Last Saturday, Athena vs. Willow Nightingale was scheduled for AEW Collision where they were to wrestle in round two of the Owen Hart Cup tournament. Nightingale wasn’t cleared due to injuries sustained in Japan.
On Friday night, there were two women’s matches for the first time since a Dynamite in May 2022. Taya Valkyrie squashed an independent wrestler, Izzy McQueen, in 24 seconds. This set up Saraya and Toni Storm coming to the ring. Storm called her a loser and Valkyrie challenged her to a match at Battle of the Belts for the AEW Women’s Championship.
Athena and Nightingale were given main event honors on Rampage. Athena has main evented Dark (1), Rampage (1), and ROH (4) in 2023. Coming into Friday, the ROH Women’s Champion hadn’t been defeated since September 2022. Storm defeated Athena, Britt Baker, and Serena Deep to retain the interim AEW Women’s Championship at Grand Slam. She is 30-0 in ROH-sanctioned matches.
Nightingale beat Nyla Rose to advance to the second round of the Owen Cup tournament. She lost to Toni Storm at Forbidden Door II and lost the NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship to Giulia two days later.
Way back on episode two of ROH, Athena defeated Nightingale to retain her ROH title. Friday night was their first match against each other since then. After a fantastic match, Nightingale was able to defeat Athena to advance to the Owen Hart Cup final.
Nightingale will face Ruby Soho at Collision on Saturday night to determine the winner of the women’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament. During a segment to promote their match last Saturday, it was hinted that Athena and Nightingale have a rematch for the ROH Women’s Championship.
An enraged Athena tried to come for Nightingale after Rampage. She had to be restrained by security, which she promptly punched in the face. Once free, the champ was yelling about how this was her show when Nightingale cold-cocked her back into security’s arms. She picked up the title and said “Owen Hart tournament and maybe this right after.”
ROH Death Before Dishonor is on Friday, July 21. Athena currently doesn’t have a match. The show’s original main event is on hold as Mark Briscoe is out with an injury. This sets up Athena vs. Nightingale to headline the pay-per-view. A women’s match has never main evented an AEW or ROH pay-per-view. Who better to do it than two of the most popular women in wrestling today?