#AndStill: Kay Lee Ray Retains the NXT UK Women’s Championship

Photo / World Wrestling Entertainment

Earlier today, at NXT UK TakeOver: Blackpool II, Kay Lee Ray retained the NXT UK Women’s Championship against Toni Storm and Piper Niven.

Photo / World Wrestling Entertainment

To say that Toni Storm has been in a slump since losing the NXT UK Women’s Championship would be an understatement. Since NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff, Storm’s attitude shifted. She left the brand for an extended period of time before returning with newfound aggression. This wasn’t just directed to the titleholder; Niven also found herself in the crossfire. After being told by Niven that she wouldn’t back down from title contention, Storm became physical. This confrontation, along with the antagonistic behavior of Ray, resulted in the three facing off at the second Blackpool event.

The match started off quickly, Storm immediately focusing her frustration on Ray. Niven exhibited dominance shortly thereafter by hitting Ray with a dive between the middle and bottom ropes. Her dominance continued with a pair of cannonballs on the outside. Even when the action returned to the ring, Niven’s senton kept her in the game. Almost immediately, Niven, who never held the NXT UK Women’s Championship before, established herself as a favorite to win.

Storm went for her patented finisher, Storm Zero, relatively early, looking to close out the match sooner. Interference by Niven prevented this, however. From there, Ray and Niven began exchanging moves, the former attempting a Gory Bump and the latter going for her Michinoku Driver. Crafty as she always is, Ray retreated to the outside to retrieve a steel chair. She wouldn’t be disqualified for utilizing it, as no-disqualification rules apply in triple threat matches. Ray took control of Storm, wrapping the chair around her neck. Before she could do any damage, Niven tackled Ray.

Soon, Storm took hold of the chair, standing off with Niven. While Niven shouted at Storm to hit her, Ray watched on from the apron with a devious expression. Storm refused, doing away with the chair before catching Ray’s face with a kick. For a short time, Storm and Niven seemed to be on the same page, focusing their attention on the champion. Before long, Storm and Niven were at odds. Niven planted Storm with a sit-out powerbomb, which Ray followed up with a senton.

With all her might, Ray hit Niven with the Gory Bomb. As the referee’s hand went down for three, Storm rushed into the ring to block his hand. The match was still on. The next near fall came when Storm hit Storm Zero on Ray, who had just experienced a Canadian Destroyer by Niven. As Storm was able to get the three-count, Niven broke it up, the former titleholder exhibiting frustration.

The match ended in the same frantic fashion that it built over time. Storm executed Storm Zero on Ray, causing her to crash onto Niven below. With Ray out of the picture, for the time being, Storm planted Niven with what appeared to be a modified Pedigree. Storm followed up with a frog splash on Niven, but before she could get the pin, Ray rushed in to hit Storm with a superkick. With Storm out of the picture, Ray covered Niven for the 1-2-3, retaining the NXT UK Women’s Championship in the process.

Needless to say, this situation is far from over. While Kay Lee Ray was able to retain her championship through risk-taking behavior and craftiness, her opponents aren’t ones to stand out. Storm’s aforementioned aggression and the heart of Niven are difficult obstacles. They may have been overcome at TakeOver: Blackpool II, but don’t be surprised to see one or both of them stand off with Ray in the future.