Daily DDT Awards 2023 Women's Match of the Year: ATHENA vs. Willow Nightingale at ROH Death Before Dishonor

Fans were invited to participate for the first time in Daily DDT's annual End of Year Awards and ATHENA vs. Willow Nightingale picked up the award for Women's Match of the Year.

New Japan Pro-Wrestling - STRONG
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ATHENA vs. Willow Nightingale was voted as Daily DDT's 2023 Women's Match of the Year. The match was easily one of the best matches in wrestling and the history-making match had a lot of controversy surrounding it.

2023 was the Year of ATHENA. By Death Before Dishonor, she was already ROH Women's Champion for over six months and was having incredible matches with opponents such as Miyu Yamashita, Yuka Sakazaki, and Emi Sakura. She and Willow Nightingale had started an ongoing feud on episode two of Honor Club.

Their second matchup would come in July on AEW Rampage, during the semi-finals of the Women's Owen Hart Foundation Cup. Nightingale evened their series at one. It is the only match that ATHENA lost in singles action. Since it was not an ROH-sanctioned match, "The Fallen Goddess" kept her pristine record intact.

ATHENA was looking to get her win back and Death Before Dishonor was the perfect time for a rubber match. That match was the biggest story in ROH, yet it was not the original main event. Mark Briscoe vs. Claudio Castagnoli for the ROH World Championship was scheduled to headline with very little build. Shortly after, Briscoe injured his leg and would need surgery. ATHENA and Nightingale still were not named the main event.

The night before the pay-per-view, it was announced that Castagnoli would face PAC in the main event. Fans were furious. They were vocal on social media that the women should headline, and even more Castagnoli vs. Briscoe was announced. After Briscoe's injury was announced, the fans got louder and louder. Once the new main event was announced, the fans' voices could no longer be denied.

During Zero Hour, it was announced that the two matches would be the main event. Later in the pay-per-view, word came that the women would, in fact, main event of the show. This match made history for two reasons; it was the first ROH pay-per-view headlined by women and it was the first one headlined by two Black women. This was after they became the first two Black women to main event Rampage a few weeks earlier.

The women delivered an instant classic. For twenty minutes, they paid tribute to many of the women who came before them including Daffney, Daizee Haze, and Sumie Sakai. The fans were evenly split, living and dying with each pin attempt. They earned chants of "fight forever!" and "Women's wrestling!". ATHENA got her win back and moved to 32-0 in ROH-sanctioned matches.

They cemented their place in history while simultaneously putting on an incredible match that people still talk about nearly a year later. Willow and ATHENA proved that women are a draw and can deliver high-quality matches in the main event spot.