It’s been a crazy few weeks and I’ve been incredibly lucky as a fan. I got to go see NWA Empowerrr in St. Louis and visit my folks, then the very next weekend myself and my wife took a drive to Chicago to see All Out. Awesome trips, awesome shows; on the way back from Chicago, we stopped at a diner in Dekalb called the French Toast Pancake House that was straight out of an episode of Supernatural.
But what else could bring me back to reviewing than the battling ladies of Pro Wrestling EVE? While I was on the road, we got our first show in 18 months – WrestleQueendom 4, baby! It was the Joshi Boyz of the BoD and the first WrestleQueendom that brought me to this promotion, and I am ready for them to return!
So without further ado…..let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
I’ll have a lot more to say in the post-mortem about this, but let’s be very upfront here – EVE is in a state of flux in so many ways, dating all the way back to WrestleQueendom 3, frankly. The gaping maw that is NXT UK has simply swallowed talent whole, adding Millie McKenzie and Valkyrie, amongst others, to their burgeoning roster. There were zero NXT UK talent appearances on this show, and travel restrictions appear to have prevented talent like Charli Evans (one-half of the tag champs with McKenzie as the Medusa Complex, although who knows what’s going to happen there?) or others from appearing.
How did they overcome these issues? Did they?
Pro Wrestling EVE – WrestleQueendom 4 – August 27th, 2021 – 229 The Venue, London
Your hosts are Leah Owens and Sophia Lang.
Mercedez Blaze vs Clementine
A more apropos match to start us off with, I cannot imagine. Before the lockdown, Clementine was a true rookie with barely a handful of matches to her credit, whilst Blaze was rapidly becoming one of the better workers in EVE. Clementine seems to have toned down the dance routine a bit, and I dig that. We get a dance-off to start and whilst Mercedez is funky cool and fresh, the crowd doesn’t appreciate her killer movez so she nails Clementine in the back of the head to kick us off. Back and forth match with Mercedez controlling a good chunk, hitting a killer neckbreaker that looked great in the middle. Clementine is still really green, but her selling has objectively improved from where she was, even though she goes a bit ‘big’ with it sometimes; a lot of really hammed-up facials, which is fine in moderation. 2nd rope bodypress to turn the tide for Clementine, but Mercedez comes back with an absolutely gorgeous shotgun dropkick, then a very nasty looking Dragon Sleeper. Clementine escapes that and hits a bulldog for two. DDT and Angle Slam by Clementine for two. Blaze finally has enough and hits a spear off the second rope and a cutter for the pin. (Mercedez Blaze over Clementine, pinfall, 8:12)
THOUGHTS: **. Blaze is really good and Clementine is really learning. She’s much improved as you’d think after time and it’s clear that she’s put the work in, but she has a bit of ways to go; there were a few moments in the match where it felt like them doing moves as opposed to an organic match taking place. Blaze is a bit better at that sort of thing, but she’s been working a lot longer and that’s to be expected. A few awkward spots, but nothing bad here.
Zoe Lucas vs Alex Windsor
A few quick words on Windsor – this is her first match in 4 years, having been out due to injuries before the pandemic. She debuted in 2009 and is 27 years old today, which means her debut would put her at 15-16 years old at the time. And she is built like a brick shithouse and walks, looks, and acts like a star in every sense of the word. She has real presence out there, so let’s see what happens in her first match back, coincidentally the first match of hers I’ve ever seen.
Lucas comes out in a crown and a flowing robe and she’s got her usual queen bitch act DOWN. Alex dominates the early-going and tosses Zoe, hitting her with a cannonball to the floor. Lucas with some Greco-Roman hairpull-assisted snapmares to turn the tide. and as much as I love Zoe as a character, I equally do not love Zoe on offense. Windsor with a fallaway slam, but Zoe freezes her with a kick to go back on offense. Windsor goes back on offense and hits a spinning sitout bomb, which gets two. Tornado DDT by Alex puts both women down. Windsor with a Rock Bottom for two. Lucas misses a spear and hits the post, allowing Windsor to get a coast-to-coast dropkick and an arm-trap Sharpshooter for the tapout. (Alex Windsor over Zoe Lucas, submission, 11:39)
THOUGHTS: **1/2. Based on this match, I’m sort of torn on Windsor because overall, she’s got a huge ‘it factor’ – she moves well, she can sell, she looks tough and really carries herself like a main event talent. But there were some problems here – she missed a few things and looked a bit tentative being back in the ring in certain spots, which surely can be expected. I’d like to see a bigger sample size of her work before I really judge it all that much, but I think there’s something there with her. Lucas…..the gimmick overwhelms the work most of the time with Zoe, and she really doesn’t have anything behind her strikes. I think if it were me and I wanted to really put Alex over strong, I would have given this 7-8 minutes and cut out a chunk of Zoe’s offense. Not because I hate Lucas but because I really kind of wanted this match to showcase Windsor dominating 90% of it, not 60% of it, especially with her coming back after a really, really long layoff.
