History was made over the early May Bank Holiday weekend, as Pro Wrestling: EVE held the biggest women’s wrestling show Europe had ever seen.

We’re at York Hall for this monumental event – but we’re rewatching the iPPV from Fite.tv after being there live. Let’s see what everyone else at home saw! We opened with Emily Read on the stage updating the crowd about the late start (cheers to whomever thought it was a good idea trying to bring a knife in…), before running through their house rules – albeit with toned down language compared to the Resistance Gallery.

Dann Read and Leanne Marie are on commentary, with Leanne rattling through facts before we start with a War Games match – since there was absolutely no way they’d have been able to put the cage up and down without this show bleeding into Sunday!

War Games: The Deserving (Jayla Dark, Blue Nikita, Jamie Hayter & Charli Evans) vs. Squad Goals (Rhia O’Reilly, Addy Starr, Emi Sakura & Laura di Matteo)
Dann ran through the rules beforehand – we’re starting one-on-one, with the ref doing a coin toss during the match to establish an advantage. The storyline going in was that the quartet billed as the Deserving were mad about how few chances they’d had in EVE as of late – and put the blame squarely at the feet of Rhia O’Reilly, since she’d been match-maker until recently.

There’s a brawl among all eight women on the floor before the match started, with security playing their part in separating them. I sense a little bit of symbolism here, with the (male) security holding back the women for a while before they were finally able to wrestle. I see what you did there…

We started off with Emi Sakura and Blue Nikita for the first five-minute period, with commentary pointing out that Sakura had never wrestled in a cage before. That quickly became apparent as she repeatedly ran for the exit whenever she got a chance to break free from Nikita’s offence… like when Nikita tried to go for a pin, despite a) it being too soon and b) the finish only ever coming from submissions. To her credit, Nikita went for a submission straight away, but it was still too early as the timer kept ticking away. Sakura gets a surfboard, but Nikita’s back in with some help as she traps Sakura’s arm in the cage, while the rest of the Deserving worked on the arm from the outside.

Once the five minutes elapsed, the referee entered the ring to toss a coin, which led to the weird visual of the match briefly stopping to decide who was in next… and of course, it was the bad guys as Charli Evans raced in past the referee. After a brief two-on-one, Sakura gets the upper hand by trapping Evans and Nikita in a double bow-and-arrow. That respite was short-lived as Sakura’s worked over in the corner until Laura di Matteo came in and cleared house with the equivalent of the hot tag that got York Hall all fired up.

Evans quickly stuffs it with a wheelbarrow facebuster though, leading to Nikita trying to go for the pin as “evidently they didn’t get War Games in Greece”. Sakura gets a brief comeback, but the timer runs out as Jamie Hayter restores the advantage for the Deserving, and she squared off against di Matteo as a call-back to her ending Laura’s undefeated streak. Plenty of strikes give way to a Falcon arrow from Hayter, before Sakura goes for the hair of Hayter, only for the numerical advantage to take over once again, with di Matteo getting taken apart as another two minutes breezed by.

Addy Starr’s in next to level things up, going straight for the Deserving with kicks before grinding Hayter into the cage. That too ends quickly when Hayter returns the favour, and although there’s a double submission attempt with the help of Emi, it’s still way too early as the clock winds down again until Jayla Dark joined the match. It’s another house-clearing from Jayla, who laid out all of Squad Goals with clotheslines, before she climbed the cage and wiped out the pile with a cannonball! Rhia O’Reilly was pacing around ringside until it was her time to join the match… but when we got to zero, she didn’t enter via the door… she climbed the cage and crashed into everyone with a crossbody off the top… as the countdown clock again rattled on for, reasons. Ah, the perils of being a jack of all trades!

With everyone in the ring, the War Games began, with the Deserving grinding their foes’ faces into the cage, before going for a quartet of submissions as the crowd booed. Emi Sakura makes a one-woman comeback, blasting Nikita with a neckbreaker slam before a Rhiadjustment DDT from O’Reilly led to a single-leg crab… that Dark and Evans broke up.

