EVE SHE-1 Ace of Eve 2019
Hi, Arn here. I was in London this past weekend at my second successive SHE-1 tournament. Here are some thoughts on it, combined with a load of chatter about beers. The day before I went down to London I went out for a few ales with Tom Pratt at the Head of Steam in Birmingham, which will undoubtedly be my final trip into Birmingham this year as the winter market has started and fuck that noise. Anyway, I entered into my weekend trip with a hangover. Which is far from ideal.
I got into London on Friday afternoon around 2pm and took a stroll to Chancery Lane. I love walking around London and seeing the sights that you would probably miss if you just took the excellent public transport everywhere. This time I had the chance to walk through Mayfair and the Selfridges shopping district and I pretty much hated it but Holborn and surrounding area is a lot nicer. I went to Ye Olde Mitre* to meet James Harris. His weekend was off to a flier as he’d accidentally bought a pint of 7% cider.
*I definitely didn’t just do this because it was a badge on Untappd. Nossir.
NB: You may want to skip over all the beer chat if you’re here for the wrestling. I’ll signpost it helpfully lower down.
BETHNAL GREEN BEER FESTIVAL – DAY ONE
My first decision was to order a half of stout to ease my way in and ordered something I’ve had before. Bums. My beer tally on Untappd fails to go up by one. James makes the suggestion that I could do 1000 different beers in a year if I follow the same rate I’m on right now. That’s a scary thought.
From there we went to the Draft House Chancery where I had a Hofbrau Dunkel, a fairly pleasing dark lager and one of the beers the place has put on for Oktoberfest. ***1/2. Good stuff. After that I had a Soundwave IPA, which is an excellent American style IPA and I recommend it. ****. We were going to take the tube to Bethnal Green after that but clearly fucked up as it was 17:15 and the queue to get into the station was up to the steps. Bollocks to it, we’ll walk and see if any pubs take our fancy.
After a fairly short walk we spotted Smiths of Smithfield and popped in to sample their wares. Selection on taps was dire and we settled for a Young’s London Original, A golden ale from the Eagle Brewery, which used to be called Charles Wells. It’s all owned by Marston’s anyway. It was fine, like **1/2 tops, and we relocated to a pub I’d found on Untappd’s map gimmick.
The Beer Hawk Charterhouse is a fucking fantastic boozer. The downstairs is a bit cramped and old fashioned but they have loads of taps and a couple of sizeable fridges. The upstairs features a “pour your own beer wall” and a sink where you can pour yourself a nice glass of water. Also some of the tables have video games embedded into them. I was immediately thrilled with my decision. Furthermore when my first beer, Arise IPA from the Burning Sky brewery, was a winner (***1/2).
My second beer was even better; Goose Island’s Smoked Stout, which was superb and ****1/4. The beer had no check-in’s and I was slightly freaked out about being the first person to review it. It’s still sat on 1 check-in so I think I’ve probably got the wrong beer but it was delicious. While I was freaking out at this level of responsibility Mike Kilby turned up and we started into an impromptu tasting session.
Before we started into that I had a crafty Equinox IPA from the Neptune Brewery in Liverpool. Another very nice IPA. I’m on a run of good IPA’s at the moment. ***3/4. Our first group beer was Anchor Porter. An American bottled beer from the same company that do the awesome Anchor Steam. It has a lot of heft and I really dug it (***3/4). James referred to it as “chilled mulled porter” and Mike said it was full of raisins and he hated it.
James picked next so it was back to IPA’s with Phantom Bride. According to the can it’s endorsed by the Deftones and they seem to have a good taste in beer. It was “dead good” according to my check-in although I’d had a few at this point and my ***3/4 rating dropped for the third time in a row. Same again for Magic Rock’s Random Purchase. Then came the marvel that is Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier. This was unreal. It tastes like bacon. The beer is smoked and rich and delicious. Mike requested a brown sauce chaser. *****. Full boat. Beer of the year.
After that winner we had Coffee Gorilla from Sori Brewing in Estonia. It had a hard job of following the Rauchbier. I went ***1/4 but was still thinking about bacon, although I suppose coffee and bacon are basically breakfast when combined. Mike wanted back onto the German beers so we also had an Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel, which was fine. ***.
