AEW TBS Champion Willow Nightingale Discusses The Impact Of Being A Role Model

Willow Nightingale currently holds AEW's TBS Championship, though she is set to defend the title against Mercedes Mone at AEW Double or Nothing later this month. Whether she wins or loses that match, Nightingale sees herself as a role model for some younger wrestling fans, as displayed by her recent visit to a "wrestling club" for middle schoolers in New York City. Speaking to Bleacher Report ahead of the impending title defense, Nightingale expanded on why her status as a role model is so important to her.


"When I started wrestling, that was not my goal. I don't think I set out to inspire younger girls or younger Black people," Nightingale said. "I didn't see that power within myself. As I did start doing more, I would see people come to me at merchandise tables and be like 'My daughter feels inspired by your curly hair.'"

The AEW star said she decided early on in career to stop straightening her hair, as it always inevitably became curly again by the end of a match. Eventually, she realized that she was inspiring others simply by being herself.

"That's when I started having people tell me, 'That matters to this person,'" Nightingale continued. "'To these little eyes, having you be the person who is big and powerful, it shows that physically, you are embodying feminine strength. And you're big, and you have curly hair, and you're a little quirky, and you are a woman of color.'"


Growing up, Nightingale didn't witness many people in the public eye who looked like her, which is something she is happy to change with her presence in AEW. The TBS Champion looked back at her match against Athena at ROH Death Before Dishonor 2023 as a defining moment, showing that Black women can main event and be "the best thing on the show."

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Bleacher Report with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.