We get a pair of Tower of Dooms, as O’Reilly and Di Matteo went flying, before Sakura hit a crossbody block to send the Deserving into the cage. A pair of DDTs off the rope help get the good guys back on top, before a quarter of submissions forced the Deserving into a deserving loss! A really fun opener, albeit a little rough around the edges, but it’s always good to get a show like this underway with a babyface win to keep the hot crowd hot! ***¼

So, we now had a bit of downtime as the cage was torn down – taken up by the winning team high fiving the crowd… and Emi Sakura even going to the balcony to ensure everyone got a piece of the action! During the downtime, Dann runs through the card, before Emily appeared on-stage again for an announcement: the creation of a Hall of Fame and an archive of women’s wrestling memorabilia with the Bishopsgate Institute. Klondyke Kate was announced as the first entrant into the Hall of Fame – something which got a fairly muted reaction live, but that was more than likely down to the fact that the power tools being used to take down the cage drowned out the live mic.

Jetta’s music and video played as she had something to say… because of course she did. She thought she was deserving of being in the Hall of Fame as well, before ripping into Nicole Matthews, who was unable to wrestle in their planned SHE-1 qualifier as she was ill. With Jinny also out of the show with injury, we had two people without a match: and so Kris Wolf’s planned ladder match qualifier was on, with Jetta taking Jinny’s spot.

Jetta vs. Kris Wolf
Erin Angel was the guest referee for this, as she was scheduled to play that role for the originally-planned match. The winner gets into the ladder match later in the night…

It’s hard not to capture Kris Wolf’s enthusiasm – and it’s not just because of the wolf head either! Wolf tried to get a little familiar with the referee, before going straight for Jetta, whipping her into the ropes before the tables turned, with some misdirection leading to Jetta scoring with a shoulderblock. Jetta followed up by putting the boots to Wolf… but then there’s a glitch in the matrix as we’ve a missing scene, and we’re back as Jetta and Wolf were announced as the winners.

Wolf tried to get a little familiar with the referee, before going straight for Jetta, whipping her into the ropes before the tables turned, with some misdirection leading to Jetta scoring with a shoulderblock. Jetta followed up by putting the boots to Wolf… and thanks to someone kicking out a cable, the live feed died here.

Jetta goes for a suplex, floating over for a two-count, before restraining Wolf with a chinlock, then some fish hooking… but Wolf sends her outside and embarks on a chase scene with her wolf head in tow. Jetta dives under the ring, which confuses Wolf for a spell as she thinks she found Jetta, only to pick up her loose shoe. That backfires though as Jetta gets whacked with said shoe before Wolf rolled her up for a near-fall back in the ring, as Jetta was playing quite the comedy bad guy. A trip takes Jetta into the corner, where she’s trapped for a dropkick to the, ahem! Somehow though, Jetta’s able to rebound with an Exploder, then steals Kris’ wolf head… and pretends to be a wolf as she “pees” on Kris with a bottle of water. Lykos would be proud.

That fired up Kris into a series of kicks, as Jetta still wore the head… which meant that she couldn’t really see when Wolf nudged her away, so special referee Erin Angel ends up getting a suplex that was meant for Kris. Not sure how that’s not a DQ, but there we go! Wolf counts the pin and Jetta thinks she’s won… until she removed the head, and realises it was a con, as Wolf rolls her up for a near-fall.

A Shining Wizard follows for another near-fall, but Jetta’s back in with a back cracker before putting Kris in a Tree of Woe as she gets retribution for the earlier dropkick to the privates. Wolf shrugs it off and goes for a springboard monkey flip out of the corner… but they hook each other’s legs, and we end up with a double pin! A decent little match that was a far cry from the originally advertised ladder match qualifier of Wolf vs. Jinny, but this wasn’t too bad as a fill-in. The match was declared as a draw – a result that somehow led to both women entering the Wild Card ladder match, in spite of what the programmes listed. Anyway, that ladder match? That was next… **¾

Wild Card Ladder Match: Jetta vs. Kris Wolf vs. Leah Owens vs. Kasey Owens vs. Nina Samuels vs. Livvii Grace vs. Millie McKenzie
It’s another name for Money in the Bank!