Angel Hayze vs Laura Di Matteo
YES! My one true EVE love, Laura Di Matteo! The best worker in the entire company *cough* whoshouldhavewonthefuckingtitlelastyear *cough*, it’s always good to see EVE’s equal to Ricky Steamboat.
No apologies, I’m owning that statement. Laura is just the greatest babyface who can get you to live and die by her matches; she has a connection with the crowd that so very, very few wrestlers are able to achieve. The fact that none of the bigger companies have picked her up yet is an absolute crime.
I remember a bit of Hayze from the 2019 SHE-1, but not a ton. Slugfest is won by Laura and she fires away, but Angel comes back with kicks so LDM can do what she does best – sell her ass off. Laura with an armdrag and we settle into the match a bit after Laura hits a dropkick. They head to the floor and Laura takes a superkick and sells it so well that every other wrestler should apologize for how shitty they are at it in comparison.
Yeah, I’m a total mark for Laura. So what? Fuck all y’all, I just want Laura to travel back in time and see Bull Nakano ragdoll the shit out of LDM until she’s near death. It would be AWESOME.
Anyway, Angel holds her own back in the ring and rolls into a Guillotine choke, but Di Matteo breaks with a suplex. Enzuigiri and Laura goes for the finish, but Hayze fights out and throws forearms in the corner and hits a Slingblade. That’s about it for Hayze, though, as Laura gets a reversal into a Tombstone for the pin. (Laura Di Matteo over Angel Hayze, pinfall, 7:58)
THOUGHTS: ***1/4. As usual, Laura goes out and steals the show. Angel was fine here and showed a bit of good fire, while Di Matteo continues to stand out as the best in-ring talent in the company. Her pacing, selling, and offense are all A-1 and I continue to be mystified as to why she remains without all the titles in all the companies doing all the main events.
Okay, that’s a bit strong. Still, she’s just the greatest and I continue to hope she gets a bigger platform to showcase how awesome she is. Hey, the last woman I felt that strongly about from EVE was Jamie Hayter, and she seems to be doing pretty alright for herself these days. I have to think that they know what they have in EVE with LDM and hopefully good things are in store.
Laura offers the handshake after the match, but Angel takes a powder instead.
Earlier tonight, The Uprising (Rhia O’Reilly, Livvii Grace, and Nightshade) put some beatings on Jetta backstage before Dann Read chased them off. It’s up in the air if she can compete tonight!
EVE International title Gauntlet match – Kasey (C) vs Debbie Keitel vs Emersyn Jayne vs Maddison Miles vs Hyan vs Nightshade
Ho-kay, let’s get this out of the way first – there are parts of this match I really enjoyed, and I avoided the long Jayne title run so I’m not as jaded as some are towards her, as I just find her unexciting but solid. That having been said…..hoo boy. Strap in.
Up first, half of the Woke Queens Debbie Keitel, who really misses Valkyrie, and she’s going to open hostilities against Maddison Miles, who I’ve seen exactly one time before this. Miles starts with a series of armdrags and a snapmare into a seated dropkick. Debbie snaps her on the top rope to come back and drops her with a clothesline. We do a bit where Debbie wants a tag because she can’t deal with it not being a tag match, and more silliness ensues after that with the ref and that allows Miles to get a brief bit of offense before Keitel gets a backbreaker. Debbie goes up, but takes too long and Miles brings her down with a superplex for two. Keitel escapes the next move, hits a knee, then hits the Midnight Espresso to move on. Okay, not bad.
Emersyn Jayne is in next, the former Sammii Jayne, and she immediately hits a German suplex off the ropes and Keitel rolls to the floor dead. The ref puts the count on, Keitel makes it back in just in time, so Jayne goes to work after winning a yawn-off, which is exactly as stupid as it sounds. Keitel fires back but crashes to the mat asleep and Jayne tries to quietly roll her over, which gets two. Okay, so this particular segment is not my favorite, I’ll admit. Debbie puts Jayne in the sleeper….but falls asleep herself, so the ref checks her arm, with Debbie once again waking up just in time. They do some more stuff and Keitel gets Northern Lights suplex for two. Debbie tries to come off the second rope, but gets caught by Jayne with a Death Valley Driver for the pin to eliminate Debbie.
Hyan is in next. We do a bit of grappling to start this one. Some decent enough back-and-forth with a Hyan dropkick and Jayne coming back with a bit of offense. Hyan does the first bit of nasty with a necksnap to Jayne to take control. Hyan rolls her into a cravat and throws knees, then hits a neckbreaker for two. Match slows down a bit now. Wasteland and a leg drop get two for Hyan. Jayne cuts her off on a charge and gets an awkward ‘rana and a German to the buckles. Top rope dropkick by Jayne gets two. Hyan comes back and hits a running knee and a Falcon Arrow for two. Jayne with a Death Valley Bomb for two. Hyan off the ropes, big clothesline. Torture Rack Bomb by Hyan gets two. Jayne with a sliding German and a Buzzsaw knee and that’s all she wrote for Hyan, who put up a good fight, albeit a bit awkward in spots.
Nightshade, who I’m thinking more and more is going to end up being something, is next on the agenda. Nightshade dominates early with power, hitting a really impressive fallaway slam and a German suplex. Gotta think Jayne is done here as Nightshade just tosses her around. Finally, Nightshade charges and gets hit with a second rope dropkick, then a tope from Jayne. Sure. Nightshade catches Jayne off the apron, but loses her balance and both go crashing to the floor. Ouch. That looked rough. Back in for more Nightshade clobbering that gets a two count. Jayne comes back with a tornado DDT. Jayne misses a punch and Nightshade hits a huge German, then puts Jayne on her shoulders and hits an Electric Chair Driver (basically the One-Winged Angel) and that’ll surely do it, 1, 2…..Jayne rolls her over and somehow holds her down for three. Oh, come on. That’s just silly. But okay, I’ve seen sillier things in wrestling before.
So Kasey, the champ, is out next and this should be easy pickings now in any world, realistic or otherwise. The Mother of Chaos comes in with a chair and immediately hits the Killing Joke (Shining Wizard), which gets two. Which is, by the way, her FINISH. Another attempt with the chair ends with Jayne throwing it into Kasey’s face and hitting a Death Valley Driver onto it. Jayne sets up the chair in the corner and attempts to send Kasey into it, but Kasey moves and Jayne goes sailing through the chair to the floor. Back in, Jayne gets the advantage again, so naturally, she goes outside the ring to get a chair of her own and give Kasey time to recover. She blasts Kasey with the chair twice, which is legal because ‘Spirit of EVE!’ and stuff, then sets up both chairs in the corner and looks to try to suplex Kasey through them, but Kasey slips out, nails Jayne with a chair, then sets the chairs up back to back so the seats are sticking up right in the middle and powerbombs Jayne off the top rope through both chairs!! 1, 2, NO! Oh, come the FUCK ON. We’re past the point of reasonable suspension of disbelief now and into “Clark Kent can’t be Superman, they look nothing alike because Clark wears glasses!” territory.