Time was getting on at this point and I needed to check into my hotel before I was completely sloshed. So we headed into Bethnal Green. I got checked in and met the lads in Mother Kelly’s, which has been my favourite boozer in Bethnal Green for a while now. The Dundee Arms, for all the great times I’ve had in there, has a tendency to be full of dickheads if you catch the day wrong and the bog is upstairs. Before I could protest the first Ma Kelly’s beer was Schneider Weisse Mein Kristal. I hated it, as I do most straight up wheat beers, and went **. Mike was the high man at **1/2!
A few more and at this point I was quite drunk and don’t clearly remember having these. Rainbow Road, thankfully only 3% ABV, was next and the can had a rainbow on it. James’ review reads “Mario Cart”. Mike’s review reads “Mario Fart”. I was the high man at *** and I suspect my taste buds were basically ruined. We also had Big Red Machine (because obviously a bunch of wrestling fans would do that). All three check-in’s make reference to Kane’s 1997 debut at Hell in a Cell showing that drunkenness leads to lack of originality. It was a Red IPA. ***1/4 from me. Finally we had Kind of a Big Deal, another in a streak of IPAs but I didn’t want it and the ***1/4 rating seems arbitrary. One day in London; 17 beers drunk. Do I recommend this kind of hedonism? I do not. I would however suggest that sharing a beer between three people makes it easier to do this kind of tasting malarkey. If I’d have attempted all these beers without the support of my friends it would have gone badly.
November 9, 2019.
I woke up in dire need of water. Having chugged about 3 pints worth I started to feel quite normal and discovered I could get Netflix on the hotel’s TV, although this only worked for about 2 hours on Saturday morning and didn’t work at all the rest of the weekend. I met James pre-show after bagging a few beers from the local Sainsbury’s to accompany the AEW show that started after most places had closed. Then it back into Mother Kelly’s for the hair of the dog beer that was Heidrun Pale Ale from Three Hills Brewery. I rated it **3/4 and a failure as a hangover cure and the brewery still toasted it. Bizarre behaviour.
SHOW #46 OF 2019: PRO WRESTLING EVE SHE-1 2019 SHOW 1
Welcome back to anyone who skipped all the beer stuff! The ResGal is an experience. I remember being totally unable to find it on my first visit and we bumped into a couple of people who looked confused outside the Dundee Arms who followed us back into the alleyway due to the wrestling shirts. The ResGal was fairly full and there were a few familiar faces. A lot of the crowd who attended last year were not there though. Of all the four shows this one was very male heavy, which is quite unusual. EVE usually attract a larger percentage of female fans. This was restored on the other three shows but show one was an absolute sausagefest. Building was around three quarters full.
Laura Di Matteo def. Gisele Shaw
Rhia O’Reilly def. Mei Suruga
Millie McKenzie def. Nicole Savoy
Angel Hayze def. Aleah James
Jazz def. Jetta
Mercedes Martinez def. Kasey
This was a solid opening show and I really appreciate how quickly EVE blow through their big weekender shows. Everyone is stood up and it’s crowded. Having only six matches and none of them be particularly long is a real boon. A few notes; Mei Suruga is wonderful. Her dancing and crying during the Rhia match were incredible. She has so much energy and is a natural at almost everything.
Nicole Savoy didn’t quite understand the reaction to her, thinking it was negative, and turned heel on the crowd despite them all clearly loving her and her “shut up you daft git” comment a few minutes in. The match was Millie was my MOTN for N1. I love Nicole and she killed it. Millie also looked terrific in her first match of five this weekend. The energy and drive on display are why she’s getting pushed. Millie had been a heel in EVE but Nicole’s heel work here ensured that a fun-loving Millie, without that dastardly Charli Evans, was cheered.
Angel Hayze and Aleah James both gave a good account of themselves. Unfortunately Aleah was injured and this were her only match of the weekend but some of her lucha stuff was lovely. They had a couple of issues but nothing major (bar the corner thrust kick) and I came away impressed with most women’s abilities. I’m sure they’ll see more booking on the back of this.
Jetta was her usual fun-loving self and a major highlight of the weekend was her shtick. EVE showing screenshots of her tweets aimed at punching Jazz in the tits was cracking everyone up. She was also introduced as the “Tit Punch Princess”. “A black belt in punching people in the tits”.