Leah Owens is now the “80s throwback” since I last saw her in EVE, which means lots and lots of NEON! Kasey’s more of a rock chick now, as the Owens Twins are are doing their own thing. Everyone’s trying to go for the briefcase before the bell – in Wolf’s case, she did it by throwing the wolf’s head up to the briefcase… but sadly, that didn’t get her the win… but it did get her a big boot from Nina as the match started with a parade of strikes.

Dives come next as Kasey dove into Nina Samuels on the floor, before Wolf hit a TAKA Michinoku-like springboard crossbody from the ring to the floor, followed by a flip senton by Millie. Meanwhile, Jetta grabs a – ridiculously short – ladder, only for Kasey to knock her off as the twins fight over the stepladder.

Kasey absolutely drills Leah with a step-up knee into the corner as the match gained the revolving door effect, with Millie spearing Nina out of the ring, before Livvii’s discus lariat sent McKenzie down. Jetta busted out the old Dudley Dog springboard bulldog before Kris Wolf blinded her with the mask… but they’re still using the small ladder… with Wolf hitting the twins with a double Sliced Bread as the Parade of Moves continued.

Nina Samuels is in to slingshot Wolf into the ladder, and it’s not long before Suplex Millie is on the scene, dishing out German suplexes to all comers. Nina tries to run away, but fails, before Jetta waffled Millie with a Singapore cane. Jetta’s still using the small ladder, but she gets caught by Millie before whacking herself in the head with the cane.

Millie swaps out the ladders, and pulls Kasey off the top into a cutter, only for Leah to stop Millie with a powerbomb off the ladder. She tries to add something extra there, with a leg drop off the ladder rather than claim the briefcase… but the landing was awkward and her knee went sideways on landing as she had to be helped to the back. After a short break, Kasey’s in with another ladder and tries to climb it, but Nina stops her and shoves her off the ladder to the outside, before Kris Wolf’s wolf head stopped Nina from grabbing the belt. Again, Samuels cuts off Wolf, before leaping down to tie-up Kris by her tail, before going back up the ladder to claim the briefcase. What you didn’t see on the VOD was Jetta and Millie McKenzie fighting through the crowd with a ladder… but that clearly wasn’t meant for this! A bit of a wonky finish as the match seemed to head to its climax after Leah’s injury. Unfortunate, but it was what it was – and now, Nina sure as heck ain’t going to shut up about this… ***

We get a brief bit of downtime as they clear away the ladders and plug the EVE VOD service.

Kay Lee Ray vs. Meiko Satomura
This ruled. Sure, it was a bit weird having it in the middle of the card, but let’s be realistic – this isn’t WWE. We’re main eventing with the title match!

We got “this is awesome” chants before the match, which I think is now allow-able for a Satomura match. Meiko originally takes Ray into the corner, before the feeling-out process saw them go hold-for-hold, with Satomura trying to bend Ray backwards from a wristlock, before a forearm broke the hold free.

Meiko’s back in with kicks to the chest before whipping Ray down by the arm as some knees to the ribs get her a near-fall. More kicks in the corner follow as Kay Lee was rocked, with no end in sight… at least until the Scotswoman rolled to the floor to get some respite. Problem was, Kay Lee rolled back into more of the same, ahead of a DDT as Meiko was all over head.

Ray rolls away from the cartwheel knees, and manages to mount a comeback as she chopped Meiko repeatedly, before a missile dropkick earned her a near-fall. A kick-out from Meiko saw her roll into a Koji clutch, forcing Satomura to strain for the ropes to get herself free. Satomura responded with a spinning heel kick off the ropes before spiking Ray with a DDT ahead of those brutal cartwheel knees as York Hall roared.

