It was the end of an era for EVE as Kay Lee Ray and Viper fought for the title on their last night in.

We open in York Hall with technical difficulties before Emily and Rhea went through their opening spiel, albeit in PG format… while introducing a guest commentator for the evening in Sierra Loxton! She was alongside Dann Read on commentary for the evening.

Yuu vs. Nightshade
This was set up by Nightshade’s attack on Yuu the prior night, and we start with clonking elbows and forearms as Yuu proceeded to get a good sound out of her opponent with a chop.

Some offence from Nightshade’s cut off with almost a Rainmaker lariat before she went back to the chops, but Nightshade’s back in it briefly. At least until Yuu overpowered here with a side slam. Headbutts to the chin trapped Yuu ahead of a German suplex into the corner, as hip attacks follow… a cannonball misses from Nightshade, so Yuu hits one of her own, then a pair of back sentons, before she countered Nightshade’s superplex with a sunset bomb off the top rope… and that was it! A fantastic slugfest to get the show going – exactly the kind of match that’d get any crowd going as Yuu’s started to chain wins together in EVE. ***

Kagetsu vs. Mayu Iwatani
A Stardom offer match here, and we’ve got the weird (for EVE) presentation of Jamie Hayter and Martina in their Oedo Tai camouflage bodysuits. Those poor sods in this heat…

This one was their sixth singles match in a shade over three years, and their familiarity showed as Dann flat out said to ignore the stuff from Jamie and Martina as far as EVE canon went. Oedo Tai got involved frequently at ringside, but not too often as to wreck the flow of things as Kagetsu dominated Iwatani early on. A “self armbar” as Kagetsu used Mayu’s limbs against her forced a rope break before Martina and Jamie got involved putting the boots to Mayu on the apron. While the dynamics may not have fit EVE canon, at least referee Tom stuck to his usual routines! Iwatani got back in with a Slingblade, before she wiped out all of Oedo Tai with a crossbody to the floor.

Back inside, Kagetsu scored with a Samoan driver… but Iwatani kicked out and found her way back in with a top rope rana, then a massive missile dropkick as commentary started talking about the prospect of a draw. Live, with no clock or even time checks, the prospect of that wasn’t on anyone’s minds as Iwatani and Kagetsu kipped up in unison before racing towards a finale. A crucifix bomb and a German suplex couldn’t put Kagetsu away… and when Iwatani missed a moonsault, it looked like her chances were done for. Even more so when Kagetsu punched the ref, sprayed Iwatani and laid her out with another Samoan driver… but Kagetsu ignored the bell and went for a 450 splash as the draw was announced. Perhaps a little off with the timing of the finish, this was a real good match that York Hall applauded for as one – nothing against the regular roster, but these two were on a totally different level. ***¾

Laura Di Matteo vs. Jordynne Grace
Laura’s already beaten Jordynne once during the EVE International tournament final at October’s Command Attention show – and she’s back to try and make it 2-0 in this much-delayed match.

Jordynne got dropkicked off the apron as Laura refused to let her get in – and a follow-up dive wiped out the American (as well as Ring Crew Josh, who bore the brunt for the entire evening!). Laura kept up the pace back inside too, before she got obliterated by a running lariat as Grace just wiped her out. From that point, you’d have expected Jordynne to have dominated… and she did, shunning away a crossbody from di Matteo, before a stalling suplex turned into a Jackhammer for a near-fall. Grace tries to one-up things with a piledriver on the apron, but instead a slap sends Laura to the floor… where the Italian responded by just sweeping the leg before she ended up getting charged into the guard rails. Jordynne then sent herself into the rails, before Laura made a comeback with a spot of rope-walking – using the railings… only to get pulled into an apron powerbomb instead.

Back in the ring, Di Matteo caught Grace with a tornado DDT out of nowhere. Laura showed some defiance, refusing to be kept down by some slam throws and a spiking Michinoku driver – some resolve that seemed to catch Jordynne out. Laura lost her grip amid a sunset bomb attempt, but managed to score with the Plan B of some headscissors before she scooped up Grace for a nasty tombstone. That wasn’t enough though… but from the kick-out Laura trapped Grace in an Octopus stretch… and that forced the tap! A hell of a performance from the relative underdog, with an outing that’s almost sure to propel Laura into the next level in EVE. ***¾

