Willow Nightingale must not be booked as a transitional champion

Willow Nightingale defends her belt against Mercedes Mone at Double or Nothing with a lot more on the line other than the title.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling - STRONG
New Japan Pro-Wrestling - STRONG / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

The story around the AEW TBS Championship is one of the biggest angles running in the promotion. Willow Nightingale has finally captured gold in AEW, and Mercedes Mone is immediately waiting on the other side to challenge for that belt. They are set to do battle at Double or Nothing and there’s a growing contingent concerned that Nightingale is in a position in which she’ll be leveraged as a transitional champion to get the title on Mone.

AEW Double or Nothing is set for Sunday, May 26. This is a few days after the one-year anniversary of their 2023 battle for the NJPW Strong Championship. Mone was injured in that contest, being out of action since as Nightingale has gone on to other things. Bringing them back together to build off that feud makes perfect sense, but has it been managed in the right way so far by AEW? That’s the real question.

Mone’s been on AEW television frequently since her debut with the company back at Big Business in March. She hasn’t been able to step in the ring yet, but she gets ample time to cut promos and be involved as a secondary character in the angle involving Nightingale, Julia Hart, Kris Statlander, and Stokley Hathaway. Her first match is less than a month away, and it’s understandable why the expectations are that she’s going to pick up the win. Mone is a huge star in professional wrestling and if AEW is truly paying her a historic deal, it wouldn’t make sense to not have her as a champion.

But what does this mean for Nightingale? She’s been someone that fans have long wanted to see get some shine as a champion. The support behind her has maintained, but that hasn’t translated into a sustained run as a top star. According to Cagematch, she has a 45-33 win-loss record to date and is 1-3 when it comes to challenging for championships. If she does drop the belt to Mone at DoN that would put her championship run at 35 days, making it the shortest and the only title reign to go less than 100 days. Perhaps AEW does a non-finish, but that’s something the organization avoids on PPVs as well.

Regardless of the outcome, fans will have a lot to talk about coming out of Double or Nothing. Mercedes Mone will finally step into the AEW ring and be in action, making it one of the most-anticipated matches of her career. She’ll do so against a major fan favorite in Willow Nightingale. The outcome will certainly leave a contingent of fans disappointed in a way that no other match will.