The backdrop driver gets Meiko a near-fall, but Kay Lee hit back with a gamengiri as Meiko climbed the ropes… bringing her down with an attempted Gory Bomb, only for Satomura to escape and get dragged to the outside as Ray levelled her with a forearm, ahead of a Gory Bomb onto the edge of the ring. In response, Satomura dumps Ray onto the apron with a death valley driver, before they headed back to the ring to tee off on each other with forearms.

Another death valley driver absolutely planted Ray, but somehow Satomura’s not able to get the win! More kicks follow from Satomura, but Kay Lee blocks one and turns it into a Gory Bomb out of the corner, but that too is not enough! We’re back with kicks, as Ray’s hook kick gets Satomura in the throat, before a Gory Bomb lands… but Kay Lee wants to go up top, only to get caught with a Pele!

Satomura brings out Ray with a death valley bomb, dumping Ray vertically for a near-fall, before looking for a death blow in the form of another one… only for Kay Lee to roll her up for the win! My word, monstrously hard-hitting, plenty of back-and-forth and a match that was evenly contested to the very end. If you paid your ticket money/iPPV fee for this match, then I think we still owe money – this was an outstanding encounter, with Kay Lee Ray getting the first pin over Meiko in the UK. Watch. This. Match. ****½

Post-match, Meiko bowed to Kay Lee Ray before heading out of the ring… and there’s your torch-passing.

Viper vs. Aja Kong
Last year, Viper announced that she had a bucket list of opponents – Aja Kong was one of them, and sure enough the match was made as Aja Kong made her debut in Europe.

Kong wasn’t alone though, as she brought a bin with her for security, and we started with Kong getting bulled into the corner by Viper, before replying with a shoulder tackle as she was sent into the ropes. They looked to exchange those shoulder blocks, but Kong just charged Viper to the outside, before taking her up the runway, then around ringside and finally back into the ring.

Viper’s quickly cornered though as she’s met with an elbow to the head, before a snapmare and a kick to the back left Viper down for an elbow drop, as Kong gets a near-fall. There’s an attempt at a fight back, as Viper starts exchanging clotheslines, before Viper scored with a shotgun dropkick and a back senton! A diving crossbody gets a near-fall as Viper’s flurry of offence finally yielded some results, only for Aja to whack Viper with the bin.

The referee doesn’t wave off the match though, and we quickly see Viper dumped on her head with a brainbuster for a near-fall… yeah, that was a nasty landing. Kong signals for the spinning backfist, but Viper ducks and lands a headbutt, sending Aja into the corner for a cannonball for a near-fall.

A Vader Bomb’s attempted, but Kong gets her knees up, before blasting Viper with backfists and a backdrop driver for another two-count. Another backfist drops Viper to the mat, but Kong looks for an exclamation mark, climbing the ropes for an elbow drop that crushes Viper, and that’s the win. Unlike Satomura/Ray, this wasn’t a match that was going to get “all the stars” – this was a match that was for everyone’s bucket lists, for everyone to say “I was there”… and a match that had its own historical merits. **½

Pro-Wrestling:EVE Championship: Charlie Morgan vs. Sammii Jayne (c)
Having won the SHE-1 tournament last year, Charlie Morgan’s moment was now. A shot against Sammii Jayne, who’d spent most of the past year tormenting her… whether it was with digs at her private life, her injury, or just generally being an arse.

Charlie was shoved away by Jayne at the bell, but it was met in kind as Charlie took Sammii to the outside as the match began not with holds, but as a damned fight. They quickly head up towards the stage, where Jayne snap suplexed her challenger on the walkway… but Morgan’s right back as she worked into an elbow suicida as Charlie was on fire here. Sammii Jayne returned the favour with a tope of her own as the brawling continued around the ringside area, with the champion going after Charlie’s recently-healed collarbone.

