Sixteen Months

It was June 18, 2022, the first show of the SHE-1, Pro Wrestling Eve’s annual tournament to determine who will compete in the main event of Wrestle Queendom – the promotion’s biggest show of the year.

Three blocks of four wrestlers face off in a round-robin, with the block winners qualifying for a three-way final. The 2018 winner, and current AEW star, Jamie Hayter, was looking to become the first two-time winner of the tournament. Unfortunately, travel issues mean that she won’t be able to make it to London.

For the second time in three weeks, the old wrestler adage of always bringing your gear to shows pays off for South East London resident and ring crew member Safire Reed, as she’s asked to step in to replace Hayter.

Having recently turned 18, she was finally old enough to work for Eve and put the years of training into practice, putting in a valiant effort on the first show against Emersyn Jayne and on the second against Charlie Morgan, the two women who had headlined the first Wrestle Queendom in 2018. Their experience, and the incredible toll the SHE-1 takes, proved too much for her, and she has to be pulled from the shows the next day. The record showed two losses, but, in reality, Safire Reed had stood toe to toe with two former champions and had gone down swinging.

The next year would be filled with more regular bookings in Eve: everyone a loss, but each against increasingly tougher opponents, with the toughest being Mercedes Martinez in the first show that Safire headlined. For nearly twenty-two minutes, Mercedes showed off her twenty-two years of experience by beating, kicking, and generally brutalizing Safire all around the Yard theatre. With every moment that Reed fought back – with every kick out, every rage-filled scream – you could see Martinez’s respect for the 19-year-old grow. After the three count,  Reed may have been beaten, battered, and bruised, but she wasn’t broken, and Martinez raised her hand in respect as the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

A year before, Safire Reed couldn’t even manage to last ten minutes in a match, now, she’d gone over twenty – but was still hunting for her first victory.

Six Seconds

It’s October 8, 2023, and it is time for the SHE-1. This year, there was a format change, and it would be a field of 16 women in a one-day single elimination tournament.

SHE-1 EVE

In Laura DiMatteo, Safire had a tough draw for the first round. DiMatteo is a former Eve Tag Team champion and Eve International title holder, and two of the people she’d defeated in that International title reign, Skye Smitson and Alexxis Falcon, had beaten Reed in the previous few months. In the latest Top 15 rankings, she’d placed fifth.

EVE Top 15 rankings

​​DiMatteo had been in three of the previous four SHE-1 tournaments, although had fallen just short of qualifying for the finals on those occasions. This match seemed like it would be the latest in the long line of hard-fought matches against tough opponents where the loss would teach Reed some lessons in pursuit of that first victory.

The two wrestlers entered the ring, locked eyes, and readied themselves for the match. The bell rang, and Reed, with lightning-quick speed, ran towards DiMatteo and knocked out her opponent with a Shining Wizard. A three count later, and it was all over. Safire Reed had won and would be going to the quarter-finals, rendering everyone in the audience shocked by the result.

It had taken six seconds for Safire Reed to get her first victory in Eve.

It had taken sixteen months for Safire Reed to get her first victory in Eve.

One Night

Her next opponent was Jetta, a two-time Eve champion and 21-year veteran, who is never above using every means fair or foul to win a match. Safire tapped her out in 10:05.

Next was Emersyn Jayne, perhaps the hardest worker on the British scene and the only woman to hold all three titles in Eve. What’s more, Jayne possessed the skills to defeat Chris Ridgeway for a Pure rules title, the toughness and depraved imagination to work ultraviolet deathmatches, and was the woman who handed Safire her first loss at the previous SHE-1. This year – this night – was different, as Reed won a match that went all over the building in 14:31, continuing to build her momentum and face her final opponent: Alex Windsor.

Safire Reed Alex Windsor

Alex Windsor had had an amazing 2022, that had ended on a sour note. She’d won Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s International Princess title, the 2022 SHE-1, and finally the Eve title at Wrestle Queendom, only to lose the title in her first defense to current champion Miyu Yamashita later that night. Her pursuit of the title had cost her friendships and impacted her health. Challenging for the title had strained her friendship with Charlie Morgan, who believed that Windsor would choose to fight for the tag titles with her. Instead, Windsor challenged Morgan’s fiancee Jetta for the Eve title. Winning the title had shattered her friendships with both Morgan and Jetta. Losing the title only a few hours after winning it had left her lost, and a knee injury so bad that she almost considered retirement, had cost her the first half of 2023. Windsor needed to win this to help her get back to the top and reverse the horrible direction she’d been going in.

Fortunately, two victories against Chantal Jordan and Maya Yukihi and a time-limit draw in the Nina Samuels vs. Kasey quarter-final had given her a bye straight to the final. Extra time to rest and prepare for an opponent who would have been through one more match than her. On any other night, she’d have probably won. Unfortunately for Windsor, however, October 8, 2023, was Safire Reed’s night,, and she was not done yet. Both women threw everything into the match, but, in the end, Safire Reed took the victory, becoming the fifth woman to win the SHE-1. Without wasting any time, she declared that she would be challenging Miyu Yamashita at Wrestle Queendom in November.

Making a star

There’s no one right way to make a star in wrestling, sometimes, a sustained push with an undefeated streak can make a lot of people take notice. Other times, the right combination of skill and character can help someone capture the attention of the audience. It really comes down to finding the right story for the person involved. Safire Reed’s story was one of someone with a lot of potential and raw, dogged determination battling through a lot of matches and losing a lot until she’d learned enough to win and to win big.

It took sixteen months of hard work and preparation, six seconds to change everyone’s expectations of her, and one night of emphatic victories to cement Safire Reed’s status as a top star, ready to take on the world.