TAELER: Kay Lee Ray's Historic NXT UK Women's Title Reign

In spite of a pandemic stricken 2020 that changed the face of the world, and even more specifically the Pro Wrestling landscape as it relates to this article, several key factors saw the industry through to a new day and a new norm that has continued thus far into 2021. That very same aforementioned new norm that wove its way through all facets of the entertainment industries would see itself heighten the levels of resilience and ingenuity not only of wrestling office creative teams and CEO's but also the talents themselves. In years prior, this new norm was unimaginable and therefore not prepared for. What remains in its wake are the stars who rose up to meet this unforeseen adversity and saw themselves reach new previously untapped levels of their own innate creativity, ingenuity, and pure raw passion residing in depths they didn't know they possessed. While others sank they rose to the top and didn't settle for floating, they gained speed breaching the surface capturing their prey and flew. For lack of better imagery, they personified the idea that nothing good comes from comfort zones and that you don't have to have the best of everything to make the best of anything. It is in this very ideal that Kay Lee Ray excelled with in the WWE NXT UK brand…

After winning the NXT UK Championship Title from Toni Storm in an intensely hard fought bout in August 2019, Kay Lee Ray would unknowingly have her reign halted after the onset of the pandemic in early March 2020. With the UK being blocked from travel and new restrictions and safety precautions being formed as information came to light on COVID 19, the NXT UK Women's Champion, like many other Actors, Entertainers, and Pro Wrestlers would embark on a new challenge. A new battle. A fight if you will…fighting complacency and getting too comfortable while trying to stay ready and at optimal competing/performing shape both mentally, physically, and emotionally for any opportunity that could come out of the void at a moments notice without any heads up. A feat not easily done in the best of circumstances and darn near impossible at the worst.

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But, as I often reiterate in my Children's Books, "when others say your dream is impossible, that is when you have to find the 'I'm possible' in your dream…" And that's the grit and gumption that separates the top from the rest and the NXT UK Women's Champion, The Scary Queen of Scots, Kay Lee Ray is no exception to the top of the top as she remains in the pinnacle seat at the top of the NXT UK Women's Division. Since August 2019, Kay Lee Ray has been unstoppable. No even a pandemic stopped her hustle and forward momentum. From staying in shape physically to studying tape and opponents at home. Dieting and exercising even without gym or in ring access, her hustle is indicative of what it means to be a champion. There can only be one and thus far it has been KLR - Kay Lee Ray.

So much so that KLR's reign has now officially reached 600+ days in the WWE. The self-proclaimed NXT UK Forever Champion has competed against the best and proven that she is the best. As it stands right now, today, Kay Lee Ray's NXT UK Women's Championship reign has been supreme! She has officially beaten all of her successful counterparts as far as the WWE internet history books are concerned… In consideration for more recent modern day WWE record standings, the only closest milestones to Kay Lee Ray in recent WWE history is in fact Asuka or maybe Becky Lynch. Becky Lynch is on record as Raw Women's Champion for over 378+ days prior to vacating the title in May 2020. On WWE record, Becky Lynch is the longest Raw Women's Champion regarding that belt. And Asuka still boasts the impressive accomplishment of still being longest reigning NXT Women's Champion with a run that spanned 510+ days - 520+ with tape delays. Yet, both still fall short of the historical milestone achieved by KLR with her 600+ day reign on WWE NXT UK.

The closest currently in standing to Kay Lee Ray is still almost one whole year behind - that being Hikaru Shida, the AEW Women's Champion. As of now, Shida is fresh off of her win against former WWE Superstar Tay Conti. A win that saw Hikaru Shida continue her reign at over 328+ days as AEW Women's Champion. Walking into NXT Takeover: Stand & Deliver, prior to Wrestlemania 37, the then NXT Women's Champion who was also trailing behind Kay Lee Ray, walked into the Takeover Main Event at just over 300 days as NXT Women's Champion. A title run that ended that very night and saw the beginning of Raquel Gonzalez as NXT Women's Champion. While very promising, Raquel is more than 575 days behind KLR.

