Friday, 20 July 2012

EVE Special Edition By Adam Joyce

In it’s short run on My Channel ICW main evented one of it’s early shows with a female death match where Kaylee Rae defeated Carmel in a great segment that went somewhere around the 20 minutes mark. A few short years ago in this country it almost certainly wouldn’t have had so long and definitely wouldn’t have gone on last. This is a sign that, at least some people, are preparing to give women’s wrestling a chance. While there is a number of reasons that could have lead to this change there is defiantly a large number of people who would argue that Pro Wrestling EVE has certainly had a major impact in this.

Back in February they broke another barrier with being the first European wrestling promotion to do an iPPV (and a live one at that) following on from the first crossover event with a female Japanese promotion back in October. With two such groundbreaking achievements following on from each other it seemed a bit of a letdown that the most recent outing was being presented as more of a traditional event and the next iPPV being held off till November. While there were some promising matches on paper the only thing that really stood out was that EVE were showcasing men’s matches courtesy of Lucha Britannia and Scottish Wrestling Alliance in an attempt to seemingly appeal to people who may be quick to shun straight woman’s wrestling.

Either that tactic worked, or the iPPV drew in some more audience as there certainly seemed to be more people in attendance then any EVE show I’ve been to. Also as an added bonus to those who came to see the show Kat (Nikita/Katie Lea/Winter) Waters of TNA fame was also on the card to give some added star power. The set up was more scaled back then the last few Sudbury shows which in my mind gave this show a smaller feel then previous efforts but I can’t say I heard anyone else mention this.

The first match was an attempt to get the crowd into it from the offset. Billed as a European Dream match featuring the former champ, Jenny Sjodin, taking on the returning Blue Nikita. Nikita quickly established herself as the heel by spitting her gum at a ringside fan. Jenny seems to be more over as a face now that she has lost the title and if her and Alpha have a third match the crowd will probably be louder then ever. The match itself was a great technical affair with some early ringside brawling to help get the fans involved and some excellent psychology that the crowd really got behind which really showed when Nikita spent a couple of minutes fighting off the cross armbreaker that Jenny has won many of her matches with. Jenny eventually got the pin with a German suplex, which sent Nikita into a rage about how wrestlers like her were getting overlooked while clowns like Kirsty Love were on every show.

The next match featured SWA wrestlers Damien O’Conner and Mark Anthony go at it. The match between the two was a good solid match but it was obvious that the crowd were here for the girls, which in itself is an interesting contradiction to your usual wrestling show. The match was a great showing for the two who most in attendance would never get to see usually and had some great sequences including the finishing sequence that saw Mark pick up the win with a victory roll.

The next segment saw Rockstar Spud take to the mic in an unannounced appearance that showed just why he is probably one of the best entrances and promos in the UK right now with his ability to get under the skin of the audience so easily. Spud went on to say how he felt that the premise of EVE itself was sexist and he challenged any woman to come out and try and take him on in a no DQ match, his challenge was answered by the EVE champion Alpha Female. What followed I would argue was more of an entertainment segment then an actual match with Alpha beating Spud out of the ring and powerbombing him through a table before rolling him into the ring for the win. The thing about this that stands out to me about this is that the last time this happened was at a Southside show back in February when it was Nikki Storm who would face off with Spud but only to end up losing to him, meaning that while the current EVE champion has a win over the Rockstar her next challenger hasn’t creating another obstacle for Nikki to overcome on her way to the title.

The next match was a high stakes match for Rhia O’Reilly as she took on Kirsty Love with her spot on main EVE shows on the line. Rhia seemed to be playing it a bit cool for a lot of the match, which seemed odd for someone with so much on the line. But it soon became clear something was afoot when Ayesha Ray appeared on the stage to watch the match. Kirsty got the crowd going with her more comedy style but Rhia kept turning it back in her favor with her cheating ways. While Ayesha didn’t get physically involved it seemed to have some effect as Rhia picked up the win and added more thread to a storyline that wouldn’t become obvious till later in the evening.

The last match of the first half featured Nikki Storm challenging Kat Waters of TNA and WWE fame. While on TV due to whatever reason she never seemed to really stand out but here Kat certainly seemed to bring a star quality to the show with the way she connected with the crowd well one thing that particularly stood out to me was the way she connected with the cameras. A lot of wrestler seem to forget most of the way new promoters will see them is DVDs so trying to connect with your audience behind the screen makes winning over those members of the audience a lot easier. The match itself was a great match, probably my MOTN if you pressed me, with Nikki looking on the same level as Kat eventually getting the win with her Perfect Storm Neckbreaker.

