AEW Star Willow Nightingale Discusses Japanese Wrestling Influencing Women's Division

Though she's best known for her current work in AEW, Willow Nightingale has gotten the opportunity to hone her craft over in Japan as well, working several dates for Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling in 2022, and New Japan in 2023, after becoming the inaugural New Japan Strong Women's Champion. Those experiences turned out to be a dream come true for Nightingale, who revealed in an appearance on "Chats & Graps" how influential women's wrestling in Japan influenced her to pursue a career.


"Specifically speaking about Japan, a lot of my personal influences and role models came from there," Nightingale said. "When you think of...Bull Nakano, Aja Kong, even Awesome Kong, Kharma, whatever name you know her as, she really came into her own from going over there. Her and Aja, we're looking at biracial, black women, who are not the conventional body type you see in wrestling. That hits home for me. When the time came where I was like 'Can I be a wrestler? Will I sign up?' Like, that really stuck me in my head and helped me believe that it was possible."

Separate from how the Joshi scene inspired her, Nightingale believes that it also helped influence the US wrestling scene for women as a whole, leading to women being taken more seriously than in previous eras.


"To be able to see a culture where, for maybe 20 years now, women's wrestling has been wrestling at the forefront, that speaks volumes about how we got to where we are now," Nightingale said. "Whereas in the past, maybe 20 years ago when I was a kid watching [US] wrestling, women's wrestlers did wrestle, and they were great at it. But they weren't really given the platform to have the wrestling itself be at the forefront."

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit "Chats & Graps" and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription