AEW must go all in on Willow Nightingale to lead the women’s division


Willow Nightingale picked up a big win in the Owen Hart Tournament and the promotion should give her the keys to the women’s division. 

The July 15 edition of AEW Collision saw the conclusion of the 2023 Owen Hart Tournament. Ricky Starks and Willow Nightingale picked up the win, solidifying key victories for their current trajectories in All Elite Wrestling. As many wonder what is next for the women’s division, Nightingale’s victory was the perfect choice to set up not only the immediate needs for the division but also the long term.

Looking at the booking for that women’s tournament, it seemed like Ruby Soho was set up to finally get a big win during her AEW run. She made it to the finals of the previous tournament, only to lose. She also made it to the finals of the TBS Title Tournament, only to lose to Jade Cargill. Pair that with winning the Casino Battle Royale at All Out 2021, just to lose to Britt Baker, many wondered if Soho was going to get her big moment. Nightingale saw to it that Soho was once again sitting outside.

Nightingale is perhaps the biggest fan favorite in the women’s division, especially since Jamie Hayter is on the sidelined injured. She recently dropped the NJPW Strong championship to Giulia and already she’s in another title picture as she’s taking on Athena for the ROH Women’s World Championship. This excellent track record in such a short time shows that wrestling trusts Nightingale as a potential superstar and the fans are going to be always behind her.

On one hand, Nightingale is a credible name to defeat Athena and end her amazing run in ROH. But that would put her in a position to be “stuck” on Honor Club as Athena was for much of her run. Fans want to see her on Dynamite and they want to see her as a main event player within this group.

So, what happens if she loses to Athena? Well, that doesn’t take Nightingale out of the picture as a threat to Toni Storm’s reign as champion. The Outcasts versus AEW Originals storyline has long run its course, to the point where it not only is stagnant but is hindering the women’s division. It’s time to blow the whole angle up just like Nightingale blows through her opponents with the pounce. Nightingale as champion would be a huge win akin to The Acclaimed or “Hangman” Adam Page’s initial title victories in the promotion.

Nightingale as champion creates major opportunities for the future of the division. For example, imagine Nightingale versus a heel Thunder Rosa on a quest to get the belt back she never lost. Or another direction where Nightingale defeats Storm, The Outcasts turn their ire on her and Nightingale gets backup from the likes of a returning babyface version of Jade Cargill. It’s time for the company to do something different with this women’s division and Willow Nightingale should be the catalyst for it.

Owen Hart would be proud to see Willow Nightingale winning a tournament in his name. It’s time for AEW to put all the chips behind her and push her as the face of the women’s division.

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