Featured Image: Tony Knox Photography
At 23-years-old, Charli Evans is an international talent. Originally from the Central Coast, Charli started training in 2014 at Newcastle Pro Wrestling. From there, she moved to Pro Wrestling Australia Academy, where she trained under Madison Eagles and others.
Charli has competed internationally at SHIMMER Women Athletes and RISE in the US, Fight Club: PRO and Pro Wrestling: EVE in the UK, and Sendai Girls Pro Wrestling in Japan, just to name a few. She’s held both the EVE and Sendai Girls’ Tag Team Championships with Millie McKenzie, and is the youngest PWWA Champion with Jessica Troy.
After a near-3-year residency in the UK, Charli has come home. Here, she reflects on her career so far, and how wrestling might emerge from the other side of the global pandemic.
Q: Do you recall a particular moment where you were first captivated by wrestling?
A: The moment I remember most vividly was Jeff Hardy diving off the scaffolding onto Randy Orton. It was the wildest thing I’d ever seen. The fact that his body could do that and he survived was the coolest thing ever.
Q: You’ve said that it was seeing Shazza McKenzie perform that inspired you to get in the ring. What does having the relationship with her that you have now mean to you?
A: Yeah, she was the first female I ever saw on a show and it was like a wake-up call. From then on, all I wanted to do was wrestle. It is really cool to be so close to Shaz. She really took care of [Jessica Troy] and I when we first started. Now, especially when we are in America together, she’s the one that actually makes sure we are organised. Jess and I were even flower girls at her wedding!
Q: How would you describe Charli Evans to someone seeing you perform for the first time?
A: I hope when people watch me perform they see a great wrestler, regardless of gender. I don’t want someone to see a “gimmick”, I want them to see a wrestler. I hope that I show heart and skill and passion and fire.
Q: How are you finding working frequently across both scenes [the UK and Australia]?
A: It is the most amazing feeling that I can make a living doing the thing I truly love. The UK has blessed me with that. I really hope that one day all my Australian friends that work very hard can also make a living off wrestling.
Q: How did your time in the UK help your development?
A: I think not only did I find myself as a wrestler, I also found myself as a person. In turn, that really helped me [figure out] who I want to portray when I am wrestling. Due to wrestling so many different people I also get to take little bits from everyone and use that to create my own style.
Q: Do you think the UK is the place for pro wrestlers to be in 2020?
A: I think that wherever makes you happy as a wrestler is the place to be. Some people find joy in Australia and if that’s what makes you fulfilled, then that’s the place for you. If it’s with WWE or NXT UK or AEW, then all the power to you. I think for me, Japan and England are the places that I need to be and make me happiest.
Q: You also made it to Sendai Girls last year, congrats! What was that like?
A: It was my dream come true. Having Meiko Satomura ask you to wrestle for her company is one of the biggest compliments I could ever receive. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Sendai Girls and I wear it as a badge of honour. I really figured out who I am, wrestling style wise, after my second tour. The training is hard but really great and they are the most amazing wonderful lovely people. I honestly can’t wait to go back to Japan. It owns my heart.
Q: Being so young and travelling the world doing what you do, do you feel the pressure of having to excel in a new environment?
A: I came to the UK with the intention of training to get better. I am very lucky and blessed with the opportunities I have been given and the things I have learnt. I think it’s important to take in bits and pieces from everywhere and incorporate it into the way you wrestle. I think I had that to a degree when I left Australia, but obviously a lot more now.
The PWA Academy is really lucky to have such great trainers that have so much experience of a lot of different styles. I think that helps [trainees] become more well-rounded wrestlers and gives people an opportunity to become the best at the particular style they love.
Q: What was your most difficult challenge as you were getting started in wrestling, and how did you overcome it?
A: I came in at a great time. Women’s wrestling was starting to be taken seriously and we were seen as athletes, not eye candy. We all wrestled each other no matter what gender. Everyone is treated as a wrestler. I think that’s one of the biggest things I want people to see when I wrestle, I’m not a “female wrestler”. I am a wrestler. That’s it. I’m super lucky that the majority of places I wrestle don’t have “gender” – It’s just about how good you are, and I think that’s the correct way [to treat wrestlers].
Q: What is it like being a part of this travelling Australian sisterhood in pro wrestling?
A: It’s incredible. The fact I [could] go months without seeing them and to be reconnected in the US and feel like we haven’t even been apart [was] the best. I missed them everyday, especially Jess. But they are killing it [in Australia], and it’s great seeing so many new girls popping up!
Q: So, you’ve just come back to Australia from the UK. How has COVID-19 impacted your career and the wrestling industry?
A: I’ve only just returned during the pandemic. It’s obviously had a big impact on the whole world. I was unable to work, train and go to the gym. My income was taken from me – But, in not having shows we are also saving lives, and that’s the way you need to look at it. I was in the UK to wrestle and if I can’t do that, [but can] spend time at home with friends and family in Australia, then that’s the right thing for now. As soon as shows are back in the UK, I’ll be on the first flight back.
Q: How does wrestling recover from this? How can fans show their support during this time?
A: It’s hard to say. In a way, I honestly think this might be a good thing. Imagine that first show back – The buzz in that room is going to be insane. The reactions of the crowd and feeling of being lost in something will be incredible. The UK fans are so lucky. They can easily see 3-4 shows a week, but that might have drained some people’s love and appreciation for it. I think this will bring the magic back to professional wrestling and I can’t wait to get back to it.
Q: Are there any items left on your bucket list?
A: Yes! My main ones currently are to win the SHIMMER Tag Team titles and [wrestle a singles match with] Eddie Kingston.
Q: Lastly, who are your female/LGBT wrestling idols from anywhere in the world (past, present or emerging)?
A: Madison Eagles and the baddest bitch to ever live, Bull Nakano.