Punches, knockouts and bloody noses: EVE leads the way for women’s wrestling

By Anetha Sivananthan
January 14 2020, 14.30

Women’s wrestling took the new year by storm with a line-up of diverse talent last week in Bethnal Green’s Resistance Gallery.

The independent female wrestling event EVE -Riot Grrrls of Wrestling empowered its exhilarated crowds with a powerful series of limb crushing and head smashing wrestling performances, that thundered across the ring.

Founded in 2009 by wife and husband Emily and Daniel Read, EVE was established with the aim of tackling the shortage of wrestling opportunities for women and to provide female wrestlers a safe performance space by prohibiting hate speech and sexual harassment.

Ms Read said: “With EVE we book people who can wrestle, women who are talented, women who we can see are trying hard and pushing to improve and need more opportunities.”

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She added: “Wrestling tends to pick a lot of male promoters and they pick what they feel are the pretty girls.

“Women were being treated so poorly in wrestling, along with low expectations and not being taught a move because the men felt it made them look weak.”

Although wrestlers must be over the age of 18, EVE has no upper age limit and hosts performers in their late 40s and 50s.

Pro-wrestler Skye Brookes, better known as Skye Smithson, said she did many activities as a child, but no matter what she did she always came back to wrestling.

Smithson remarked before a match the two most worrying things when you’re a wrestler are throwing up or wetting yourself.

She said: “I usually just take a moment before to close my eyes and centre myself a bit to try and calm my brain.”

In traditional, mixed wrestling shows female wrestlers are provided with a short segment and consequently, are not granted enough time to develop a character and adopt a leading role on the show.

EVE co-founder Daniel Read said: “With EVE, they [female wrestlers] are not a small part of the show they are the entire show.”

He stressed the importance of changing viewers’ mindsets to acknowledge that women can also be leading characters on a wrestling show.

In addition to being home to regular wrestling shows, comedy and cabaret performances, EVE provides a training school for its wrestlers known as EVE academy running every Saturday morning from 10.30am to 1.30pm at the same venue the shows are held.

EVE co-founder Emily Read said the academy focused on representing non-binary people, working on women’s confidence and helping them to make noise and stay strong.

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On confidence, she said: “That’s something that was often ignored at mixed wrestling schools, which had mainly men.

“It wasn’t something that men particularly had a problem with, and we have a lot of women, who don’t want to wrestle coming along and it’s helping them with their confidence.

“Everyone is supporting each other to be better, welcomed and safe.”

In another landmark win for EVE and women’s wrestling, in August last year the trade union Equity agreed to sign their first code of conduct for wrestling promoters and performers.

For women interested in wresting who are still uncertain, Smithson’s advice is to just to do it.

UPPER HAND: Skye Smithson gains on opponent Rhia O’Reilly.

She said: “If you try something and you don’t like it, then you don’t ever have to do it again. But at least you can say to yourself: I did it.”

All of EVE’s wrestlers are independent performers and a number of them such as Zoey Lucas (real name Rebecca Lucas) are employed internationally, who has previously done a tour of Japan for Stardom, while Jinny (real name Jinny Sandhú) and Nina Samuels (real name Samantha Allen) are contracted to WWE.

Pro-wrestler Clementine, who did not reveal her real name, said she trained at the London School of Lucha Libre at the Resistance Gallery and it took seven months to bring up the courage to walk into the doors.

She added: “You have to learn how to fall and get used to it. Don’t compare yourself, because if you’re always comparing yourself to other people, you’re never going to feel that you deserve to be there.”

For information on upcoming performances at EVE, such as Wrestle Queendom on February 1st, purchasing tickets and to discover more, visit https://www.evewrestling.com/.

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