“The first rule of our secret girl gang,” Emily Read, owner of Pro Wrestling: EVE announces, “is that you must tell everyone about our secret girl gang.” In keeping with this dictum, I am here to tell you all about Pro Wrestling: EVE’s Saturday night show, “Check Yourself”, at which a great many interesting things went down.
From She-1 qualifiers to shark deathmatches (yes, really), from not-retirement announcements to the crowning of brand new Pro Wrestling: EVE tag team champions, there was something to please even the most hardened of wrestling cynics on this rainy October night. Plus returning hero Kris Wolf was on hand to cause gleeful chaos, having been granted the opportunity to do ‘whatever she wants’ by the EVE brass.
We’re thrown straight into the action with our first Pro Wrestling: EVE Tag Team Championship qualifier. The team of Mercedes Martinez and Laura DiMatteo take on Rhia O’Reilly and her crony Livvii Grace. Livvii and Rhia are masters of divide and conquer, showing considerable ring savvy as they isolate the far smaller Laura DiMatteo and wear her down. Mercedes Martinez grew increasingly frustrated, unable to get the tag, and Livvii and Rhia play to her irritation; the ref, caught up in placating Mercedes, fails to notice the dirty tactics of the EVE champ and her right-hand woman. When Mercedes finally gets the hot tag she’s like an oncoming train, ploughing through the opposition with terrifying force. Heart wins out over spite as DiMatteo snatches the win, propelling she and Mercedes through to the final. Ever the sorest of losers, Rhia, Livvii and fellow crony Nightshade lay into DiMatteo after the match, leaving her dazed.
Next up, hailing from “somewhere better than you”, is heel extraordinaire Nina Samuels, taking on Canadian sensation Gisele Shaw in singles action. Samuels remains one of EVE’s very best, the kind of heel you love to hate. Shaw, meanwhile, comes fresh off the back of one of EVE’s most exciting matches just a couple of weeks ago with the superb Holidead; the two of them tore the roof off the ResGal, and Shaw more than lived up to that performance tonight. Trading back-and-forth high spots, this was a fast and furious affair with a clear-cut heel/face divide; ‘former’ EVE champ Samuels has a reputation to claw back, while relative newcomer Shaw has everything to prove. Tonight, things went Shaw’s way, but it didn’t come easy, and for all we may mock Samuels, she looked strong in defeat. (Shout-out to the superb pre-match video package featuring a selection of Samuels’ best moments, and which should absolutely replace the standard EVE intro.)
Our second Pro Wrestling: EVE Tag Team Championship qualifier gave us the gift of the Woke Queens, Valkyrie and Debbie Keitel. This immensely entertaining duo light up the ResGal every time they perform, from their rousing ABBA entrance (complete with coordinated dance moves) to their coffee-fuelled shenanigans. Tonight they faced off against Diamond Vogue Collective‘s leader Jinny, who announced the expansion of the stable to include tonight’s tag partner, Kanji. The two had an impressive match a few weeks previously and evidently Jinny has warmed to the young upstart, taking Kanji under her well-groomed wing. All four competitors are routinely excellent, so it was no surprise that this match was enormous fun to watch; just the right amount of silliness from Keitel and Valkyrie, tempered with Jinny’s technical wrestling prowess and Kanji’s fiery energy. Kanji seems an odd fit with Jinny and Mercedez Blaze, but they work undeniably well together; Kanji’s enthusiasm compliments Jinny’s cool detachment very well. Still, Woke Queens have the distinct advantage of having worked as a team for far longer, so it seemed fitting that they should claim the win – and a spot in the tag championship finals.
Our first She-1 qualifier of the night brought the ever-aggro Kasey into fierce contact with rising EVE star Roxxy. This one got ugly fast; brawling outside the ring and into the bar, what the match lacked in finesse it made up for in pure violence. Sprawling up into the upper echelons of the Resistance Gallery, a heartstopping armbar from the balcony had the crowd on high alert, but Kasey had it all under control. It had seemed like a guaranteed win for Roxxy, but the plucky Geordie fell short of the finishing line. A shock win for Kasey, who proceeds to the She-1 in November.
