Nightingale addresses the online criticism the match received.
Closing out the January 13th edition of AEW Rampage was a Street Fight between the duos of Willow Nightingale and Ruby Soho and Anna Jay A.S. and Tay Melo.
The online reaction to the match and blood that was shed was discussed by Nightingale during her appearance on The Sessions with Renée Paquette. She recalled looking over to Soho and telling her she looked cool with her face covered in blood.
On the topic of the powerbomb spot off the entrance ramp to Anna Jay, immediately after the match, Nightingale went to check on Anna. Following the bout, Willow was emotional to an extent and hard on herself.
Very emotional (is how I felt after the Street Fight on AEW Rampage). The toughest part for me is that I like to uphold my work and what I do in a wrestling ring to a certain standard and that includes the way I execute moves, the safety of my opponents and generally, if I just feel like it clicked, did it flow well? Did it feel right? And at the end of the match, I definitely know that it was something very special but I think obviously, that one, Ruby [Soho] was bleeding like crazy which I looked over at her and I was like, ‘You look awesome’ right in the middle of the match. When I finally saw her covered (in blood), I was like, ‘You look awesome.’ A lot of people online maybe didn’t take it that way. But I am like, what a badass and the table spot with Anna [Jay], right? That has been a big thing and before even getting anybody’s response to it, it was the thing that when I walked back through the curtain, I was immediately like, ‘Where is Anna? Is she okay?’ And she was like, ‘I’m fine. I’m gonna go to the doc right now because they have to check me out but I’m okay’ and I’m like, ‘Are you sure!?’ And checking in on everybody else and checking in with our producer and they take us back and stuff but it was just like, to me, those are the two things that I was just most worried about and it left me very emotional because I felt like I was just worried about the other people I was in the ring with and I don’t think I upheld the elements that I respect or expect from myself.
Continuing on that, the understanding going into the match was that one woman from each team was allowed to bleed.
She added that it was a level of backlash she received online that she was unfamiliar with. Willow does not understand why there is a double standard for women when it comes to the topic at hand and said it was a gut punch. With the match under her belt, she feels she has a certain amount of grit now and wonders what her future looks like with this newfound grit and is even thinking about what she could do outside of wrestling.
We (Nightingale, Anna Jay, Tay Melo & Ruby Soho) were honestly all very excited to be given the opportunity to do something like this. Anna and Tay have already done this a year ago on television. They had a lot of fun with it and there are limits, I guess, on how grotesque it’s allowed to be and I can only speak from my experience. I don’t know if this is the case with other matches, either other tag matches or men’s wrestling or any — I don’t know what those conversations are like. I only know the conversations that we had and for us, it was one person from each team was allowed to bleed. We all wanted to get our hands dirty and we all wanted to do crazy stuff and it was like, we can’t go overboard so we were like, ‘Okay, understood’ and we didn’t have to worry about it because Ruby bled enough for everybody but I mean, I thought it was awesome, I thought she looked killer, she thought she looked great. She had to get stitched up after. I held her hand as they injected the anesthetic and everything and stuff. I was like, ‘(gasps), oh my God. You’re so tough.’ But we were just really excited about everything and I think that if people are getting their panties in a bunch about it, that’s the least of your concerns. We bleed every single month, nobody talks about that. I’m sure if that had happened or whatever, people would make a big deal about that too, right? If somebody were to bleed through their gear… We bleed the same as men do. We take the same bumps in the ring they do, we’re at the same risks as they are so I don’t understand (why) there has to be a double standard about physically seeing blood.
Again, going to the Street Fight, I’m at peace with Anna, I’m at peace with Tay, I’m at peace with Ruby and likewise and and we all know the set of circumstances that brought us to that match but I think there was a level of backlash that I received from it that I was really unfamiliar with and that to me was like a big punch to the gut and from here, I’m just trying to recollect and think, what is the next step that I need to take? Who am I now? I still have this positivity and this hope for the future of course but now I have this extra grit and what does Willow Nightingale look like with this grit? And what does my future in AEW or outside of AEW — wrestling has been my life for this entire time. Is there anything outside of here that I’m interested in doing? Those are the things that I’m really trying to figure out before I manifest them. I wanna be sure that whatever I’m working towards is something I really do wanna do and I’m really passionate about. I don’t wanna be busy just to be busy.
After Nightingale and Toni Storm went one-on-one on the 1/18 Dynamite, she was ambushed by Saraya and Storm. She shared her thoughts about the post-match attack:
Yeah, I also would like to know (why Saraya attacked me) because I’ve spoken a lot about how there are people I look up to with you [Renée Paquette] and how I’m very fortunate to be able to work with them and Saraya was one of those people so why she’s getting involved in matches, why she’s putting her nose where it doesn’t belong is beyond me and fortunate to have Ruby [Soho] and have people who are looking out for me and care about sportsmanship. It’s disappointing, we’ll see where it goes and maybe we can figure it out in the ring.
Nightingale’s AEW signing was formally announced in October 2022. The 28-year-old has been wrestling for AEW at varying capacities since 2021.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit The Sessions with Renée Paquette with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.