Sammii pulled out a table from under the ring, and instantly teases a German suplex through it as they echoed the events of the SHE-1 final, before they instead brawled through the crowd as the camera struggled to follow Charlie throwing Sammii into the wall before everyone discovers a ladder that had been curiously left therefrom the prior match. Sammii climbs the ladder, but gets powerbombed into some handily-placed security, before Charlie scales the ladder and…

Just like SHE-1, Charlie throws herself off of something scarily high, complete with Dann Read throwing down his headset to join the pack!

Morgan takes it back towards the ring, but she’s thrown into a guard rail by Jayne. Back inside, Morgan shrugged that off and clocks Jayne with European uppercuts, only for a kick into the corner to miss, as Jayne responds with a big boot and a Shibata-ish dropkick in the corner as the challenger was swiftly put on the defensive. Jayne keeps up with a knee drop for a near-fall, but Morgan responded with an enziguiri, only for Sammii to reply with an armbar as we were in for some arm work. Well, if you can’t get to the collar bone, get near it!

Sammii keeps up the beatdown, putting boots to Charlie, before rolling back in with a bridging armbar as Morgan was again forced to reach for the ropes to get some safety. Just like that though, Charlie’s back with a superkick and a springboard corkscrew senton as the momentum quickly swung back around. A springboard crossbody followed for a near-fall as Morgan built herself back up, nailing Jayne with a back cracker for good measure.

Another crossbody, this time off the top rope, is caught and turned into the old One Night Stand, but Morgan kicked out… and was dumped with a Dragon suplex. Charlie instantly replies with a German suplex, only for another Dragon suplex to spike Charlie as the pair went tit-for-tat. A superkick from Charlie has Sammii loopy, but an enziguiri left both women down, before Charlie’s shoved into the ropes for the baseball slide German suplex as Jayne used Morgan’s offence against her.

They instantly look to follow up with Jayne going up top, but Charlie pops up quickly to throw Jayne through the table that had been left on the floor, seemingly landing badly on her knee in the process. Payback! Sammii’s rolled back in for an implant DDT, but Jayne kicked out, so Morgan leaps off the top in a senton… but she lands into a cross armbreaker, which quickly transitioned into another armbar that Morgan eventually rolled her up on as a pinning attempt forced a break.

Jayne tries to get the win with a Northern Lights bomb, but to no avail, so she puts some more boots to Charlie before going under the ring for a ladder… eh? They both climb the ladder to trade shots with each other, which ended with Charlie dragging Jayne onto the top rope for an implant DDT off the ladder… and that’s enough for the win! My word, the reaction live (and on tape) to Charlie Morgan’s win was ear-splitting, and a fitting end to a spectacular show. Storyline-wise they ticked the boxes – callbacks, spirited babyface, the bad guy almost snatching the win before ultimately falling short. ****

The locker room emptied after the match to celebrate with Charlie as the night drew to a close…

Live, the experience was a sight to behold. Everyone in the crowd knew the monumental nature to this show, and reacted to it accordingly. While not held in front of a jam-packed York Hall, from start to end, this was a crowd that was hotter than for many of Rev Pro’s shows in the same building, which says a lot about the value of having storylines and characters that fans can invest in – regardless or gender or orientation.

Sure, there were some issues – mostly surrounding the fact that the show started 50 minutes late due to security checks, which led to the crowd tiring out (and in some cases, heading for the exit as soon as the final bell went). As for what happens next… well, EVE are running again this Saturday in their regular home of the Resistance Gallery, just over the road from York Hall, while we have another SHE-1 tournament in November… so whether we get six months of Charlie Morgan ruling before the SHE-1 determines a new challenger, assuming EVE have another show of this scale on the books.

The building blocks are there, formed from the months of the mainstream media buzz, the hype going into this show, and the goodwill coming out of it. Heck, even the imminent return of Netflix’s GLOW will give EVE another kick… whether there’s anywhere for this to go, with the Resistance Gallery perhaps being the next “ceiling” remains to be seen. The EVE hype is real – and if you’re not following alone, then perhaps this show ought to be the one that you break into it with!