EVE Tag Team Championship: Diamond Vogue Collective (Jinny & Mercedez Blaze) vs. Medusa Complex (Charli Evans & Millie McKenzie) vs. Wrestle Friends (Erin Angel & Jetta)
Originally advertised as Wrestle Friends against the Medusa Complex, the addition of the Diamond Vogue Collective was presented as something that they’d earned by beating Viper and Kay Lee Ray on Friday. Fair enough… Meanwhile, as Charli and Millie were Living Dead Girls, I just admired Mercedez’s headgear, which from afar, made her look like the long lost member of Demolition…

This one started a little wild with all three teams in the ring… although they stepped back as Jinny and Mercedez just charged into each other. Things settled down as the Wrestle Friends targeted Charli Evans early… only for Jinny to tag herself in and waffle everyone with forearms.

Erin gets a hot tag in to take down Blaze with some headscissors, but the tide turns when McKenzie came in and nearly put Erin away with a roll-up. Bedlam broke out afterwards as all three teams flooded the ring, then settled back down as Evans stayed on top of Erin, focusing on her arm. The three-team dynamic meant that we had the threat of the spoilers of Jinny and Mercedez, which almost came to fruition after Blaze blind-tagged herself in and continued the work on Erin, only for Jetta to get the hot tag back in to take down Blaze with a neckbreaker.

Some kicks and a DDT from Jetta spike Evans, who spilled to the outside… right in place for a crossbody from Angel as everyone else assembled underneath. Back in the ring, we had another Parade of Moves, including Millie’s neverending run of German suplexes, topped off by a boot-assisted German suplex and a clothesline/cutter combo that almost got the win. Jinny and Mercedez try to steal the win over Erin with a rope hung DDT, but Erin fought off as Jetta cleared house with an Exploder to Jinny. Mercedez tries to fight back, but instead she took a neckbreaker from Jetta, a splash from Angel, before a Muta lock forces the submission. A feel-good moment as Jetta and her former “trainee” won the inaugural EVE tag team championships – although the fact that the team who called their shots weren’t involved in the fall is bound to rankle. ***

Undead Match: Su Yung vs. Session Goth Martina
I watched this live, and I still have no idea what I saw.

The “Undead Match” was another name for a death match, with Su bringing her thicc Kendo stick, while Martina brought out her take on it, threading a few cans through the stick for good measure… but while she landed the first blow, Su Yung hit straight back with a baking tray. Neatly explained away because “there’s a kitchen here”… Martina’s already bleeding a minute in, but that doesn’t stop her from suplexing Yung into the third row. There’s staple guns too after Martina stripped Su of her rotting top, before they brawled onto the stage and… had a drink. Oh, and got interrupted by a giant sumo man baby that poured tiny little baby teeth at Su. Don’t drink while you’re pregnant.

Back at ringside, we had ladders and biting as Su forced her way ahead as that baking tray came back into play. There’s a door too, but Martina’s nowhere near it as she’s put into a Tree of Woe as the ladder’s thrown into her. Martina made a comeback with a leap off the ladder… but any dreams of a comeback are stopped when a legion of undead brides hit the ring. Martina elbows them all off the apron, but Su took advantage by dropping Martina through the door – which cracked around York Hall like a gunshot. Some mist from Martina helps her back in, as Su’s brides caught her… only for Martina to land a senton off the top to put Su through the table at ringside.

Back inside, Martina ruins 5p of carrier bag, ripping it apart to scatter the ring with drawing pins… planning on driving Su into them with a Magistral driver, but Martina took the brunt of them instead. With the brides helping keep Martina at bay, Su sets up half a dozen chairs in the ring and superplexes Martina through them (yep, that looked like it sucked), before the Panic Switch into the drawing pins put Martina away. Good God, that got violent in a hurry at the end – a heck of a brawl around the arena, and one that didn’t once seem to suffer from the “where are they?” issues that filming these things have. ***¼

After they cleared the ring, it was time for an announcement from Charlie Morgan, who was making her first official appearance in over three months. Charlie’d been on the shelf after breaking her ankle while working for SHIMMER in the US in March, and some had been expecting this to be her naming her comeback date. In hindsight, Dann playing cheerleader from the commentary desk meant this wasn’t going to be a happy appearance.

In a heartbreaking announcement, Charlie revealed that the injury was more serious than first thought… as she instead had to announce her retirement. The disbelieving gasps from the crowd, along with the tears from many inside York Hall summed up just how off guard everyone was caught by it. Not a dry eye in the house, which just shows how much Charlie’s affected fans and wrestlers alike.

