinding her fist into it. They stay on the mat as a Cloverleaf has Jetta in trouble, but they end in the ropes ahead of a handshake that Jazz… flatly refused.

Jazz pushes ahead with a right hand, and some fish hooking, as the veteran looked to make an example of Jetta. A neck crank keeps Jetta in trouble, before Jetta fought back with some World of Sport-ish stuff… then switched up with a boot to the side of the head. Headscissors and a roll-up looked to be Jetta’s last hope, especially as Jazz rolled her into a STF seconds later for the submission. Something about this match didn’t translate well to the VOD – I’d heard a lot about Jazz’s presence in the room, but that X-factor didn’t come across. **¾

SHE-1 2019 Block A: Kasey vs. Mercedes Martinez
The main event of your first show sees Kasey trying to get her first SHE-1 win, but Mercedes Martinez was going to prove a tough test.

Kasey attacked Martinez at the bell, knocking her down from behind before the Belfast native ate a series of clotheslines and a Northern lights suplex for a near-fall. Mercedes batters Kasey with forearms and chops in the corner from there, before a dropkick in the corner almost ended things right there. Kasey tries to come back with a death valley driver, but loses her as Martinez got taken into the corner for some double knees and a suplex. Keeping Mercedes on the deck, Kasey throws some forearms from above, only for Martinez to return with some Snake Eyes into the corner and an Exploder. There’s a kick to the back for good measure too, as Martinez followed up by trapping Kasey in a butterfly lock… which almost backfires as Kasey rolled out and came back with more ground and pound.

The Three Amigas are next from Mercedez, but Kasey slips out of the third one and hits a uranage-Sky High combo for a near-fall, then a running knee for good measure… but Martinez got her hand to the bottom rope almost instantly to avoid the pin. A spinning sidewalk slam yields the same result as Mercedes grabbed the bottom rope, so Kasey goes back to the armbar briefly, before some back-and-forth ended with a German suplex out of Martinez.

Kasey tries to come back, but she’s met with a Saito suplex, before a forearm knocked both women to the mat. A series of palm strikes and chops looked to have Kasey done for in the corner, but Mercedes changes tactic, lifting her up top… only to get headbutted down. A missile dropkick from Kasey misses, as a side slam turned the match on its head once more… only for Kasey to hit a springboard crossbody to keep the contest keen. More running knees in the corner trap Martinez ahead of a DDT, but Kasey ended up going for a PK… which Mercedes rolled away from as a cutter took her into a Romero special/Dragon sleeper combo for the win. A heck of a sprint to close out the show here, with the veteran Martinez closing out with a win to share the top of block A. ***½

A solid show to get the SHE-1 going then, being over and done with in two hours made this for an easy watch. That being said, a six match card – all of tournament matches – being done that quickly perhaps was too short, but given almost everyone’s doing four matches in two days, it was understandable that show one was brisk and breezy.

So your standings after one show:

Block A: Angel Hayze, Mercedes Martinez (1-0; 2pts); Aleah James, Kasey (0-1; 0pts)
Block B: Laura di Matteo, Millie McKenzie (1-0; 2pts); Nicole Savoy, Gisele Shaw (0-1; 0pts)
Block C: Jazz, Rhia O’Reilly (1-0; 2pts); Jetta, Mei Suruga (0-1; 0pts)