Willow Nightingale To Defend AEW TBS Title In Japan A Week Before Double Or Nothing

Willow Nightingale's mind might be on her upcoming TBS Championship defense against Mercedes Mone at AEW Double or Nothing on May 26, but it turns out she has one more obstacle to get through first, and she'll have plenty of time to think about it on the flight. On March 18, eight days before she heads to Las Vegas, Nightingale will be in Yokohama, Japan, wrestling on a Stardom show called Flashing Champions 2024, and her challenger will be former World of Stardom Champion Tam Nakano. The match was announced on Saturday's episode of "AEW Collision."


Nightingale — who had expressed her desire to defend the TBS title outside AEW — has never set foot in the ring with Nakano before, though she's made two previous trips to Japan, wrestling for Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling and DDT Pro Wrestling in 2022 before returning to Japan as the inaugural NJPW STRONG Women's Champion in 2023. She wouldn't leave with the belt, however, as she lost it to future WWE star Giulia after just a 45-day reign. Nightingale was reportedly never meant to win the title in the first place, but defeated intended winner Mercedes Mone in May 2023 after Mone suffered a legitimate injury and called an audible in the ring. The 2023 women's Owen Hart Foundation Tournament winner also wrestled on Stardom's American Dream show, teaming with SAKI to defeat Konami and Syuri on WrestleMania weekend in Philadelphia. She would win the TBS Championship at AEW Dynasty 17 days later; assuming she gets past Nakano, Mone will be Nightingale's third title defense.


Nakano is no slouch, however; her reign as World of Stardom Champion (aka the Red Belt, the joshi promotion's top singles title) ended only six months ago in November 2023, and Nakano vacated the championship due to injury as opposed to being beaten. She's also a former Goddess of Stardom Champion, a two-time Wonder of Stardom Champion, and a three-time Artist of Stardom Champion, and is the leader of the Cosmic Angels, a major Stardom faction whose history involves both rising AEW star Mariah May and recently featured Stardom competitor Mina Shirakawa.