German suplex by Kasey to Jayne on the chairs gets two. Why not? Why not have her kick out at one at this point? Kasey goes for more plunder, and this time it’s thumbtacks, but Kasey is hoisted onto her proverbial petard and Jayne hits a spinning uranage onto the tacks, which leads us to both women hitting various suplexes onto the tacks, culminating in Kasey hitting a face-first Meteora ONTO THE TACKS, and if you think that only gets two on Jayne, you’re right! Jayne with a powerbomb onto the tacks and a Bow-and-Arrow, but Kasey escapes that. Jayne goes out for more, this time getting a table. She sets it up and puts Kasey on it, but Kasey escapes. Jayne puts her back on and goes up, but Kasey catches her and they fight on top, Death Valley Driver off the top rope through the table from Kasey! And that is FINALLY enough to put the T-1000 that is Emersyn Jayne down as the ref counts 3 and Kasey retains. (Kasey over Emersyn Jayne, Debbie Keitel, Nightshade, & Maddison Miles, pinfall, 47:02)
THOUGHTS: **. I don’t even know where to begin here. I saw a lot of online praise for this match and in certain moments, I can see it. Also, lest I be accused of being the hypocrite I know that I am, big comebacks after big-time moves are especially prevalent these days, especially in NJPW where I just scream ‘FIGHTING SPIRIT!’ and ignore it. I get it. But my logical issues with this match really concerned the spacing between the big moves that Jayne kicked out of and the quantity in that time period. I mean, we can agree that the narrative of the match was that Jayne put up a superhuman effort but fell just short at the end, right? That’s what they were trying to push. So in that context, I’m willing to accept a few big kickouts. Cool. But by my calculation, Jayne took a Torture Rack Bomb, an Electric Chair Driver, The Killing Joke, a Powerbomb off the top rope through two chairs that were spine to spine, AND a Meteora face-first onto thumbtacks and kicked out of ALL OF IT before finally succumbing to a top-rope Death Valley Driver through a table.
I truly don’t have anything against Jayne, and her stamina in the match was actually something to compliment, as she was able to pace out each pairing and hit moves and seemingly not get tired. But the match itself required her to not sell certain things past certain points, and it finally overwhelmed me as a viewer. I would have honestly preferred it if you just take away one of her matches in this thing – swap the Hyan stuff and have her just get past Nightshade and then lose to Kasey, and kill one of the big move kickouts to ground the match a bit more and I think it probably works. This didn’t for me, although I thought Keitel, despite a bit too much comedy, was really an early standout. Overall, there were things her to like and things not to, but the right person won – Kasey is severely underrated as she really does the music between the notes phenomenally well with her facials and character work. I would not at all mind seeing her go higher than she is, because she’s really run with it.
Time for the main event, so to speak.
I am torn because I can see the intent of the following match – it’s been 18 months since EVE ran a show, and they want to expose as many wrestlers as they can to the public on the comeback. Combine that with the fact that they keep getting raided in ways that would make ’90s Eric Bischoff go “Man, they’re getting FUCKED over”, you gotta get those new faces out there as soon as you can. Makes sense. A Rumble-style match accomplishes this goal, and by doing it for the title, you put it in a greater position on the card than some sort of undercard deal.
But, and I mean this, I wouldn’t have done this. And the reason is simple – Rhia O’Reilly and Jetta can go out there and have a great match for the title if you want. They can! They’ve done it already in the 2019 SHE-1, where they were **** all day! They’ve got chemistry with each other and they’re both smart workers that could have just done a main event for the strap. And I’m always for non-gimmick title defenses on the big shows, and EVE normally positions Queendom as their strongest show of the year.
This isn’t the worst Rumble I’ve ever seen at all and there is some stuff sprinkled through that is good. But coming off a 47 minute gauntlet match, this is the last thing I would have thought was a good idea. So many of the new faces barely get much of anything in this thing and I’m not sure how much it helped them. Only time will tell on that one.
That having been said – let’s go.
EVE RUMBLE FOR THE PRO WRESTLING EVE CHAMPIONSHIP
Laura Di Matteo is #1, both in my smark heart and in the Rumble, while Zoe Lucas is #2. Zoe charges and Laura immediately tosses her. So far, 100% on this booking. Maddison Miles is #3. She hits Laura with a Samoan Drop, but charges and this time Laura pulls down the top rope to eliminate her! I BOOKED THIS RUMBLE. Alexxis Falcon out now at #4. They fight it out with both gaining a brief advantage, and Kira Chimera is #5. 3-way dance with the bat commences until Ava White comes in at #6. She runs wild for a bit with Debbie Keitel staggering in at #7, although once she’s handed her magical reviving coffee, she’s good to go. Natalie Sykes is #8 as we’ve got a few people in the ring here. Clementine is in at #9. Gia Adams at #10. She does a bunch of Samoan Drops and looks pretty alright, but we’re crowded. Amira Blair is #11 as we’re a bit more than a third of the way through with 8 women in the ring now.