When speaking of the NXT Women's Championship, it wouldn't be a complete conversation without adding Shayna Baszler. If I am not mistaken, The Queen of Spades holds the distinct resume booster of being the first woman to hold the NXT Women's Championship twice, with one of her reigns set at 415+ days. Although impressive, its still well short of 600+. Rounding out the most recent WWE records, Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair both boast the amazing accomplishment of being the first Women's Singles match to highlight as a Wrestlemania main event. They crushed it! This main event would ultimately lead to Sasha Banks' Smackdown Women's Championship reign similarly ended like that of Io Shirai while representing the Main Event. An end to her 165+ day reign. The then Raw Women's Champion Asuka didn't fare much better as she herself had her 230+ day title run ended too. Both ladies while also immensely talented and record-breaking on their own, they both fell short in dethroning Kay Lee Ray's monumental 600+ day accomplishment.

If we look back further, past the more recent WWE history, even the longest reigning Women's Champion of the 2000's, WWE Hall of Famer, and Divas Era Icon, Trish Stratus falls short with her longest reign in the history books being an amazingly unprecedented 445+ day title run that began against her BFF off-screen and heated on screen rival Lita at New Year's Revolution 2005. Her own record-breaking title run would come to an end at the hands of Mickie James at Wrestlemania 22 at 448 days as WWE Women's Champion. Trish Stratus' 445+ day title run as WWE Women's Champion supplanted itself as the longest when it beat Sherri Martel. Trish Stratus was the gold standard that shined whether heel or baby face. An accomplishment to her indelibly stellar resume, but again, the pattern is clear…

Dating back further, the legendary and awe-inspiring (if I do say so myself) Sensational Sherri once held the WWF Women's Championship Title for roughly 440+ days. She defeated Fabulous Moolah in her third reign in 1987. Ever the trailblazer, Martel would eventually see herself defeated by the up and coming baby face fan favorite Rockin' Robin. Speaking of Martel and Robin, Rockin' Robin herself holds an indelible spot in WWE history with a record all her own. After defeating Martel for the WWF Women's Championship in 1988 in France, she herself would embark on a huge title run coming in at over 500+ days. Although she left the WWE in 1990, Rockin' Robin thus far still holds the second-longest Women's Championship title run in the history of that particular belt. A record still fiercely held over thirty years later. A record that was almost beat by Asuka and Becky Lynch until existential circumstances inserted themselves into the narrative and obviously different belts. With that said, Rockin' Robin's title run also falls short against KLR.

When speaking of legendary history worthy title runs with the attempt at adding even more prestige and legitimacy to the accomplishments amassed by women with unmatched work ethic, determination, resilience, respect, of course passion for the sport, as well as their relevance to the topic of this article - The Scary Queen of Scots Kay Lee Ray, I would be remiss if I didn't add my mentor and friend into this very conversation. Princess Victoria and Velvet McIntyre had a huge impact on me and my overall in ring style as did Sherri Martel. Victoria and McIntyre emerged in the WWF as NWA World Women's Tag Team Champions. When that working relationship dissolved and the WWF pulled out of the territories becoming its own entity, the two ladies became the inaugural WWF Women's Tag Team Champions. Their world traveling title run continued on from May 1983 to September 1984 amassing a total of 570+ days as WWF Tag Team Champions. Although the duo on record came the closest to KLR, they still fell short of 600 days by a slim margin of less than one month. Those same WWF Tag Team Titles would see themselves once again in the history books on the flip side of the conversation.

All in all, Kay Lee Ray has earned and deserves credit where credit is due, and to my knowledge as far as the WWE and NWA are concerned, she is only superseded by four or by technicality five legendary women in WWE or NWA Women's Wrestling as far as longest reigns and runs are concerned. And, depending on which side of the fence you lay your hat from the two out of three falls NWA Women's match in 1956, well you know… Now think about that for a moment, the NXT UK Forever Champion Kay Lee Ray's 600+ day reign has now officially as far as numbers go, is in the same conversation as in my opinion four women out of thousands. The Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai and Judy Martin,) Fabulous Moolah, and Mildred Burke…

