A Deep Dive Into Zoey Stark vs. Toni Storm on NXT

Zoey Stark Toni Storm WWE NXT

Zoey Stark is a recent acquisition to the Black and Gold brand, an electrifying performer with a principled babyface persona. Toni Storm is her antithesis, an internationally known veteran and former NXT UK Women’s Champion, whose hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners style has been overshadowed by constant rival Rhea Ripley since arriving stateside. Since Ripley’s call-up to the Raw brand, Storm has declared it Toni Time: her chance to dominate the NXT women’s roster. Once again, another woman stands in her way, and on the May 18 broadcast of NXT, she faced Stark in a rematch of their NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver faceoff, in which Stark was the victor. The loss interrupted the trajectory Storm had set for herself, to step out of Ripley’s shadow and conquer NXT, one opponent at a time.

it was clear that the crowd had chosen their victor before the bell rang. Chants of “Let’s Go Zoey” rang out from the crowd behind the plexiglass barrier. Zoey Stark used the momentum, coming out on the offensive, overwhelming Toni Storm from the off with punches and a dropkick. She climbed the ropes for a missile drop-kick. Storm pulled Stark off the apron, causing her to hit the ramp. Storm drove her into the steel steps and charged with a battering ram, driving her further into the steps. Stark was down, grabbing her head in pain. The ref counted down to seven for Stark to get back into the ring. Stark rolled back in. Storm tauntingly kicked her head. From there, Storm pulled Stark to her feet, punched her, trapped her in the corner of the ropes, and kicked her.

The two traded punches until Storm hit a suplex on Stark for a cover. Storm put Stark into submission, then threw her against the ropes for a clothesline. Stark hit the floor, and Storm covered. Back on their feet, Stark tried to battle back, hitting Storm with a right hand. Storm, once again, maneuvered Stark back in her control, with a punishing knee strike to her spine, exacerbating the pain by stretching Stark’s frame over her knee. Stark fought free but was met with a series of punches. The relative newcomer backslid Storm, pinned her shoulders down, but Storm fought free, and punched her in a flurry.

Stark rallied with a jumping enziguri. Stark hit two clotheslines, and a knee strike on Storm, flipping her onto the mat and getting a cover. Storm kicked free, but Stark retained control for a time, battering Storm, who quickly had enough and returned fire. When her attempt to pin Stark resulted in a kickout, Storm rolled her out of the ring, trying to disqualify her. Stark once again rolled back in, just in time. Stark rolled Storm through shoulders down and held her in a bridge cover. Storm kicked out and put Stark in a sleeper hold.

Stark fought to the ropes, refusing to surrender. Stark struggled to get to her feet, but Storm, once again, held her in submission. From there, Storm transitioned into a pin. Stark stayed alive, got on her feet, and punched Storm. The two traded blows and kicks. Stark got Storm down with a series of sliding strikes, but Storm kicked out. Storm attempted a piledriver but Stark countered and pinned; Storm kicked out. Stark kicked and hit a half and half suplex and covered Storm, who once again stayed alive at the last second. Both athletes were visibly winded. Stark, however, repeatedly drove her knees into Storm. The former NXT UK Women’s Champion sought to overwhelm her opponent with a German suplex and got Stark down in a shoulders-down pin, which Stark remarkably kicked out of.

The frustrated Toni Storm gave Zoey Stark one last slam and pinned Stark, winning via pinfall. Storm had her justice for NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver, momentarily stalling Stark’s rapid rise. However, Storm had little time to bask in her victory before her moment in the sun was upstaged by the entrance of newcomer Franky Monet. The athlete known until recently as Taya Valkyrie makes her in-ring debut next week; surely Storm will want to address the interruption. With Stark still dogging her steps, and Monet’s entrance into the picture, life without Ripley is not the primrose path Storm planned on.

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