Pro Wrestling: EVE’s third annual Wrestle Queendom saw a number of firsts. Their first show at London’s 229 The Venue, a suitably snazzy and shiny location to which I hope EVE will return. First Wrestle Queendom appearances for the likes of Killer Kelly, Yuka Sakazaki, Maki Itoh, Skye Smitson, the Malaysian sensation Nor “Phoenix” Diana, and one very cool surprise debut. The first Wrestle Queendom to be main-evented by a Tag Team Championship bout – and, unless memory escapes me, the first to feature a table covered in barbed wire.
Phew. And we’ve not even got started yet.
Jinny def. Nina Samuels
One of two matches that were not on the Fite TV live stream due to NXT UK contract shenanigans, and that’s a shame because Jinny vs Nina has had white-hot buildup through recent EVE shows. I’ve long felt that these two magnificent heels have been woefully underused by WWE, so to give them a spotlight like this feels like their due. Nina swaggered her way through the match, the picture of confidence, and with good reason. But you couldn’t keep a queen down, and Jinny had a vicious streak a mile wide. Samuels left The Venue with egg on her face, and Jinny stood tall.
Killer Kelly def. Roxxy
Another EVE on Demand exclusive. Killer Kelly and Roxxy are not strangers – they’ve even teamed together recently in wXw. Kelly is always a welcome addition to any EVE show, and her unique brand of hard-hitting, no-nonsense wrestling fits in nicely with the diverse styles of the regular roster. Roxxy, on the other hand, favours a more agile, technical approach.
Roxxy entered this match with something to prove following her defeat at last year’s Wrestle Queendom to Arisa Hoshiki. And while she put up a good fight, Killer Kelly’s strength and uncompromising presence was too much for Roxxy to overcome. Will it be third time lucky for Roxxy at next year’s Wrestle Queendom?
Jetta wins the EVE 15 Women Rumble
A LOT went down in this Rumble. Starting with two of my favourite EVE regulars, Mercedez Blaze and Skye Smitson, the number of participants increased steadily until nearly all 15 women crowded the ring. It took juggernaut Dominita to really kick-start the eliminations, after which they started dropping like flies. A surprise Queendom debut from Saraya Knight (yes, THE Saraya Knight) had the entire crowd on their feet – not least when she cheekily eliminated Dominita from the Rumble.
There were several Queendom debuts from up-and-coming talent including Rebel Kinney, Hollie Barlow, Kira Chimera and Louise Jane; from WAW veteran Violet O’Hara and EVE favourite Mischa East, and of course, from Dominita, who played her Braun Strowman-Esque dominant heel role to perfection. EVE regulars Chakara, Nightshade and Livvii Grace also entered – and left – the Rumble.
But it was Jetta, the beloved Princess Diana of EVE, who had the minerals to outlast the other 14 women. Some might say this is Jetta’s due, especially after her title loss to Rhia O’Reilly a few months ago. Overall, a fun Rumble, and – we are assured – a new Wrestle Queendom tradition.
Lana Austin and Yuka Sakazaki – time limit draw
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) January 11, 2020
Lana Austin explained at last week’s EVE show that this opportunity was enormously important to her. A mother of three, Austin has never had the chance to spend time in Japan like many of her peers, and it was clear from the match that the opportunity to take on Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s Yuka Sakazaki meant a great deal to her.
Current TJPW Princess of Princess Champion Sakazaki was not about to make it easy for Austin, though. Some nice back and forth and clever reversals made this a fun and unpredictable bout. Highlights included Sakazaki threatening referee Chris Hatch multiple times, Austin reversing Sakazaki’s top-rope manoeuvre into a thunderous powerbomb, and a rope-hung Austin taking a Sakazaki lariat to the throat.
The time-limit draw was certainly unexpected, and there were a few nonplussed faces in the crowd, but it’s hard to argue with fifteen minutes of solidly entertaining wrestling.
Maki Itoh def. Session Moth Martina
Shenanigans from start to finish, but you didn’t come into this one expecting a clinic, did you? Never underestimate the power of comedy wrestling to elevate a crowd’s spirits. It’s a joy to see Tokyo Joshi Pro’s Maki Itoh on British shores, and there is surely no more perfect opponent than Martina, who can match the World’s Cutest Wrestler swear for swear. Itoh’s headbutt-heavy offence took Martina down, but the crowd were the real winners here.