The Glamour Girls trained by Fabulous Moolah are on record as being the WWF Women's Tag Team Champions for over 900 days after winning the titles in 1985 from Velvet McIntyre and Desiree Peterson who replaced the severely injured Princess Victoria mentioned above. Joined by Jimmy Hart, the duo of Leilani Kai and Judy Martin were nearly unstoppable for a huge record-breaking supreme reign. A reign almost 300 days longer than Kay Lee Ray's current ascending title run. The Glamour Girls would eventually lose the titles at the first ever Royal Rumble in 1988 to the Jumping Bomb Angels (who in my opinion were way ahead of their time.) Although they would be shortly recaptured and back on the waists of The Glamour Girls, it wouldn't last long as the titles would eventually disappear for several decades before reemerging on WWE programming.

Mildred Burke although not technically recognized by the WWE as the first NWA/WWE Women's Champion, Burke herself was the inaugural NWA World Women's Champion who won the belt in 1935 and successfully held it for almost twenty years until her loss to June Byers in 1954. It's worth it to note that while Mildred Burke was the first and record holding NWA Women's Champion, WWE Hall of Famer June Byers has a record breaker of her own as NWA Women's Champion, although controversial, it stands at over 725+ days from August 1954 to September 1956. That belt held by Byers would be won by Fabulous Moolah in 1956.

That very same belt would eventually be sold to the WWF/E in I believe the early 1980s and was thus recognized as the first WWF Women's Championship with the current reigning champion as their champion. And thus Fabulous Moolah became the first ever WWF Women's Champion with one of her reigns lasting over 3,650+ days. But, as the WWE record books don't necessarily recognize the title changes of that belt prior to Fabulous Moolah's originally winning it in 1956, her official reign spans roughly almost thirty years not unlike Mildred Burke herself whose title run spanned twenty years. Moolah's reign would meet its own end in 1984 at Brawl to End It All against Wendi Richter leaving Moolah's WWE recorded reign spanning from 1956 in the NWA to 1984 in the WWF as well as other runs in total well over 10,000 days.

With you, the reader, sticking it out through my animatedly written Women's Wrestling history lesson, I think my point has been proven with clear and concise detail. Kay Lee Ray has done what thousands upon thousands dream of doing when they set their feet on the path of superstardom within the WWE and the Pro Wrestling Industry as a whole. Most dream of it, and perhaps one percent actually achieve it. Not just wishing and dreaming, but actually putting words to actions and doing it. To be quite honest, if Pro Wrestling was easy everyone would do it successfully. Habits make success. Habits turn dreams and goals into results. Failures are the necessary steps on the ladder to success. And Kay Lee Ray has done exactly that. She fought her way through it all on her way up the ladder to success. Fighting through the Independents. Getting signed to WWE. Opponent after opponent. An unforeseen pandemic leading to crowd-less matches. Even squaring off against legends. As the third NXT UK Women's Champion on record, The Scary Queen of Scots, KLR has gone toe to toe with Toni Storm, Jinny Couture, Piper Niven, and Meiko Satomura and is now synonymous with another record broken. A modern day milestone.

The self-proclaimed NXT UK Forever Champion is in the same conversation with legends. Only outdone by a handful of women who paved the way for women like Kay Lee Ray to succeed one day.. Our Women's Wrestling pioneering predecessors embarked on the mission of ensuring if you are first, to in turn ensure that you are not the last. Decades later, here I am writing this Fightful.com feature. KLR 600+ days and counting on her way to surpassing them all. As Shawn Michaels himself put it, to which I paraphrase, Kay Lee Ray is perhaps one of WWE's best kept secrets… But, to be candid, after this Fightful Feature airs, I hope that secret makes its way with even more deserved highlights as this woman continues to cement her own legacy in the prestigious pages of the WWE - "Then. Now. Forever. Together" At a young 28 years of age with twelve years of Pro Wrestling experience all over the globe, this Scottish gem has found her own prominent spot as the shiniest crown jewel on the head of modern day WWE. Her name is Kay Lee Ray, and longer still may she reign…

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