At the NJPW STRONG Resurgence event on May 20, AEW’s Willow Nightingale became the inaugural NJPW STRONG Women’s Champion defeating Mercedes Mone in what was considered to be a major upset.
The shock result according to a report from PWInsider was never meant to happen, as a Mercedes Mone ankle injury sustained during the match forced an audible to be called for Nightingale to get the win.
Given the manner of the result and original plans, many are expecting NJPW to ultimately announce a rematch, and according to Nightingale in a recent appearance on Busted Open Radio that is something she is very keen on as well.
On Mone’s injury and a potential rematch Nightingale said:
“I do hope she gets well and recovers as quickly as possible. If I still have this title by the time she comes back, I would love a rematch.
“With that being said, I think there are more eyes on me than ever before. I’m somebody who’s very used to people being on my side, people cheering for me, and people rooting for me, and after this championship win, I did receive a lot of that.
“A lot of people were saying, you deserve it. A lot of people saying it’s about time, but there have also been a handful of people who don’t think that I can live up to what being a champion is, especially of this caliber.
“Now I recognize the fact that the championship is on me. They can’t change that and the only thing I can do is step up and prove to them that I am worthy of this title.”
Nightingale also spoke out at her plans with the NJPW STRONG Women’s Title as well as addressing the critics that would potentially call her title reign a fluke due to Mone’s injury, saying:
“One of the things that I’m planning on doing is trying to find some time to head out to LA and train over at the New Japan Dojo and really kind of look over my schedule and reevaluate how much training I can fit into being on the road on top of what I’m already doing.
“So for me, those were like the first steps because I know I don’t want this to be something that people when they look at the history books and they see Willow Nightingale as the first New Japan Strong Women’s Champion, I don’t want them to see a little asterisk and be like, ‘Oh, well, she only won because her opponent got hurt and it was an easy victory.’
“That’s pro wrestling. That’s how it happens. If you get hurt that day, the fight wasn’t on your side.
“The fight was on my side that night and here I am champion. So the only thing I can do is move forward as a champion, wear this title with pride, and do all I can to continue defending it for as long as I can.”
Not only was Mone reportedly set to win the title at Resurgence but the NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship itself was reportedly designed specifically for Mone according to Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
However, as Nightingale mentioned on Busted Open Radio, many fans are also happy to see Nightingale finally in the spotlight and getting a long overdue championship reign.
With Mone’s injury scuppering plans for the NJPW STRONG promotion, it may have also had an impact on Tony Khan’s plan for the upcoming Forbidden Door 2 PP on June 25.
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