A revolution is not a one-time event.
That quote from American author, activist and feminist Audre Lorde hung proudly from a banner at the historic York Hall in Bethnal Green on 5 May, 2018. This short quote from Lorde’s 1982 essay Learning from the 60s might not have much to do with professional wrestling but, in many ways, it encapsulated everything that happened in the building – and indeed the ring – that evening.
Pro-Wrestling: EVE’s Wrestle Queendom, the largest all-female wrestling show in Europe ever, was a prime example of what a revolution looks like. This wasn’t just a huge step for wrestling, but for women, feminism and equality as a whole. As indy100 detailed last week, EVE’s progressive liberal politics and ethos supporting women’s rights, LGBT+ equality, body positivity and mental health discussions have helped create a wrestling promotion unlike any other.
As a wrestling fan from the age of six, I’ve seen a lot of events and many at York Hall but, in all honesty, I’ve never experienced anything like what happened at Wrestle Queendom. The energy in the building and the collective sense of being part of something historic resonated with everyone inside. Not only was this a fantastic wrestling show but it was an all-encompassing example of how society can learn to treat everyone better.
The show started out with EVE co-owner Emily Read addressing the crowd from the stage. Although the show started later than planned, the emphasis on creating a safe space for everyone in attendance was clear from the start. When taking a not-so-subtle dig at WWE’s recent controversial show in Saudi Arabia, Emily demanded that no racism, homophobia, hate speech, body shaming, sexism or harassment would be tolerated.
It seems bizarre but oddly encouraging that a wrestling company – where staged violence is the main port of call – should be promoting these values. Seriously, other sporting events and music festivals could learn so much from the way EVE value their fans and their safety. It creates an environment where everyone feels comfortable, no matter who they are, and are allowed to enjoy themselves without feeling threatened. Cheer and boo who you want, by all means, but be respectful.
As for the actual show, it has potential to be one of the best wrestling shows to take place anywhere on the planet this year. It featured a brutal ‘War Games’ cage match (the first time a women’s match of this kind has ever happened), a hilarious contest featuring the incredibly charismatic Kris Wolf and Jetta, a breathtaking ladder match, a show-stealing bout between Meiko Satomura and Kay Lee Ray, an international dream battle pitting Viper against Japanese legend Aja Kong and the main-event, which featured possibly the biggest reaction and outpouring of emotion ever heard in York Hall as the inspirational Charlie Morgan defeated Sammi Jayne to win the EVE championship.
The quality of this show cannot be underestimated and the wrestling community, fans and performers alike, came out to praise the event and what EVE stands for.
Besides the wrestling, one of the biggest announcements of the evening was the introducing of the EVE Hall of Fame, which will be housed at the Bishopsgate Institute in London and will champion the shining lights in female wrestling from all over the world. The library has one the largest archives of feminist and women’s history, and LGBT+ history and activism, in the UK – and EVE will now have their own place in their hallowed walls. This prestigious moment was confirmed by Emily at Wrestle Queendom, with the first official inductee being British wrestling icon Klondyke Kate.
If you have any negative preconceptions about what women’s wrestling is or can be I would implore you to go and see an EVE show or check out their online streaming service. This is a genuine grassroots movement with a sense of family and with an attitude that should be applied to all walks of life. EVE is uplifting, empowering and promotes positivity for women and any minority through the vehicle of professional wrestling. They will change your opinion on what wrestling can and should be and, judging by Wrestle Queendom, they’re only just getting started.