Zoey Stark – Today’s Champion and A Future Star of Wrestling
by Brian Ronovech
NXT Women’s Tag Champion (w/ Io Shirai) Zoey Stark has a banner in the FSW arena alongside other Vegas luminaries like current NXT Champion Karrion Kross, Chris Bey, and Reno Scum (Adam Thornstowe & Luster the Legend). She helped bring relevance to the FSW Women’s Championship at a time when it sorely needed it. Her hard work and determination to get to the top has led to her early success.
A Short Run?
Formerly known as Lacey Ryan, Stark made her debut in California with Vendetta Pro Wrestling (VPW) in 2013. Stark began working primarily in Utah the rest of the year into 2014 when she left the game. However, she wasn’t finished and would make a return that would lead to her dreams coming true and the chance to work alongside her heroes.
Back in the Game
She made her return to wrestling in 2018. This time in Fort Worth, Texas, fighting legend Thunder Rosa to a no-contest with Dallas Championship Wrestling (DCW). Stark would team with Rosa with DCW, but it was her move to Las Vegas that would change the trajectory of her career.
The owner of Las Vegas-based Future Stars of Wrestling (FSW), Joe DeFalco, mentioned Stark’s name as someone he would be booking in town, especially since she had moved to Southern Nevada and would be training at FSW.
There wasn’t a lot of video to watch on her short career, so the first time we really saw her was at FUTURESHOCK on a weekend afternoon at the FSW Arena. Even though she dropped that match, you could see why DeFalco was high on the young star. She showed a variety of weapons with a sound striking game and an ability to go to the top turnbuckle for offense.
Stark quickly was involved in the FSW Women’s Title picture (held by Taya Valkyrie) battling Sandra Moone, Mazzerati, and Bryn Thorn. Her first major show in Vegas was at Survival of the Fittest in August when she was on the winning side in an intergender tag match. The victory was a precursor of what was to come.
Zoey made her IMPACTWrestling debut against Taya on X-Plosion September 6th in the Fight Capital. Stark would drop the contest but turned plenty of heads. She learned a lot from that first match against the former IMPACT Knockouts Champion. Something she would use just weeks later.
On September 29th, 2019, Zoey stunned the Wrestling world when she defeated Taya Valkyrie at MECCA V to win the FSW Women’s Title. This put her on plenty of radars, and she began competing in Southern California with Championship Wrestling from Hollywood (CWFH) that October. Stark battled Sandra Moone and Arizona’s Leslie iris. Stark would have a solid feud with Heather Monroe, who was the Queen of the Women’s division for more than two years. The Killer Bae beat Stark in a best of three falls in December 2019.
Back in the Fight Capital, she would make her first Casino Show defense of the FSW Women’s Title. She beat Mazzerati at Against All Odds inside Sam’s Town Live that November. Near the end of 2019 is when the whispers of her signing began getting louder.
2020 began like a normal year, and Stark returned to IMPACT with a shot at the Knockouts Title against Jordynne Grace. She also battled Kiera Hogan during that Television Taping, and there was no reason to believe more IMPACT matches were on the horizon. Then with a shutdown looming, she met IMPACT World Champion Tessa Blanchard at FSW’s MECCA VI in what was arguably the best match of the night.
The week leading up to the biggest match of her career was sketchy at best. The pandemic broke out, and Ring of Honor canceled their shows scheduled at Sam’s Town that weekend. MECCA VI looked doomed. However, despite this, FSW persevered, and the show ultimately went on. Blanchard had recently won the IMPACT World Championship to become the first woman to do so in any major company.
Rumors swirled in 2019 that discussions were happening between FSW and Tessa for a match with Stark. The MECCA was the obvious choice. Once Blanchard was set, the match was confirmed. There were no Titles on the line, but for Stark getting in the ring with Blanchard was big enough. They faced off in the center and delivered. The Sam’s Town lights weren’t too bright for Zoey, who had her best match in the Fight Capital when it mattered most.
Even though Stark didn’t get her hand raised that night, ultimately, she didn’t lose. Watching wrestlers return after the shutdown and several months off was enlightening. Some returned fresh off the couch, while others were now in the best shape of their careers. You could see the talent that decided to use their time wisely. To the surprise of no one, Zoey Stark was the latter. If you follow her social media, you’ll see how important training and fitness is to the 27-year-old star.
Stark returned, looking leaner and stronger. Her boxing had improved, and now Zoey had more confidence throwing both hands. Striking had always been a solid part of her game, but it was now the most important weapon. Preferring to throw barrages of punches, Stark likes to move forward, always applying pressure on her opponents. There is no stick and move to her striking game. Zoey wants to knock your head off.
With Las Vegas wrestling “closed,” she spent most of the year with the United Wrestling Network’s (UWN) on PRIMETIME LIVE and even defended the FSW Title against VIPRESS on one edition. The return to SoCal reignited her feud with Heather Monroe. In Fall of 2020 Monroe and Stark were booked for a best-of-seven series in Hollywood that was cut short when Zoey signed with WWE/NXT.
As things looked to be opening in late 2020, Stark defended the Title against her long rival Mazzerati at FSWW. After a spear from Strella, Zoey was defeated. We knew what was next. FSW said goodbye to the former Champion at their Network launch event in January 2021. She hugged her close friends Jai Vidal, Matt Vandagriff, and Damian Drake in an emotional finish to the evening.
Zoey Stark had a major influence on the FSW locker room. She trained with Vandagriff and Drake, who became Tag Team Champions as The Unguided just months after she left. While transplanted, Gangrel disciple Jai Vidal is having the best year of his career. Stark held the FSW Women’s Title for over 400 days when she finally dropped it.
On January 20th, 2021, she signed with WWE and made her debut a week later on her 27th birthday. It was a dominant win, and despite mixed results so far in Florida, the ability is there. Triple H is high on Stark, and she had plenty of opportunities thus far against NXT’s heavy hitters in the Women’s division.
Zoey Stark burst onto the NXT scene in early 2021. Her early work produced an instant classic with former Women’s Champ Io Shirai. in a non-title match in just her second encounter with the brand. Shirai got her hand-raised that night, but it was Zoey they were talking about the next day.
She followed up with a stunning victory over Toni Storm on the Takeover Pre-Show WrestleMania week. However, on July 7th at the NXT Great American Bash, she would team with Shirai and win the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship. Stark was a lifelong WWE fan who idolized John Cena and now works daily with another one in Triple H. This talented lady has helped grow the NXT women’s division into a staple of the entire WWE brand.
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