EVE – Riot Grrrls of Wrestling
Hey guys, Thanks for sitting with us and having a chat. Can you please tell our followers a little bit about yourselves?
EVE – Riot Grrrls of Wrestling is a grassroots punk, all women’s professional wrestling company and has sold out over 50 shows in London since May 2017 and hosted the biggest ever all women’s professional wrestling event in Europe in May 2018 – WrestleQueendom.
EVE – Riot Grrrls of Wrestling has been featured on Kathy Burke – All Woman, BBC Breakfast, ITV’s Lorraine, The One Show and Reuters, in national newspapers and magazines such as The Independent, The Guardian, The Mirror, Women’s Health, Metro, Fabulous, Stylist, The New York Times, Marie Claire in addition to online media sites such as Buzzfeed, indy100, Refinery 29 among numerous others. We have performed at Reading Festival, Time Out’s 50th Birthday Party, Women of the World Festival on London’s Southbank, featured in the music video for Dream Wife’s “F*** You Up” for hit Netflix show Orange Is The New Black and is the first live event wrestling company to ever partner with London’s Pride Festival.
How long have you guys been in the industry?
EVE was founded in 2009 with the first event taking place in 2010. Dann has been involved in the wrestling business since October 2000 beginning at NWA Hammerlock.
What makes you guys different from other promotions around the world?
Whilst EVE is an all women’s wrestling promotion it’s also about working with talent on establishing character, on promos and on different form and structure of matches. EVE is a wrestling promotion and training ground all in one as most women are simply relegated to learning the same thing and performing the same matches with the same people in multiple places which causes stagnation in learning. In 2011 EVE worked with Japanese promotion Ice Ribbon then run by Emi Sakura on a series of shows which was the first time any Joshi talent had ever worked in the UK. In 2012 EVE partnered with JWP (now Pure J), hosting a JWP Championship match between Emi Sakura and Kay Lee Ray.
Following that EVE and JWP worked together where for the first time ever, women’s wrestlers from the UK would go and train and wrestle in Japan. The EVE Talent Investment Program saw EVE pay for the flights for first Kay Lee Ray and then Nikki Storm to go train and work in Japan for extended periods of time, the idea being it would further their learning and ability and see them return bigger stars and better talents than before which would help the UK scene grow. Shortly afterwards Japanese promotions began bringing in EVE talent of their own accord and Japan became a regular place for British and European talent to work with former EVE Champion Alpha Female relocating to Japan for a year, Nikki Storm returning and many more.
We’ve continued to invest in talent in other ways since such as using injured talent to do other jobs such as commentary, we founded EVE Academy – London School of Women’s Wrestling lead by Rhia O’Reilly and Greg Burridge with assistant coaches Jinny and Nina Samuels who herself is a trainee of Greg Burridge taking sessions too. Whilst EVE is about featuring the best wrestlers, giving wrestlers opportunities to work opponents and match styles they wouldn’t normally get to, bringing in the best talent from around the world – EVE has always been about supplying for the future.
What drew you towards the world of professional wrestling?
Obviously I grew up a fan in the late 80s/early 90s but what kept me a wrestling fan was finding all these other wrestling promotions around the world in the early 90s via the tape trading world. It allowed me to discover all different styles of presentation. It’s where I learned that wrestling is bound by no rules outside of your own creativity. Wrestling is a medium, not a genre. You can literally tell any story with professional wrestling if you have the creativity and means to do so. The ability to take peoples minds off whatever rubbish may be going on in life, give a platform to hungry talent and project and display a message that benefits people – how can someone not be attracted to that?
What charities do you guys work with?
What drives you guys?
There are many things that drive us but the goal is to be able to offer a full-time place of employment to women professional wrestlers, talent and performers providing a place of work on a living wage to more women in wrestling than ever before. This is, in addition, to help cultivate a high calibre of wrestlers and performers using EVE Academy and EVE events including our SHEvolution brand.
How important is merchandise to a brand like yours?
Merchandise has been extremely important not just in helping keep the company afloat but also in projecting our message and gaining awareness. Our EVE merchandise has at times been the topic of debate and sometimes provocative – it’s even ended up on the front page of the New York Times and New York Post, it’s been featured on TV and in magazines, but it’s another tool to help us achieve all the things listed above.
What is your most memorable experience since you guys got started?
We gave a platform for Charlie Morgan to publicly “come out” and that meant a lot to us and everyone involved. It again was the cause of much controversy in the wrestling scene, we and Charlie got a lot of abuse for it mainly from people IN the wrestling industry who said things like “sexuality had no place in wrestling” and even some saying it was a publicity stunt by ourselves and Charlie going as far as to claim Charlie wasn’t actually gay which was all BS. I wish those people could see the number of messages that we still get to this day from individuals – both fans and wrestlers themselves – thanking us, saying that it was seeing that moment that gave them what they needed to “come out” to their friends and family. Wrestling can continue to be “the same” or it can dare to be different, reflect society and continue to evolve in all forms of its presentation.
Have you ever faced any push-back from people?
Yeah we get a lot of push-back as I mentioned above. We also get a lot mainly from men who don’t believe in women’s wrestling or devalue it or feel it’s only value is in the sexualisation of it. We’ve had councils get venues to cancel our shows claiming we’re no different to porn. It’s mainly very angry, bitter men – this includes numerous wrestlers too. A lot of male wrestlers public wording of supporting women’s wrestling is very different from their private views. If you could see our DMs and be a fly in the wall to what they say to us at shows…
How would you describe the wrestling style that you guys promote?