In between shows we went to Arepa & Co with Steve and Meg for some fine Venezuelan cuisine. I would recommend it but I personally think the Japanese Canteen, which is next door, does better food. It did give me the chance to log a Polar Pilsen, the only Venezuelan beer I’ve ever heard of. Gotta get those Untappd numbers up. We had time to slip into the Dundee Arms before the second show and unfortunately it was full of boxing fans. I do not recommend this as a combination. At least one guy was so drunk he had trouble standing. The sound of Meg shouting “don’t get your cock out in here” will stay with me. On the Brightside I had another lovely IPA; Kveik from Purity (***3/4) and also a perfectly reasonable half of Five Points Cherry Sour (***1/4).
SHOW #47 OF 2019: PRO WRESTLING EVE SHE-1 2019 SHOW 2
The venue was much fuller for the Saturday evening show, which was sold out. It didn’t feel as cramped as during previous sell out shows in the ResGal so I’m not convinced EVE sold as many tickets as in 2018. Maybe they decided to reduce the number they sold to make everyone more comfortable. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in there if a fire broke out that’s for fucking sure.
Gisele Shaw def. Millie McKenzie
Mei Suruga def. Jetta
Kasey def. Angel Hayze
Mercedes Martinez def. Mercedez Blaze
Laura Di Matteo def. Nicole Savoy
Rhia O’Reilly def. Jazz
This show was a slight improvement over the afternoon one. Gisele Shaw did a great job of working over Millie’s leg and telling a limb story. Millie’s selling was terrific. Mei vs. Jetta was good fun with Mei confusing Jetta into rolling the ref up. Mercedez Blaze is fantastic. She has an incredible look. She has at least two stunning ring jackets, fantastic gear and great facials for someone relatively new to the business. She’s also quick and impactful and is very seriously on my radar after this weekend. I’d seen her wrestle before but that was almost a year ago and she’s so much slicker already. She replaced the injured Aleah James.
Match of the night was Laura vs. Nicole Savoy, which means I thought Savoy had MOTN on both cards. She’s really good at wrestling. Sadly this was her last involvement as she was injured during this match. The Tombstone finish was pretty scary. Angel Hayze also picked up an injury unfortunately. Meaning three of the starting cast were relegated to the sidelines and two more replacements had to be lined up for N2.
The main event saw Jazz and Rhia battle all over the building. This doesn’t always work in the ResGal because it’s so small and it’s hard to see the action with everyone standing the bulk of the crowd being taller than the bulk of the workers. It was the only crowd brawl of the weekend though so that’s a bonus and it made the match stand out. Jazz received an ovation from the crowd after a speech from Dann Read that praised her and the locker room piled into the ring to show support. Jazz’s speech included a wonderful line about being in WWE when it was all “T&A”. “My T&A stood for Talent and Ability”.
Jazz has been working on a much reduced schedule since leaving WWE in 2004 but even at 46 years old she’s worth taking a punt on and AEW could do (and have done) worse. Due to her light schedule her bump clock isn’t out of juice just yet. Plus her entrance gave me chills. A perfect mixture of music, intimidation and presence.
With the show done it was off to Mother Kelly’s for a nightcap or two before the inevitable trek to James’ house to watch the AEW PPV. I had a couple of lovely beers at Ma Kellys. Biere de Saison Raspberry from the Kernel Brewery (****). Super sour before settling into the full blown raspberry flavor. Then a Parrot Lounge Imperial Stout (***3/4) which was remarkably uncomplicated and I could not taste the 10% ABV at all. A very dangerous beer.
The AEW show was starting at midnight so we walked over around then, missing some of the hype hour before the show started properly at 1am. I was pretty much knackered and this AEW decision was probably a bad one. It did allow me to sleepily drink small glasses of Daymer Pale Ale (***), Cali American Pale Ale (***), Stewart’s First World Problems (**1/2 – “tastes Scottish”), Rooster’s Yankee (**3/4) and then a lovely 30 minute walk back to the hotel in the rain at 4am. Wrestling often leads to me making some ropey decisions and I regret not just falling asleep at the hotel after Ma Kellys. Although I did get to watch AEW live so there is that. I also got to help a drunk man find Whitechapel train station.
