Raw newcomer Zoey Stark reflects on her WWE journey ahead of her biggest opportunity to date at Money in the Bank 2023.
Over a dozen names were called up from NXT to the main roster in the 2023 WWE Draft, and already Zoey Stark has proven to be the biggest breakout star of the bunch.
This is despite Stark never holding gold during her time on the black-and-gold brand, or being included in the televised portion of the Draft. Rather, she was nonchalantly moved from NXT to Raw with the rest of the supplemental picks on a Peacock program.
Within weeks of her arrival on Raw, however, she’s linked up with Trish Stratus, made an enemy out of Becky Lynch, and qualified for the women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match.
At this Saturday’s Money in the Bank Ladder match, she could very well walk up the ladder and retrieve the opportunistic briefcase, securing her a shot at any title at any time of her choosing for the next year.
The 29-year-old upstart remains in disbelief of where she is in her career right now, even though this was always expected to be the endgame.
“It’s crazy to think I get to be able to work alongside Trish Stratus,” Stark told Daily DDT. “Even last night, it’s weird to think I can send over a quick text message with a question or something and she gets back to me so fast. I’m having a great time with her.”
Her partnership with Stratus came about at Night of Champions when Stark emerged from underneath the ring to attack layout Lynch behind the referee’s back to aid Stratus to victory. She later explained she felt the WWE Hall of Famer wasn’t getting the respect she was owed and that Lynch had to pay the price for it.
It immediately led to an increased amount of television time for Stark and has put her in a position to succeed right out of the gate. Most Superstars have to work their way through the division first, but Stark hasn’t hesitated to rise to the occasion.
“This is definitely where I felt like I was always supposed to be, but it has happened a lot faster than I thought it was going to,” she said. “I figured once I got drafted, it’s going to take some time and slowly get involved with everything, but no, they threw me right in to see if I can swim and I feel like I’m swimming pretty well right now.”
As seen when her reaction was caught on camera, she couldn’t help but show her excitement when her name was called during the SmackDown LowDown portion of the WWE Draft. She knew she was ready to go having wanted to wrestle for WWE her whole life.
It’s no secret that the company is constantly changing plans, and not being privy to anything ahead of time regarding what her future held post-Draft, she attempted to keep an open mind and be content with whatever choice was made for her.
“I try my best not to get my hopes up,” Stark said. “I’m sitting there hoping it does happen, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay, there’s more things I need to do in NXT. I feel like it’s important not to put all of your hopes out there because when it doesn’t happen, you feel really let down.”
Aside from capturing the NXT Women’s Championship, which alluded her the entire time she spent down in developmental, she felt it was her time to move on, especially with how far she’s come since signing with the promotion at the onset of 2021.
Zoey Stark on her character evolution and captivating finisher
Stark’s in-ring ability has never been questioned. She’s shown she can hang with absolutely anybody and carry even the least-experienced opponents to a quality contest.
It was her character that needed extensive work. As a babyface, she was painfully generic, but upon returning from her torn MCL, she took it to another level by turning heel, which is when she finally found her footing.
Her promos also improved tenfold and now she’s getting chances to talk most weeks on Raw.
“I’ve personally felt like I’ve always had a tough time with promos and I always get good feedback to them to where they say it’s really good but I’m so hard on myself where I’m always thinking I could have done this better or done that better,” Stark said. “I can really pick things apart and it’s not always the healthiest thing to do, but it does make me better for the next promo.”
She revealed that beyond being given bullet points for what they wanted her talk about, WWE allowed her to be herself in the package profile that was put together for her and aired on Raw soon after her debut.
“I was a little worried they’d have be do something that doesn’t feel like me,” Stark said. “The fans can see when you’re putting on an act and you’re uncomfortable with what’s going on. I wanted to stay true to myself and who I am. Being able to work with Trish, I wasn’t expecting that, and that’s the other side of it. I get to learn from Trish now and take the lead from her.”
As for her astonishing Z360 finisher, Stark explains that its origins date back to her time on the indies and that she was optimistic WWE would let her hold onto it once she put pen to paper.
“When I was on the indie circuit, I wanted something unique and different,” she said. “I didn’t want to borrow another WWE Superstar’s finish or anything. I wanted something that was me. One day in Las Vegas where I was training at FSW, I had a friend and we were playing around with moves and trying to think of different things.
“We liked the backflip and started playing around with it and added the knee and there you go, the Z360 was created,” she continued. “I felt pretty good they’d let me keep it because it was unique enough to where you can’t really change it. I was very happy they let me keep that one.”
It remains to be seen if she’ll connect with the Z360 in Saturday’s Money in the Bank Ladder match and if it will be enough to earn the contract that hangs high above the ring. With a guaranteed title shot at stake, she’s willing to risk it all if it means ascending to the next level that much quicker.
“I can do some crazy things in a Ladder match and the WWE Universe will see that in London,” Stark teased. “I’m going to be the one to win that briefcase and I’ll go talk to Trish and we’ll out a game plan for what’s next.”