Wonder Of Stardom Championship: Little Miss Roxxy vs. Arisa Hoshiki (c)
It’s on with the show, as Stardom owner Rossy Ogawa was present for this match, as he’s want to be for Stardom title bouts.

Roxxy started out by trying to restrain Hoshiki with a headlock, but Hoshiki reverses it as the crowd seemed to be equally split between the champion and challenger. Our first submission attempt came when Roxxy sat on Hoshiki, then bridged back to try and fold her in half, but it ended in the ropes as the pair then exchanged charges in the corners. Well, until Hoshiki began to unleash with some kicks.

A flying enziguiri off the top cracks Roxxy, who replied by picking the leg as she tried for a submission, eventually going for an armbar before Arisa got free and hit another enziguiri to turn the match back in her favour. Albeit briefly, as Hoshiki got caught on the top rope, with Roxxy bringing her back down with a Del Rio stomp onto the apron. Another stomp back inside gets Roxxy a near-fall, but Hoshiki’s got more of those vicious strikes, wiping out Roxxy with a pair of knees… but it’s not enough to put away the Geordie. Roxxy tries to fight back with a Scorpion kick, then with a sunset bomb into the corner as Hoshiki barely got the rope in time before she came back with a headbutt and another buzzsaw kick for the win. This was pretty decent, but it’s a shame things fell apart with that final exchange as it threatened to overshadow the match. ***

After Dann apologises for a C-bomb that’d been dropped during the promo package, we’re onto…

Elimination Match for EVE International Championship: Nina Samuels vs. Jamie Hayter vs. Utami Hayashishita (c)
Well, the SHE-1 win was meant to have gotten Jamie Hayter a spot in the main event, but this didn’t even get the “co main event” billing. Yeah, I’m being mega-picky…

You know how every now and then we bring up a fact that’s incredulous? Hayashishita is only 20 year old, and hasn’t been doing this for a full year yet. That speaks volumes about the dojo system in Japan, even if the culture over there means that it’d be extremely tricky to clone in the Western world.

Hayter cleared the ring early on, as poor Josh took the brunt of some more dives, but it was Utami who steamed ahead with shoulder tackles that kept the SHE-1 winner on the mat A STO led to a quick two-count, before Nina Samuels came in and took a double-team suplex. Nina fought back, taking both her opponents into the corner for some double knees, but it was Utami who got back on top, using a Judo throw to take Hayter into Samuels before she looked to put the pair away with duelling half crabs.

Utami nearly eliminated Hayter with a German suplex, before she decided to one-up herself with a stacked up German suplex to Hayter and Samuels out of the corner. That looked brutal! Hayter tries to kick away a torture tack – which commentary rightly calls out as odd for an elimination match – before she instead found more luck with a backbreaker, then a superplex/Falcon arrow combo, before some buzzsawkicks and a Blackheart buster dropped Utami for the elimination. We’re guaranteed a new champion!

Nina jumped on Hayter almost instantly, as she tried to steal the belt with a roll-up, then with a head kick on the top rope, only to reply by suplexing Nina into the turnbuckles. From there, Hayter lands a facewashing boot, a uranage backbreaker and another Falcon arrow, but she couldn;’t get the cover as Kagetsu was rallying her on at ringside. For some reason a chair came into play, with Nina blocking a dive with it. In the ring, Jamie ducks a chairshot, but ended up taking a low blow with the chair as I guess Jamie’s no-DQ rules were in play here.

That low blow didn’t get Nina the win, before Hayter scored with a low blow of her own, then a curb stomp to get the win. A really good match, as Jamie Hayter became the third International champion… and as luck would have it, Jamie Hayter’s off to Japan for the foreseeable future, so if you were hoping to see EVE’s second “big gold belt” on a regular basis in the UK, well, there’s always 2020. ***½

Rhea O’Reilly appeared to ask the crowd to stick around after the end of the main event for a send-off. Perfectly innocent, right?

EVE Championship: Viper vs. Kay Lee Ray (c)
Going into this match, there was always the danger that this’d be treated by the crowd in much the same way PROGRESS’ farewell to Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate was last year, in that the match’d be appreciated, but the crowd couldn’t fully invest given that neither of the Scotswomen would be around after tonight.