November 10, 2019
I woke up in the afternoon, which is splendid stuff. On the first night in the hotel I’d fallen asleep with lights on and the TV on so waking up with all the lights off was a good start to the day. Unfortunately the hotel is underground so no natural light gets in at all. I had no idea what the time was. As it turns out I’d slept a reasonable 7 hours and woken up with enough time to shower and go to Mother Kelly’s for a pre-show beer! I got a Pressure Drop Fashion (***3/4). If it had a touch more coffee in the flavor I could have totally blagged it as breakfast. We could probably have had another drink and some lunch because the show started late. Presumably due to them having to rebook a chunk of the card with Savoy and Hayze out injured.
SHOW #48 OF 2019: PRO WRESTLING EVE SHE-1 2019 SHOW 3
With the delay in starting we arrived at 2.25pm, show due to start at 2.30pm and there was still a queue. Luckily they got people in pretty quickly and the show was underway at 2.47pm, which all things considered is decent. A 17 minute delay in British Wrestling is par for the course. The trouble they had was ensuring the afternoon show finished before they were due to start the evening show.
Jazz def. Mei Suruga
Kasey def. Mercedez Blaze
Jetta def. Rhia O’Reilly
Mercedes Martinez def. Ayesha Raymond
Gisele Shaw def. Rebel Kinney
Millie McKenzie def. Laura Di Matteo
Despite various injury issues show 3 ended up being the best show EVE put on all weekend. The first half was especially good with the first three matches all killing it. Mei Suruga saved her best performance for the living legend Jazz. Jazz herself seemed to be enjoying the experience at this point. Having made it through day one unscathed she threw herself into the action, even having a crack at breaking the ResGal’s unbreakable ringside wall. Mei didn’t sell the fear that I was expecting, instead opting to slap Jazz on her bald head and pull cutesy faces. “You’re killing my gimmick Mei”. To this point this was my favourite match of the weekend. Proof that the random Fire Pro booking style can be highly effective.
The momentum was retained by Kasey and the highly impressive Blaze. They had a great match with hefty strikes and great facial reactions. Blaze, standing atop the ropes, with fire in her eyes is emblazoned into my memory banks. She’s one to watch. While she looked good in all her matches this was her best outing. The innovative rope moves were especially effective.
Finally the first half was capped by Jetta scoring her first ever SHE-1 win in unlikely fashion against champion Rhia O’Reilly. Rhia bossed huge chunks of the match, leading to a finishing stretch where Jetta was hanging on and looked as if she might just eek out a point by not tapping out in the final thirty seconds…only to roll up Rhia as she tried for more leverage on a crossface and score the upset pinfall with mere seconds on the clock. It was an emotionally charged match and a brilliant follow up to last year’s final block match where she eeked out a draw with Kasey. The match featured some tremendous moments including Rhia’s dad having a Jetta shirt on, Jetta saying she was going to punch Rhia so hard in the tits “she’s gonna have to wear her bra backwards” and Rhia doing a nefarious fake knee injury bit that drew unreal heat when it was revealed to be a ruse. Outstanding match. One of the best of the weekend.
Two newcomers in the second half; Ayesha Raymond and Rebel Kinney, replaced the two injured wrestlers. Ayesha gave a good account of herself against Mercedes Martinez in another hard-hitting contest. We were genuinely worried that Martinez had taken a particularly nasty bump right before the finish. Gisele Shaw showed good focus, in a particularly bitchy display, to submit Kinney with an armbar. Millie vs. Laura rounded out a good show with a solid but unspectacular main event to set up the three-way tie for B Block. All in all show three very much delivered as the best show of the weekend.
With time ticking away between shows we nipped into the Japanese Canteen for a spot of dinner. I again had the Katsu curry, because it’s great, and a Five Points Pils (***1/2) on the side. If you can eat using chopsticks I do highly recommend the Japanese Canteen. My personal preference is for the curry but the bento boxes rule too. We had time for another trip to Mother Kelly’s where I had a lovely little sour called Virtuous Strains (***1/2) then it was back into the venue for the final show.
SHOW #49 OF 2019: PRO WRESTLING EVE SHE-1 2019 SHOW 4
The final show of the weekend! We arrived with about 10 minutes to spare and the building was already pretty darn full. Mike Kilby was back for this one so I worked my way around to the far side of the ring so I had a decent view and a wall to lean against. After spending the entire weekend dead in the middle of the one side the urge to lean was overwhelming. The building was pretty crowded but again not as full as capacity in 2018 when the final night felt extremely claustrophobic.
