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Royal Ramblings: A Love Letter To Pro-Wrestling: Eve

11/08/2017 12:30

Pick up any popular London magazine and check the listings. Read any informed, popular cultural blog (like this one!). Check out any one of the mainstream press articles on what's hot on the UK scene and you'll see that regularly highlighted as a top night out, is a visit to Pro-Wrestling: Eve. Billed as delivering the UK's Premier Feminist-Punk-Rock Wrestling Events, this socially and politically conscious company is deservedly becoming not just the best wrestling gig in town but the best event full-stop.

Comparisons abound to Netflix Show GLOW. Some have even suggested that GLOW inspired a 'renaissance' in women's wrestling but that would be wrong. Eve was there first. Whilst GLOW is a fun show, EVE is emotionally more engaging, politically more important and the wrestling is incomparably better. Moreover, Eve is not just a show but a brand which is engendering a responsible community, encouraged by its founders to, in the words of Bill and Ted, 'be excellent to each other'. The company operates a one strike and you're out policy for troublemakers and insist that tall c***s are stood at the back. Its base of operations - the Resistance Gallery in Bethnal Green - is not only appropriately funky but represents the community Eve is seeking to foster - close and caring.

Comparisons have also been made to what men are doing in wrestling. "Professional Wrestling is a man's game", one article said when writing about EVE. It feels patronising, irrelevant and perhaps a little structurally sexist to talk about women's wrestling as a contrast to what men do. Women's wrestling is fantastic because the women are talented entertainers. Eve is succeeding because it builds great stories around fantastic performers. Eve is openly feminist, home to women, men and "non-binary folk". The company seeks to help women feel empowered, 'fight like a girl' or "be big and loud and take up space" as co-founder Emily Read has said. This is not about men. It is about women and a political movement for change. That is really all that needs to be said.

There are no comparisons that can be made to Eve when analysing its heart. The UK wrestling scene is on an upward trajectory. Companies are profiting, business is booming but as we have always written, it is about what one does with a platform that counts. There is no other promotion in the world that from its foundations is as socially progressive, politically engaging and confident as Eve. The company, having sought to create a caring community has further sought to educate, activate and inspire that community for good. From social media posts encouraging people to vote, to its unique 'piledrive a fascist' t-shirt response to Trump's attempt to claim 'masculine' wrestling credentials, to its highlighting veganism as a different way of living, Eve has a manifesto and is not dictating nor preaching but fighting, quite literally, for change.

Eve is also incomparably honest. Though the company is getting on for a decade old, it hasn't been a straight run through. In 2012, Emily Read was admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act. She has talked elsewhere about her experiences, describing herself as 'broken' and the importance of both wrestling and her co-founder and husband Dann Read's support to her recovery. Her journey to being properly diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and her frankness about her continuing struggles is braver and more important than Emily might appreciate. In September 2014 we wrote that "mental health problems can of course affect anyone, no matter how famous". We stated that "stigma, myth and discrimination are widespread" and called on "individual promotions to be considering public educational campaigns about mental health, depression and addiction". We concluded that "in doing so, they might help to demonstrate that mental health is not something to be embarrassed about and encourage those quietly suffering talent and fans alike, to speak up and seek help." Emily is doing this and more. She has battled a sexist industry, lost her house and business, struggled with mental health and is using her experiences to inform, educate and push for change. She is an utter badass in our book and like the company she has grown, is brave, brilliant and bold.

A third area in which Eve is incomparable relates to the talent it provides a platform to - and oh, what talent. The company returned with a bang in March 2016 with the first all-female show to take place in London. Speak to Dann Read about wrestling and you cannot but be inspired. This is a man who lives and breathes the business. Alongside Emily, Dann has turned Eve's dramatic twists and turns into unmissable live action. That action is delivered by the top talents on the British scene and from overseas. There are wrestlers you will see popping up in WWE soon - Piper Niven (Viper), Kay Lee Ray and Nixon Newell. There are British wrestlers that are renowned on the world independent scene like Rhia O'Reilly and there are amazing up-and-comers like Laura Di Matteo, Session Moth Martina, Nina Samuels and Sammi Jayne all of whom are mind-blowingly great. You might even get the chance to see GLOW's Kate Nash (Brittanica) who has been as drawn in to EVE as the rest of us. It is no surprise that EVE hosted the farewell for Manami Toyota, widely considered to be one of the best wrestlers in the world, or that it regularly runs sessions with Emi Sakura, another of the best the profession has seen. International talent is drawn to places like EVE. Just ask WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, he's clearly been drawn in.

Perhaps the best bit about EVE, is that you can get involved too. The company's August show is already sold out, without having announced a match. They will however be back on Friday October 6 and then of course four shows on Saturday/Sunday November 11 and 12 for the SHE-1: Ace of Eve tournament. There will then be a massive York Hall show in Bethnal Green in the first half of next year which could be the biggest all-woman show outside of Japan. Tickets for all EVE shows are on sale here and SHE-1 tickets are on sale now so don't hang about!

Eve, is inspirational. Dann Read has said "I wanted my daughter and other people's daughters to be able to grow up seeing woman be able to do anything they want, and not be told, 'No, women can't do that." This is something that resonates personally for us and no doubt for many others out there. As Emily has said, she and Dann make bold moves, it is how they live their life - they are not afraid to make a change. Well, Eve is about to kick the door down and shake you into action. Watch out because a change is gonna come.

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