#12 is Lana Austin, back from Japan, so to speak. We finally get an elimination as Adams eliminates Keitel, and KT Hawkins is #13. Not much happens there as Mercedez Blaze draws #14. She’s got plenty of cannon fodder in there, and she tosses White immediately. Someone gets rid of Kira Chimera as #15 is Nightshade. She kills a few women before Sammi Baynz comes in at #16. She hits a very cool sitout chokebomb on Gia before slugging it out with former partner Nightshade. #17 is Jayla Dark, back for a one-off (?) after retiring in 2019. She promptly eliminates Falcon. #18 doesn’t come out, so the announcers assume that it was Jetta’s spot. Livvii Grace is #19 to put another Uprising member in the ring. They team up and dump Baynz, then Clementine. ERIN ANGEL returns at #20, which is awesome and pops the crowd. Ronnie Knocks joins us at #21. By the way, the reason I’m not giving a ton of background here isn’t just for expedience, it’s that I can barely hear the commentary so I really don’t know a lot about the new wrestlers.
Knocks comes in super-fired up and kind of gets over a bit doing it. I was into it. Dark eliminates Blair as we get #22, Darcy Stone. During her entrance, we lose Austin, KT, and Gia Adams. What a massacre. Kasey Owens is in at #23, and I would not object to double title holder Mother of Chaos. Just sayin’. She stuns everyone in sight until we get Jetta at #24. She does her full entrance and has some fun with Kasey and Jayla for a moment, then we get Alex Windsor at #25. She’s in and she once again looks like a star from the jump. I really think that she’s got it. Darcy gets tossed off-camera and then Blaze goes out on camera. #26 is supposed to be Emersyn Jayne, but she’s not medically cleared and can’t compete. After taking like a hundred finishers? You think? Debbie Dahmer is in at #27. Angel Hayze in at #28 and she tosses Windsor immediately, which kind of surprised me. She ends up right back out, though, courtesy of Livvi. #29 is Leah Owens, straight from the commentary desk. She gets in the ring and Kasey quickly grabs her and tosses her right back out. Yep, gonna be an awkward Thanksgiving at that house, me thinks. But Leah gets to laugh as Laura comes up from behind and tosses Kasey! Kasey does not take this in a very sportsmanlike fashion and yanks Laura over the top rope from the outside to eliminate her, and if this is the start of a program between Laura Di Matteo and Kasey Owens, this entire Rumble has been totally worth it. They fight back to the dressing room, which only leaves one spot left and, of course, EVE champion Rhia O’Reilly, complete with super-cool Loki gear, completes the field at #30. I wanna hang with Rhia and talk comics and Marvel movies, because she seems to love both. She gets in and teams up with Grace and Nightshade, and they toss Knocks. Natalie Sykes is the next victim. Speaking of next victims, Dahmer gets sent out right after. Rhia and Dark renew hostilities and O’Reilly comes out on top there, sending Dark back into retirement. Jetta and Angel team up to eliminate Livvii and that gives us a final 4.
FINAL 4 – Rhia O’Reilly, Nightshade, Jetta, Erin Angel
So it’s the reunited Wrestle Friends vs the Uprising. Neato! Nice bit of booking, that. Stereo bulldogs by the Wrestle Friends are answered as Rhia kills Angel with the Rhiadjustment and tosses her out. Nightshade looks to eliminate Jetta, but Jetta pulls down the rope on a charge and Nightshade goes out, so we’re down to O’Reilly vs Jetta. Fine by me, that was the match I wanted anyway. They do a bit and both end up on the apron after going over the top rope and Jetta shoves Rhia into the post and she falls off the apron…..into the waiting arms of Livvii and Nightshade. I’m not ashamed to admit that when I saw that for the first time, in a hotel room in Columbia on my way to St. Louis, I let out a very loud “FUCK!” that the neighboring rooms could probably hear. I mark out like everyone else and was rooting hard for Jetta here. Rhia back in and she hits an Exploder, which Jetta answers with a ripcord clothesline (RAIINNNMAKERRRR!!!) and a Codebreaker, then a Backstabber. Rhia catches her and curbstomps her, Jetta comes back with boots. They go to the ropes and O’Reilly tosses Jetta! Rhia thinks she’s retained the title, but Erin Angel put a chair under Jetta’s foot! Both feet didn’t touch the floor! Rhia goes to the turnbuckles to pose with her back to Jetta, so The Princess Diana of Pro Wrestling EVE calmly gets into the ring, taps her from behind, and then shoves O’Reilly to floor to finally end O’Reilly’s title reign as Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a NEW Pro Wrestling EVE champion! (Jetta wins the EVE Rumble, 51:57)
THOUGHTS: ***. This one was up and down, so I look at as many sides as I can. On the con side, the ring filled up far too many times and this would have been much more manageable and focused with only 20 wrestlers instead of 30, something I’ve been known to complain about with the Royal Rumble before. Once they put the title stip on the match, there just weren’t that many women that really could have won, so the drama with them is minimal. Because the ring got crowded a lot, no one was really able to do a lot of work, something that sadly is prevalent in most battle royales as a consequence of the match structure.
