The weekend we’ve been waiting for since it was announced back in April: Pro Wrestling: EVE v Ice Ribbon, featuring some of the best wrestlers in Europe against some of the best joshi talent in Japan. Later of this evening, EVE Champion Jenny Sjodin (who became a double champion in August when she defeated Aurora Flame for the NWWA Championship) will defend against her Northern Shooters tag team partner and European Empire teammate April Davids.

However, before the three #EVEvICE (as it is being hashtagged on Twitter) events take place, with the first starting this evening, Southside Wrestling Entertainment are holding a matinee show at the same venue – Gym Combat in Nottingham – with the four Ice Ribbon competitors facing each other in tag team action, with Emi Sakura and Hikari Minami defeating Hikaru Shida and Tsukasa Fujimoto, with Sakura getting the pinfall on Shida following a moonsault.

Click after the jump for more photos from this afternoon’s exhibition tag team match as well as the results and subsequent thoughts of night one.

1. Shanna pinned Kay Lee Ray with a top rope crossbody.
Jetta pulled the Jenny Sjodin/April Davids match, only for Rhia O’Reilly to challenge Sjodin for the EVE championship, which Jetta refused, but Jenny chose to accept.
2. Jenny Sjodin made Rhia O’Reilly tap out to a cross armbreaker to retain the EVE Championship.
3. Rhia O’Reilly pinned Super Janey B by reversing a victory roll.
4. In an “EVE potentials” match, Viper beat Kirsty Love with an electric chair into a faceplant.
5. Em Jay pinned Sara Marie Taylor following a Bombs Away.
6. Nikki Storm beat Tsukasa Fujimoto with the Perfect Storm.
7. Alpha Female beat Hikaru Shida with a bridging back suplex.
8. Emi Sakura and Hikari Minami beat Erin Angel and Shanna when Minami pinned Angel with a bridging fallaway slam. Afterwards, Shanna challenged Minami for the ICEx60 Championship, which will take place tomorrow.
9. Jenny Sjodin retained the EVE Championship by making April Davids tap out to her cross armbreaker. Looks like Jetta’s word isn’t as strong as the Northern Shooters’ desire for competition.

Nikki Storm proved herself as the real deal with a tremendous performance against Ice Ribbon’s dynamo Tsukasa Fujimoto in the announced “main event” of the first half of the show. Storm, who had been suffering from a pretty annoying stuffy cold earlier in the day, showed no signs of it as she produced what may well have been her best match ever. The dynamic was good, the work was good and both girls came out looking strong. In other Ice Ribbon related matches, Hikaru Shida went down swiftly to Alpha Female in a match that was short, sharp and to the point. Emi Sakura brought a fun levity to proceedings in her tag team match with Hikari Minami against Erin Angel & Shanna – dancing and playing in the early going. The fans didn’t quite know how to take Shanna in this match, coming out as a hand-slapping babyface following her earlier heel performance. We think Shanna would be best served as a babyface in the promotion’s main storylines in any event – and that was borne out here – at least until the end, when the Shanna/Erin team broke up with recriminations over the loss. The Ice Ribbon girls were all eminently likeable and personable – and despite the language barrer, we were approached by a humble Emi Sakura post show asking whether we enjoyed their matches. Needless to say, we did.

In the EVE only portion of the show, the standout match was the EVE Championship Match between Jenny Sjodin & April Davids, who progressed their usual catch division match with a longer, more epic encounter which included a significant amount of submission based grappling before building to high risk manoeuvres. On a personal level, I preferred the Storm/Fujimoto pure pro match as my match of the night, but these two are to be commended on an enthralling battle that ended the show with a standing ovation. The rest of the show was hit and miss – Kay Lee Ray vs Shanna was a pretty perfect opening match, though Sara-Marie Taylor vs Em Jay didn’t really click at all. Rhia O’Reilly’s booking was weird – she’d just turned heel, yet came out as a pseudo-babyface to challenge heel champion Sjodin (and failed) only to end up facing a second opponent immediately, the babyface Super Janey B. Despite having already faced and lost a major match, O’Reilly was able to beat Janey (which really doesn’t do a lot for Janey). Given that she cheated to win, it seems O’Reilly is cemented as a heel, though frankly EVE is a promotion crying out for good babyfaces right now to face off with the European Empire and The Glamour Gym. In an “EVE Potentials” match between two Scots, Viper pinned Kirsty Love in a match that was an absolute ton of fun. Viper offers something different on the heel side with her size and power, and I really enjoyed Love’s performance. I understand that she’s really not been wrestling very long, but from that match, I think she’s got a load of potential. Lots of fire – albeit a bit hammy at times (though I like that) – she had the crowd responding throughout – no mean feat for a rookie. I’d be happy to see both of these two brought back.

So… day two only has two confirmed matches for the evening show and nothing for the afternoon event. EVE are 2-1 up on Ice Ribbon in their series, and it’s double title action in the evening as Hikari Minami defends ICEx60 against Shanna, and Emi Sakura challenges Jenny Sjodin for the EVE Championship. Join us back here at Ringbelles for continuing coverage all tomorrow!

Dave says:

Not a lot to add to that. Agree with the heel / face situation. Seems odd, not to mention a touch confusing, what they’re doing with Rhia and Shanna when they already have plenty of heels.

Sym says:

A good show, with some very good matches – Although for me, it lacked an absolute, in-your-face stand up classic that to date every Eve show has produced at least one of, often two or three.

Agreed that Storm/Fujimoto was the best match of the night, although personally I wasn’t as impressed with the main event. For me, it was all intensity and little spectacle, and there was a definite sense of having seen it all before. I’m not sure about Jenny as a heel either – she doesn’t seem like someone who’s especially comfortable in ‘playing a role’, rather than just getting in the ring and wrestling.

To be honest, Eve’s face/heel situation is something that needs looking at. Turns come out of the blue, or last as long as one match – And that’s if anyone really knows just who’s supposed to be heel or face half the time anyway, with Rhia’s odd booking just one aspect of that. There just doesn’t seem to be the same consistency that we see in Shimmer, where the faces and heels are firmly established in their roles.

And when that leads to a main event between two wrestlers who are part of the same heel stable, with little more than the fact that April was on the back foot for much of the much essentially setting her up as a temporary babyface, then it’s just harder to motivate any interest for the outcome of that match. And just what happened to the storyline at the start of the show when Jetta supposedly called off the title match? I was expecting (hoping!) for some kind of interference from her, or the rest of the stable during the main event, perhaps to solidify April parting ways from the Empire – But it never happened and the events of the start of the evening just seem to have been completely ignored/forgotten about.

The other Ice Ribbon matches were OK, although I ain’t personally a big fan of the more comedic style of Sakura and it did start to grate a little after a while.

On a more positive note, and there WERE a lot of positives on the show, the Eve potentials match was the best potentials match I’ve seen on an Eve show to date – And was a match that personally I would actually rate higher than many of the others on the card last night, as it found the right balance between entertainment and pretty good wrestling. Rhia’s matches were enjoyable too, as was the opener. In fact, Shanna was probably my wrestler of the night.

So, one down – two to go.