Millie McKenzie def. Gisele Shaw & Laura DiMatteo
Mei Suruga def. Lulu Pencil
Jetta def. Kasey
Jazz def. Chakara, Mercedez Blaze & Rebel Kinney
Millie McKenzie def. Mercedes Martinez
There was quite a lot of storyline stuff happening on this show. The opening match alone had Rhia O’Reilly costing Laura a spot in the final, which would lead to an angle where Laura took Rhia out of the main event. Also a post match angle with Gisele Shaw claiming she was “fearless” after doing a balcony dive, provoking Charlie Morgan into coming down and getting into a spot of verbal with her. Presumably setting up a Morgan return at Wrestle Queendom III, following her retirement at Queendom II although no announcement has been made.
Mei vs. Lulu was a divisive match. Lulu is a marmite wrestler. She’s a freelance writer and occasional wrestler and her style is that of a ‘bad worker’. I personally don’t like her and think she’s too shtick heavy and that’s a feeling I’ve seen reflected in others although we seem to be in the minority. I guess she stands out doing what she’s doing but it wasn’t for me. I thought this was, by some distance, Mei’s worst match of the weekend.
Jetta vs. Kasey didn’t quite recapture the glory of last year’s SHE-1. With the importance of that match stripped away this was just a fine wrestling contest and nothing more. There was a lot of Jetta driven comedy surrounding the tit punch spot and the banter with last years result. When Jetta asked the crowd if they cared Kasey got one point from that match or her the resultant boos and cheers allowed Jetta to point out “that’s democracy”. I’m aware Jetta will probably never get the chance to ply her trade on the bigger scene (WWE, AEW etc) but she has been a charming professional and I’m glad I’ve seen her live so many times.
The semi-main event was a bizarre contest. Initially billed as a four way dance it became a tag match with Jazz stepping out of the ring, Rebel taking a beating from the other two before a hot tag and Jazz Stinger on Chakara finishing. Jazz barely did anything and the impromptu tag aspect would have been better constructed as an actual tag match. Blaze again looked good here.
The final match was the best of the weekend with Rhia removed it allowed a straight-up singles match between two of the best workers in the tournament; Millie and Martinez. They obliged us with a great battle with a load of big spots and near falls. It felt like a suitably dramatic conclusion to the weekend. Millie is a deserving winner and is arguably the best women’s wrestler in Europe (maybe the world) who’s not under contract and at 19 years young has the world at her feet. EVE have opted for Millie to take a shot at the tag titles at Wrestle Queendom III, while Laura is a likely opponent for champion O’Reilly.
With the shows in the bag there was time for one last session, this time at the Old Street Brewery, a location I found on the Untappd map. I started out with a Czech style lager called Bohem Amos (***3/4). A lot like a Pilsner Urquel or Budvar. Very easy to sink. I then made a horrific error in judgement and got an Into the Breach, which was a honey stout. I’m not particularly keen on honey and this was dreadful (*). I ended up swapping drinks with Mike and having his Kernel Foeder (**1/2), which he hated but I found slightly drinkable. We had time to run a three beer sampling to finish the weekend;
Ayinger Celebrator is a Doppelbock that’s super malty and initially horrified everyone. I think I enjoyed it more than everyone else and went ***1/4 Mike’s sole reasoning for enjoying it was a free Goat toy that came with it. “More beer should come with free toys”. Next up was Eins, Zwei, G’suffa, a Hefeweizen from Gipsy Hill. I was pleasantly surprised that it lacked a Weiss flavor and therefore gave it a hearty ***1/2. Finally we ended the weekend on a Wild Beer Co. Jambo! This had a flavor balance of chocolate, raspberries and stout. I love all three of those things. This had all of them beautifully intertwined. ****1/2.
Best Matches of the Weekend:
- Millie McKenzie vs. Mercedes Martinez
- Jazz vs. Mei Suruga
- Jetta vs. Rhia O’Reilly
- Millie McKenzie vs. Nicole Savoy
- Kasey vs. Mercedez Blaze
Best Beers of the Weekend:
- Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
- Goose Island Smoked Stout
- Soundwave IPA
- Biere De Saison Raspberry