BUT, there were a lot of parts of this that were just so well-booked and well-done by the wrestlers. Laura getting the longetivity push. Her and Kasey mixing it up to give us what should be an excellent International title match. Erin Angel returns and figures into the finish! Jetta WINS! How can a match that had so many really fun bits be bad?
Overall, while this wasn’t the direction I would have gone with the EVE title, what matters is that despite that misgiving, they arrived at the right destination, you know? So I can’t fault it.
Jetta celebrates with the title as the crowd gives her a standing ovation, with Erin Angel coming in to raise her hand. Well-done and deserved.
Welp, I suppose that we’re….
Nope, we’re not done. Skye Smitson charges the ring, and she’s quite perturbed that she’s been sat in the back all day waiting to wrestle – they even kept her out of the Rumble while waiting for her opponent, the mysterious Gambler. Smitson has come a LONG way from where she was, and she’s gonna make it if she keeps getting better. She was angry here but in control of the crowd and the promo strongly, plus she made liberal use of the word fuck, which I can always appreciate. So the lights go out and the video plays and Less equals More and there’s a Royal Flush being dealt out and the last card is the Ace of Spades and IT’S CHARLIE FUCKING MORGAN AND THIS TIME THE OTHER ROOMS MUST HAVE HEARD MY ASS YELL.
So Charlie comes out and the crowd goes absolutely apeshit, and I think we all know how this is gonna go.
Skye Smitson vs Charlie Morgan
Charlie fires kicks as the crowd chants ‘welcome back’. Smitson comes back with a clothesline and a dropkick, and I would think that leg-based offense would be the way to go with Skye, since she (by the way, if anyone knows Skye’s pronouns, can you let me know?) doesn’t throw convincing strikes but has really long legs and a great dropkick. She hits a fallaway slam on Morgan for two. Angle slam by Skye and she goes for an anklelock on the repaired ankle, then a half-crab keeping pressure on it. Charlie tries to escape, so Smitson slams the ankle on the mat, then stomps on it. What a bitch. Charlie comes back by backdropping Skye over the top rope and teases her first dive in 2 years, but hits a sliding dropkick to put Skye down.
Charlie slides out and takes Smitson to the merch table for some whuppin’ right in front of Dann Read, then finds a ladder. Oh, well, that’s good. She climbs up the ladder, and somersaults off onto Skye! And a few other people, sure, but Skye was in there somewhere. Back to the ring apron and Charlie hits a superkick, then goes up, but Smitson recovers and powerbombs Charlie onto the apron and rolls her back in for two. Skye gets a few more pin attempts including an excellent Perfectplex, but this was only going to end one way, and seconds later an implant DDT finishes Skye off to give Charlie her first win in years. (Charlie Morgan over Skye Smitson, pinfall, 9:28)
THOUGHTS: **3/4. A feel-good match to send us all home with a double whammy of happiness, Charlie looked great out there with seemingly no ill-effects from the ankle injury that retired her a few years ago. Skye is THIS close to putting it all together and I hope that she does.
Charlie cuts a fiery promo after the match that turns into a very nice love letter to her fiance and NEW EVE champ Jetta, and we sing Jetta’s theme to take us out.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: I have many, many thoughts.
On this show: Can we be brutally honest here? This wasn’t the best-worked show I’ve ever seen. I had the highest match at 3 and a quarter, and everything else underneath that. If you’re not an EVE fan already, this one may fall a bit flat, especially if you came to the promotion when they had Kay Lee Ray, Charlie, Jamie Hayter, Jinny, Viper…..when every show had a **** match on it.