Nor “Phoenix” Diana def. Zoe Lucas
Exciting times at Pro Wrestling: EVE as the world’s first hijabi pro-wrestling champion made her debut. Hailing from Malaysia, where she is Wrestlecon champion, Nor “Phoenix” Diana made quite an impression on the crowd as she stood up against Zoe Lucas’ bully tactics. Credit where it’s due – Lucas is very good at being an obnoxious mean girl, and putting Diana up against someone so eminently dislikeable was a natural choice.
Diana is just 19 years old and already embodies a kind of natural in-ring confidence that many more seasoned wrestlers can only hope to obtain. Shades of a young Rey Mysterio Jr abound in her Lucha-inspired ring style, and in her pure babyface spirit. This was Diana’s UK debut, but it definitely won’t be the last we see of her.
Rhia O’Reilly (c) def. Laura DiMatteo to retain the Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship
Look, let’s get it out of the way: I’m disappointed, you’re disappointed, we’re all disappointed. Not just with Laura DiMatteo losing – that’s insult enough – but with Skye Smitson, who ultimately cost DiMatteo the win.
Smitson has become something of a fan favourite lately at EVE. Her struggle to prove herself has endeared her to many. So for her to take the easy way out and join Rhia’s wrecking crew feels a little like a betrayal. It’s also brilliant character work – witness Smitson eliminating her friend Rebel Kinney from the Rumble and cheekily claiming it as just business. From a writing perspective, it makes sense that Smitson – who went away to Germany to improve but still couldn’t buy a win when she came back – would finally bow under her self-imposed pressure to succeed.
But this is really about Laura DiMatteo. Unleashing a vicious streak which saw her somersaulting off the stage, her first bite at the championship cherry was taken away from her not by her own lack of skill, but purely by numbers. This cannot possibly be the end of DiMatteo’s title race, not least because – vicious though she may be – O’Reilly is yet to prove she can beat DiMatteo one on one, without interference. How long can EVE allow O’Reilly’s growing army of henchmen to dominate everything the champion does?
Disappointing, yes. But have faith, EVE fans. The story is not over yet.
Medusa Complex def. Gisele Shaw & Sammii Jayne (c) and Woke Queens to become NEW Pro Wrestling: EVE Tag Team Champions
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) January 11, 2020
Incoming champs Gisele Shaw and Sammii Jayne seemed to be at a distinct disadvantage in this match, going up against two well-oiled, experienced tag teams. The unlikely partnership formed out of necessity, and you have to ask yourself how far a team can go when it’s comprised of two individuals, each out for themselves.
That said, Shaw and Jayne do work well as a duo, and they exemplified this throughout. While they may lack for double-team attacks, they have plenty of savvy, employing the quick tag in-and-out approach which has seen them succeed so far. And their desire to win saw them bust out the weaponry – which ultimately proved their undoing. Shaw’s pile of chairs came back to haunt her, while Chekhov’s barbed-wire covered table proved too much for Sammii Jayne. A devastating spear off the apron and a gnarly-looking landing took Jayne out for good. (For those who saw that horrendous looking bump – don’t worry, Sammii Jayne is fine.)
Due to the elimination nature of the match, that left Woke Queens (Debbie Keitel and Valkyrie) to fend off Medusa Complex (Charli Evans and Millie McKenzie). Valkyrie, in particular, cut an impressive figure, pulling off two perfect moonsaults. Unfortunately for the Irish duo, Medusa Complex have their tag game down to a fine art. Firing off synchronised suplexes and double-team moves, McKenzie and Evans had just that little bit more fire.
And why not? Despite inventing the tag belts, they’d never yet held them. Despite Evans and McKenzie each sacrificing their own individual title shots for the cause, they’d yet to see a reward for their selflessness. They’ve also low-key been one of the best tag teams on the British scene for a while now. To see them finally claim gold – and at Wrestle Queendom, no less – is very gratifying.
— charli evans チャーリー・エバンス (@charlievanspro) January 12, 2020
Wrestle Queendom 3 will be available on EVE on Demand very soon, and if you’re on the fence about watching it, let me assure you: it is absolutely worth your time. British wrestling is in safe hands with Pro Wrestling: EVE and the fallout from this one is going to be epic.
All pics and videos courtesy of EVE and Laura Mauro