The first match back after the break was a first time ever as two sets of female twins going against each other with the ever popular Blossoms going against Ireland’s Owen twins. There was an interesting twist to the classic switcheroo with the Owens having tattoos on opposite shoulders so while the referee might not notice a switch the Blossom in the ring with them would. It came up quite a few times as the ref looked perplexed at points to whether one pair had switched while he was distracted or not. While the Owens looked good here the difference in experience between the two teams was noticeable. Towards the end it looked like the Owens had pulled off the switcheroo but the Blossoms cleared the illegal twin and scored the win with Hannah(?) getting the victory with a splash off her sisters shoulders.

Immediately following the Blossoms victory Rhia came out accompanied by Ayesha Ray and made an impromptu challenge for the Blossom’s place in the EVE Tag Title tourney. In a short match the Blossoms fought hard but the fresher team shined better with Ayesha taking Holly out of the ring and Rhia getting the win after clipping Hannah’s knee. This certainly created some intrigue as it means that the Blossoms are now out of the tournament despite none of the other qualifying teams even being announced yet but the Blossoms will likely be back in OVW by the time the next show comes around so there is some sense of logic so it writes them out of that show with a feud set up for when they come back.

The next match was a crossover match with the Lucha champion Leon Britannico going against James ‘Darkside’ Scott representing SWA. I’ve always been a fan of Leon and think outside of Lucha he is incredibly under utilized and felt this match showed why. He was some amazing agility that James did well to be able to keep up with. Of the guys matches this one was probably the best, unfortunately there was a botch towards the end where James caught Leon with a nasty looking knee and had it not been for the referee calling a phantom kick out would have legit ended the match. Fortunately Leon managed to pull it together and grabbed the win with a hurricanrana.

The last guest match was an all Lucha Britannia affair as the Santarea took on the Bengal Tiger. It’s interesting that no matter how bad the heels were up to this point the only one to really seemed to unnerve the large family based audience was Santarea, I guess that’s a sign about how in this day and age if you have the right gimmick you can still make a very real impact on the crowd. I’ve never experienced a Lucha show but as far as I’m aware you need more then just a match to really experience all of what goes on at it’s events. I liked what I saw in the match with a lot of dives and general ariel tactics, especially from the notably bigger Santarea, that got the crowd into the match quite well. There was one point that was a little unnerving as Bengal Tiger hit the ropes, which had been very loose all evening, and fell through them. He managed to recover from this though but still lost following a ropewalk neckbreaker from Santerea, which with the ropes so loose meant he was essentially walking at the level of the middle rope.

The main event was a hardcore match featuring the former Amazon Ayesha Ray taking on The Alpha Female for the Pro Wrestling EVE championship. Ayesha came out accompanied by her new accomplice Rhia but she was quickly sent to the back following some early interference, this didn’t stop her from constantly peeking out the curtains to keep an eye on the proceedings though. The match was a very hard-hitting affair featuring the use of kendo sticks, a fire extingisher, a car door and more. In fact the pop when Alpha pulled the car door from beneath the ring and hurled it through the ropes was quite impressive, as were the aesthetics. While it was no master piece, and was probably one of the nights shorter matches, it did everything it needed to.

Ayesha looked like a true force to be reckoned with while Alpha didn’t lose any of her dominance. Alpha’s powerbomb finish didn’t look too impressive but with the fatigue both were probably suffering after going at it full force it was understandable. All the stories from earlier in the night came to play as Kirsty Love tried to stop further interference from Rhia only to be attacked by Blue Nikita. Jenny Sjodin also came down to take out Rhia to see her former rival, Alpha, got a fair shake. To finish the nights events Nikki Storm came down to officially announce that she would be facing Alpha November 10th on iPPV and offered a handshake only to spit in her face when she hesitated.

Overall a great show. It managed to do a great job of bridging the gap between the two iPPVs without seeming like just a filler event. It was nice that there was a running story that got tied together at the end, it’s a small thing but it can add a new level of interest for your audience if done right. It was here and has built a few matches for the next few shows. Kirsty Love and Blue Nikita look like a lock for November, a Jenny/Rhia rematch looks like a strong possibility at the next show and the Blossoms are going to be looking for revenge on Ayesha/Rhia if not in November then certainly somewhen in the future.

Another thing that this show seemed to sort out was the heel/face alignment of the EVE roster. Since the separation from WAW the heel/face alignment has been very heavy on the heel side with some having to tween. But with Jenny being a decided face here (possibly meaning her tag partner April will follow suit) as well as the Blossoms making more and more appearances as well as an apparent push for Kirsty Love it certainly helps bolster the face side of things.

My only real criticism is the ring ropes. While it’s not EVE’s fault it does make the promotion look very indy when your ropes are rippling every time someone brushes against them. I mentioned earlier how the staging set up looked very scaled back compared to previous set ups but if they had’ve had their previous set up it probably would only have looked worse.

With a growing audience and ever strengthening roster EVE looks to be going strong towards it’s next iPPV on November 10th.

Love it or hate it? Send me some feedback via twitter @el_j, there are times I will even respond.

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