But I don’t think that was at all the point of this show. The point of this show was to come back and to make the fans feel GOOD about coming back. Looking up and down the card, you had babyfaces winning undercard matches (Alex Windsor, Laura Di Matteo), a long-time EVE staple ending a long heel title run (Jetta) and the return of one of the biggest stars in EVE history (Charlie Morgan). When I rewatched this show for the review, I was struck by how well it was booked (we’ll get to the overall booking in a second) and by how they made all the right choices for EVE going forward in doing so.
This show was really for the fans. Moreso than anything else, you were rewarded on this one if you were a long-time EVE fan because everything that got paid off was for you. And while the matches weren’t the best ever, making fans feel great about the wrestling show they were watching is something that every promotion should at least attempt to achieve. And they did here. So it’s a thumbs-up show even with some pretty sketch wrestling, and while I hope that doesn’t become the norm, on this day it worked.
On EVE in general: Let’s get this out of the way now – I know nothing. Zip, nada. I know absolutely zero about how EVE gets booked, I have no insider knowledge – I’m just a guy with a creative writing degree who’s been watching wrestling for 32 years. So all I can do is look at the story and go from there, to a certain extent.
But let’s also be real – booking EVE is hard, man. And it’s hard because talent right now is getting grabbed by big companies and it’s not as though it’s easy for people to be crossing borders. To expect EVE to go back to where they were right away seems completely unrealistic to me – it’s like a theater losing most of their acting company. They’ve gotta audition new stars, try out new things, and see who makes the cut over the next several months, with the full knowledge that if they DO create a new star that makes waves, that star could be plucked quickly from their grasp.
As AEW continues to hopefully expand their women’s division and WWE/NXT does the same, one would think that the KLRs and Jamie Hayters of the world are going to be in demand. 10 of the 12 women currently assigned to the NXT UK brand spent time in EVE, while others in the US NXT like Kay Lee Ray, Gigi Dolin (Priscilla Kelly), etc were also on EVE shows. On the WWE main roster shows, we’ve got Nikki ASH, Piper Niven, Shotzi Blackheart, Tegan Nox, and Toni Storm. AEW has Emi Sakura, Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, Leyla Hirsch, Riho, & Yuka Sakazaki as EVE alumnus. Women’s wrestling is on the rise now, and there’s going to be a need to fill spots fast.
All of this places EVE, frankly, in that Ring of Honor position from the mid 2000s – a strong indy that will develop talent and see that talent leave for greener pastures as an inevitable consequence. Putting on strong shows while that talent is still developing is going to be even harder mid-pandemic, because we’ve got to actually be able to get wrestlers to the damn shows. I can only assume that Charli Evans couldn’t be at this show, for example, because of current lockdown status in Australia, which is a shame because she’s so freaking talented, it’s insane. I assume the same for any number of foreign independent talent the situation was similar. That means this was all on what we could pretty much call the EVE ‘main roster’.
And with that in mind, the future of EVE may be a bit rocky as we start to see which talent is going to rise up and take those spots. As a fan of the promotion, I want it to succeed but I also know that it’s going to take some time to rebuild to where they were, and even that rebuilding process may be interrupted from time to time. That’s just kind of the nature of the beast. So in the meantime, what I can hope for is good, solid booking on the shows to keep the hooks in for the viewer, and we got that tonight. Despite working from behind half a dozen eight balls, the booking on this show was excellent almost across the board; the only thing that didn’t really work from that standpoint for me was the gauntlet match, but it probably did work overall for the story they wanted to tell. I’ll tip my cap to them for taking some very, very muddled pieces and putting together a puzzle on this show.
(Anyone reading this on the EVE team, DM me on Twitter and I’ll send my address along for some bribes. I accept merchandise and weird British candy in lieu of cash)
Shameless pandering aside, there’s still questions. What will happen with the NXT UK talent? They’ve continued to work EVE shows in the past; with none of them on this show, does that mean we’re done there? If so, what about the tag champs, the Medusa Complex, which can’t even get either member to a show in that case? Now that we’re back, how will the time be split amongst the established talent and the greener talent that need to work? Are the glory days of EVE as a strong workrate company in the past, or is that a future to come again?
Isn’t it nice to ask these questions again?
Well, the sun is coming up and it’s bedtime here. But it felt good to do this, to return to this motley crew of a promotion that I very much adore; to see them climb up is going to be fun, don’t you think?
I do. And I’ll be back for next month’s show. Hope to see you then.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter
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