Pro Wrestling EVE: SHE-1 Weekend
November 10-11 2018
I was almost at SHE-1 in 2017 but had trouble booking the time off and by the time I got an ok the finale had sold out and I would have felt quite sad going to 3/4 shows and then missing the last one. This is also part of my ongoing failure to see Meiko Satomura live, which I managed to rectify multiple times in 2018. So when SHE-1 tickets went on sale this year I spoke to my boss and got that weekend off. A perfect opportunity to catch four shows in two days (plus Rev Pro on Friday) and a big wrestling weekend.
This was also my first time visiting the Resistance Gallery (ResGal), which is essentially a lock up that someone put a balcony in. It’s a strange venue. It’s way too small to have a wrestling show in for starters. However it is one of those small venues that I dig. It’s a shithole. It’s rough and ready and thrown together. The smoking area outside is an alleyway with stuff thrown in it (chairs and such) and has tarp over the one end so there’s rain cover, which came in handy on the wet Saturday.
If there were less people in there, as there were for the Saturday afternoon show, the ResGal would be a wonderful place to watch wrestling. Especially with the big projection screen on the back wall, allowing the crowd to see the mat work from the other side of the building and a countdown timer handily telling us how close we were to a time limit draw. However on the Saturday night show it was absolutely heaving. It was full to capacity and something I’m generally not keen on is having to touch four other wrestling fans every time I want to pull my phone out of my pocket to make notes on a show. It was that cramped.
For me that’s the major pros and cons of the building. It has a certain charm, and is probably on my shortlist for favourite venues but a sell-out is murder. My first time in the building was actually on Friday night for Will Ospreay’s after party and my thoughts at the time were that it just wasn’t a big enough building to fit a ring and fans in. Considering Ospreay’s party effectively filled the building without there being a ring.
My first takeaway from the action was there would be no calling spots in the ring. You could hear even the faintest of comment from the wrestlers and when it got really quiet you could hear the commentary from upstairs. Which led to one hilarious spot where Dann Read said “Jamie Hayter is making the same mistakes” and Hayter stopped wrestling to yell up at the balcony about it. Speaking of Hayter, she’s exceptional. I’ll talk more about her later but this felt like a big breakout weekend for her and she delivered in every possible way.
Banter was a huge part of the weekend and it made a lot of matches great fun on top of being good matches. Viper impressed me a great deal. I don’t think I’ve seen Viper wrestle in an intimate venue before and her capacity to talk and improv during a match kinda blew me away. During her opening round match against Millie McKenzie she made me chuckle repeatedly. The “sorry hen” line killed me.
Kris Wolf was a major source of amusement during the weekend too. On her arrival she sniffed at referee Chris Hatch. “You smell like hard work sir”. When she had Hatch as a referee the following day she greeted him with “we meet again sir”. Jetta also had a lovely time playing on her various catchphrases. At one point instructing Toni Storm on her most famous pose (“lie on your back, hands over both eyes, leg in the air”) during an awesome double cosplay introduction. “Which one’s Toni? Which one’s Jetta?”
The Princess Diana of Pro Wrestling also got to do a similar introductions battle with Millie McKenzie (“Coventry’s second most charismatic”) on the final day. Millie impressed a lot with her capacity to talk and be odd. She’s always been a great wrestler but it feels like her character is getting rounded out too. I also need to mention Kasey Owens (“I preferred you when you had two names and a smile”). Her fear of clowns coming across beautifully against Command Bolshoi.
It’s testament to how hard everyone is working right now that injuries are happening. You can see people throwing themselves completely into these matches and injuries are just inevitable when that happens. Look at the G1, the New Japan tournament the SHE-1 is lovingly named after, where Kinesio tape suppliers run out of stock. Millie McKenzie suffered a shoulder injury, Viper was also injured and missed the final show, Rhia O’Reilly injured her knee quite badly and had to bow out of the tournament and her replacement Charlie Morgan got hurt during the main event on Show #4.
There were incredibly gutsy performances and I loved how they incorporated various injuries into storylines. Millie, who had been declared upfit to wrestle, turned up for Show #4 to tag with Command Bolshoi and got to do arm vs. arm work with a kayfabe injured Jetta. The test of strength in that match with a lower volume “aahhh” for the injured arms was incredible.
There were a lot of very good matches during SHE-1. My absolute favourite was Kasey Owens vs. Jetta. Both pointless going into the final match they fought a dead rubber battle in front of the most heated crowd I’ve experienced for a throwaway match, ever. Not only that but it went to the twenty minute time limit and had the crowd explode in applause in doing so. Jetta toughing out the time limit with a bad arm, the focus of the entire match, to not tap out and secure her first ever point in SHE-1. It’s not easy to focus on one thing and stick to it and keep the crowd invested but they did so magnificently. My match of the weekend and a perfect example of how a coherent well-told storyline will trump a purely action-based contest any day of the week.
Charli Evans had a solid weekend, highlighted by her challenging Tito, Kris Wolf’s wolf mask, to a match and getting a decent ***1/4 out of it. For someone as naturally bubbly as Charli to play heel can be a little strange at times but she did a great job. Charli clashed with Charlie Morgan as well and this was Morgan’s chance to shine. Utilising the building by running up the ropes and kicking off the wall. The height she got on that was sick. Using your environment to create new spots is something that drives wrestling forward.
Major props to an injured Millie for working a ridiculous plunder-based match with Jamie Hayter. The German suplex intended to break a board but missing was one of the most brutal looking things I saw all weekend. The weekend eventually catching up on Millie against Madison Eagles, one of my most anticipated matches of the weekend, where McKenzie tapped out after two minutes.
I’ll give credit to the wrestlers I’ve not mentioned yet too. Erin Angel, usually utilised as a lesser character to support ‘wrestle friend’ Jetta, came through as a late replacement for Jinny. Her match with Charlie Morgan in particular was good. Rhia O’Reilly toughed out a knee injury because she was so determined to be a part of SHE-1 this year. Command Bolshoi gave a series of strong performances in her final year in the business. Laura DiMatteo showed up for the final show, as did Kay Lee Ray. The latter was in the process of having a great match with Charlie Morgan when Nina Samuels cashed in her Money in the Bank gimmick to claim the title.
Nina’s win was the final match of the weekender and I figured they moved the SHE-1 final forwards to allow a babyface to stand tall at the end of the night. After all whoever won the Morgan/KLR match would have been cheered to the rafters. And yet there’s Nina with the cash-in no on expected to double up on heel wins at the end of the night. It’s right out of the wXw playbook of ‘not every day can be Xmas’.
Finally a word about Jamie Hayter. I first saw her wrestle a few years ago when she was basically a rookie and she had a lot of her character down already. Her character work has come on leaps and bounds but it’s her form in the ring that’s improved the most. She’s gone from being a capable wrestler to being someone that EVE feel they can rely on to main event their biggest show of the year and based on her work here I can see why.
I wasn’t even particularly keen on the content of her matches this weekend as they involved a lot of plunder and she should have been disqualified a lot but it was her manner and presence that carried me past that. She has star written all over her. It speaks highly of her that brother Mort, singing her praises, suggested she’s the most improved wrestler he’s seen this year. And he watches a lot of wrestling from a lot of different places.
I’m not going to throw any star ratings around but I believe you’ll enjoy these shows when they appear on EVE’s On Demand service. There is a seven-day free trial on the link below.