There’d been rumours that this was going to go long, and the slow pace from the off certainly suggested that we were going to be maxing out the time limit on a show that was already running over thanks to the late start. Viper and Kay Lee Ray locked up and tried to take each other into the corners from the off, before they rolled to the outside from said lock-up. The referee starts counting both women out, as commentary told us that EVE doesn’t do count-outs. Way to keep the canon going!

So they head back inside, as a monkey flip was easily blocked by Viper, whose response saw Kay Lee just land on her feet as Viper then rolled outside to get some water. There’s plenty of bottle shenanigans as they kept it lighthearted, while also staying somewhat competitive as Viper went for a bow and arrow hold before a small package sent the champion scurrying out for a drink. Back inside, things got turned up a little as Viper dropped Kay Lee with a belly-to-belly, then with a crossbody for a near-fall. A tornado DDT from Kay Lee out of the corner gets a two-count as she then looked for a guillotine choke instead, but the champion gets free and surprised her challenger with a Canadian Destroyer. Rather than go for a cover, Kay Lee went for the Gory bomb, but instead Viper greeted her with a Destroyer as well.

A Vader bomb misses out of the corner as Kay Lee escaped… then ducked another crossbody as we had another dive from Kay Lee Ray on the outside. Tonight though, everything Kay Lee does, Viper does too, as she wiped out the champion (and poor Josh) with a low-pe. The ante’s upped some more as Kay Lee’s cannonballed out of a chair… but she’s back to her feet as she tried to finish off Josh (and Viper) with a flip senton off the top rope.

A second senton back inside lands, but Viper’s up at two before she had to fight out of a powerbomb… instead shocking everyone with a reverse ‘rana. From there, a Viper Driver lands for a near-fall as you sensed they were upping the ante some more, with a Gory bomb from Kay Lee coming close. Another Destroyer from the champion looked to set up for one more senton bomb… but instead Viper cut her off on the top rope and drilled her with an avalanche Viper driver… and that’s enough to crown a new champion! The finishing stretch here was really good, and while the crowd weren’t as down on this as I feared, it also didn’t really feel like a last hurrah. ***½

Rhea O’Reilly and Dann Read headed to ringside as they pitched to what we all thought would be a farewell video. It wasn’t what it seemed though, as Nightshade and Livvii Grace hit the ring and attacked them from behind… perhaps a little early as the video cut-off in time for us to see Nightshade take care of Kay Lee with a tree slam.

Meanwhile, Rhea got back on the mic and reminded Viper that she asked her for three matches: and while she got Aja Kong and Jordynne Grace, she didn’t get the match with her. Cue an impromptu match that the booker just booked…

EVE Championship: Viper (c) vs. Rhia O’Reilly
The bell rings, but Viper ducks a belt shot and instead dropped Rhea with a Viper Driver. Livvii distracts the ref, allowing Rhea to kick out and hit the Rheadjustment DDT on the belt, and that’s enough to crown a new new champion, as Dann explained that Rhea still had the ability to make matches, so this counted. So, Kay Lee Ray and Viper didn’t quite get their curtain call as Rhea O’Reilly and her new entourage upstaged things and left with the belt as the show went off the air.

Avoiding the “difficult second album” in terms of WrestleQueendoms, this was a really good show as the promotion yet again delivered at York Hall. Every match on the card delivered to some extent, even if we were lacking the “critical success” that we had with Kay Lee Ray/Meiko Satomura last year. A show that saw all three championships change hands signals change – and perhaps change that could paint EVE into more of a corner. With Rhea O’Reilly leaving the show as champion, it could be a bad time to point out that there’s a dearth of top line “good guys” on the EVE roster right now, with Kay Lee Ray and Viper having had their final match… Charlie Morgan forced into retirement… and Jamie Hayter heading to Japan. Out of the regular roster, that really only leaves us with Laura di Matteo, Martina and Little Miss Roxxy (assuming we’re ruling out Jetta and Erin Angel with them being in the tag team division).

EVE’s back in action in two weeks with their regular monthly show at the Resistance Gallery, entitled “Dawn of a New Era” (an obvious title, and one that left me shocked that they didn’t try and shoehorn the word “she” into it… I kid, I kid). With the Stardom crew gone, there’s plenty of spots left to fill in the roster as they continue to reshape their roster for the months ahead, and in particular the huge void that Charlie Morgan’s retirement leaves.