We promote all styles of wrestling, big believers that wrestling is a circus and it’s about presenting something for everyone. We have mostly been compared to the original ECW. I *think* it was ECW veteran Jazz who even joked that we were EVE-C-W ha. I don’t take that as being about hardcore but rather being a promotion that provides everything – and then some more.
If you look at WrestleQueendom 1 as a card it starts off with a War Games Rules Cage Match, followed by a comedy match, followed by a multi-woman ladder match, followed by Meiko Satomura vs Kay Lee Ray then Aja Kong vs Viper (Piper Niven) and finally EVE Champion Sammii Jayne vs Charlie Morgan. That’s a very versatile style of show and even if we don’t have a War Games or Ladder Match on a show you’re going to get a bit of everything. As well as the people I’ve already mentioned we’ve featured everyone from Command Bolshoi and Madison Eagles to Jordynne Grace and Manami Toyota so versatility and ability to go that extra mile is key.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a professional wrestler?
Understand you’re a performer. Some of the best wrestlers in the world went on to become actors and some of the best I’ve ever worked with have come from dance/acting school. If you can’t act you’re going to struggle wrestling. So make sure you’re going to a school that can teach you that too. Make sure the school you go to has reputable trainers. Don’t just go to a school because it’s cheap or near you as if it’s not any good then you’ll likely end up needing to be retrained anyway and will gain a bad reputation that will be hard to overcome. Additionally, treat it as a hobby first and not as a career. Never rely on wrestling to be anything other than a hobby unless you have GUARANTEED earnings. Join Equity so you have insurance. Declare your earnings no matter how small so you don’t get in any trouble. If there is abuse then report it.
What has been the most memorable experience in your wrestling career?
There’s been many. EVE has been featured on more worldwide media than any other independent wrestling company regardless of gender. EVE was the first company to partner with PRIDE, to put a show on London Southbank, to put an all women’s show on in London as women’s wrestling had been previously banned in the city, we’ve been a part of the biggest TV shows and music festivals, we put on more women’s wrestling events than any other company in the western world, run more shows than the majority of indie companies regardless of gender and subsequently have given more jobs to women than any company outside of Japan. Working in Japan and being a guest of honour at shows was a dream.
On a non-EVE related note promoting a show where my childhood wrestling hero Bret Hart worked for me was pretty cool and obviously there’s the Kota Ibushi shows I promoted and produced that went viral globally due to our fireworks antics.
I think if I was to try and think of a most memorable I worry I could become complacent and I never want that so although I just mentioned a bunch I actually try not to spend too much time thinking of achievements no – proud of them though I am – and instead try to focus on what will be our next achievement?
Where can we find you guys online and where can we watch some matches?
You can watch EVE at EVEwrestling.com/EVEonDemand and get a sample of EVE at YouTube.com/ProWrestlingEVE. What we take in we put out so the more subscribers we have the more shows we put on meaning the more work you’re helping provide for the women performers.
Tell us about the EVE academy.
EVE events are the place to forget everything you thought you knew about this previously male-owned world and see what happens when punk, feminism and pro-wrestling combine to create a night of death-defying, jaw-dropping, action-packed theatrical wrestling stunts fueled with cabaret, comedy and so much more… And now you can train to become one of the future EVE Professionals at the EVE Academy – London’s School of Women’s Wrestling!
EVE Academy is weekly pro wrestling training classes in East London for anyone who is a self-identifying woman, or is non-binary, femme presenting and comfortable in a woman-focused environment.
MORE ABOUT EVE ACADEMY:
The classes will be lead by two-time EVE Champion, world travelled professional wrestler & fitness instructor “The Fightin’ Irish” Rhia O’Reilly and London School of Lucha Libre head coach: professional wrestler turned actor, film fight choreographer and stunt person Greg Burridge.
EVE Academy Coaches Rhia O’Reilly (above – photo by Oli Sandler) and Greg Burridge (below)
Training is split into three sections:
Section 1: Physical fitness
Beginning with a fun warm-up that incorporates callisthenics, core strengthening, stretches and aerobic exercises with shouting and tune-chanting to create the most contagious happy, festival atmosphere you could possibly imagine to get your body ready for some wrestling!
Section 2: Learning to wrestle
If you’re the type of person who loves to perform, who thrives on physical and mental challenges, lives for the adrenaline rush and who pushes their bodies further than they ever thought possible then get ready to learn how to ‘body slam’, ‘dropkick’, ‘super-plex’ and jump off the top rope onto your opponent!
You’ll run the ropes and learn the wrestling holds, moves and sequences all professionals need to know to get in that 16×16 foot ring and thrill an audience! You’ll even learn how to create your own wrestling moves and discover how numerous elements of professional wrestling can be taken and used in other performance work such as “break falls” in theatre, film and stunts.
Section 3: Building character and confidence
For many, this is the really fun stuff! Women are too often taught in society to be quiet and small – we want women to know they can be loud, they can take up space and they can be fierce!
A wide variety of skills will be taught here including acting, body language, making yourself appear bigger than you are, effectively and confidently using your voice and much more.
In-ring personas will begin to be created and over time trainees will learn how to make an effective entrance into an arena and onto the wrestling stage. The wrestling world is the only place where sport combines with theatre and Hollywood style stunts and this is the part where you’ll learn the theatre!
But that’s not all…
In addition to this, we also have guest trainers booked in every month including Japanese wrestling legend Emi Sakura and numerous others from around the wrestling world ensuring the very best training and coaching at the EVE Academy.
The Legendary Emi Sakura with top rope moonsault (photo by Oli Sandler)
As our aim is not just to help our trainees become the best professional wrestlers they can be but also to help build strong, loud and confident women, we have also scheduled optional defence classes taught by the former defensive skills instructor for Essex police.