Swiftly followed by the second She-1 qualifier, featuring the glowering Nightshade taking on effervescent Glaswegian Angel Hayze. But wait! Remember Kris Wolf? Remember how EVE brass told her she could do ‘whatever she wants’? Well, what Kris Wolf wants is to turn this match into a deathmatch. A succession of mystery boxes was thrown into the ring, each containing a more nefarious weapon than the last. Have you ever seen a professional wrestler attacked by an in-ring shark? The following footage may be upsetting to some viewers:
Things only get wilder as Kris Wolf introduces a carrot, which Nightshade wields expertly against a helpless Angel Hayze. The carrot is followed by the triumphant return of everyone’s favourite disembodied wolf head Tito, who helps Angel take the formidable Nightshade down – though not before Kris Wolf throws a spanner in the works. Or should I say, a ‘stick’:
Angel Hayze proceeds to the She-1 in our second upset of the night. A quick word about Nightshade: I’ve been following her career for over a year now, watching as she’s gone from strength to strength – first as the tag partner to the now-retired Baynz, and then as a ferocious heel in her own right. It’s been a joy to watch Nightshade find her feet, blossoming into an assured heel with real presence. Mark my words: she is a star in the making.
We all know Skye Smitson is hench. But did you know that Leyla Hirsch is also pretty damn hench herself? Diminutive powerhouse Hirsch made her EVE debut, and what an absolute badass she is. She lived up to her ‘legit’ moniker as she went toe to toe with EVE favourite Smitson in a hard-hitting test of strength and stamina. Hirsch’s amateur wrestling-infused style meshed brilliantly with Smitson’s patented brand of ass-kicking in a match that could easily have gone longer without getting stale. In a third consecutive upset, Hirsch tapped Smitson out with a vicious armbar and left having made a roomful of new fans. Smitson, for her part, looked strong in defeat but lamented her run of losses in EVE as of late. She told the crowd she would be heading abroad to train, and that she’d be back better than ever. We can only speculate at this stage as to where Smitson might end up, but with her uncompromising style and power, she’d be a good fit for any number of Japanese promotions…
So then to the main event, which saw Woke Queens face off against Mercedes Martinez and a decidedly woozy-looking Laura DiMatteo for the privilege of being crowned the new EVE tag team champions. Woke Queens were not messing around this time, pre-empting the bell to beat down DiMatteo and Martinez. It looked as though DiMatteo might not be able to proceed, but the lionhearted Italian pushed on. Fun and games abandoned, Keitel and Valkyrie borrowed from the Rhia O’Reilly playbook, isolating DiMatteo and winding up Martinez in a bid to distract the referee. Keeping DiMatteo down is a tricky feat at the best of times, though, and the Woke Queens struggled to secure the pin. A fiery comeback from Martinez almost saw the Woke Queens out for the count, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Debbie Keitel and Valkyrie are your NEW Pro Wrestling EVE Tag Team Champions, and though their behaviour in this match was far from woke, it’s nonetheless impossible not to take joy in their victory.
It doesn’t end there, though.
When Erin Angel and Jetta were forced to relinquish their tag titles, Jetta told the crowd that Erin Angel had an announcement to make. Worried rumours circulated; would women’s wrestling veteran Angel be retiring? Had injury forced her hand? For a crowd hit hard with recent sad retirements (Kris Wolf) and losses to NXT UK (Toni Storm, Kay Lee Ray, Viper), the thought of losing yet another beloved star seemed almost too much to bear. We needn’t have worried, though, because Erin Angel isn’t injured. Nor is she retiring. It’s far better news than that: Erin Angel is going to be a mum. Chants of ‘mummy Angel’ rang out throughout the ResGal in celebration. Congratulations to Erin Angel, a legit star of the British wrestling scene, humble as they come and deserving of all the happiness in the world.
With just a month to go before the She-1 tournament, the field is still wide open for new challengers to Rhia O’Reilly’s crown. Join us again in November when we crown the new Ace of Eve and turn towards the future of a company still in flux. It’s an exciting time to be an EVE fan.
All images courtesy of Laura Mauro