Barely four months on from winning the strap, Nina Samuels had her biggest test to date as she put her belt up against top contender Kay Lee Ray.
Kay Lee Ray had won a number one contendership tournament on February’s Global Women Strike 2 – but the “when” it was being cashed in wasn’t advertised ahead of time… going in, it seemed that the Pure-J Openweight championship match between Leon and the defending Command Bolshoi was going to headline. It did not… but that was a really good match, if you can get past the whole “another promotion’s belt is defended on a show” malarkey that I know bothers some. Anyhoo, Leah Owens and Dann Read are on commentary for this one, from a sold out Resistance Gallery.
Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship: Kay Lee Ray vs. Nina Samuels (c)
Nina took aim at Kay Lee Ray for finally turning up, given that her shot in December was postponed due to injury… then derided her challenger as someone who could never get the job done.
Kay Lee fires in with a superkick to start us off, only to eat a Go To Sleep as they teased a speedy main event… but the challenger kicked out with ease as the pace remained frenetic. A Gory Bomb gets another two count, this time with Nina kicking out, as Dann on commentary noted that Kay Lee wasn’t taking chances. Steady on, this match has barely got going!
An attempted trip from Ray’s stopped with a stomp from Samuels, who followed that up with a tiltawhirl backbreaker before she started to bend some rules, pulling her hair. In response, a sliding Flatliner and a Koji clutch forces Samuels to stretch into the ropes. The champion’s right back with a dropkick as commentary made sure to remind us of the time Kay Lee Ray beat Meiko Satomura last year… just in time for Kay Lee Ray to respond with a guillotine choke that Nina rolled forward on to try and turn into a pinning attempt. Samuels rushes back in with a clothesline to keep Ray down, before Nina took her time to climb the ropes… she cartwheels away from the challenger and instead just pulls her down into a backbreaker on the mat. Ow.
Some more trash talking fires up the challenger, but her attempt at a springboard is turned into a wheelbarrow facebuster for a near-fall, before a Go To Sleep was escaped, as Ray hit a roll-up for a near-fall. Superkick… but no cover was the follow-up, as the two women then waited to exchange chops as Nina was sent cowering into the ropes. A trip-up from Kay Lee Ray hits the mark, ahead of a missile dropkick for a near-fall. Samuels seems to rush to a finish, perhaps sensing that time was running out… Nina goes for a La Magistral, then a double-underhook suplex for some more near-falls. A missile dropkick finds its target, but Kay Lee’s quickly back with a tornado DDT for a near-fall, before Kay Lee went back to a guillotine choke, only for Nina to power out and into a Go To Sleep for another near-fall!
Nina seemed to sense that that was her lot as Kay Lee Ray managed to respond with a superkick… but she manages to kick Samuels out of the ring as a superplex effort got blocked. A dive somehow finds room outside, but back inside another superkick weakens Samuels before Kay Lee Ray countered a Go To Sleep into a Gory Bomb for the win!
This was a really good main event, starting out with both women swinging for the fences (proverbially speaking) before things settled down. In her first real crack at the title, Kay Lee Ray ends the short reign of Nina Samuels to end the show on a high. ***½
There’s a few “hmm” moments here. Given how effective Nina Samuels was in the build-up to her winning the title, I’m disappointed that the run ended so quickly. Nina no longer being champion opens the door up for Charlie Morgan to get a shot, especially since they’ve been building up a story between Morgan and Ray in the past few months. Now, assuming that there’s another title switch, I’m not sure if it’s too soon for Morgan to even be hinting at being back in the main event picture, given that it was barely three months on from her losing that “no more title shot” match at the end of 2018, but I digress.
With Kay Lee Ray set for a prominent role in NXT UK, among a landscape where folks get signed at the drop of a hat, perhaps this is part of a longer term plan for stability… but regardless of the rhyme or reason, it still doesn’t remove the disappointment of what could have been with Nina Samuels’ run.