Down an easy to overlook alleyway in the heart of Bethnal Green in London’s bustling East End, the Resistance Gallery sits nestled beneath the arches of a railway viaduct that rumbles as the trains pass overhead. Gathered outside are nearly a hundred or so wrestling fans queuing patiently for the first of two shows in this intimate and somewhat unlikely venue, just down the road from York Hall (the famous boxing arena that has played host some of British wrestling’s biggest events over the past decade or more). But while today’s shows are on a smaller scale, the talent up and down the card is no less evident, nor are the audience any less appreciative or passionate about the action on display.
Inside the gallery space is at a premium, with fans pressed up against the two sides of the ring not flanked by walls. Shuffling to and from the bar requires you to weave your way through the tightly packed crowd, which also has to part to allow the wrestlers to make their entrances from the balcony area above. The walls in the low lit venue are adorned with a crochet Pro-Wrestling: EVE logo and bunting, as well as a pair of eye catching banners: one, of a muscled set of female reproductive organs proclaiming “Fight Like A Girl”, the other, a wrestler spiking the current President of the United States Donald J. Trump on his head, emblazoned with the slogan “Piledrive A Fascist”.
Between the cosy venue, the amiable chatter of the crowd and the friendly & open demeanour of husband and wife promoter duo Emily & Dann Read, Pro-Wrestling: EVE has cultivated a unique DIY feel that other promotions either falsely lay claim to, or have unwittingly left behind in the wake of the British wrestling boom. It’s an atmosphere that welcomes all (although, probably not fascists), and it’s one the wrestlers all seem genuinely excited to perform in. Over the course of the two shows we’re treated to a bit of everything, with great variety and some fantastic wrestling throughout.
One of the things that most struck me was just how well every one of the wrestlers performed in their given roles. Not just the international legends of wrestling, not just the veterans and well travelled, seasoned performers, but the relative rookies as well. Those that I wasn’t familiar with before the show all left a big impression and every match delivered something fresh and different from the last. The afternoon event was more laid back, but sowed the seeds for some great showdowns later that evening. Namely, Rhia O’Reilly vs Emi Sakura in the main event.
After a vicious post-match attack on Rhia’s back from BAE Club of Sammii Jayne & Debbie Sharp, the Pro-Wrestling: EVE Champion had to be helped from the ring, while her partner Laura DiMatteo suffered a nasty cut above her eye. That evening Laura would get revenge on Rhia’s behalf, defeating Debbie Sharp in a very strong performance from the young ProJo graduate. Meanwhile, Rhia successfully fended off the challenge of the legendary Emi Sakura by the thinnest of margins, Emi’s wonderful evil anime villain persona coming to the forefront as she mercilessly punished Rhia’s back, only to be caught with the Rhiajustment DDT out of nowhere that gave the champion the victory.
Elsewhere, the Owens Twins impressed in both singles and tag action, scoring individual victories over Jinny and Dahlia Black before falling victim to the team of Nina Samuels & Shanna later that evening after Kasey was attacked before the bell, leaving Leah to fight on her own. Also, in one of the most anticipated matches on the cards Sammii Jayne faced the toughest test of her career against the legendary Meiko Satomura, but made a great account of herself in defeat and earned the veteran’s respect in what was a very hard-hitting bout. Jayne looked overwhelmed at the start and almost shocked at the severity of Satomura’s offence, but she fired up in a big way and ended up giving as good as she got.
The main event of the afternoon show was a classic Joshi Prowres six-woman tag match, with Sakura, Erin Angel & Nixon Newell defeating the team of Satomura, Shanna & Nina Samuels. This was a hugely entertaining way to close out the first show and all six performed admirably, especially Shanna who took out almost everyone with a huge crossbody off the balcony and Nina Samuels who presented her character so well for someone relatively new. Nixon and Erin would then go on to have a great match themselves that evening, the more experienced Angel picking up win over Newell, avoiding the Shiniest Wizard and Welsh Destroyer before taking out Nixon with a destroyer of her own.
Lastly, a special mention for the debuting Martina who kicked off both shows with a bang in her matches against Jetta and Dahlia Black. The Session Moth was in her element in this sort of environment, dancing her way to the ring to Darude’s Sandstorm, exchanging banter with the crowd and generally having everyone in stitches throughout. After getting a big win over the always entertaining Jetta, Martina set up at the bar and heckled Dahlia Black in her losing effort to Leah Owens. As such, Dahlia and TK Cooper were out for revenge later that evening. The resulting match was such a great laugh, with three talents who all play their characters to a tee.
Between the two shows and eleven matches this felt like a statement of intent, not only from Pro-Wrestling: EVE, but from the wrestlers themselves. While Satomura & Sakura were the big attractions, every wrestler on the show stood out in their own right and the result was a highly memorable pair of events, capped off by two excellent bouts in Satomura vs Jayne and O’Reilly vs Sakura. Much of the recent growing attention on British wrestling from the wider wrestling world has centred on the men’s side of things, but with these shows EVE proved that the crop of female wrestling talent in the UK and Europe at large is deserving of a far greater spotlight.
Pro-Wrestling: EVE returns to the Resistance Gallery in May, featuring the debut of former Ice Ribbon star Riho. Also announced for this November was the inaugural ‘She-1 Climax’ tournament, with four shows taking place over two days! Follow EVE on Twitter and Facebook for event announcements and tickets.